University Communications works to ensure that all of the print and digital materials it produces on behalf of Boston College reflect a cohesive and consistent writing style.
The primary resource for written communication, both in print and online, is the Chicago Manual of Style, which is available online to members of the University community through the Boston College Libraries. Below, we provide an at-a-glance summary of variations specific to Boston College, as well as answers to frequently asked questions related to usage and style. This compendium will be updated as new questions arise.
For a detailed description of the Boston College visual identity system, including information on use of Boston College wordmarks, seals, logotypes, colors, typography, stocks, inks, and varnishes, see graphic identity.
If you have other questions regarding writing style or visual identity, call us at extension 2-4820.
Avoid abbreviating the names of BC schools and divisions. Spell out the full names on first reference, then use shortened forms. Examples:
Woods College of Advancing Studies, second reference Woods College
- Carroll School of Management - Carroll School
- Connell School of Nursing - Connell School
- Lynch School of Education and Human Development - Lynch School
- Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences - Morrissey College
- Boston College Law School, second reference BC Law or the Law School
- Boston College School of Social Work, second reference BCSSW or the School of Social Work.
- Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, second reference STM or the School of Theology and Ministry.
If, in certain circumstances, an abbreviation must be used, the accepted forms are below, none of which contain periods.
- CSON - Connell School of Nursing
- MCAS - Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences
- SSW - School of Social Work
- STM - School of Theology and Ministry
- WCAS - Woods College of Advancing Studies
Use Carroll School/Carroll or Lynch School/Lynch. For Boston College Law School, use BC Law.
Only use the symbol '&' when it is contained in an official title; otherwise, use 'and.'
Center for Work & Family, U.S. News & World Report
Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences
- Undergraduate years
Always use a space before an undergraduate class year; no comma following the name: Joe Smith '13.
Joe Smith received a bachelor's degree from Boston College in 2013
Joe Smith, who received a B.A. degree in psychology from BC in 2013
- Graduate degrees
Mary Smith, M.A.'13
Mary Smith, who received a master's degree in theology in 2013.
- Multiple degrees
Use commas to separate multiple degrees. If the person received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, that year should be listed first, with no abbreviation or comma before it. Mary Smith '11, M.A. '13, Ph.D. '17.
- Degrees by school
Preferred: Do not use a school acronym with degree year. Mary Smith, who received a bachelor's degree from the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences in 2013; not Mary Smith MCAS '13
- Alumni of Newton College of the Sacred Heart
For women who graduated from this school before its acquistion by Boston College, use NC before the degree year: Mary Jones NC 69.
- Alumni of Weston School of Theology
All graduates of this school prior to its merger with the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry are identified by their degree and class year.
- To denote a parent of a Boston College student or graduate, use the letter P followed by the student’s class year. Alex Smith P '22
- Capitalize University when it is part of a proper name or when referring to Boston College specifically.
- Do not capitalize school, college, or department unless used as part of a proper name.
The Lynch School of Education and Human Development. Students in the school are…
The Psychology Department. Students in the department are…
- The words commencement, convocation, and reunion are only capitalized when referring to specific Boston College events, and used as part of the full name. (Boston College Commencement, BC Commencement, Reunion Weekend, University Convocation, First Year Academic Convocation.)
- The Heights (cap T) refers to the undergraduate student newspaper, whereas “the Heights” is a nickname for Boston College and its campus.
- President: Boston College President William P. Leahy, S.J.,
- Senior administrators:
Capitalize titles when used before names, but not when used as aposition.
Executive Director Alex Smith; Alex Smith, executive director
Capitalize the designation only when used as a title: University Trustee Mary Smith or Mary Smith, a trustee of Boston College, or Mary Smith, a member of the Boston College board of trustees.
Commonly used abbreviations : Fr., Rev., Br., Sr., St.
In non-quoted text, the first reference should give the priest’s full name with the initials of the order after it.
(e.g., John Smith, S.J. Use a comma after the name, and if, the sentence continues, after the S.J. (e.g. John Smith, S.J., said…)
Subsequent reference can be to Fr. Smith. Do not use Fr. with the religious suffix, or use the surname without honorific (Smith).
Do not include a faculty member's academic degrees after the name unless in an identifying list.
Assistant Professor of Theology Jane Smith or Jane Smith, assistant professor of theology.
Subsequent reference: Smith
University President William P. Leahy, S.J.
the president, Father Leahy, Fr. Leahy.
- AHANA is an acronym used to describe individuals of African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent (no hyphens). (For more information about the acronym and its use, visit the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center website.)
- Communication (no “s”) Department
- Jesuit, Catholic university (no hyphen between Jesuit and Catholic)
- Office of Undergraduate Admission (no “s”)
- PULSE: the name of BC’s service-learning program is capitalized
- Theatre vs. theater: Boston College Theatre Department; E. Paul Robsham Theater Arts Center
Postal abbreviations should only be used within a mailing address. (Use Chestnut Hill, Mass., not Chestnut Hill, MA)
Use periods when abbreviating Society of Jesus (S.J.) and United States. (U.S.)
Do not use the possessive (his/her/their) before bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree.
The honors designations of cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude are not italicized.
Doctoral is an adjective; doctorate is a noun. (Jane received a doctoral degree; Jane earned a doctorate in history).
For a list of degree names and abbreviations, see the Office of Student Services website.
For information on how to cite Boston College students, alumni, and parents, see 'Specific to Boston College' tab.
From the Latin: an individual male graduate is an alumnus; an individual female graduate is an alumna. A group of exclusively female graduates are alumnae; the collective term for male graduates or a mix of genders is alumni.
Do not use “&” unless it is part of an official title, e.g. U.S. News & World Report; Boston College Center for Work & Family
Generally, omit the apostrophe when a plural noun ending in “s” functions as an adjective. Veterans Day, Parents Weekend.
Exceptions are official names of observances such as Mother's Day and Father's Day.
Use the Oxford or serial comma in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or. (e.g., an (e.g., an artist, architect, and author).
Use periods when abbreviating the Society of Jesus and United States: S.J. and U.S.
Headlines and subheads need not be full sentences, and should not end with periods.
Straight quotation marks are the preferred choice for text online, but use of "smart" (curly) quotation marks is permitted for specialty pages if used consistently.
Times of day: a.m. and p.m.: lowercase, with periods.
Do not use the designation when using another reference to the time of day (either: Tuesday morning at 10:30 or 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, not Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.)
For time ranges, avoid excess spacing (use: 1-2 p.m. not: 1 - 2 p.m) or excess numbers (use: 11 a.m. not: 11:00 a.m.)