WSU Cougar Head Logo Washington State University

Capitalization, names, and titles

WSU Editorial Style Guide

Referring to the University

  • When describing the university, use Washington State University as the first reference in the text. Subsequent references should be the university, WSU, Washington State.
  • When describing a WSU campus, use the full name on first reference: Washington State University Tri-Cities.
  • Subsequent references should be WSU plus campus. Note that there is no hyphen between WSU and the campus name.
    • WSU Tri-Cities, WSU Health Sciences Spokane, WSU Global Campus, WSU Vancouver, WSU Pullman, WSU Everett

Unit names

Capitalize the first reference and lowercase the second if not using the proper noun.

  • College of Veterinary Medicine; the college
  • Department of Biology; the department, the biology department
  • Holland Library; the library
  • Bohler Gym; the gym

For named colleges and units, the following short forms are accepted: Murrow College, Carson College, Voiland College

  • Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (not a school of medicine or medical school)
  • WSU Athletics (not Cougar Athletics)
  • Paul G. Allen School for Global Health (“for” rather than “of”)


Use lowercase except when preceding a name or when used in a mailing address.

  • WSU System President Kirk Schulz; Kirk Schulz, system president of Washington State University; the system president
    • Note: Use “WSU system president” in most cases, unless the context clearly indicates that it refers to the president of the WSU system and not just a specific campus.
  • Dean Mary Koithan; Mary Koithan, dean of the College of Nursing; the dean
  • Assistant Professor John Dahl; John Dahl, assistant professor of molecular biosciences; the assistant professor

Capitalize for endowed chairs and professors

  • Regents Professor Jill McCluskey, the Regents Professor
  • The Taco Bell Distinguished Professor

Do not use “Dr.” to precede the name of a faculty member with a doctoral degree.

Academic year and class standings

Lowercase all references.

  • fall semester, spring semester, summer session, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior

Academic degrees

Lowercase when spelled out.

  • baccalaureate degree, bachelor’s degree, bachelor of arts; master’s degree, master of science; doctoral degree, doctorate, doctor of philosophy, etc.
    • Note the plural forms: bachelor’s degrees; master’s degrees; doctoral degrees.

Abbreviations should be avoided. It is better to spell out the degree, as above, except if following a name in a signature (President Kirk Schulz, PhD).

  • If a degree is abbreviated, the proper forms without periods are:
  • BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD, DEd, MD, MBA, DVM, etc.
  • Plural forms: BAs, BSs, MAs, MSs, PhDs, DEds

Majors, minors, concentrations, and programs

Names are lowercase, unless it contains a proper noun or begins a sentence.

  • veterinary medicine (“Veterinary medicine is a popular program. I took veterinary medicine classes.”)
  • Asian studies (“My second degree is in Asian studies.”)
  • education (“Her major is education.”)
  • fermentation studies (“I took a class in fermentation studies.”)

“Email” and “fax” in text: In listings, lowercase when the word follows the number; uppercase it when it precedes the address or number.

  • Email:; send email to
  • Fax: 509-335-8568; 509-335-8568 is the fax number

Website addresses

Unless it’s necessary, the “http://” or “https://” should be left off a URL/website address in text.

Typically, “www.” can be left off the address as well.


State names

Capitalize “state” if it follows the name, but lowercase if it precedes the name. It’s best to avoid use of “state” if possible.

  • Idaho State; the state of Idaho
  • EXCEPTION: To avoid confusion with WSU, use Washington state

Compass directions and regions

Lowercase compass directions when they are not part of a proper name.

Capitalize in reference to a proper name or region.

  • north, south, east, and west, northern, southern, eastern, western
  • The Pacific Northwest, but northwestern. The West Coast, but western Washington.