Guide to CoE Writing Style

Lots of people write for the College of Engineering, but we strive to maintain some uniformity across our many schools and publications. Using the same writing style establishes our credibility and makes our content easier to understand. This guide, which supplements the broader style rubric from Institute Communications, can help you stay on the same page with all of CoE's communications teams.

abbreviations: Unless otherwise noted, do not use an abbreviation on first reference, even if it is very common. Instead, spell out an organization or school’s full name and follow it with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Abbreviations are acceptable on second reference and thereafter, but try to avoid alphabet soup.  

academic degrees: Use periods for B.S., M.S., Ph.D., etc. Abbreviations are typically preferable to spelling out names (note divergence from AP style). Refer to alumni degrees for an exception.

advisor: Institute Communications favors this spelling over AP’s “adviser.”

AE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of aerospace engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

alumnae: The plural of “alumna.”

alumni: The plural of “alumnus.”

alumni degrees: To identify an alumna’s credentials when writing for the College at large, use her degree and school abbreviation followed by the year of graduation (ex: “Julia Sherman, M.S. ME 1998”). When writing for an individual school, the degree and graduation year alone will suffice (ex: “Julia Sherman, M.S. 1998”).

bioengineering: An interdisciplinary doctoral degree. At Georgia Tech, the term is not interchangeable with biomedical engineering or biomolecular engineering.

blog post: Do not use interchangeably with “blog.”

BME: The preferred abbreviation for both the department and field of biomedical engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

Board of Regents: The governing body of the University System of Georgia. Instead of defaulting to “BOR” on second reference, use “the Regents” or “the board.”

Brittain Dining Hall: Not “Britain.”

Campus Recreation Center: Spell out on first reference; “CRC” is acceptable thereafter.

CAREER grant

CEE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of civil and environmental engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

ChBE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of chemical and biomolecular engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

CoE: May be used on second reference for College of Engineering. Note that the letter “o” remains lowercased and that there is no “the” preceding the abbreviation. See also: College, the.

College, the: May be used on second reference for College of Engineering. Note capital letter “C.” See also: CoE.

College of Engineering, the: Must be used on first reference for the College.

co-op: A Georgia Tech program in which students spend at least three alternating semesters working in a job related to their major. Though the term is shorthand for Cooperative Education, “co-op” is permitted on first reference. Do not use interchangeably with internship.

Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering: Use this name on first reference. After that, “BME” and “the Department” are both acceptable stand-ins, but take care to reference Emory University’s presence in this department.  (School communications managers may opt out and use the Department’s full name.)

courtesy titles: Do not use. (If recycling a news release from another source, delete any courtesy titles as necessary.)

dates: The preferred format is Feb. 9, 2011. Follow AP style guidelines and do not abbreviate March, April, May, June or July.

Dr.: Acceptable honorific for someone with a doctoral degree, but if the subject is a professor, the title “(Associate/Assistant) Professor” is preferred. After first reference, drop the honorific and use only the subject’s surname.

ECE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of electrical and computer engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

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engineering disciplines: Spell out all disciplines on first reference. On second reference and thereafter, the following abbreviations are acceptable (note that not all letters are capitalized):

  • Aerospace engineering: AE
  • Biomedical engineering: BME (note that while BME operates like the schools, its home is called a department thanks to an association with Emory University)
  • Chemical and biomolecular engineering: ChBE
  • Civil and environmental engineering: CEE
  • Electrical and computer engineering: ECE
  • Industrial and systems engineering: ISyE
  • Materials science and engineering: MSE
  • Mechanical engineering: ME
  • Nuclear and radiological engineering: NRE (note that this field does not have its own school; it operates under the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering)

entitled: Do not use interchangeably with “titled.” To refer to the name of a program, book, paper or other work, choose “titled.”

FASET: Georgia Tech’s orientation program for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The acronym is preferred on first reference. (FASET’s full name, Familiarization and Adaptation to the Environs of Tech, is too much of a mouthful.)

Georgia Tech: Generally the preferred name on first reference. On second and subsequent references, “Tech” and “the Institute” are acceptable substitutes.

Georgia Tech Engineers: The magazine of the College of Engineering. Do not italicize, place inside quotation marks, or add the word “Magazine” as part of the title.

Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering: Use this name on first reference. After that, “AE” and “the School” are both acceptable stand-ins. (School communications managers may opt out and use the School’s full name.)

IEEE: The acronym for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is preferred on first reference.

internship: Georgia Tech’s internship program awards academic credit for students working in their fields of interest. Do not use interchangeably with co-op, which is a different program that requires a longer commitment.

ISyE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of industrial and systems engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

massive open online courses: A breed of web-based classes, usually free and available to anyone, offered by Georgia Tech and other universities. Spell out on first reference; “MOOC” is acceptable thereafter.

ME: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of mechanical engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

MSE: The preferred abbreviation for both the school and field of materials science and engineering. See engineering disciplines entry.

names: For subjects who typically do not go by their given name, use context to decide upon an appropriate rendering. If the subject requests a certain name be used, abide by his wishes. If no preference is stated, use the given name in more formal documents; otherwise, choose the name more commonly used. 

National Institutes of Health: Spell out on first reference, and note that “Institutes” is plural. “NIH” is acceptable on second references.

National Science Foundation: Spell out on first reference; “NSF” is acceptable thereafter.

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Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience: Not “Pettit.” Joseph M. Pettit was a Georgia Tech president, but he is not the namesake of this center.

President’s Scholarship: The top merit-based scholarship Georgia Tech offers. Not the “Presidential” Scholarship.

principal investigator: Do not use the abbreviation “PI.”

Professor: Acceptable as a capitalized title on first reference; after that, use only the professor’s surname. The title is preferable to the honorific “Dr.,” which could imply other types of doctoral degrees.

professor of the practice: A professor who does not hold a doctoral degree.

race: Do not identify a subject’s race unless it specifically pertains to the topic at hand. Follow AP’s helpful rubric.

room numbers: Capitalize “room” when it appears before a number or letter, and do not spell out the number itself. For example: Room 104; Room 2B.

school: When referring to a specific school within the College, capitalize the letter “S.” Otherwise, leave it lowercased.

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STEM: Common acronym for science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. Spell out on first reference.

Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering: Use this name on first reference. After that, “ISyE” and “the School” are both acceptable stand-ins. (School communications managers may opt out and use the School’s full name.)

Tech Tower: The home of CoE. Although its formal name is the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building, “Tech Tower” is acceptable on all references.

telephone numbers: Do not place parentheses around area codes. Institute style calls for periods – not dashes – to separate the segments of telephone numbers; for example: 404.894.2000

titled: See entitled entry.

titles: Follow AP style’s instruction to “confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name.” For example, both “Dean Gary May” and “Gary May, dean of CoE” are correct.

Twitter: The popular microblogging service. The proper term for posting to the site is “tweeting,” not “Twittering.”

two spaces after a period: Avoid. The practice is revered by some; take care to delete extra spaces in copy submitted by professors, students and others.

Uncle Heinie Way

unique: If something is unique, it is singular, not merely unusual.

university: Avoid in the context of Georgia Tech, which prefers to be called an institute.

University System of Georgia: Spell out on first reference; “USG” is acceptable thereafter.

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Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering: Use this name on first reference. After that, “ME” and “the School” are both acceptable stand-ins. (School communications managers may opt out and use the School’s full name.)

Have questions or updates?

Contact CoE communications officer Lyndsey Lewis.