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YSPH Editorial Style Guide


The Yale School of Public Health follows Associated Press news style and style guidelines set by Yale’s Office of Public Affairs & Communications. This summary highlights common style rules as well as the “in-house” style policies adopted exclusively by YSPH. This guide is a work in progress and will be amended and updated as needed over time. If you have a style question not addressed in this summary, please contact

YSPH Style

  • Use the Oxford (serial) comma
  • Lowercase keywords in headlines
  • Use said not says
  • Health care is two words
  • YSPH is acceptable upon second reference. No need for the (YSPH) acronym and parentheses after the first reference, e.g. Yale School of Public Health (YSPH)
  • Lowercase university upon second reference of Yale University
  • The proper abbreviated spelling of Charles-Edward Amory Winslow’s name is C.-E. A. Winslow. Three periods. (per the Provost’s Office)
  • Degrees do not have periods between letters, e.g. MPH, PhD
  • When noting a person’s degree year, the apostrophe should face back to the person’s name and not toward the number. The style is: Jane Doe, MPH ’22, (note: the degree precedes the graduation year after the name)
  • Do not include PhD after a professor’s name
  • Don’t use graduation year or degrees in headlines unless it is key to the article, such as a Student or Alumni Spotlight. Even then, be judicious.
  • Avoid contractions such as “He’s” or “She’s” and spell out instead (he is, she is) etc. except in quotes.


  • Do not indent paragraphs
  • Periods and commas go inside quotation marks
  • Insert a space before and after an Em Dash and ellipses
  • In bulleted lists, full sentences in a bullet point should have a period at the end. For fragments in a bulleted list, don’t use a period. Don’t use semicolons as end punctuation. Whatever you use, be consistent.
  • Do not use a comma before Jr. or Sr. in a name -- Example: Edgar Cullman Jr.

Academic Degrees and Professional Titles

  • Use the Dr. title before the first reference to a person who has a medical degree and include MD after their name, e.g. Dr. Jane Smith, MD, to differentiate the title from a PhD. Use only the person’s last name on second reference, e.g. Smith said…
  • Do not use “the” before endowed faculty titles. (Example: Dr. Sten Vermund, MD, Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health)
  • Capitalize professional titles after a name when they are part of an endowed faculty title. (see example above: Anna M.R. Lauder Professor…) Otherwise, titles are lowercase after a name and uppercase when preceding a name, e.g. Professor of Public Health Mary Jones. Or, Mary Jones, professor of public health,
  • Academic degrees should be capitalized when the formal title is used; lowercase when used informally (Bachelor of Arts degree/bachelor’s degree; Master of Arts degree/master’s degree)
  • Postdoctoral is one word.


  • Spell out the full name of agencies on first reference, e.g. National Institutes of Health
  • Avoid using unfamiliar acronyms on second reference. FBI, NIH are ok. CPPEE is not when referring to the Center for Perinatal, Pediatric, and Environmental Epidemiology. CCCH should also be avoided when referencing the Center for Climate Change and Health. Use “the center” instead.
  • DEIB is an acceptable second reference for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • EMPH is an acceptable second reference for the hybrid Executive Master of Public Health program. Note: the program is formally called the Executive Master of Public Health program. It is not the online EMPH program. It is a hybrid program as students do spend time on Yale campus.


  • Use a person’s middle initial only if that is how they are identified in their Yale bio/directory or when it is their personal preference.
  • Individuals who are Yale alums should be identified as such in articles, e.g. Program Director Martin Klein, MPH ’86,
  • Lowercase department affiliations after a name, e.g. John Smith, an associate professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases),


  • Use the percent sign %, don’t write out percent
  • Spell out whole numbers one through nine and use figures for 10 and above. Example: He ate nine apples this week and 12 oranges last week. Exception: 1 million (not one million).
  • Always use a figure to identify a person’s age. Example: John is 2 years old.
  • Time is a.m. and p.m. not AM/am and PM/pm
  • Follow AP style on 20th century and 21st (don’t use superscript)
  • COMMON FRACTIONS: Generally spell out amounts less than 1 in stories, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths, seven-sixteenths, etc. Use figures for precise amounts larger than 1, converting to decimals whenever practical. When precision is not necessary, saying a third, or a half etc. is acceptable.
  • RANGES: The proper form is $12 million to $14 million. Not: $12 to $14 million. Also, use a hyphen and a space when expressing phrases such as 3- to 4-times as likely.
  • MILLIONS: Use a figure-word combination. 1 million people; $2 billion, NOT one million/two billion. (Also note no hyphen linking numerals and the word million, billion or trillion.)
  • TEMPERATURES: Use figures, except zero. It was 8 degrees below zero or minus 8. The temperature dropped from 38 to 8 in two hours.
  • TIME: 9-11 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • AGE RANGE: Use an en dash between two figures, e.g. people ages 5–11.
  • RATIOS: Use figures and hyphens: the ratio was 2-to-1, a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio, 1 in 4 voters. As illustrated, the word “to” should be omitted when the numbers precede the word ratio. Always use the word ratio or a phrase such as a 2-1 majority to avoid confusion with actual figures.

Distances, time periods

  • Use numerals for distances: Social distancing includes staying 6 feet away from other people.
  • Spell out numbers under 10 when referring to days, weeks, months, years: six months.


  • Titles of studies and journals do not need to be in italics. Times New Roman is fine.
  • Titles of books, movies, plays, songs, television shows, lectures, presentations, speeches, and works of art should be put in quotation marks, except the Bible.


  • Use an ampersand if it is part of an organization’s official title, e.g. Yale Office of Public Affairs & Communications
  • Use “the” before an organization’s name if the name is spelled out and not an acronym. Example: “Professor Mark Bradford was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.” Don’t use “the” before an acronym: “Mark Bradford was elected to AAAS.
  • Schools and departments should be capitalized when the formal title is used; lowercase when used informally, e.g. Yale School of Medicine/the medical school; Department of Anthropology/anthropology department, John Doe, MPH (social and behavioral sciences), She graduated with a degree in chemistry.
  • Note: Yale Divinity School and Yale Law School are the formal names of these institutions.


  • Do not capitalize diseases such as cancer, emphysema, leukemia, hepatitis, etc., but do capitalize the shorthand COVID-19, MERS, SARS. When a disease is known by the name of a person or geographical area identified with it, capitalize only the proper noun element: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Ebola virus, etc.
  • virus’s. The singular possessive form of virus. Not virus’.
  • isolation/quarantine. According to the CDC: Isolation is separating sick people from healthy people to prevent spread of disease. For example, people believed to have COVID-19 or to have been exposed to the coronavirus are put in isolation in hospitals or are asked to practice self-isolation. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
  • epidemic, pandemic An epidemic is the rapid spreading of disease in a certain population or region; a pandemic is an epidemic that has spread worldwide. Use sparingly; follow declarations of public health officials. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Do not write global pandemic, which is redundant.
  • Mpox – the new name for monkeypox. Always include an explainer that mpox is the new name of what was once called monkeypox.
  • antiseptic, disinfectant Antiseptics, such as hand sanitizers, are used to kill germs on living things. Disinfectants, such as bleach, are used on inanimate things, such as countertops and handrails. The adjective is disinfectant, not disinfecting.


  • Capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous. Brown is best avoided and should be limited to use in quotes as it is a vague and imprecise term. Better to be specific as possible when making racial, ethnic, or cultural references. Do not use Caucasian as a synonym for white.
  • Avoid using BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). AP style prefers using people of color. Do not use person of color to describe an individual.
  • Use Latino as the preferred noun or adjective for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form. Hispanic is also generally acceptable for people in the U.S. Do not use Latinx unless a study or story source specifically references Latinx. If Latinx is used, include a brief explainer of what it means per AP style: Latinx is a gender-neutral term used to refer to people of Latin American cultural or ethnic identity in the United States
  • Latine, is a term created by LGBTQIA+ Spanish speakers, using the letter "e" to illustrate gender inclusivity within existing Spanish pronunciation. While some older generations may feel less familiar with and more resistant to Latinx and Latine, the terms remain in general use by younger generations. It is acceptable in all uses.
  • Use gender-neutral terms whenever possible. (Example: chair (not chairman))
  • Use LGBTQ+
  • Breastfeeding/chestfeeding/bodyfeeding – Breastfeeding is currently preferred. APStyle is silent on this issue to date. But all stories about breastfeeding should include a mention high up in the article that some individuals prefer the term chestfeeding or bodyfeeding to describe feeding a baby from a person’s chest. The term is used by people who don’t identify their anatomy with the term ‘breast.” Chestfeeding and bodyfeeding are fairly interchangeable though many non-binary people, trans people, women, and men may prefer one term over another.


  • If a subject asks for their pronouns to be included with their name, then place the pronouns in parenthesis after their year and degree.
    Craig Jackson, ’22 MEM (he, him)
    Anne Jones,’21 MESc (she, he, they)
    Bob Smith, ’19 PhD (they, them, their)
  • They/them/their take plural verbs even when used as a singular pronoun. The singular reflexive themself is acceptable only if needed in constructions involving people who identify as neither male nor female. Example: “Fred took themselves and their dog to the park to meet with friends.


  • Do not abbreviate state names, per AP Stylebook, that follow city or town names or stand alone in a sentence, e.g. Tampa, Florida, Houston, Texas. Massachusetts. Spell out state names when used alone.
  • Spell out the names of all months in full in running text.

Common Spellings

  • Follow AP style on combating, commitment etc. (one “t”)
  • AP style: cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation
  • Travel, traveled, traveling, traveler
  • Note the following common word style/spellings:
    • adviser (not advisor)
    • cleanup
    • coursework
    • changemaker
    • decision-maker
    • policymakers
    • expert on (not in)
    • fundraising
    • wastewater
    • website
    • internet (lowercase)
    • workspaces
    • firsthand
    • front line (n) front-line (adj)
    • spring (lowercase when referring to the season)
    • voicemail
    • telemedicine
    • nonessential
    • lock down (v), lockdown (n, adj.)
    • distance learning
  • Commencement Capitalize when referencing the specific event
  • Convocation Capitalize when referring to the specific event held at the start of every academic year
  • nonprofit only has a hyphen when used as an adjective. In standalone use as a noun, it does not. Examples: She said non-profit animal organizations are the most important/The nonprofit dissolved last summer
  • web (lowercase short form of World Wide Web, e.g. the web) Note: The web is a subset of the internet and not the same as the internet. Other applications, such as email, exist on the internet.
  • compose/comprise/constitute Compose means to create or put together: He composed a song. The zoo is composed of 20 different kinds of animals. Comprise means to contain, to include all, or to embrace: The state of Connecticut comprises eight counties. Constitute means to form or make up: Twelve months constitute a year.
  • death, die Don't use euphemisms like passed on or passed away except in a direct quote.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is acceptable in headlines and on second reference in text. Avoid language that attributes human characteristics to these systems, since they do not have thoughts or feelings but can respond in ways that give the impression that they do. Do not use gendered pronouns in referring to AI tools. And keep in mind that such systems are built by people who have their own human biases and aims.


PLURAL NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: Add 's: the alumni's contributions, women's rights.

PLURAL NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add only an apostrophe: the churches' needs, the girls' toys, the horses' food, the ships' wake, states' rights, the VIPs' entrance.

NOUNS PLURAL IN FORM, SINGULAR IN MEANING: Add only an apostrophe: mathematics' rules, measles' effects. Apply the same principle when a plural word occurs in the formal name of a singular entity: General Motors' profits, the United States' wealth.

NOUNS THE SAME IN SINGULAR AND PLURAL: Treat them the same as plurals, even if the meaning is singular: one corps' location, the two deer's tracks, the lone moose's antlers.

SINGULAR NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: Add 's: the church's needs, the girl's toys, the horse's food, the ship's route, the VIP's seat.

SINGULAR COMMON NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add 's: the hostess's invitation, the hostess's seat; the witness's answer, the witness's story.

SINGULAR PROPER NAMES ENDING IN S: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles' heel, Dickens' novels, Jesus' life, Jules' seat, Kansas' schools.

SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS: The following exceptions to the general rule for words not ending in s apply to words that end in an s sound and are followed by a word that begins with s: for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake. Use 's otherwise: the appearance's cost, my conscience's voice.

COMPOUND WORDS: Add an apostrophe or 's to the word closest to the object possessed: the major general's decision, the major generals' decisions, the attorney general's request, the attorneys general's request.
Also: anyone else's attitude, John Adams Jr.'s father, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania's motion. Whenever practical, however, recast the phrase to avoid ambiguity: the motion by Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.

JOINT POSSESSION, INDIVIDUAL POSSESSION: Use a possessive form after only the last word if ownership is joint: Fred and Sylvia's apartment, Fred and Sylvia's stocks. Use a possessive form after both words if the objects are individually owned: Fred's and Sylvia's books.

DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide. Memory aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters. An 's is required, however, when a term involves a plural word that does not end in s: a children's hospital, a people's republic, the Young Men's Christian Association.

QUASI POSSESSIVES: Follow these rules when dealing with the possessive form of words that occur in such phrases as a day’s pay, two weeks’ vacation, three months’ work, five years’ probation. The apostrophe is used with a measurement followed by a noun (a quantity of whatever the noun is). The examples could be rephrased as a day of pay, two weeks of vacation, three months of work, five years of probation. No apostrophe when the quantity precedes an adjective: six months pregnant, three weeks overdue, 11 years old.