Skip to main content
Brand Guide Banner Elements of the Brand
Elements of the ASU brand

Titles

This section provides detailed information about the use of titles in addition to AP style updates.

Consult The Associated Press Stylebook for more details plus other types of titles not listed here.

Personal titles

Academic titles

Academic titles indicate levels of formal education achieved.

Capitalize and spell out formal academic titles such as chancellor, provost, professor, etc., only when they precede a person’s name, i.e., Chancellor Jones; Provost Smith; Professor Brown. Use lowercase elsewhere, i.e., Jones, who is chancellor of the university; Smith, who was appointed provost; Brown, who is a professor of history. 

Do not precede or follow a name with an abbreviation for an academic degree as if it were a courtesy title, i.e., Jones, PhD; Smith MFA. (Note: these academic abbreviations are variants from AP Stylebook guidelines; further clarification can be found below under Abbreviations/Academic degrees).

If mention of a degree is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, use a phrase instead of an abbreviation.

Do not precede a name with a degree courtesy title and then follow the name with the degree abbreviation.

  • Do: He recognized Dean Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology, or: He recognized Dean Jones, who earned a PhD in psychology.
  • Do: Michael M. Crow, president of the university, spoke Wednesday, or: Michael M. Crow, who earned his PhD in public administration, is the president of the university.
  • Not: Dr. John Smith presents many seminars.
  • Not: The acclaimed author is Doctor Jane Doe, EdD.

Do not use Dr. to refer to individuals who hold nonmedical doctorate degrees or honorary doctorates. For those who hold medical degrees — such as a doctor of optometry or a doctor of podiatric medicine — do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references.

Abbreviations

Use an abbreviation such as BA and PhD after a person’s name only when many individuals with their degrees spelled out on first reference would be cumbersome, such as on a list of administrators on the inside cover of a publication. Use these abbreviations only after a full name — never after just a last name.

Insert a comma and space after the person's last name and before the degree designation.

Do not use periods in abbreviations of degrees. (AP Stylebook variance)

Note: It is assumed all ASU professors have doctoral degrees. Their names would not customarily be followed with PhD.

Use degree abbreviations only after a full name, not a last name alone.

Exception: In the ASU Academic Catalog only, abbreviate academic degrees on first reference and use the corresponding word in subsequent instances: associate degree (not associate’s), bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate or doctoral degree.

When referring to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, follow it with the degree or concentration (e.g., American history). Do not refer to a degree as simply a bachelor’s or master’s. Refer to a bachelor’s degree (or master’s degree) in American history:

  • Do: bachelor’s degree in English; Master of Science in chemistry.
  • Not: Bachelor's in English; Master's in chemistry.
  • Note: If choosing to use the formal “Bachelor of Science," "Bachelor of Arts," "Master of Science" or "Master of Arts," these formal degrees must be capitalized as shown.

See Abbreviations.

Punctuation

There is no apostrophe or "s" in associate degree. There is in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.

Omit periods in degree abbreviations: BA, MS, PhD. (AP Stylebook variance)

Use a slash in a dual-degree abbreviation. Do not abbreviate the area of concentration: MUEP/MA in sustainability.

Capitalization

Capitalize only the official diploma title; this includes words that are included in the official diploma title abbreviation:

  • Bachelor of Arts.
  • Bachelor of Science in nursing.
  • Bachelor of Science in design.
  • Master of Mass Communication.
  • Master of Visual Communication Design.

Use full wording on first reference. In subsequent mentions, use associate degree (not: associate’s), bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate or doctoral degree. Note that "degree" must follow the degree level.

Examples:

  • Note the admission requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology. (first reference)
  • Note the admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. (subsequent reference)
  • She earned a Master of Communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism.
  • This program culminates in a Bachelor of Science in chemistry.
  • Not: She earned a BA in anthropology.
  • Not: His bachelor’s is in psychology

emeritus, emeriti (pl.)

Gender neutral, it applies to male and female. Emerita is incorrect. Jane Doe is a professor emeritus of journalism.

President’s Professor

This is an ASU-awarded recognition, one of the most prestigious faculty honors bestowed at the university. Note placement of apostrophe. Capitalize, as in: ASU President's Professor Jones will teach the class this semester. She is a President's Professor for her enthusiasm and innovation in teaching. Note that “ASU” should precede the award in the first reference. Treat all ASU-awarded professorships similarly, as in: Eduardo Pagán is an ASU Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History.

professor

Not capitalized unless part of a formal title and immediately preceding the person's name. (AP Stylebook variance)

  • It was a professor at the West campus who first taught the class.
  • It was John Doe, a Regents Professor at ASU, who first taught the class.
  • It was Professor John Doe who first taught the class.

Professor (unabbreviated) should be used rather than Dr. as the title preceding names of ASU faculty, unless they possess medical degrees: The president thanked Professor Jane Doe of the English department.

Not: The president thanked Dr. Jane Doe.

Not: The president thanked Prof. Jane Doe.

Not: The professor thanked Jane Doe, a Professor in the English department.

Regents Professor

This is an ASU-awarded recognition, the highest faculty honor bestowed at the university. Note placement of apostrophe. Capitalize, as in: ASU Regents Professor Jones is teaching this semester's class. She is a Regents Professor for her pioneering research on honeybees. Note that “ASU” should precede the award in the first reference. Treat all ASU-awarded professorships similarly, as in: Eduardo Pagán is an ASU Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History.

Majors

The names of concentrations (degree majors) are not capitalized.

Exceptions are proper nouns: English, Spanish, American Indian.

The only official source for the names of majors is found in Degree Search: undergraduate degree search or graduate degree and certificate search.

  • Bachelor of Arts in dance.
  • Bachelor of Science with a minor in communication.
  • Jane Doe is a history major at ASU, not: Jane Doe is a History major at ASU.

Occupational titles

Other titles serve primarily as occupational descriptions, and these titles are not capitalized except at the beginning of a sentence or in a salutation.

  • Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.
  • Attending the event was astronaut John Glenn, among others.
  • Dear Professor, I loved your course.
  • John Doe is a chemistry professor at ASU.

CEO

Use this all-uppercase, no-periods abbreviation only after the first reference for chief executive officer. The full title is capitalized only when preceding the person’s name.

ASU administration

Use the full name of an office. Refer to the current list: asu.edu/about/leadership.

Formal titles

A formal title generally is one that denotes a scope of authority, professional activity or academic activity.

Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names:

  • Pope Benedict XVI.
  • President Abraham Lincoln.
  • President Michael M. Crow.
  • Professor Jane Doe.

The following formal titles are capitalized and abbreviated as shown when used before a name both inside and outside quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep., Sen. and certain military ranks.

Do not include U.S. before the titles of government officials except when needed for clarity. Secretary of State John Kerry

Past and future titles: A formal title that an individual formerly held, is about to hold or holds temporarily is capitalized if used before a person’s name. But do not capitalize the qualifying word: former President George W. Bush, Attorney General-designate Griffin Bell.

Courtesy titles

In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name.

Use lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individual’s name.

Use lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas.

  • The director issued a statement.
  • The pope gave his blessing.
  • The vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, declined to run again.

Composition titles

Compositions

Apply these guidelines to book titles, computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, albums and songs, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art.

Guidelines:

  • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
  • Capitalize an article (a, an, the) or a word of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.
  • Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material, such as catalogs, almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles.
  • Names of websites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Google, etc.) are capitalized without quotes, but computer game applications are capitalized and in quotes ("FarmVille," "Carmageddon," "Lone Echo," etc.).
  • URLs (asu.edu, amazon.com, facebook.com, etc.) are always lowercase.

Examples:

  • “The CBS Evening News.”
  • the NBC-TV “Today” program.
  • "The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
  • "The Star-Spangled Banner.”
  • Facebook.
  • “FarmVille.”
  • google.com.

Publications

Magazines

Do not place the title in quotes and do not italicize it.

Capitalize the initial letters of the title, but do not capitalize the word magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title.

Follow the publication’s convention for punctuation if in doubt. Consult the organization’s masthead, not website header:

  • Harper’s Magazine.
  • Newsweek magazine.
  • U.S. News & World Report.

Newspapers

Do not place the name in quotes and do not italicize it.

Capitalize an article in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.

Use lowercase for an article if several newspapers are mentioned, some of which use it as part of the name and some of which do not.

  • Chicago Tribune.
  • New York Post.
  • The New York Times.
  • The Wall Street Journal.
  • By circulation, The Arizona Republic, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Chicago Tribune are among the 20 largest U.S. newspapers.

Books and chapters

Place the entire title in quotes, unless it is the Bible, or a work that is considered reference material, such as a catalog, almanac, directory, dictionary or encyclopedia.

Capitalize the principal words of a book title, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.

Capitalize an article (a, an, the) or a word of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.

Translate into English the title of a book written in a language other than English, unless the work is popularly known by its original title.

For chapters of books, if the chapter has a title, follow the guidelines above for book titles. If the chapters are numbered and do not have a title, capitalize the word chapter in front of a chapter's Arabic figure (Chapter 20), as per AP Style.

Examples:

  • He said he found the information in the book publisher's summer catalog.
  • He referenced Encyclopedia Brittanica in his work, not Wikipedia.
  • The longest book I've ever read is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."
  • Betty Mahmoody recovered from her harrowing experiences to write "Not Without My Daughter."

Professor John Smith contributed a chapter to the upcoming "New American Lives" anthology titled "My First Year as a Professor."