Editorial Style Guide
Academic Terms and Usage
People and Titles
See Capitalization and Names: People and Human Groups under General Style Preferences for general guidelines. In running text, titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and lowercased when following a name, except for the exception noted below: Associate Professor John Doe; John Doe, associate professor. For general readability, try to place long titles after names, in lowercase.
- Exception: Endowed professorships, designated SUNY professorships, and local distinguished professorships are always capitalized. When referring to local distinguished professorships, include the applicable period in parentheses, e.g.,
- SUNY Professorships:
Distinguished Service Professor
Distinguished Teaching Professor
- Local Distinguished Professorships (senior faculty research award):
Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professor (two-year period)
Juanita and Joseph Leff Distinguished Professor (one-year period)
- Other Local Named Professorships:
Shirley and Royal Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature
(This list is subject to change; updates may be obtained from the Office of Institutional Advancement.)
Use the title Dr. only when referring to a medical doctor. If needed for context, follow a name with the abbreviation of the appropriate degree, set off by commas: John Doe, PhD; Jane Smith, DMA.
When an academic title is used in apposition before a personal name as a descriptive tag, it is lowercased: The team was led by history professors John Doe and Jane Smith.
The term professor should not be used simply to indicate a faculty member. (The use of professors in the preceding example indicates that Doe and Smith are full professors.) Similarly, avoid the use of the abbreviation Prof. When referring to several faculty members with varying ranks, use faculty members or members of the [discipline] faculty.
- Tenure-track faculty titles:
Professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor
Librarian, associate librarian, senior assistant librarian, assistant librarian
Note: Part-time appointments are not on the tenure track.
- Non-tenure-track faculty titles:
Visiting (professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor)
Professors of practice: professor of practice in …; associate professor of practice in …; assistant professor of practice in …
Note: Non-tenure-track appointments may be either part time or full time.
- Independent contractor title (Conservatory of Music):
Visiting affiliate artist
Avoid the word adjunct unless referring specifically to a short-term, temporary academic appointment (for example, a one-semester sabbatical replacement). Do not use interchangeably with part-time: a non-tenure-track appointment may be either part time or full time. When referring to members of the faculty whose appointments are not on the tenure track, the preferred adjective is non-tenure-track.
The forms for Purchase College titles are vice president, vice provost, and associate provost for; dean, chair, and director of; professor, associate professor, and assistant professor of; and lecturer and instructor in—followed by the applicable discipline or unit.
Occupational titles, whether preceding or following a name, are not capitalized: Several people contributed to the report, including attorney Jane Doe and accountant John Smith.
Updated June 9, 2015