Writing Style Guide - Capitalization | University of Portland

Writing Style Guide - Capitalization

As a general rule, lowercase is preferred in modern language usage over capitalization.

Special University of Portland Styles

The following are always capitalized when referring to the University of Portland as an entity or referring to official University programs.

the University
The Bluff (note both words are capitalized)

Academic Degrees, Majors, and Disciplines

Do not capitalize academic degrees in prose. (Capitalization is appropriate in lists of programs or in headings but not in references within text). If you abbreviate degrees, avoid the use periods: BA, MBA, PhD.


She earned a bachelor of science.
She earned a BS in environmental studies.
The bachelor of science degree in nursing requires…
Three students in the MBA program… 

Note use of the possessive:

She has a master’s degree.
He has a bachelor’s degree.

Academic majors/disciplines are always lowercase unless the discipline is a proper name:

psychology major
engineering professor
English major
minor in French
an American history class

Academic and Administrative Departments

Capitalize only when referring to the department by its official name:

Office of Marketing and Communications
Department of Sociology and Social Work
School of Nursing
Office of Alumni & Parent Relations

Otherwise, lowercase should be used:

marketing and communications
sociology and social work department
nursing school
alumni office

Buildings/Campus Locations

All proper names of buildings, such as Waldschmidt Hall, should be capitalized. Terms such as “east quad” and “new residence hall” should not be capitalized, unless they are used in the title. Boardroom is one word.

Bauccio Commons
Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center
Bell Tower
Buckley Center (includes Buckley Center Auditorium)
Chapel of Christ the Teacher (but the chapel)
Chiles Center
Christie Hall
Clark Library
Clive Charles Soccer Complex (includes Merlo Field, Rev. Chester Prusynski, C.S.C. Field)
Corrado Hall
Dundon-Berchtold Hall
Etzel Field
Fields Hall
Franz Hall
Haggerty Hall
Holy Cross Court
Kenna Hall
Louisiana-Pacific Tennis Center
Lund Family Hall
Mago Hunt Center (includes Mago Hunt Theater and Mago Hunt Recital Hall)
Mehling Hall
Orrico Hall
Physical Plant
Pilot House
Campus Safety
River Campus
Romanaggi Hall
Schoenfeldt Hall
Shiley Hall
Shipstad Hall
St. Mary’s Student Center
Swindells Hall
Tyson Hall
Villa Maria
Waldschmidt Hall


Capitalize only when used with a number, letter, or name. Room numbers should follow the building name.

the meeting will be in Franz Hall Room 320
meet in the training room
the movie will be shown in Buckley Center Room 163
Franz Hall 320 


Use lowercase for general sections of the city, but capitalize widely recognized names for city regions.

The University is in North Portland.
The meetings will be downtown.
There are great restaurants in the Pearl District. 

Classes and Courses

Use lowercase when you refer to classes and courses, unless you use the specific (and complete) title or the name carries a proper noun or numeral.

I have a class in biomedical engineering
I’m taking Biomedical Instrumentation 564

Days, Months, and Seasons

Abbreviations are acceptable for Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. and days of the week (be consistent). Use no punctuation if listing only the month and the year, but set the year off with commas if listing the day of the month as well. Seasons (fall, spring, summer, winter) do not need to be capitalized.

The basketball game is on Thursday, Feb. 16.
On May 5, 2009, she graduated.
…in May 2009…
The class of '02 was…
…the sixties…
…during the 1990s…
During fall semester…
…in fall 2011
Hundreds of classes are offered during summer session.

Official Titles

Official personal titles immediately preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas are not. Descriptive or “unofficial” titles also are not capitalized. This rule applies to both academic and administrative titles.

Associate Professor Jane Doe…
Jane Doe, associate professor of nursing,…
…nursing professor Jane Doe…

…says Dean of Admissions Jason McDonald.
Jason McDonald, dean of admissions, says…
…according to admissions dean Jason McDonald 


Region names are capitalized when they stand alone and are widely understood to designate a specific geographic area.

Oregon Coast
the Gorge
the West Coast
the midwestern United States
the Midwest

Religious Terms

Use the following capitalization for Catholic and religious terminology.

Catholic Church
the Church (when referring to the Catholic Church)
Congregation of Holy Cross
Old Testament
New Testament
Pope Francis

Bible chapters and verses

Matthew 8:32-33
2 Samuel 7:18

Religious Titles

On first reference to a Congregation of Holy Cross priest, use “Rev.” or “Fr.” before the name and “, CSC,” immediately following the name. Second reference will be the priest’s last name.

University of Portland President Rev. Mark L. Poorman, CSC, announced...
... according to Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., president.

The Garaventa Center’s Rev. Charlie Gordon, CSC, will give the lecture. Gordon serves as co-director of the center.

First reference for a nun should give her full title. Second reference will be the nun’s last name.

Sr. Mary Thomas, OP, will hold her class in Buckley Center Auditorium. Thomas teaches three mathematics courses at the University.

Student Classifications

Student classifications (first-year, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate student) are not capitalized unless part of a formal title:

He is a senior communication major.
The Senior Class gift was a scholarship.

Time of Day

Abbreviations for the division of day (a.m. and p.m.) should be lowercase and used with a space after the number. When writing a time that falls on the hour, do not use “:00.” Use “noon” and “midnight,” never 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

1 a.m.
2:30 p.m.