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MIT Libraries House Style

A standardized style sheet for use in print and on public web pages



For a useful list, visit the page Acronyms and Abbreviations Used at MIT.
Aeronautics and Astronautics USE short form: "Aero/Astro" rather than "Aero-Astro"
alumni/ae Preferred to "alumni". "Alumni" is approved for special short text uses (such as link names).
Archives Singular noun
Ask Us! include exclamation point
Ask Us! — Live include exclamation point and use an em dash, not an en dash (a hyphen) in print
Athena, n. or adj. capitalize; e.g.: "your Athena account"
audio cassette
USE "audiocassette" 
authors@mit "a" is lower-case unless at the beginning of a sentence
Barker Engineering Library "Engineering" is part of this library's official name
Barton capitalize
BookPage note capital "P"
Books24x7 the "x" is lower-case
USE "catalog"
USE "CDs" for plural
Christmas vacation USE "winter vacation"
Collection Services "Collection" is singular. "Collection Services" is treated as singular in sentences.
compact disc
compact disk
USE "compact  disc"
copy card
USE "copy card"
data plural, e.g.: "the data prove."
data base
USE "database"
desk top
desktop, n. or adj.
USE "desktop"
Digital Instruction Resource Center (DIRC) Building 14N-132. Note the former "/" is no longer used. This replaces the old Library Training Room.
Digital Library of MIT Theses Replaces Digital Thesis Library/MIT Theses online
Digital Thesis Library/MIT Theses online USE "Digital Library of MIT Theses"
Director's Office USE "Office of the Director"
Document Services singular in usage. e.g.: "Document Services has an office in Building 14."
download, n. or v. one word, no hyphen
USE "DVDs" for plural
e- or electronic Make sure context is clear. Consider audience and whether the concept is familiar.
how to capitalize

when at start of sentence or in title: "E-book" (do not capitalize the "b")

This is an arbitrary choice (Publisher's Weekly handles it this way most often).

ebook USE "e-book"
how to capitalize
when at start of sentence or in title: "E-journal" (do not capitalize the "j")
USE "email" with no hyphen
EndNote note capital "N"
e-reserves when at start of sentence or in title: "E-reserves" (do not capitalize the "r")
e-resources when at start of sentence or in title: "E-resources" (do not capitalize the "r")
- USE  "FAQ" for a single set of questions
- USE  "FAQs" for more than one set of questions
- never use "FAQ's"
fax do not capitalize (e.g., not "Fax" or "FAX") in midsentence
inter library, inter-library
USE "interlibrary"
Interlibrary Borrowing service in which the MIT Libraries borrow books from other libraries for members of the MIT community (handled by a unit within Humanities)
Interlibrary Loan service in which the MIT Libraries lend our own materials to members of the outside world (handled by Document Services)
Internet capitalize Internet as a noun, but not as adjective (ex: "internet resources")
laser disc
USE  "laserdisc"
lend this is the correct verb to use--"loan" is a noun only
Lewis Music Library "Lewis" is part of this library's name - do not just use "Music Library"
LexisNexis note capitalization
Libraries' note correct position of the possessive plural apostrophe in constructions such as "Libraries' web site," "MIT Libraries' policy," etc.
Libraries, the

ALWAYS capitalize the word "Libraries" in "the MIT Libraries" or "the Libraries" when MIT Libraries are meant (but do not capitalize "the" midsentence).

Wrong: "Please visit The [MIT] Libraries."

Right: "Welcome to the Libraries."

Libraries, the plural. Ex: "The Libraries are also eager to pursue wireless technology.."
library, as adj. ok to use as adjective, but do not capitalize it
library, the

lower-case "the library" even when referring to a particular library

Ex: "The Lindgren Library is located in 54-200. The library collects material on earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences."

log in as verb: two words
login as noun or adjective: one word. Ex: "the login screen"
media collections Includes CD-ROMs, videotapes, films, DVDs (c.f. "visual collections")

USE "an" as article with "MIT." Ex: "an MIT thesis." (The general rule is that you choose the article based on the way the acronym is pronounced.)

Don't include periods in "MIT."

MIT addresses USE Building, not Room (new Institute style).
Ex: "Building 14S-216."
MIT Libraries, the plural. Ex: "The MIT Libraries are creative partners.."
MITnet one word
OCLC FirstSearch note capital "S"
Office of the Director in formal usage, use this construction, not "Director's Office"
on line
USE "online"
on site
USE "on site"
P-cards Avoid; prefer "Privilege Cards." Use abbreviated form only when context is crystal-clear.
photo copy
USE "photocopy"
plural/singular see: Archives, Libraries, staff, data
Privilege Cards always capitalized; also known as "Library Privilege Cards"
ProQuest Direct note capital "Q"
RetroSpective Collection note capital "S"
rollout as noun, one word
Rotch Visual Collections note "Collections" is plural, but the phrase is used as singular in sentence. Ex: "The Rotch Library Visual Collections contains slides"
Schering-Plough note hyphen
Services All units ending in "Services" are treated as singular within sentences: "Document Services provides you with the best copiers," "Bibliographic Access Services catalogs electronic resources."
staff, n.

Whether the collective noun "staff" is plural or singular is a matter of some contention. TOEFL-takers are told that it depends on the context: "Staff is unanimous" vs. "Staff are in disagreement." (Luckily the latter case almost never happens.)

Since this could lead to having different usages adjacent to each other, it may be best to finesse by avoiding constructions that expose whether plural or singular has been chosen. Ex: use "staff can assist," instead of having to choose between "staff assist" and "staff assists." Another popular dodge is using the term "staff members."

See to read about a library-specific instance of this quandary.

telephone numbers

Use periods between each set of numbers.

Ex: "617.253.0000"

(when set off on the page as in letterhead, mastheads, etc.)

telephone numbers, use of area codes with

Include area codes in all publications which could be conceivably viewed by those not in Cambridge--that is, include the area code on the Web, and in brochures and other widely distributed materials.

In more local contexts (such as an email or a flyer for a particular class) include first 3 digits of phone number.

titles (for jobs) Ask Robin Deadrick for official list of job titles when in doubt.
UnCover Reveal Note capital "C"
USE URLs for plural
URLs, how to represent

Include the http://
(note that using http:// in Eudora makes the URL clickable)

Do not include a final slash after the last directory:


If URL goes over a line in length, break after a slash--do not use hyphens to indicate continuation. (Yes, the Boston Globe does it, but it is confusing.)

To achieve this, use a hard break (Shift + Enter in MS Word). You can increase letterspacing a subtle amount if the resulting line is too short. Having a ragged right margin in your document makes this look less awkward.

USE VCRs for plural
Vera Stands for Virtual Electronic Resource Access. To match style of "Barton," just the first letter is capitalized: "Vera", not "VERA."
versions: electronic, online, web

electronic version: describes resources such as CD-ROMs that are electronic but not online (networked)

online version: describes resources that you dial into online (ex: DIALOG) but which are not necessarily HTML

web version: describes resources that are in HTML & can be accessed through a web browser. This is the most specific term.

video cassette
USE videocassette
videotapes Be consistent whether you use "videotapes" or "videocassettes."
visual collections Includes photographs and slides (c.f. "media collections").
Web, the, n. capitalize Web as a noun, but not as adjective (ex: "web site")
Web-Docs note hyphen
web site Do not capitalize web when used as adjective. You will see others use "Web site" but we feel the capitalization is distracting and that there is no risk of confusion without the cap.
Web site
USE web site
Women's Studies Research Room note the first "R" stands for "research" rather than "reading"
World Wide Web, the Web; nouns capitalize as nouns

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