Editorial style guide

Virginia Commonwealth University’s editorial style guide provides the correct nomenclature to be followed in all internal and external communications, as well as other useful references for writers and editors of university materials.

These guidelines ensure that VCU websites and publications maintain consistency in nomenclature, capitalization, punctuation, etc. The university’s website, alumni magazines and other materials for external audiences also follow AP style.

About our name EEO/AA statement
Academic degrees International partnerships
Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Residence hall
Board of Visitors Special accommodations
Buildings and facilities Universitywide, campuswide
College, school, department What is AP style?

About our name

Use the following rules when referencing VCU and the VCU Medical Center in all internal and external communications. Examples include but are not limited to correspondence, documents, publications, announcements, biographical references, bookstore items, signage, equipment and vehicles, uniforms and patches, and websites.

View the nomenclature diagram Get Adobe Reader for a breakdown of how VCU and the VCU Medical Center interconnect.

Virginia Commonwealth University and its campuses

Spell out Virginia Commonwealth University the first time you refer to it. On subsequent references or in headlines, the more informal VCU is acceptable.

VCU’s campuses

VCU has two main campuses:

  • Monroe Park Campus
  • MCV Campus

The university also has branch campuses and satellite locations in Northern Virginia; Doha, Qatar; and Charles City County, Va. In referring to these campuses and locations, the first reference in text copy should be the complete title.

  • Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences (Rice Center on second reference)
  • VCU Medical Center at Stony Point
  • VCU School of the Arts in Qatar
  • VCU School of Medicine Inova Campus
  • VCU School of Pharmacy Inova Campus
  • VCU School of Social Work – Northern Virginia

Historical context

References to the Medical College of Virginia and Richmond Professional Institute as separate institutions may occur only in historical context before 1968, the year that Virginia Commonwealth University was established.


  • A graduate who obtained an M.D. in 1949 is an alumnus of MCV.
  • A graduate who received a B.F.A. in 1961 is an alumnus of RPI.
  • All graduates after 1968 are alumni of VCU.

Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center

Spell out Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center the first time you refer to it. On subsequent references, VCU Medical Center is acceptable.

The VCU Medical Center refers to the VCU Health System and the clinical initiatives of the VCU health sciences schools. The VCU Medical Center is a collective term. The VCU Medical Center can be used as a location and is encouraged.

The Medical College of Virginia does not exist as a stand-alone entity (except in historical context before 1968) and references using only these initials are incorrect (i.e., VCU/MCV, MCV/VCU or MCV). However, the MCV Alumni Association of VCU and MCV Foundation are exceptions to this rule.

Virginia Commonwealth University Health System

Spell out Virginia Commonwealth University Health System the first time you refer to it. On subsequent references, VCU Health System is acceptable. Do not use the abbreviation VCUHS.

One component of the VCU Medical Center, the VCU Health System is the official governing and management organization for MCV Hospitals, MCV Physicians and the Virginia Premier Medicaid HMO. In an effort to streamline formal names and to more accurately reflect the comprehensive nature of VCU’s academic medical center, the preferred designation for the VCU Health System (including its hospitals and clinics) and the health sciences schools of VCU is the VCU Medical Center.

VCU Health System should be used in reference to employment only (i.e., job postings); do not use VCU Medical Center in reference to employment.

Academic degrees

Use the following abbreviations or full, formal names when referencing the academic degrees available through VCU’s 223 bachelor, master’s, doctoral, first professional and certificate programs.

B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts
B.I.S. Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies
B.M. Bachelor of Music
B.S. Bachelor of Science
B.S.W. Bachelor of Social Work
D.D.S. Doctor of Dental Surgery
D.N.A.P. Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice
D.P.T. Doctor of Physical Therapy
M.A. Master of Arts
M.Acc. Master of Accountancy
M.A.E. Master of Art Education
M.B.A. Master of Business Administration
M.Bin. Master of Bioinformatics
M.D. Doctor of Medicine
M.Ed. Master of Education
M.Envs. Master of Environmental Studies
M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts
M.H.A. Master of Health Administration
M.I.S. Master of Interdisciplinary Studies
M.M. Master of Music
M.P.A. Master of Public Administration
M.P.H. Master of Public Health
M.P.S. Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences
M.S. Master of Science
M.S.A.T. Master of Science in Athletic Training
M.S.D. Master of Science in Dentistry
M.S.H.A. Master of Science in Health Administration
M.S.N.A. Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia
M.S.O.T. Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
M.S.W. Master of Social Work
M.T. Master of Teaching
M.Tax. Master of Taxation
M.U.R.P. Master of Urban and Regional Planning
O.T.D. Post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate
Pharm.D. Doctor of Pharmacy
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who attended VCU. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

Board of Visitors

Use courtesy titles (The Honorable, Dr., Mr., Mrs. or Ms., etc.) when listing the members of the VCU Board of Visitors.

Buildings and facilities

Visit the VCU Maps website for the most current information on university facilities, including building descriptions, parking options, VCU shuttle stops and dining facilities.

College, school, department

Capitalize college, school and department when referring to a specific VCU unit. Do not capitalize when referring to VCU colleges, schools and departments in a more general sense. For a full listing of VCU departments, please view the A to Z index.

Example: Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Biology or the biology department.

EEO/AA statement

In compliance with VCU’s equal employment opportunity/affirmative action policy, one of the following statements should be used on print materials (except invitations) for external audiences. For invitations, refer to the special accommodations entry.

Long version: Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability.

Short version: an equal opportunity/affirmative action university

Ads referring to employment opportunities should also include the following statement: Women, minorities and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

International partnerships

VCU has 15 international partnership universities. VCUQatar is considered a VCU campus and as such is not counted among the partnerships.

Residence hall

Use residence hall, not dormitory or dorm, when referencing one of VCU’s 14 residence halls.

Special accommodations

Invitations or fliers, posters, etc., announcing events should include a special accommodations contact phone number or email, or both.

Example: For special accommodations, call (804) 828-XXXX or email xxx@vcu.edu.

Universitywide, campuswide

No hyphens for universitywide and campuswide.

What is AP style?

The Associated Press Stylebook provides editors with an A to Z guide for usage, spelling and punctuation. These guidelines ensure consistency among VCU websites, alumni magazines and other promotional materials for external audiences.

For non-promotional university materials, follow the style guide specific to that field (i.e., APA, MLA, etc.).

Access AP Online with your VCU eID through VCU Libraries. Questions regarding access should be sent to Sue Robinson, director of communications and public relations for VCU Libraries.

Examples of AP style entries:


Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.

Example: VCU offers fall, winter, spring and summer sessions.

Do not precede a name suffix with a comma.

Example: In 1968, Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. signed VCU into existence.


Lowercase university when referring to VCU in the text.

Example: The university’s academic programs provide a solid foundation for students at every level.