Carnegie Mellon University

Writing Guidelines

Carnegie Mellon University adheres to writing guidelines to ensure a consistent message, tone and personality across mediums. The following reflect common writing questions and scenarios campus communicators may come across while writing.

Visit the common terminology page for a list of frequently used CMU words and acronyms, explanations of their usage and more.


Style

AP Style

The Associated Press (AP) Style is Carnegie Mellon University's preferred standard for grammar and punctuation rules. Hard copies of the current AP Stylebook and a digital service is available at apstylebook.com. If you are unable to purchase an AP Stylebook, Marketing & Communications has hard copies available. For more information, call 412-268-1613.

The AP Stylebook should be your guide for:

  • acronyms and abbreviations
  • business guidelines
  • capitalization
  • dates and times
  • governmental terms
  • numbers
  • places
  • plurals
  • possessives
  • punctuation (commas, dashes, hyphenation, quotations)
  • sports guidelines

Technical terms cheat sheet:

  • cybersecurity
  • artificial intelligence (first reference), AI (second reference)
  • interdisciplinary (one word, no hyphen)
  • multidisciplinary (one word, no hyphen)
  • internet (lowercase l)
  • multimedia (one word, no hyphen)
  • neuroscience
  • spinoff (one word, no hyphen)
  • startup (one word, no hyphen)

In all references to the web use a lowercase w:

  • webcam
  • webcast
  • webinar
  • webmaster
  • website

Look at more Common Terminology


Referencing CMU

Wordmark

The Carnegie Mellon University Wordmark is the official logo of the university. It has been created specifically for use as a Wordmark and cannot be typed. For details on how to obtain and use the Wordmark correctly, see Visual Identity.

First reference

When writing, the first time you refer to the university — whether in print or on the web — use "Carnegie Mellon University." In all subsequent references, use either "Carnegie Mellon" or "CMU." Neither Carnegie Mellon nor CMU should be used on first reference.

Use lowercase when using "the university" as a reference. Example:

  • The university has campuses and programs all over the world.

Additional Campuses

When referring to university programs and campuses outside of Pittsburgh, use the following as a guide:

  • Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (first reference)
    • Carnegie Mellon Qatar (second reference)
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Africa (first reference)
    • Carnegie Mellon Africa (second reference)
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Australia (first reference)
    • Carnegie Mellon Australia (second reference)
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Silicon Valley (first reference; NOT West Coast)
    • Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley (second reference; NOT West Coast)

When using the abbreviation in reference to programs and campuses outside of Pittsburgh, use the following as a guide:

  • CMU-Q (Qatar)
  • CMU-Africa (Africa)
  • CMU-A (Australia)
  • CMU-SV (Silicon Valley)

Reference in External Documents

For external documents, include Carnegie Mellon University in first reference of any college or school. It is the preferred style to write "Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering" or "Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science" when introducing one of the university's seven colleges and schools.

You also should include the college or school name that is connected to an academic program or department. For example, write "College of Fine Arts" or the "School of Drama" on first reference.

For second references, using only the school, college or department name is acceptable.


Boilerplate Messaging

Official boilerplate text

About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon, cmu.edu, is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 14,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Vision statement

Carnegie Mellon University will have a transformative impact on society through continual innovation in education, research, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Mission

To create a transformative educational experience for students focused on deep disciplinary knowledge; problem-solving; leadership, communication and interpersonal skills; and personal health and well-being.

For the individual: The university is committed to cultivating an active, technology-enhanced, "know how to learn" environment in which each individual can grow and thrive. The university remains dedicated to nurturing student, faculty and staff growth in key areas such as deep disciplinary knowledge; leadership, communications and interpersonal skills; as well as physical and emotional well-being.

For the university community: Carnegie Mellon is widely recognized as a destination for world-class talent from around the globe. It will continue to focus on attracting a diverse and inclusive community of students, faculty, staff and alumni willing to cross academic boundaries, in a culture where innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and action are valued and fostered.

For societal impact: The university's strengths in education, research and creativity impact the economic and cultural life of the Pittsburgh region, the nation and the world, as we pursue strategic partnerships and focus on solving societal challenges. CMU will expand its leadership in knowledge creation for the 21st century across our campuses and locations.

Statement of assurance

The Statement of Assurance must be placed in all graduate and undergraduate admission publications and all other publications where such a statement is necessary or appropriate. It may be omitted on some internal publications, including: campus memos, flyers, invitations, limited distribution departmental publications (including many departmental newsletters), posters and/or programs/event signage. It does not need to be included on the following: alumni publications (those not also distributed to faculty and staff), donor recognition publications and fundraising publications.

Policy statement

Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate in admission, employment or administration of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, ancestry, belief, veteran status or genetic information. Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate and is required not to discriminate in violation of federal, state or local laws or executive orders.

Inquiries concerning the application of and compliance with this statement should be directed to the university ombudsman, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, telephone 412-268-1018.

Obtain general information about Carnegie Mellon University by calling 412-268-2000.

In addition to the statement above, please insert the paragraph below in all communications to prospective graduate and undergraduate students as well as communications to prospective employees.

Carnegie Mellon University publishes an annual campus security and fire safety report describing the university's security, alcohol and drug, sexual assault and fire safety policies, and containing statistics about the number and type of crimes committed on the campus, and the number and cause of fires in campus residence facilities during the preceding three years. You can obtain a copy by contacting the Carnegie Mellon Police Department at 412-268-2323. The annual security and fire safety report also is available online at www.cmu.edu/police/annualreports.

Information regarding the application of Title IX, including to admission and employment decisions, the sexual misconduct grievance procedures and process, including how to file a report or a complaint of sex discrimination, how to file a report of sexual harassment, and how the university responds to such reports is available at www.cmu.edu/title-ix. The Title IX coordinator may be reached at 5000 Forbes Ave., 140 Cyert Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; 412-268-7125; or tix@cmu.edu.

For more information regarding the statement of assurance please visit www.cmu.edu/policies/administrative-and-governance/statement-of-assurance.html.

WRiting Tips

Are you a communicator who is having trouble figuring out the best approach to your story? Please contact our content team. We are happy to consult and help you identify the best way to tell your story with the greatest impact.

Please contact:
Jean Hayes, jeanhaye@andrew.cmu.edu
Michael Henninger, mhenninger@cmu.edu
Heidi Opdyke, opdyke@andrew.cmu.edu