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Degrees, academic 
Abbreviations for academic degrees should not have periods. Multiple degrees should be separated by commas. Consider spelling out lesser-known academic degrees on first reference.

John Doe, MD, PhD, MPH,
James Eliot, Doctor of Divinity (DD),

Ordinal numbers 
Do not use the abbreviations th, rd, or nd with numerals or dates.

second edition, not 2nd edition
the September 23 meeting, Not: the September 23rd meeting

Postal abbreviations of state names 
When publishing an entire address that includes a zip code, use the two-letter postal abbreviation for states, which are in all-caps. (For example: Baltimore, MD 21205.)

State names  
See State Names.

United States, U.S. 
See United States, U.S.


Spell out most acronyms fully at first mention, followed by the acronym in parentheses, unless the meaning is clear to a general audience or the text is aimed at a very specialized audience. After the first reference, use the acronym.

Acronyms that we use regularly at the School do not need to be spelled out, even in a first mention. These include:

  • AIDS
  • CDC
  • NIH
  • UN
  • WHO

Note: At this time, we still spell out "nongovernmental organization" in a first mention, and then abbreviate to NGO henceforth.

Use of periods
Do not use periods in acronyms unless an organization’s style calls for them.



  • a.k.a., when used for also known as.
  • e.g., when used for for example.
  • i.e., when used for that is.

For organizations 
Avoid coining acronyms for organizations; instead, merely shorten the name after the first reference. The Baltimore Education Reform Committee might subsequently be referred to as the educational reform committee or even the reform committee.

Plural form of acronyms
For acronyms, add s (or es) to form the plural. The plural form of an acronym takes no apostrophe.

Exception: Acronyms ending in the letter s take an apostrophe: SOS's

Note: Be careful to distinguish between acronyms and abbreviations, which have different (and complex) rules regarding plural forms. You should consult a style book (first AP, then Chicago) for specific situations. 

Cases in point:
President Bush promised us WMDs, and look at what we got.
That Prius may get 50 mpg, but it still doesn't beat a bike.


Acronym of School’s name
We will retain JHSPH as the School’s acronym (partly because this is our domain name on the Internet, which cannot be changed). Do not use BSPH or JHBSPH.

Acronyms for JHU's Schools and Divisions- see Johns Hopkins University, Acronyms

Address of the School    

So that the School address will be consistent across all publications, write the address like this “North” is abbreviated and “Street” is spelled out):

615 N. Wolfe Street, W1600
Baltimore, MD 21205


In keeping with AP style, we spell it adviser, not advisor. We'll leave "advisor" to the British.

Exception: We'll retain the spelling used by an official board or institution.


Several species of the Aedes mosquito are vectors of several types of diseases, including dengue. We always initial-cap and italicize Aedes; if a species name follows, that word is italicized as well, but not initial-capped.

The Aedes mosquito causes misery in tropical regions.
Aedes aegypti transmits dengue and yellow fever.

African American


When used as a noun, do not hyphenate; hyphenate when used as an adjective.

African Americans are U.S. residents with African ancestry.
Barack Obama is the first African-American president of the U.S.


Let's be sensitive when using the term, and avoid using the term African American as a blanket term for black people. A few points:

Some black people prefer to be referred more specifically, e.g., Jamaican Americans or West Indians.

The term African American could apply to a white person who was born and raised in Africa and then migrated to the U.S.

It may be important to distinguish between groups of African Americans who are descended from African slaves, and those who are recent, voluntary immigrants to the U.S.

Use your best judgment.


Use Arabic numbers for people’s ages.

She is 7 years old.
He is a 9-year-old child.

Avoid using "aged" to describe someone. (Feel free to use "aged" when describing cheese.) Use "age" or "ages," as follows:

Globally, youth ages 15 to 24 make up half of the world's population.
Preschool-age and school-age children suffer most from poor nutrition.


AIDS is a commonly used acronym for the disease known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. No periods. All-caps. Occasionally, we'll see the acronym spelled with an initial-cap only (Aids). We don't do that here.

See also HIV.
See also STI.

Alaska Natives

This term may be used in substitution for the pejorative and outdated "Eskimo."

Alaska Natives are indigenous peoples native to the U.S. state of Alaska. They include Inuit, Inupiat, Yup'ik, Aleut, and several Native American peoples, including Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan peoples.

See also Native American and Inuit.

Alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus

alumnus (singular, man)
alumna (singular, woman)
alumni (plural, men only or men and women)
alumnae (plural, women only)

Alumni, graduation years of

When including the graduation years of alumni, commas are placed after the person’s name and after the year. A closing apostrophe (’), not an opening apostrophe (‘), appears in front of the date. (Use “SmartQuotes.”)

Jane Smith, MPH ’75, associate professor, Epidemiology, said ...
John Smith, PhD ’75, MPH ’72, ...

Note: Include dates for JHSPH degrees only, not for SOM, SON, JHU, etc.

a.m, p.m.

a.m. and p.m. are lowercase, have periods, and are preceded by a space.

11 a.m. (NOT : 11a.m.)

America, American

To avoid discriminatory language, use North America and North American, not American and America. Similarly, use the developing world and the developed world, not the Third World and the First World.

For guidelines on how to designate peoples who are native to this continent (referred to by some as American Indians), see Native American.

American Indian

We prefer to use the term Native American when referring to indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America, including the Arctic regions, as it seems the more accurate and inclusive term. Furthermore, by adopting Native American and eschewing American Indian, we avoid the confusing reference to the sub-continent of India; as far as we know, indigenous and aboriginal populations of the western hemisphere share no ancestry with the peoples of India.

At the School, the ongoing discussion is further complicated by the existence of the Center for American Indian Health (CAIH), founded in 1991 by Professor Mathuram Santosham, whose country of origin is India. Santosham interjects levity (and irony) into the discussion, however; when introducing himself at lectures or presentations for Native Americans, he sometimes begins by joking that, if, 500 years ago, the Europeans had had a better sense of direction, they might be the ones presenting the lecture to him.

Ampersand (&)

Use this symbol if it is part of an official title or company name; otherwise, spell out the word and.


Several species of the Anopheles mosquito are malaria vectors. We always initial-cap and italicize Anopheles; if a species name follows, that word is italicized as well, but not initial-capped.

The Anopheles mosquito is a nasty creature.
Anopheles gambiae transmits a particularly brutal form of the malaria parasite.

Sometimes we use the word anophelene (no cap, roman) as a noun.

The pesky anophelenes were deterred by the bed nets.


One word. No hyphen.

Anti- (prefix)

As a general rule, we try to eliminate use of the hyphen after the prefix anti-.


But sometimes there must be exceptions.


Use your best judgment.

Antiretroviral therapy

A couple things about antiretriviral therapy.

  • "Antiretroviral" is one word, no hyphen.
  • Also, while some publications use the term "ARV therapy," we prefer the simpler ART.


Designating year of graduation
When including the graduation years of alumni, commas are placed after the person’s name and after the year. A closing apostrophe (’), not an opening apostrophe (‘), appears in front of the date. (With “SmartQuotes,” to get a closing apostrophe at the start of the date, you must hit the apostrophe key twice, then backspace and erase the first [opening] apostrophe.) The degree appears first, then the date of the degree.

Jane Smith, MPH ’75, associate professor, Epidemiology, said ...
John Smith, PhD ’75, MPH ’72, ...

Use of the apostrophe to indicate possession
The use of the possessive apostrophe has become boggy. There was a time when every publication and editor worth his or her salt designated possession (for singular words) with an apostrophe followed by an s, regardless of whether or not the noun ended with a sibilant such as s or x. Now there is a rift, as some publications (and the Associated Press) have decided, in an effort to keep their copy "clean," to drop the possesive s when following a sibilant.

A few points:

  • The Washington Post retains the s.
  • The New York Times is inconsistent, sometimes retaining the s and sometimes dropping it. 
  • AP Style is to drop the s.
  • Chicago Style is to retain the s.

We choose to retain the s.
Examples of usage:

Dickens's novels
Laos's health care infrastructure
Congress's resolution
Bill Gates's funding
The Red Sox's only home run
Anthrax's threat
Gerard Manley Hopkins's poetry

Look at France, where the controls at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport are just as invasive as those at Reagan National Airport. [Washington Post]

Operating in Starbucks's very large shadow, Peet's is one of several small coffee retailers that are expanding from strong regional bases. [New York Times]

There is an exception: When referring to this University, we drop the s, resulting in Hopkins'.

Johns Hopkins' influence on Maryland's economy...


See antiretroviral therapy.

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