• Generally, no hyphen: atypical.

a, an

  • Pronunciation should determine the article to be used. Use a before consonant sounds: a historic event; use an before vowel sounds: an honorable man.



  • An abbreviation is the shortened version of a word: Street, St. An acronym is an abbreviation that generally uses the first letter of each word: United Nations, UN; Eastern Standard Time, EST. See acronyms. Avoid abbreviations unless necessary. See addresses, dates.
  • Avoid abbreviations that are not easily recognizable to readers: Lieutenant, Lt.

academic degrees

  • Academic degrees should be spelled out and lowercased: He earned a doctorate in engineering.
  • Capitalize when using the official name of the degree: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science.
  • Lowercase the academic discipline: Bachelor of Science in construction engineering, Master of Arts in journalism and mass communication.
  • Use an apostrophe with bachelor’s in journalism, but no apostrophe in Bachelor of Science or Master of Business Administration.
  • When a person has earned more than one degree, it is better to add the word degree for more clarity: He holds three master’s degrees in three different fields. She earned a master's and a doctorate from Harvard.
  • Do not use periods, and do not leave spaces when writing abbreviations: PhD, MA, BS, BA.
  • The word degree should not follow the abbreviation.
    • Incorrect: He has a BA degree in journalism.
    • Correct: He has a BA in journalism.

academic departments

  • Capitalize when using the official name of the department: Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Lowercase shortened, unofficial versions: journalism and mass communication department.
  • Capitalize proper nouns even when using the unofficial name: English and comparative literature department, Middle East studies department.
  • Click here for a list of academic departments at AUC.

academic integrity (council)

  • Capitalize when using the official name: Council on Academic Integrity; otherwise lowercase: academic integrity council.

academic year/term

  • See year, academic and semesters.

accept, except

  • Accept means to receive. Except means to exclude.


  • Do not follow an organization’s name with the acronym or abbreviation in parentheses on first reference. On second reference, write the acronym with no periods or parentheses.


  • Place AD before the number and BC after the number. Do not write fourth century AD. The fourth century is sufficient. If AD is not specified with a year, the year is presumed to be AD.


  • Spell out street and avenue with a numbered address: 20 El Tiseen Street, 420 Fifth Avenue.
  • Spell out and capitalize when part of a formal street name: Sheikh Rihan Street.
  • Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Mohamed Mahmoud and Sheikh Rihan streets.
  • Always use figures for an address number: 5 El Tiseen Street.
  • Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above: 420 Fifth Avenue, Ninth Street.
  • Rules for numerals apply with regard to floor numbers. Spell out one through nine; write 10 and above as figures: second floor, 10th floor. Capitalize only when part of a formal street address. Lowercase in tables or running text.
  • Abbreviate and capitalize room (Rm) and apartment (Apt). Do not use periods or the number sign (#).
  • Use periods in the abbreviations P.O. for P.O. Box numbers.
  • In U.S. addresses, abbreviate state names (without periods) when used in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base: New York, NY.
  • In running text, place a comma between the city and the state name. Spell out the state name: She traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, then to Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The standard addresses for AUC are: 
    • AUC New Cairo
      AUC Avenue
      P.O. Box 74
      New Cairo 11835
      AUC Tahrir Square
      113 Kasr El Aini St.
      P.O. Box 2511
      Cairo 11511, Egypt
  • For the New York office, the address is as follows:
    • 420 Lexington Ave., Suite 1644
      New York, NY 10170

administration, administrator 

  • Always lowercase administration: the president’s administration, Obama’s administration. Never abbreviate administrator and capitalize only when used as part of a formal title before a name: Administration Building.

adopt, approve, enact, pass 

  • Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.

adverse, averse 

  • Adverse means unfavorable: adverse conditions. Averse means reluctant, opposed or resistant: averse to change.


  • Do not use advisor. However, use advisory.  

affect, effect

  • Affect (v.): to influence, (n.) emotion (term used in psychology).
  • Effect (v.): to cause, (n.) result.


  • The term for the people and culture of Afghanistan. Afghani is the Afghan unit of currency.


  • No hyphen after this prefix when it is used to form a noun: afterthought, aftereffect. Use a hyphen only in the case of a compound modifier: after-lunch snack.


  • Not afterwards. Also, see backward, onward, toward. 


  • Always write in figures, unless the age marks the beginning of a sentence or headline.
  • Where the age is used as an adjective before a noun or a substitute for a noun, use hyphens: She has a 1-year-old boy. The game is for 6-year-olds.
  • Do not use the word years or years old unless required by the context: The woman, 40, has a son who is 20 years old. The constitution is 100 years old.
  • Do not use an apostrophe for age ranges: The man is in his 50s.

aid, aide 

  • Aid means assistance. An aide is a person who serves as an assistant

Al Jazeera

all right 

  • Never use alright.

all time, all-time 

  • all-time high, but the greatest runner of all time.

alma mater

  • School, college or university from which one has graduated.
  • No capitalization and no italics.

almost never 

  • Do not use the phrase. Instead, use seldom or hardly ever.

a lot

  • Not alot.


  • In a series or list, alphabetize using the letter-by-letter method.
  • In people’s names, initials should precede any name beginning with the same letter: Robinson, T. comes before Robinson, Theodore.
  • Accented words should be alphabetized as though unaccented.
  • Numbers should be alphabetized as though they were spelled out.

alumni, alumnae, alumna, alumnus

  • alumni: plural for male and female graduates of a university.
  • alumnae: plural for female graduates.
  • alumna: singular for a female graduate.
  • alumnus: singular for a male graduate.


  • Do not capitalize and do not use periods: 11 am.
  • Avoid redundancy: 9 am this morning.


  • Use for both men and women. Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Ambassador Nabil Fahmy. See titles.

America, American

  • Use United States or U.S. instead: He is from the United States; He is a U.S. citizen.

The American University in Cairo

  • Use AUC on second reference. Capitalize the in running text.

among, between 

  • Between introduces two items and among introduces more than two. The funds were divided among Ahmed, Sarah and Mona.

ampersand (&)

anchor, anchorman, anchorwoman

  • Use anchor instead of anchorwoman, anchorman or anchorperson.


  • Avoid using and/or. Use or instead.
    • Incorrect: You may submit your papers on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
    • Correct: You may submit your papers on Wednesday or Thursday.


  • Lowercase anniversaries: centennial, bicentennial.


  • Avoid first anniversary or time spans less than a year such as six-month anniversary. 


  • An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years.

annual meeting 

  • Lowercase in all uses.


  • Generally, do not use hyphens when forming a compound that does not have a special meaning and which can be understood if anti- is used before the word.
  • Use a hyphen before proper nouns: anti-Islamic, anti-European.
  • Consult The American Heritage Dictionary; if the word is not listed, hyphenate.
  • Hyphenate all except the following words, which have specific meanings of their own:





































antiseptic, disinfectant

  • Antiseptics, such as hand sanitizers, are used to kill germs on living things. Disinfectants, such as bleach, are used on inanimate things, such as countertops and handrails. The adjective is disinfectant, not disinfecting.

antiviral (n., adj.), antivirus (adj.)

  • No hyphen in either term. Use antiviral in medical references: an antiviral drug, antivirals to fight COVID-19. Use antivirus in general references: antivirus measures, antivirus controls.

antivirus, antispyware

anticipate, expect 

  • Anticipate means to expect and prepare for something; expect does not include the notion of preparation: They expect a record crowd. They have anticipated it by adding more seats to the auditorium.

anybody, any body, anyone, any one

  • Use word for an indefinite reference: Anyone can attend the lecture. Use two words when singling out one aspect of a group: Any one of them may help out.


Arabic names

  • Use the individual’s preference as to how to spell his or her name in English.
  • If the individual’s preference is not known, use an English spelling that is close to the way the name sounds in Arabic. If the name is that of a celebrity or political figure, check how it is commonly spelled in the media.
  • Capitalize Al or El and do not hyphenate.
  • In general, use an English spelling that approximates the way a name sounds in Arabic. In running text, italicize Arabic words, followed by their English definition in square brackets. However, do not italicize Arabic names of websites or student clubs: Alashanek Ya Balady club, Al Quds club, Maktoob website.

Arab Spring or Arab Awakening 

  • Refers to the wave of revolutions and protests that occurred in the Arab world starting December 2010 and included countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen.

Arabic words

  • Do not italicize hajj, Ramadan and jihad. 
  • Consult The American Heritage Dictionary. If the word is listed, do not italicize. If it is not listed, italicize.


  • Avoid archeology. 

assure, ensure, insure

  • Assure: to make someone feel certain about something; give confidence to.
  • Ensure: to guarantee.
  • Insure: reference to insurance.

asterisk (*)

  • Use to indicate footnoted material.
  • Asterisks follow punctuation marks and go inside parentheses.

award, fellowship, scholarship

  • Capitalize award, fellowship and scholarship when part of the official name: Fulbright Scholarship, Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award, Public School Scholarship; otherwise, lowercase: honorary scholarship. See Awards.