Style and Resources

This page includes exceptions and additions to AP Stylebook guidance. Dictionary: Merriam-Webster Online


Names of institutions, organizations, diseases, programs, projects, etc., are spelled out the first time they appear in an article, but do not enclose abbreviations in parentheses unless the term is an obscure one that our readers might not recognize; as always, however, let clarity be your guide.

If in doubt, err on the side of including the parenthetical abbreviation following the spelled-out full name.

No periods between letters in abbreviations (UCLA, CDC) unless their absence could cause confusion.

Please note: Some abbreviations have entries in M-W, such as CDC, NIH, FDA; these are likely to be understood by our readers and may even stand alone in some cases.

Options for styling spelled-out/abbreviations:

  • The benefits of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) are familiar to many.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958. Since its inception, NASA has …
  • The debate over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is by no means limited to the United States.


Use accent marks for personal names and place names as appropriate; check M-W and/or AP for guidance on words, such as cliché, that may need a diacritical mark in English.


Harvard’s guidelines for online content

Hyperlink best practice:

  • All links should open in same window. This is the default in Word, and the formatting will carry over into Drupal
  • Grab enough text to give meaningful context for screen readers; do not link on single words such as “here.”


Adapted from a Beth Israel Deaconess news release. Link the entire sentence.

The findings, published April 6 in Nature, open new avenues to looking at this problem.


  • Capitalize all principal words in headlines (do not capitalize articles, conjunctions, prepositions).
  • In decks, capitalize the first word and proper nouns only.


The following links include guidance on race, disability, age, size, gender, and sexuality and more. This is not an exhaustive list. It is always good to double-check current sources in this rapidly evolving style area!

Some AP guidance
Race-related coverage

Transgender coverage

Inclusive communication guides for health care & public health professionals
APA Style: Bias-free language
AMA-AAMC Center for Health Equity: Advancing health equity—A guide to language, narrative and concepts
CDC health equity guiding principles for inclusive communication

Other guidance
BuzzFeed Style Guide
Conscious Style Guide
Diversity Style Guide
Trans Journalists Association
National Association of Black Journalists
Conscious Style Toolkit
ACES Diversity and Inclusion Resources
Diversity Style Guides for Journalists


  • Italicize gene, genus, and genus/species names: BRCA1; FOXP3; Salpingoeca rosetta (S. rosetta 2nd reference); Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans)
  • Italicize publication titles (e.g., magazines, journals, newspapers, books, movies); the New England Journal of Medicine

Do not use unless there are two people at HMS with the same name, e.g., John F. Smith and John Q. Smith. OK in half-staffs or if an individual specifically requests it.

Style using person's preference; keep style used in quoted material. See AP guidance on foreign names here.

Diverging from AP style, all HMS publications use the series (Oxford) comma: I have two peaches, one apple, and three pears.
Apostrophe with possessive: HMS’ (not HMS’s)

Reliable sources for checking quotes include the Yale Book of Quotations (HU library), Quote Investigator (free online), and Wikiquote.

Insert subheads (H3) for articles six paragraphs or longer [for Drupal]

Use ET, Eastern Time [CT, Central; MT, Mountain; PT, Pacific]
2 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. ET, 2 – 5:30 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET

For international audiences, consider U.S. Eastern Time for greater clarity.

Questions? Contact Susan Karcz at

Updated August 2022