Duke University School of Medicine follows the AP Stylebook, with some exceptions.

See the sections below for our recommendations on common questions and the exceptions we make to AP style. In most cases, we echo Duke Health Writing Style and the Duke Language Usage Guide.

Our guidance here largely follows the Duke Language Usage Guide. 

Department names are uppercase only when written out as the formal, official name of the department (e.g., the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Music). In all other instances, department names are lowercase (the music department, the physics department), unless the subject in question is a proper noun (the English department, the German department).

The same rule applies to institutes, centers, schools, etc. (the School of Nursing; the nursing school).

Also see the entry for Faculty Positions, Professorships, and Other Titles, below.

When listing medical degrees or other advanced degrees for a faculty member or alumnus, list the MD and the highest degree obtained, such as PhD. But if there is a non-medical degree, such as MPA or MPH, or a certification, list that after the terminal degree.


  • Mary Smith, MD, PhD
  • Svati Shah, MD, MHS
  • Brigit Carter, PhD, CCRN
  • John Sampson, MD, PhD, MBA, MHSc

In academic degree abbreviations, do not use periods. This style follows Duke Health's writing style recommendations.

When talking about someone with a master’s degree, AP Style treats it differently depending on whether you’re talking about a specific degree or master’s degrees in general. The exact degree is uppercase, but the subject is lowercased in master’s degrees.


  • Master of Fine Arts in interactive media
  • Master of Science in leadership
  • Master of Arts in international administration

See: Degrees and Their Abbreviations, below. 

For guidance about use of courtesy titles such as Dr., see the section on Personal Names.

For guidance about listing degrees and credentials in DukeMed Alumni News and other development publications, please visit the special section on Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs Publications.

In general, in news and feature stories, use “said” when attributing direct quotes and other statements.

Intentional exceptions can be made in feature stories when a scene is set in the present tense.


We do make an exception to AP Style by using the serial comma. In a series of three or more items, each item is separated by a comma.


  • Students will gather, dine, and study at the life center.

Initials in Personal Names

Following AP style, when initials are used for given names, use periods and no space between two initials; include a space after the final initial only.


  • David A. Pickel
  • A.K. Spivey
  • M. Fisher

Jr., Sr., III, etc.

No comma is needed between a person’s last name and Jr., Sr., III, etc.

Latin terms

Set common Latin terms in roman type. Terms are considered common if they are listed in Merriam Webster dictionary

Examples of common terms include:

  • emeritus
  • in vitro
  • in vivo
  • summa cum laude
  • alma mater

AP does not use italics for scientific or biological names, such as bacteria or viruses. Capitalize the first, or generic, Latin name for the class of plant or animal and lowercase the species that follows.


  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Aedes agypti
  • Tyrannosaurus rex

Titles of Works

We follow AP Style : capitalize the titles of books, movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches, and works of art. These titles are also enclosed in quotation marks.


  • Neil Spector, MD, wrote “Gone in a Heartbeat,” which chronicles his long battle with Lyme disease.

Also following AP, titles of shorter works such as newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and single episodes of TV or radio series should be capitalized, but not enclosed in quotation marks.

Use of University

Lowercase the word university unless it’s used in a formal title.


  • He is a student at the university.
  • She attends Duke University School of Medicine.


Generally speaking, primary appointments of a doctor in his or her field of study are indicated by “of,” while  appointments in their non-primary field are indicated by “in.”


  • A physician (MD degree in pediatrics) would be appointed assistant professor of pediatrics, but their appointment in the Department of Immunology would be assistant professor in immunology.
  • A person with a PhD degree in biochemistry would be assistant professor of biochemistry, but their appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology would be assistant professor in anesthesiology.
  • Cardiologist Christopher O’Connor, MD, professor of medicine, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences

Also note that faculty appointments are made in the department, not the division.


  • Christopher O’Connor, MD, is a professor of medicine, not a professor of cardiology.

When in doubt, follow the titles listed in scholars@duke

In cases where faculty members have multiple titles, when identifying the person in a magazine article or other running text, use only their primary appointment and one other relevant title, such as a secondary appointment or a directorship of a center. However, when the faculty member is signing a letter, email, or a message introducing a publication or brochure, their full list of titles may be used if the individual desires.

Capitalization of Academic Titles

In ordinary sentence text, we follow AP’s general rule, as well as the Duke University Language Usage Guide:

Formal titles such as academic and professional titles are capitalized only when they immediately precede an individual’s name.


  • Professor of Medicine John Doe, MD, addressed the audience.
  • Among the audience were School of Medicine Dean Jane Doe, MD, and Department of Surgery Chair Joe Jones, MD.
  • We welcome Dean Doe and Professor Jones.

Academic and professional titles are lowercased when they follow the name and are set off by commas or they stand alone in a sentence.


  • John Doe, MD, professor of medicine, addressed the audience.
  • Jane Doe, MD, is the dean of the School of Medicine.
  • We welcome the dean and the professor.

Named professorships are an exception to the general rule. These are capitalized in all instances.


  • Bayard Carter Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology John Doe, MD, addressed the crowd.
  • John Doe, MD, the F. Bayard Carter Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, addressed the crowd.
  • John Doe, MD, is the F. Bayard Carter Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In non-sentence text such as bulleted lists, event schedules, or directory listings, titles should be capitalized even after the name.


  • Awardees
  • Professor of Medicine Jane Doe
  • Jane Doe, Professor of Medicine
  • Dean Joe Jones, MD
  • Current Titles: Chair, Department of Medicine; R. J. Reynolds Professor of Medicine; Professor of Pathology; Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

The general rule of thumb, then, is: If it’s in a sentence, capitalize a title only when it immediately precedes the name or if it is a named professorship. If it’s not in a sentence, capitalize titles regardless of where they appear.

To confirm faculty titles and named professorships, etc., use scholars.duke.edu

Use the shortest working URL in text. Do not use http:// nor www. 

Examples: dukehealth.org, duke.edu

website, not web site

email, not e-mail

Internet, not internet

In general, follow AP style: spell out one through nine, and use figures for 10 or above; use figures whenever a number is preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things; use figures in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.

Clinical Trial Phases

For ease of reading by non-scientists, lowercase and use words, rather than roman or cardinal numerals. This practice follows AP style. 


  • Correct: She is leading phase one, phase two, and phase three clinical trials.
  • Incorrect: She is leading Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III clinical trials.


Generally spell out amounts less than one in stories, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths, seven-sixteenths, etc.

Use figures for precise amounts larger than one, converting to decimals whenever practical. See the AP Stylebook for further guidance.

Phone Numbers

Always include the area code.

Use hyphens for phone numbers. Example: 919-419-3270

Toll-free numbers do not require “1-” (HS)


  • 888-ASK-DUKE
  • 800-MED-DUKE
  • 877-555-5555

As space permits, add the numeral translations of vanity phone numbers.

  • 888-ASK-DUKE (275-3853)
  • 800-MED-DUKE (633-3853)

Time of Day

In all instances, except for noon and midnight (which AP recommends writing out, without numerals), AP recommends indicating the time of day as follows:
3 p.m. (lowercase a.m. and p.m., use periods, and with a space between the numeral and a.m./p.m.).
The dinner begins promptly at 7 p.m.
Lunch is at noon.

The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. should not be used with morningafternooneveningnight, or o’clock.

Example: She began writing at 5 every morning.

If a time range is entirely in the morning or evening, use a.m. or p.m. only once. Use both if the range spans the morning and the evening.


  • Reception: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Talks: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Years – Ranges

When listing a range of years in class notes or obituaries, the format is as follows: Jones was on the medical board from 1968-1992.

When listing a range of years in news or feature articles, the format is as follows: Jones was on the medical board from 1968 to 1992.

This guidance follows AP style, which is to pick either style and be consistent within one story or document.

Duke Cancer Institute on first reference. On second reference, the institute, Duke, or DCI. When using DCI, do so only on second reference, after spelling out the full name on first reference and indicating the abbreviation in parentheses.

Duke Cancer Center is the name of Duke Cancer Institute’s physical treatment facility.

Duke Children’s (not Duke Children’s Hospital or Duke Children’s Health Center).

Duke Eye Center 

Duke-Kunshan University, located in Kunshan, China, is a Duke University partnership with the Municipality of Kunshan and Wuhan University.

Duke-NUS Medical School. Duke-NUS is acceptable on second and subsequent references. Duke-NUS is a collaboration between Duke University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Duke Raleigh Hospital

Duke Regional Hospital

When referring to the medical school at Duke, use Duke University School of Medicine (not Duke Medical School.)

Duke University Hospital (not Duke Hospital).

Duke University School of Nursing (not Duke Nursing School). On second reference, School of Nursing or the school. In general, avoid the acronym DUSON, except when writing for Duke Nursing magazine. For the magazine, use Duke University School of Nursing on first reference and DUSON on second reference. DUSON is not acceptable on first reference.

Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (not VA Hospital).

Mary E. Klotman, MD, executive vice president for health affairs at Duke University and dean of Duke University School of Medicine. In most cases, when identifying her on first reference, use both of these titles as written above. The executive vice president title is her highest title and always comes first.

Klotman does hold a third title: Chief Academic Officer of Duke University Health System. This title can be used in signatures or standalone identifiers in formal letters or messages, such as the welcome letter at the beginning of DukeMed Alumni News. Otherwise, it is rarely used.

For DukeMed Alumni News and other publications or letters for which School of Medicine alums are the primary audience, it’s acceptable to refer to her in informal uses or on second reference by her deanship only: Dean Mary Klotman or Mary Klotman, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.

School of Public Health at Wuhan University in Wuhan City, China.

In magazines, newsletters, and other publications or products for a wide, general audience, on first reference, use a source’s first and last name, with any relevant academic degrees or titles. On second reference, refer to the source by last name only, without a courtesy title. Use of courtesy titles such as “Dr.” can be used in these products only if they are in a direct quote.

These guidelines concur with Duke Health's writing style recommendations.


  • Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, spoke at the Symposium on Canine Comparative Oncology. Kastan is executive director of Duke Cancer Institute.
  • “Dr. Smith saved my life,” said Jane Doe, of her oncologist, Sarah Smith, MD.

Use of courtesy titles such as “Dr.” are acceptable on second reference in pieces that are from a particular person, such as letters or emails, or in impact reports, proposals, and other materials with a limited audience.

If two people with the same last name are mentioned in a story, use both first and last names on all references. However, when referring to children ages 15 and under, AP style recommends using first names on second reference. Note: Editors may make exceptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis, to suit the style or tone of a specific publication.


  • Sally and John Rogers attended the reunion every year for 10 years. After Sally Rogers passed away, John Rogers didn’t know if he could bear to attend without her.

When using names of states, write them out in all instances, including when used with a city. Exception: in tables or return addresses.


  • She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • The couple met in Houston, Texas.
  • He lives in Virginia.

When using a city and state name together in the middle of a sentence, always include a comma after the state.


  • John Jones of Miami, Florida, died in August.

drug-resistant (one word, hyphenated)

fundraiser (one word)

health care (two words)

layperson (one word)


poliovirus (one word)

Southeast Asia (two words)

U.S. News & World Report (uses an ampersand and includes a space after “U.S.”)

zebrafish (one word)


The AP Stylebook includes a comprehensive entry on hyphenation and hyphenation of compound modifiers. Use a hyphen only when it is needed to avoid ambiguity. Also, many compound adjectives are hyphenated before a noun, but not when used after a noun.

When in doubt, follow Merriam Webster Dictionary.


  • She lives in a middle-class neighborhood. This neighborhood is middle class.
  • Philanthropy is needed to fund high-risk, high-reward science. He knew the procedure was high risk.