General Guidelines for Writing

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) voice reflects the School’s influence, prestige, and impact, while also highlighting the provocative, passionate, and unconventional personality of SAIC’s community of artists, designers, and scholars.

When writing, first consider the audience (prospective students, donors, parents, etc.) and craft your copy accordingly. Overall the voice should be intelligent and approachable, but not overly academic or overly conversational.


  • Write copy in short sentences with active verbs.
  • Create a connection with your audience by speaking to them in second person (you, your) when possible.
  • Think about a key message or goal. Make sure that message is communicated in the heading, first paragraph, or first sentence.
  • Keep paragraphs short—two to three sentences when possible.
  • Break lists into bullet points for easy scanning.
  • Use bold for emphasis.

Do not:

  • Write in passive voice.
  • Use contractions.
  • Use jargon.
  • Underline text solely for emphasis. Underline on the web is reserved for links.

This Editorial Style Guide aims to give clear and straightforward guidelines for preparing and editing copy for SAIC publications, website, or labeling of physical spaces. For answers to specific questions, you should consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, published by the University of Chicago Press, and the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary for correct spelling, hyphenation, and division of words not listed.

This Editorial Style Guide is subject to change, and will be updated as needed. If you have additions or corrections, please contact:

Rowan Beaird
Director of Communications

Inclusive Language

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is committed to an equitable, just environment where the voices of all our students, faculty, and staff are valued and respected. Our Style Guide reflects that commitment by using the preferred language of individuals to communicate identity whenever possible.

Here are some general guidelines for representing identities in written materials:

  • Use racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability, and religious identification when it is relevant to a story. One way to determine whether it is relevant is to ask “Will the story make sense without the information?”
  • Ask people how they would like to be identified in this story. This could change based on the context or timing of the story. Strive for respectful accuracy that observes how people self-identify and allows for multiple categories.
  • Familiarize yourself with key identity terms and concepts and how categories can intersect.
  • Do not use identity-based adjectives as nouns. For example: use Black students, not Blacks; a transgender woman, not a transgender.
  • Never use transgendered as a noun or adjective.
  • When writing or speaking about people with disabilities, please consult the National Disability Authority guidelines.

The guidelines below were adapted from the following reference guides:

GLAAD Media Reference Guide

Race Reporting Guide

SAIC’s Marketing and Communications Office recognizes that creating an environment that prioritizes inclusive language is an ever-evolving process, and that the guidelines listed here will need to be updated on a regular basis. We welcome your input; if you would like to propose a change to SAIC’s editorial guidelines, please email us at

Word Usage

Refers to the entire Western hemisphere and does not apply solely to the United States. North America and South America together are often referred to as the Americas. When referring to the United States of America, use the United States on first reference, and US for all subsequent references.

Anti-racists actively work to eliminate racism and white supremacy by identifying and dismantling external racist structures, practices, and policies as well as the internal racist habits and attitudes we all perpetuate. Anti-racists seek root causes of racism, generate anti-racist actions, and promote racial equity.

An acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The term is meant to unite all people of color while acknowledging that Black and Indigenous people face different and often more severe forms of racial oppression and cultural erasure as consequences of systemic white supremacy and colonialism. BIPOC is not a one-size-fits-all term and should not be used in place of recognizing a specific racial identity or experience.

bisexual, bi (adjective)
A person who identifies as bisexual or bi may form enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender.

Black (adjective)
Use an uppercase B when referring to Black Americans. Not all Black people identify as African American, which means that Black and African American are not interchangeable terms.

The name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses. Never use an individual’s deadname.

There are many kinds of diversity, based on race, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, class, age, country of origin, education, religion, spirituality, geography, and physical or cognitive abilities. Valuing diversity means recognizing differences between people, acknowledging that these differences are a valued asset, acknowledging the intersectionality of the experiences each of these identities face and how they are affected by power structures, and striving for diverse representation as a critical step towards equity. See equity.

Differing from one another, or composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities. Note that “diverse” should not be used to describe an individual, and it should not be used in place of identifying adjectives referring to a specific racial identity.

Equity means fairness and justice and focuses on outcomes that are most appropriate for a given group, recognizing different challenges, needs, and histories. It is distinct from diversity, which can simply mean variety (the presence of individuals with various identities). It is also not equality, or “same treatment,” which doesn’t take differing needs or disparate outcomes into account. Systemic equity involves a robust system and dynamic process consciously designed to create, support, and sustain social justice.

gay (adjective)
The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals,” an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people.

The socially constructed attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex (see sex).

gender expression
External manifestations of gender, expressed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, and/or body characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. 

gender identity
A person’s internal, deeply held sense of their gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Most people have a gender identity of man or woman (or boy or girl). For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two choices (see nonbinary). Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not visible to others.

gender-neutral nouns and pronouns
In the interest of gender sensitivity, we use the gender-neutral forms of the following singular nouns:

alum (instead of alumna or alumnus)

alums (plural)

chair (instead of chairman)

first-year students (instead of freshmen)

We replace the occupational, masculine noun with the appropriate, grammatically correct term
(e.g., spokesperson, salesperson, police officer).

When referring to people’s pronouns, if possible ask which pronouns they prefer you use. If it is not possible to ask, use “they” or the person’s name. A good way to do this is to share your pronouns first. When discussing or referring to an individual’s pronouns, avoid the phrase “preferred pronouns.”

he/she; his/her
Avoid this construction; rewrite to use the plural “they” or “their” instead.

Students are given an SAIC online account once they are admitted to SAIC.

Instead of: A student is given an SAIC online account once he/she is admitted to SAIC.

When it is not possible to rewrite, use “they” or “them” as singular pronouns (see they/them).

Being included within a group or structure. More than simply diversity and quantitative representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation, with a true sense of belonging and full access to opportunities.

While an official definition of Indigenous is not agreed on, the United Nations has developed an understanding of the term based on self-identification, historical continuity to pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies, links to territories and resources, distinct social, economic and political systems and possession of distinct languages, cultures and beliefs. In the case of the United States, tribal membership or citizenship denotes Indigenous identity. These factors make the words Indigenous and Aboriginal identities, not adjectives, and the Native American Journalists Association urges organizations to capitalize these terms in order to avoid confusion between indigenous plants and animals and Indigenous human beings. Finally, avoid referring to Indigenous people as possessions of states or countries. Instead of Wyoming’s Indigenous people try the Indigenous people of Wyoming. [There are an estimated 370 million Indigenous peoples worldwide, living in 70 different countries, according to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.]

lesbian (adjective)
A woman or nonbinary person whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals,” a derogatory term.

Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or sometimes questioning). The term “gay community” should be avoided, as it does not accurately reflect the diversity of the community. Rather, LGBTQ community is preferred. LGBTQ+ is sometimes used to include other gender and sexual orientation identities such as intersex, asexual, non-binary, polyamorous, pansexual, and more. 

Avoid using “man” or “manning” as a verb, for example “manning the table.” Use gender-neutral language such as “staff” or “staffing” instead.

Avoid constructions that use the inaccurate terms “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage.” Same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry want to join the institution of marriage as it currently exists. Their relationship is not a “gay marriage,” but simply a marriage.

This term has historically referred to non-white racial and ethnic groups, indicating they were numerically smaller than a more populous white majority. Defining people of color as “minorities” is not recommended because of changing demographics and the ways it reinforces the ideas of inferiority and marginalization of a group of people. Defining people by how they self-identify is preferred.

Native American
Native American gained traction in the 1960s for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Over time, Native American has been expanded to include all Native people of the continental United States and some in Alaska. The term is only used to describe groups of Native Americans—two or more individuals of different tribal affiliation. Always identify people by their preferred tribal affiliation when reporting on individuals or individual tribes. See Indigenous.

Relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses any or all genders that is neither entirely male nor entirely female. Note that not all who identify as nonbinary (or gender nonconforming) identify as transgender, and not all who identiy as transgender also identify as nonbinary/gender nonconforming.

people of color
Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-white racial and ethnic groups rather than “minorities.” Before using this term, consider whether racial identity is the relevant factor in the story or the group or community’s access to services, representation, or lack of resources. If the later is the case, use underserved, underrepresented, or underresourced instead.

Examples of pronouns include “she/her,” “he/him,” or gender-neutral pronouns such as “ze/hir” (pronounced: zee/heer) or “they/them.” Some people use specific pronouns, any pronouns, or none at all. When writing about transgender people, ask which pronouns they prefer you use. If it is not possible to ask, use “they” or the person’s name.

An identity used by some people whose gender and/or sexual orientation is not exclusively cisgender or heterosexual (e.g., queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don’t apply to them. Some people may use queer, or genderqueer, to describe their gender identity and/or gender expression (see nonbinary). Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBT people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBT community. When Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it typically means queer and, less often, questioning.

racial and ethnic terms
Except when referencing surveys or polls that use other language, use the following racial and ethnic categories: Native American; Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAAPI); Black and African American (terms are not necessarily interchangeable, as many Black people in immigrant communities do not call themselves African American); white; and Latinx rather than Hispanic (except when data sources specifically use “Hispanic,” the term “Latinx” is preferred as less derivative of colonial lineage and it is non-gendered).

A systemic analysis means we are examining the root causes and the mechanisms at play that result in patterns. It involves looking beyond individual speech, acts, and practices to the larger structures—organizations, institutions, traditions, and systems of knowledge. Note the difference between “systemic,” which means “fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice” and “systematic,” which means “methodical in procedure or plan.”

“They,” “them,” and “their” can be used as singular pronouns when you don’t know the sex of the person or when you have a singular collective noun such as “everyone.” Use only in cases where rewriting the sentence creates an awkward construction or when it is the chosen pronoun of an individual.

trans (adjective)
Used as shorthand for transgender, and on second reference after first using the word transgender. If you use trans without defining it, or without the first reference of transgender, mainstream audiences may not understand its meaning or what you are referencing.

transgender (adjective)
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms—including transgender. Use the descriptive term preferred by the individual. Avoid using the term “transsexual” unless someone explicitly identifies that way.

A person’s biological status is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex and assigned at birth. Sex is determined by physical and genetic traits. (see gender).

white (adjective)
Use a lowercase w when referring to white Americans. White doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does, and also has long been capitalized by hate groups.

white supremacy
A form of racism centered upon the belief that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. While often associated with violence perpetrated by the KKK and other white supremacist groups, it also describes a political ideology and systemic oppression that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical, and/or industrial white domination.

underserved, underrepresented, or under-resourced
(See people of color)

Problematic Words and Phrases
The following terms and phrases have problematic histories, and their meanings are often rooted in stereotypes and prejudice. When possible, we’ve listed alternatives that could be used in their place. This list is not comprehensive; it’s the responsibility of the writer and editor to review and interrogate the language they use. 

  • Cakewalk: Cakewalks were part of minstrel shows in the antebellum south. Alternative: It was easy.
  • Deaf or blind to/tone deaf: Deaf and blind are often used to explain someone willingly not paying attention, which equates a disability with a poor choice or trait. Alternative: Unaware of/unaware.
  • Ghetto: As a result of many racist assumptions about predominantly Black, low-income neighborhoods, the word ghetto is often used pejoratively and should be avoided. Alternative: Low-income community or underserved community. 
  • Grandfathered in: A grandfather clause was often used by Southern states in the late nineteenth century to deny Black people the right to vote. Alternative: Legacied in.
  • Handicapped or Disabled Person: By describing someone with these adjectives, their disability becomes a defining trait, rather than one of many aspects of their lived experience. Alternative: Person with a disability.
  • Whipped into shape: This phrase is rooted in the barbaric practice of how masters would discipline their slaves. Alternative: Got it ready.

Style and Usage

An A to Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, punctuation, numerals, and usage.


For all SAIC-sponsored events, it is a legal requirement to include the following sentence: Persons with disabilities requesting accommodations should visit 

add/drop period

(see buildings and locations)

advance (not advanced) registration

advisor not adviser


alums (plural)

Use alums in all uses except in the name of the Office of Alumni Relations.

(singular female or male—in the interest of gender sensitivity, we use the gender-neutral form of the noun)
Alums’ names should be followed by degree and year of graduation enclosed in parentheses.

Christina Long (MFA 2012)
Angel Otero (BFA 2007, MFA 2009)

For former students who did not graduate, simply write the years attended.

Chris Ware (SAIC 1991–93)

For honorary doctorate recipients:

Theaster Gates (HON 2014)



artists’ book or artists’ books

art making (noun); art-making (adjective)




See Inclusive Language.


Career and Professional Experience (CAPX)
In a sentence, the word “office” with a lowercase “o” may be added for clarity. 



19th century (do not use superscript)
19th-century garments
late-19th-century garments
Spell out at the beginning of a sentence.

commas and semicolons
In all series of three or more entries in a sentence, use serial commas and semicolons as follows:

Visiting artists in recent years have included Jean Baudrillard, Richard Serra, and Sue Coe.
Alums from Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and Cleveland, Ohio gathered at Bob’s house to discuss the recent exhibition.

Always cap both the noun and adjective when referring to SAIC’s ceremony.

Always capitalize. Do not use the term coronavirus unless it’s referring to the type of virus.

credits for artwork
Try to include the full credit when possible; at a minimum, include artist name, title, year, and medium.

Ed Paschke, Tracer, 1989, oil on linen. Collection of Fred and Susan Novy. Courtesy of Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York and Chicago. Photo: William H. Bengtson

credits for student/alum artwork

Christina Long (MFA 2012), Boogie Lore, 2010, acrylic screen print and marker on wall
Karl Wirsum (BFA 1961), No Go Michelangelo (detail), 2006, acrylic on wood. Courtesy of Jean Albano Gallery

*If the credit is italicized, write the title of the artwork in roman.

Andrea Gonzalez (BFA 2011), Capsulas, 2011, mixed media

Critique Week

Crit Week (in internal emails and digital signs)


May 3 never May 3rd
Students must register between May 3–10, 2010, at the Office of the Registrar.
Always use an en dash (option + hyphen) between dates.
Registration begins May 3.

Include the year:

in all formal invitations
for events or publications that span years
to avoid confusion if the the event occurs in a year other than the current one
if including the year, then only include on first reference

Do not include the year when:

event occurs in the current year
event does not span years

Examples of use:

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
bachelor’s degree bachelor’s program
BFA program
The same applies to master’s (MFA, MA, MS, MDes, MArch) degrees.

Degrees and abbreviations list
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Art Education (BFA)
Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Writing (BFA)
Bachelor of Arts in Art History (BA)
Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies (BA)
Bachelor of Interior Architecture (BIA)
Consecutive Degree Option BFA and BA in Visual and Critical Studies (BA, BFA)

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFA)
Master of Arts in Art Education (MA)
Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling (MA)
Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy (MA)
Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History (MA)
Dual Degree: Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy and Master of Arts in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism (Dual MA)
Master of Arts in New Arts Journalism (MA)
Master of Arts in Teaching (MA)
Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies (MA)
Master of Architecture (MArch)
Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture (MArch)
Master of Design in Designed Objects (MDes)
Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment (MDes)
Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MS)

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio (Post-Bacc)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment (Post-Bacc)

Honorary Doctorate (HON)
Diploma (DIP)* Until 1967, diplomas were granted to students for a four-year program of study that did not include liberal arts courses.


/Dialogues (EXPO CHICAGO lecture series)



Always enclose in parentheses (e.g., this sentence and other uses).





ethnic and national group nouns and adjectives
See Inclusive Language.

events and exhibitions
See accessibility.

Documenta 13
Graduate Design Exhibition
IMPACT Performance Festival and Exhibition
MFA Show
Post-Baccalaureate Studio Exhibition
SAIC Fashion
Spring Undergraduate Exhibition

Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation.

It was a wonderful show.
Instead of: It was a wonderful show!

The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands.

What a wonderful show!





F Newsmagazine; F News (only fNewsmagazine for logo)

file extensions
Always uppercase and use brackets next to a link followed by the file size if available—Housing Form [PDF] 2MB

first come, first served


First Thursdays

foreign words
Italicize words not listed in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

Free Radio SAIC


gender-neutral nouns and pronouns
See Inclusive Language.

Names of groups (boards, trustees, etc.) are not capitalized unless the full official name is used.

Members of SAIC’s Board of Governors include…
In September, the board will meet to discuss enrollment figures.
For a list of trustees, please contact…


he/she; his/her
See Inclusive Language.

Homan Square
SAIC at Homan Square is satellite classroom in the Nichols Tower, which is located in the Homan Square community within the neighborhood of North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side.

Note: SAIC at Homan Square is satellite classroom, not “campus.”

home page

hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes

off-campus programs (hyphen -)
fiscal year 1990–91 (option + hyphen)
November 5–December 20, 1991 (en dash)
7:00–9:00 p.m. (en dash)
The brochure—it had been mailed last week—was already generating numerous responses. (option + shift + hyphen)
Note: Always close up both sides of en dash and em dash.

Hyphenate terms in which two adjectives function as a compound to modify a noun.

black-and-white processor
computer-generated image
three-dimensional art
well-equipped darkroom

This guideline does not apply if the nouns precede the adjective, or if the term uses an adverb (an -ly word) and adjective before the noun.

art that is three dimensional
programs that are off campus
shot in black and white
artistically gifted person
dimly lit room
electronically produced image


Always use this adjective when describing SAIC’s curriculum; never use multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary.

This title is no longer used to describe SAIC faculty. Use Lecturer instead.



See Writing for the Web.


the “L”

See Inclusive Language.

Use unordered lists for all lists unless the list heading or lead in contains a number (e.g. You can create an account in three easy steps).

login (noun); log in (verb); log into (verb)

You will need the login to access the server.
You need to log in before accessing the server.
Can you log into your account?

the Loop (as in the Chicago Loop)


movements and styles
Some nouns and adjectives designating cultural styles, movements, and schools—artistic, architectural, musical, and so forth—and their adherents are capitalized if derived from proper nouns. Others may be lowercased. Please reference this list:

abstract expressionism
art deco
art nouveau
Beaux-Arts(derived from École des Beaux-Arts)
Chicago Imagists
Chicago school (of architecture, of economics, of literary criticism)
classicism, classical
Dadaism; Dada
Gothic (but gothic fiction)
imagism (in reference to poetry movement)
mysticism; mystic
neoclassicism; neoclassical
New Criticism
op art
pop art
romanticism; romantic
scientific rationalism
theater of the absurd


proper names
Spell out a person’s full proper name on first reference. Use the last name only in subsequent references.
Exceptions: When referring to two or more people with the same last name, use their first names in subsequent references.
When writing about transgender people, use their chosen name even if that is not their legal name.

museum and gallery names
Full names should be spelled out on first reference, followed by city and if necessary state/country.

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark

Exceptions: If the city is part of the museum’s name, then it is not necessary to repeat.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Spell out numbers one through nine. Use numerals for 10 and above.
The same applies for ordinal numbers: first through ninth; 10th and above. Exceptions: When numbers are at the beginning of a sentence, spell them out.

phone numbers

Appointments must be made by February 3 through the Department of Fashion Design at 312.899.5168.

other numbers

8 years old (age)
$380.00 or $380 (costs)
ARTHI 5002 (course numbers)
3 semester credit hours (credit hours)
8 inch x 10 inch photograph; 3/4 inch videotape (dimensions)
16mm camera (equipment formats)
2.00 on a 4.00 scale (math)
pages 126–27, pages 100–105, (p. 3), (pp. 20–35)
40 percent




over vs. more than
Always use “more than” when referring to quantity/numbers.

SAIC students have the opportunity to join more than 50 diverse student groups.

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency (or just Ox-Bow)


Add an apostrophe and to form a singular possessive for words ending in s. Add an apostrophe and s to names or words ending in x or z to form the singular possessive.

Degas’ style
Illinois’ landscape
Delacroix’s influence
Velázquez’s portraits

For plural possessives, add only an apostrophe.

the Peales’ work
the Natzlers’ reputation

Adjectives with prefixes are not hyphenated unless the punctuation enhances clarity, separates two identical vowels, appears before a capitalized word or before a compound term.



post-World War II
re-create/re-creation (as distinct from recreate/recreation)

See Inclusive Language.

proper names
Spell out a person’s full proper name on first reference. Use the last name only in subsequent references.
Exceptions: When referring to two or more people with the same last name, use their first names in subsequent references.
When writing about transgender people, use their chosen name even if that is not their legal name.


(see commas and semicolons; hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes; possessives; quotation marks)


quotation marks

Always place commas and periods inside quotation marks (double or single). Question marks and exclamation points should be placed inside quotation marks only when they are part of the quote. Use single quotes only for a quote within a quote.




SAIC Launch

SAIC Self-Service (not PeopleSoft Self-Service)


Always lowercase fall, winter, spring, and summer.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
See Writing for the Web.

SITE Galleries 
SITE Columbus
SITE Sharp

spaces between sentences
Use only one space between sentences in text.

In running text, the names of states should be spelled out when standing alone and when following the name of a city.

Alums from Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan enjoyed a get-together at Ox-Bow.
Lake Bluff, Illinois, was incorporated in 1895.

The names of states should be abbreviated in mailing addresses, biographies, or lists.

Write to:
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

SAIC Galleries (always plural)



1:00–3:00 p.m.never 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. (always use an en dash/ option + hyphen)

Capitalize official titles when they precede the name, and lowercase general titles and official titles when following a name or used in place of a name.

SAIC President Elissa Tenny
Elissa Tenny, president of SAIC,
The president of SAIC welcomes you.
John Bowers, chair of the Department of Visual Communication Design
Make an appointment with one of the chairs of the Visual Communication department.

In lists, bylines, or mailing addresses, titles are capitalized.

Elissa Tenny, President
Anita K. Sinha, Chair of the Board of Governors

titles of artwork

American Gothic

titles of courses

Installation: Material and Context
Professional Practice

titles of films and videotapes

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca
Peter Hutton’s Images of Asian Music

titles of tv and radio programs

Project Runway
Harry Bouras’ Critic’s Choice on WFMT

titles of books, magazines, and newspapers

Carol Becker’s The Subversive Imagination: Artists’ Rights and Responsibilities Artforum
Art in America magazine
Time magazine (TIME is the magazine’s wordmark and should be initial capped and italicized in body copy. The same rule applies to Elle magazine and F Newsmagazine.)
Chicago Tribune
the New York Times
the London Times

titles of blogs

Huffington Post
“Dog Gets $8 Billion from the Helmsley Estate,” blog entry by Richard Posner

titles of articles or essays in books, magazines

“Midwest Images,” New Art Examiner
“Talk of the Town,” in last week’s New Yorker

titles of exhibitions

Learning Modern
Process: Photographic Regenerations

titles of lectures

“Development of American Expressionism” “Matisse, the Fauve Period: 1905–15”

See Inclusive Language.

See Inclusive Language.

(not twitter)


Never underline words on the website or in email unless they link to another page. Use boldface to emphasize important points.

United States/US
Spell out as a noun; initials as an adjective.

See web addresses.


Visiting Artists Program (VAP)


web addresses
For print, never include “www” in web addresses.

Do not underline; do not use “http://” unless the URL does not include www.
If a line ends with a URL, a period is still necessary.

More information can be found at

Remember to try all URLs before including them to make sure they work.

Online, do not place the URL in copy, instead, embed it within descriptive text. Keep in mind that for vision-impaired individuals, a screen-reader will read the text on the page. Describe the destination rather than using text such as “click here” or “learn more.”


See Inclusive Language.



September 3–12 never September 3–September 12
August 5–September 12
August 9, 2009–February 4, 2010
1945–70 never 1945–1970
1950s or the ’50s (only add an apostrophe before the “s” if the year is acting as a possessive)
1950’s style

Include the year:

in all formal invitations
for events or publications that span years
to avoid confusion if the the event occurs in a year other than the current one
if including the year, then only include on first reference

Do not include the year when:

event occurs in the current year
event does not span years

Names and Places

Names of the Institutions

Used alone or in headings, captions, or copyright:

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago

Used in text—first reference:

the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
the Art Institute of Chicago

Subsequent references:

SAIC or the School (never “the SAIC”)
the Art Institute, or the Art Institute museum

The first “the” is capitalized only when it appears at the beginning of a sentence.

Academic Departments

Examples of use:

Department of Photography
Photography department
Writing program
Art Therapy courses

Academic department list
Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO)
Department of Arts Administration and Policy
Department of Art Education
Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism
Department of Art and Technology Studies
Department of Art Therapy
Department of Ceramics
Department of Contemporary Practices
Department of Fashion Design
Department of Fiber and Material Studies
Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation
Department of Historic Preservation
Department of Liberal Arts
Department of Low-Residency
Department of Painting and Drawing
Department of Performance
Department of Photography
Department of Printmedia
Department of Sculpture
Department of Sound
Department of Visual and Critical Studies
Department of Visual Communication Design
Department of Writing

Administrative Offices and Divisions

Examples of use:

Office of Student Affairs
Admissions office
Residence Life office

Administrative offices and department list


Computer Resources and Information Technologies (CRIT)

  • Advanced Output Center
  • Service Bureau
  • Web Services

Continuing Studies

Department of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies

  • Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice
  • SITE Galleries
  • SITE Sharp
  • SITE Columbus
  • SAIC Galleries

Institutional Resources and Facilities Management (IRFM)

  • Media Centers
  • Media Production Bureau
  • Metal Shop
  • Wood Shop

Office of the Dean of Faculty

  • Graduate Division
  • Undergraduate Division

Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA)

  • Alumni Relations
  • Development

Office of Marketing and Communications (MarCom)

Office of Student Affairs

  • Academic Advising
  • Campus Life
  • Career and Professional Experience (CAPX)
  • International Affairs
  • Korean Student Advising
  • Multicultural Affairs
  • Residence Life
  • Study Abroad
  • The Wellness Center
    • Counseling Services
    • Disability and Learning Resource Center
    • Health Services

President’s Office or Office of the President

Provost’s Office or Office of the Provost

  • Office of Engagement

Registration and Records (Registrar)

Student Financial Services

  • Bursar’s Office

Buildings and Locations

162 Building
162 North State Street

280 Building
280 South Columbus Drive

Infinite Chicago
28 East Jackson Boulevard

Jones Hall
7 West Madison Street

The Buckingham
59 East Van Buren Street
Never refer to these as dormitories; they are always residence halls.

The LeRoy Neiman Center
37 South Wabash Avenue
Capitalize “The” in headers or titles; lowercase in running text.

MacLean Center
112 South Michigan Avenue
SAIC Ballroom (internal and external)

Lakeview Building
116 South Michigan Avenue

SAIC Galleries
33 East Washington Street

Sharp Building
37 South Wabash Avenue

Sullivan Center
36 South Wabash Avenue

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue

The Art Institute of Chicago
Modern Wing
159 East Monroe Street

The Art Institute of Chicago
Rubloff Auditorium
230 South Columbus Drive

In text, always spell out Avenue, Boulevard, Drive, Street, etc. and North, South, East, and West.

The Gene Siskel Film Center is located at 164 North State Street.

In listings and mailing addresses, abbreviate both.

Lisa Roberts
Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 p.m. Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.

Floor, room, and suite are always spelled out and lowercase.

Sullivan Center
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201

Writing for the Web

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of applying best practices for search engine ranking to web pages. When search engines determine a web page’s relevancy for a specific query, keywords are an important part of the equation.

Identify the keywords that people may use to find your website. Do not “stuff” your copy with these keywords, just make sure you use them naturally in your copy rather than their synonyms. If you need some ideas or would like some data on which keywords get used, ask the web team at

Where to place your keywords
The word placements that carry the most weight in search engine rankings are:

  • Heading tags
  • First word of first paragraph
  • Links to other pages

You can help people find the information they are looking for by putting the most relevant keywords for the content on the page in these positions.