Editorial Guidelines

Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) follows the Associated Press (AP) stylebook.

Go to the AP Stylebook

There are some CUIMC-specific guidelines and CUIMC-specific exceptions to AP style:

CUIMC-Specific Guidelines

  1. Columbia University Irving Medical Center: Columbia University Irving Medical Center is never preceded by “the.” The acronym CUIMC may be used once the full name has been introduced. It may never be referred to as Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center or any other variation of Columbia-Presbyterian unless in an historical reference to events that took place before 1998.
  2. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital: There is no space between “New” and “York” in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
  3. Department names: Use upper case for department names only when using the formal name: the Department of Dermatology. When referring to "the dermatology department", or simply "the department", use lowercase. Note that the word “department” refers only to academic units. Administrative units are called “offices.” Lowercase “faculty practice organization” (acronym FPO).
  4. Titles: Named professorships use upper case, e.g., Simon Wordsworth, the Henry Higgins Professor of Speech Therapy. All other titles are lower case, e.g., Wilda Wildwood, professor of biochemistry and assistant dean of students, met with the dean of research. But: He introduced Professor Wildwood to Dean Hazmat. Be sure to get endowed chair names correct. In many cases, the names are explicitly specified in legal documents as a condition of the donor’s gift to the university.
  5. Orthopedics: Orthopedics is spelled “orthopedics” (not “orthopaedics”). The use of “orthopaedics” is reserved for historical references, such as New York Orthopaedic Hospital.
  6. Says versus said: When quoting someone, use “says,” except when the statement clearly was made at a specific time in the past, e.g., In the television interview, Dr. Eatwell said, “It is best to eat sweets in moderation.” Although an occasional “notes,” or “adds,” is acceptable, do not overdo the variations in an effort to avoid repeating “says.”

Exceptions to AP Style at CUIMC

  1. AP uses periods after titles such as MD and PhD. CUIMC style omits the periods.
  2. On second reference to a person, CUIMC uses the appropriate title with the last name, e.g., Dr. Wordsworth. AP uses only the last name.
  3. Serial comma: CUIMC uses the serial comma (the comma before “and” or “or” in a list of items). The serial comma averts such ambiguities as, “This study is dedicated to my brothers, Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk.” (AP says that its punctuation entries are guidelines, not rules.)
  4. Acronyms: AP does not put the acronym in parentheses after the first, spelled-out use of a term. Although the reason—that if the acronym isn’t obvious, it shouldn’t be used—is sound, medical stories often include many acronyms that are neither obvious nor familiar. To spell out such terms each time they are used, in an attempt to avoid unfamiliar acronyms, would be cumbersome. Therefore, CUIMC does not shy away from using acronyms, but puts the acronym in parentheses after the first, spelled-out, use of a term.
  5. “Mankind”: AP uses it; CUIMC uses “humankind.” AP also uses “his” when the gender is unknown or general. Example: “Every physician should wash his hands before entering patient rooms.” Most such problem sentences can be fixed by using the plural: “Physicians should wash their hands before entering patient rooms.” (See Basic Principle 5, below, for discussion of gender-neutral language.)
  6. AP uses “chairman” and “chairwoman”; CUIMC uses “chair.”
  7. AP, as does CUIMC, uses a hyphen when a compound modifier precedes a noun, e.g., a well-behaved Chihuahua. However, AP also uses a hyphen when the compound modifier follows a form of the verb “to be.” CUIMC does not use a hyphen in such cases, e.g., The Chihuahua is well behaved. Neither AP nor CUIMC uses a hyphen when the compound modifier follows other verbs, e.g., The Chihuahua seems well behaved.
  8. AP uses spaces on both sides of a dash; CUIMC uses no spaces.