Yale University. Calendar. Directories.

Style notes

The Bulletin of Yale University is edited, formatted, and typeset according to a set of specifications and usages that together make up what is referred to as “Bulletin style.” The purpose of adhering to such a style is to ensure a standard of correctness, clarity, and consistency conducive to effective communication and appropriate to an institution of higher learning.

The editors of the series are responsible for applying Bulletin style to material contributed by schools and programs, and working with coordinators of the academic programs to ensure that the integrity of the content is not compromised in the course of editing and formatting.

We offer here a summary of some of the elements of Bulletin style, both to satisfy the curiosity of readers and contributors, and to demonstrate the purpose and logic behind the changes we customarily make in contributed texts.

As a general guide, Bulletin style follows the latest edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (based on the 3rd edition of Webster’s unabridged dictionary) and the editing guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.

Course descriptions

Elements included in a course description

Department abbreviation, course number, “a” or “b” designating fall or spring term respectively, alternate listing of same course in a different department, summary of content (using lists or full sentences or both), sometimes an indication of prerequisites or special permission, name of instructor(s).

In general, use of the future tense is avoided in course descriptions.

A typical course description (in Graduate School Bulletin format):

BIS 645a, Statistical Methods in Human Genetics. Elizabeth Claus, Hongyu Zhao.
 Probability modeling and statistical methodology for the analysis of human genetics data are presented. Topics include population genetics, single locus and polygenic inheritance, linkage analysis, quantitative genetics, population-based and family-based disease-marker associations, genetic risk prediction models, and DNA fingerprinting. Prerequisites: Genetics; BIS 505a and b or equivalent; and permission of the instructor. Offered every other year.

Note that course descriptions currently appear in slightly different typographic formats (e.g., using bold face in part) in various Bulletin editions, both digital and print.

Course descriptions often employ abbreviated or telegraphic style:

ECON 526b, Advanced Macroeconomics II. Alex Tsyvinski, Michael Golosov. Macroeconomic equilibrium in the presence of uninsurable labor income risk. Implications for savings, asset prices, unemployment.

Courses offered in more than one department are listed as in the foregoing description, with the two department abbreviations together separated by a slash at the beginning of the description (EMD 508a/CDE 508a).

Not all schools conform to the same sequence or format in the presentation of the foregoing details. Bulletins of the professional schools arrange information in a slightly different sequence from the Graduate School format, in particular with faculty cited at the end of the description. An example from the School of Art Bulletin:

Art 116a, Color. Study of the interaction of color, ranging from fundamental problem solving to individually initiated expression. The collage process is used for most class assignments. Materials fee: $25. Clint Jukkala

Non-course content

Bulletin content is presented in a straightforward style aimed at clarity and succinctness. Such material includes requirements for admission and for the awarding of degrees; courses of study; and various regulations and schedules. The best guideline is to follow usage in existing bulletins.


Use of serial commas (that is, comma before “and” or “or” in a series of three or more elements): in the first, second, and third years


Old-style abbreviations for names of states within lists (e.g., Conn.); two-letter postal abbreviations only within a mailing address (e.g., CT).


Hyphenation for multiple-word modifiers preceding nouns:
 a two-semester course; the nineteenth-century novel; joint-degree programs; steady- and unsteady-state behavior; spring-term registration; self-service facility; well-wrought urn

The hyphen is used in the earlier cases to avoid possible confusion. For instance: students are expected to complete two term courses (which has a completely different meaning from “two-term courses”). Where the likelihood of confusion is less, no hyphen is used: foreign language requirement; financial aid policies

No hyphen for “ly” adverbs:
 financially independent spouse


Initial capital letters are used in the following instances:
 the University; the College; the School (in reference to the Graduate School or one of the twelve professional schools of Yale University); formal usage: the Department of Statistics; a grade of Honors; a grade of High Pass; the Web; a Web site; the Internet; Master of Arts degree (But: master’s degree, not capitalized, with apostrophe)

Lowercase initial letters are employed for informal usage: the Statistics department; the center; the institute; the program; the hospital; the director of undergraduate studies; the director of graduate studies; the registrar; the associate registrar; the dean, the assistant dean, the associate dean (But: the Registrars Office; the Deans Office)

Note that plural nouns tend to appear uncapitalized:
 the departments of Chemistry and Physics (But: the Department of Chemistry); Yale University (But: Yale and Princeton universities)


Numerals rather than words are used for quantities of 100 or more (thirty-two credits, enrollment limited to 100) except in very frequent occurrence within single sentences. Note also the use of the hyphen in fractions: one and one-half hours; two and one-half credits

Numerals are used with percent: 10 percent (not usually abbreviated with % sign unless in very frequent occurrence within single sentences).

Other numeric usage: the 2000–2001 academic year (four digits in each case); from 1990 to 1996, or, in the period 1990–96 (Not: from 1990–96); a 500-level course; the 1940s; the 1950s. Note the use of en-dashes rather than hyphens when separating numerals in dates.

Compound vs. single words

With few exceptions, prefixes and suffixes (unless they are full words) are combined with the main word: noninterventionist, postwar, prewar.

Common words: course work, fieldwork,
policy making, decision maker,


Italics are used for less common foreign language terms (fin-de-siècle is italicized; ad hoc, in vitro, in situ are not).

For a more complete discussion of publication style, see the Editorial Style Guide of the Office of the University Printer.