Cornell Chronicle Style Guide
The Cornell Chronicle is the university’s official source of news and information, with a mission to promote Cornell University as a world-class institution of excellence in teaching, research and public engagement.
In that primary role, we identify, develop and publish stories in close partnership with our colleagues in Cornell’s schools, colleges and other academic and administrative units. As the news site of record, the Chronicle supports the university’s mission and strategic priorities and reflects its core values. The Chronicle helps shape perceptions of the university in a positive way, highlighting the research, scholarship, people and programs that demonstrate Cornell’s impact locally, as New York state’s land-grant institution, and nationally and internationally as one of the world’s leading research institutions.
In selecting stories, we prioritize:
Strategic import: Stories that promote and are relevant to the university’s mission or support its strategic priorities.
Timeliness: Stories containing current, relevant news that will appeal to both our direct audience of 2.5+ million annual online readers and indirectly to key audiences through news media coverage. These may include:
- Recent peer-reviewed publications (ideally, Chronicle stories post simultaneously with embargo lifts; we can evaluate research that published a month or more in the past will on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with our partners in Media Relations and the colleges);
- Coverage of significant events that took place within the past two weeks (ideally, developing a coverage plan in advance of the event.) Again, older events can be considered on a case-by-case basis); and
- Stories about research or programs with relevance to timely topics, or current or anticipated events.
Significance: Stories of interest to our key audiences, both internal and external. These include: current and prospective faculty, staff and students; alumni; policymakers and influencers; funding agencies; the media; and the general public.
Prominence: Awards of national prestige; events featuring speakers who are household names.
Human interest: Stories that might not have an obvious news hook but will captivate a general audience and the Cornell community, while illustrating the university’s priorities and values.
We don’t generally publish: opinion pieces; review articles; non-peer-reviewed studies; conferences and symposia; events featuring speakers who are not household names; awards that are unknown beyond one discipline.
Word counts are ideally 600-700 for news stories; 1,000-1,500 for features. Complex multimedia features that support that level of storytelling can go beyond 1,500 words. Brief stories of 200-300 words can run on Around Cornell. Every story should be as short as possible but as long as necessary.
Like the vast majority of U.S. media sources, the Chronicle follows the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, available free online to members of the Cornell community through Cornell University Library. Below are some Cornell-specific terms, as well as some frequently used AP style points.
Suggestions for other entries or clarifications on existing entries? Please let me know – mll9@Cornell.edu.
Acronyms and initialisms: Avoid when possible. Acronyms are ubiquitous in academia but it’s confusing for readers to keep track of “alphabet soup.” Only universally recognized acronyms that are household names don’t need to be spelled out on first reference. Ex: NASA.
Affiliations: Include a faculty member’s title, department and college on first reference. Use the University Directory, searchable on Cornell.edu, as department or personal websites don’t always make it clear which is the primary affiliation. Include other colleges at the bottom of the story if the researcher has multiple affiliations. See also Departments.
Ampersands: Almost always avoided. Spell out ‘and.’
Andy Noel, the Meakem Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education
Big Red Bear: Cornell’s official mascot.
Black, Indigenous, Latino: Capitalize on all references. Refer to Black people or Latino students rather than Latinos or Blacks. White is lowercase, per AP style.
Capitalizations: Full formal names are capitalized; informal names and official titles generally not.
Captions: For submitted photos, please include captions naming all identifiable people, briefly describe what’s happening in the picture and roughly when it was taken (ex: summer 2019). See also Photographs and Photo/video captions.
Co-authors: First authors of research papers should be mentioned relatively high in the story, generally in or near the paragraph where the journal article is first mentioned. List all other co-authors when possible, preferably at the end of the story. Name and institution are sufficient; no need to include non-Cornell authors’ full endowed titles. If there are too many co-authors to include, mention which institutions they are affiliated with. “The study was co-authored with researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.” While it’s important to give credit to those who contributed, a list of names with full titles coming high in the story will likely stop all but the most motivated readers. Interested readers can always click through to the full journal article.
Composition titles: For all titles, including books, journal articles, songs, plays, etc., all words are capitalized except articles, short prepositions or conjunctions. (See AP style guide for more info.) Use quotation marks.
Conferences: We don’t generally cover conferences unless the news meets strategic priorities as described above.
“Cornell”: Just Cornell is fine; no need to spell out “Cornell University” unless it’s part of the full title (the Cornell University Board of Trustees). Since the story is appearing in the Cornell Chronicle, keep in mind that Cornell is assumed – there’s often no need to include the word, particularly in headlines.
Cornell colleges and schools: Please refer to Brand nomenclature for official and accepted shorthand.
Cornell dots (C dots on second reference)
COVID-19: On all references. Unless it’s a quote, don’t omit the -19.
Data: Singular when used in a story written for a general audience, per AP.
Degrees: Always use Cornell degrees on first reference for all current students and alumni. Undergraduate: Jane Smith ’22; graduate: Jane Smith ’08, Ph.D. ’12, MBA ’13. Commonly used graduate degrees: M.A.; M.S.; Ph.D.; MBA; J.D.; DVM; M.D.; M.Arch.; M.Eng; M.P.A.; M.F.A. See the Graduate School website for a full list. When spelled out: master’s degree; bachelor’s degree; master of science; bachelor of arts.
Departments: Refer to faculty members by title, department and primary college affiliation. For superdepartments that sit within multiple colleges, mention primary affiliation at first reference and add all college affiliations for that department at the bottom of the story.
Doctor: On first reference, use Dr. for medical doctors, doctors of dental surgery, doctors of optometry, doctors of osteopathic medicine, doctors of pediatric medicine, or doctors of veterinary medicine, per AP style. On subsequent references, use last name only. Note that AP doesn’t use Dr. before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees, such as Ph.D.s.
Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Fiber Science & Apparel Design
Funding sources: Include in the last paragraph of research stories.
Graduate School fields: Graduate students earn their degrees from the Graduate School. Refer to graduate students’ fields, not departments or colleges/schools. Example: “Jane Smith, a doctoral candidate in the field of natural resources, … .”
Graduate degrees: See Degrees
Headlines: Please limit to roughly 60 characters, including spaces, or they won’t fit in our formats. Remember that headlines are the primary reason readers click on stories, so aim to make them as clear and compelling as possible. Use active verbs and avoid naming individuals in headlines unless they are household names.
Health care: Always a space, never a hyphen.
Hyperlinks: Use for faculty; link to official site on their affiliated college’s site? Link to the journal article, previous related Cornell Chronicle stories, relevant Cornell websites. On occasion it may make sense to link to an external source to explain, credit or underscore a point. Co-authors at other institutions are not hyperlinked.
Hyphens: Use for two-word modifiers when confusion is possible if we leave them out. We don’t use hyphens with adverbs ending in “ly” except for early-career.
Italics: Never use in Chronicle stories, per AP style.
Land-grant mission; Morrill Land Grant Act: Please refer to revised language on land-grant website if referencing the original grant.
LGBTQ: Per AP.
Machine learning: No hyphen, even when used as adjective.
Majors: Lowercase (music) unless they include proper names (French).
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NewYork is one word)
Named professorships: precede with “the” or “Cornell’s”: “the Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor in the Social Sciences.” If a faculty member has several titles – for example professor, chair and director of a center – spread out mention of the titles in subsequent references to the person. Listing consecutive titles slows down the reader. Non-endowed academic position titles are not typically capitalized before the name (e.g., professor, visiting lecturer, associate professor of Romance studies).
New York terminology: New York state; upstate New York; central New York; western New York; Southern Tier. Use “New York” after all place names except Ithaca and New York City; ex: Brooktondale, New York.
Other institutions: Use full name on first reference, even if they’re commonly known by initials or nicknames. Omit “University” or use the commonly known shorthand (Penn State, MIT) on second reference. If it’s commonly known there’s no need to parenthesize after the first full reference.
Photographs: Any recognizable minors need to have a signed photo release on file; otherwise the photo cannot be used. Please make sure we have the right to publish a photo before sharing it with the Chronicle. Note that when using provided photos, particularly official headshots, the copyright may lie with the photographer, not the subject who is sharing it.
Photo/video credit: For internal art, credit as Name/Cornell University. (Jason Koski/Cornell University). For videos or photos by external freelancer, NAME for Cornell University. If the content has no clear creator, credit as Provided.
President Martha E. Pollack
Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff
Said/says: Said for stories, says for features. Avoid synonyms like “noted,” “added,” “emphasized.” (While it might seem that “said” is being repeated too many times, it fades into the background and synonyms draw more attention to themselves.)
Schoellkopf Field (not Schoellkopf Stadium)
Titles: Per AP, capitalize only if used before the name. Ex: Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi; Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life.
Questions about Around Cornell? Guidelines can be found here.