Durham Tech Communication and Style Guide

1. Abbreviations

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In general, abbreviate only when you must because abbreviations can easily create confusion. Of course, abbreviations are often necessary and helpful in tables, charts, and signs or when you repeat a name frequently.

1.1 Academic degrees and honors

The following list includes many frequently used abbreviations for academic degrees. Note that no space is needed between letters and periods.  (Note: Inconsistencies are due to preferred use by specific career fields, etc.) If a publication has a mix of these then use the college’s style which is to have no periods.
AA Associate in Arts
ABOC American Board of Opticianry
ADN  Associate Degree in Nursing
AS Associate in Science
AAS Associate in Applied Science
BA Bachelor of Arts
BSN   Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing
BS Bachelor of Science
CDA  Certified Dental Assistant
CDO Certified Dispensing Optician
CDT  Certified Dental Technician
CNA  Certified Nurse Assistant
CNMW Certified Nurse Midwife (RN with advanced training)
CNOR Certified Nurse Operating Room
CO Certified Optician
COTA Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
COTA/L Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant/Licensed
CPhT   Certified Pharmacy Technician
CRT  Certified Respiratory Therapist
CRTT  Certified Respiratory Therapy Technician
CST Certified Surgical Technologist
DDS Doctor of Dental Surgery
DMD Doctor of Medical Dentistry
Ed.D. Doctor of Education
J.D.  Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law)
LDO Licensed Dispensing Optician (what we actually are in NC)
LO Licensed Optician (what we tend to use in NC)
LPN  Licensed Practical Nurse
MA Master of Arts
MBA Master of Business Administration
MD Medicinae Doctor (Doctor of Medicine)
MEd Master of Education
MS Master of Science
MSN Master’s Degree in Nursing
NP Nurse Practitioner (RN with advanced training)
OTR Occupational Therapist Registered
OTR/L Occupational Therapist Registered/Licensed
PharmD Doctor of Pharmacy
Ph.D. Philosophiae Doctor (Doctor of Philosophy)
RA Restorative Aide
RDH Registered Dental Hygienist
RN Registered Nurse
RPh Registered Pharmacist
RRT Registered Respiratory Therapist
ST Surgical Technologist

The word degree should not follow an abbreviation of the degree.
Correct: He has a BA in history.
Incorrect: He has a BA degree in history

When referring to an academic degree in more general or shortened terms, capital letters are not needed.
Correct: She has a doctorate in philosophy.
Correct: She holds a master’s in the subject.
Correct: She holds an associate’s degree.
Incorrect: She has a Doctorate in philosophy.

An apostrophe and s are needed when shortening degrees to master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s.;

When using the following honors, lowercase and italicize each word:

cum laude
magna cum laude
summa cum laude

1.2  Months

In text, spell out the months of the year.

In charts, tables, lists, research data, or schedules, you may abbreviate the months as follows if you include the dates: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.  Never abbreviate March, April, May, June, or July.  (Note: These months must be abbreviated in the schedule in order to meet format requirements.)

When a period of time is identified in text by the month and year, no internal comma is necessary.
When a period of time is identified in charts by the month and year, an internal comma is necessary.

Text Example: The workshop will be held in May 2014.
Chart Example: May, 2014

1.3  Names with Jr., Sr., and III

The abbreviations Jr., Sr., and III are used ONLY when a person’s full name is given. Only the abbreviations Jr. and Sr. are set off by commas. Note that no comma is placed before or after III.


Mr. James Jefferson, Jr., was once governor.
Dexter Harrison III spoke at the commencement.

Exception: Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center (Dr. Wynn chose for no comma to be used after Jr. in the title of his building.)

The abbreviation Esq. (for Esquire) and other titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Dr. should not appear with any other title or with abbreviations indicating scholastic degrees.


Ford Maddux, AB, PhD


Mr. Ford Maddux, AB, PhD


George Gray, MD


Dr. George Gray, MD

Incorrect: President Dr. Bill Ingram

John L. Smith, Esq.
James A. Jones, Jr., Esq.


Mr. John L. Smith, Esq.
John L. Smith Esq., AM

1.4  Abbreviated titles preceding name

Unless preceded by the, abbreviate honorable, reverend, and monsignor when followed by the first name, initials, or title. Note “the Honorable” is used for any elected official presently serving or has served in the past.


Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
the Reverend Dr. King
Rev. Dr. King
the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
the Honorable Elihu Root
Hon. Elihu Root
the Honorable Mr. Root

1.5  Abbreviations of legislative titles

Use Rep., Reps., Sen., and Sens. before names, and follow with party affiliation.  When not followed by a name, lowercase and spell out.


Sen. Kay Hagan, D-NC
The senator spoke to the students.

1.7  Abbreviations of state names

When abbreviating state names, use postal-style abbreviations.  A list is available here: https://www.usps.com/send/official-abbreviations.htm. Please note there are no periods in postal-style abbreviations.



Incorrect: N.C.

When abbreviating names and states, no space should appear between the initials.


L.L. Bean

Incorrect: N C
A T & T
L. L. Bean

In text, you may abbreviate a state name if it is preceded by the name of a city.  In this case, use commas before and after the state name abbreviation.  If no city is listed, do not abbreviate the state name. In The Insider or on the college's website, include the state only if it is outside of North Carolina.


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Durham, NC 27703

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