Is it “the university” or “the University“? How to refer properly to professors and their pertinent departments, schools and colleges? And how to keep all those “Mcs” and “Macs” straight: is it Macdonald Hall or MacDonald Hall?

University of Guelph and its administrative units, as well as administration and faculty members, buildings and places, and associated organizations:

For capitalization rules not covered here, see “Capitalization.”

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The University

The University of Guelph: Spell out the University of Guelph as a proper noun or as an adjective on first reference. Always aim to name the institution early. For news releases or other external documents, spell out the full name within the first one or two paragraphs or lines.

On subsequent reference, write the University or U of G (no the with the abbreviation): the University has a rich history; U of G students.

  • Gryphon: Use Gryphon to describe U of G athletes or athletics, or students in the context of a team: Gryphon Athletics, Gryphon runners, proud to be a Gryphon. Use judiciously as a generic term to describe U of G students or the University community.
  • Improve Life: Use caps as a proper noun when referring to the University’s official brand: The University’s brand is Improve Life. Otherwise, lowercase in more general reference: The goal of our research is to improve life. Avoid overuse.
  • Food from Thought: In specific reference to this University project, write lower case “from” in body copy and photo captions. In headlines, write uppercase “From” (Food From Thought) as with all prepositions of four or more letters (see Capitalization).
  • Guelph: Use only in reference to the City of Guelph or Guelph region. Do not use alone in reference to the University.

Use upper case when writing the proper name of another post-secondary institution: University of Toronto. Otherwise, lower case when referring to universities in general or anything not U of G-specific.

Examples: She transferred from another university. Many universities are increasing enrolment.


Use lowercase for titles for senior administrators, either before or after the name: president Dr. Charlotte Yates; dean Dr. Rene Van Acker. Use parentheses to indicate the specific appointment: Dr. Cate Dewey, associate vice-president (academic). For lengthy titles, writing the title after the name as here avoids an awkward pileup of words before the name.

When writing an administrator’s title after their name, use commas before and after the title: Dr. Cate Dewey, associate vice-president (academic), spoke to Senate today.

Dr./Prof. Honorifics

Use the honorific “Dr.” on first reference for any faculty or staff member, administrator or post-doctoral scholar with a doctoral degree from any post-secondary institution: Dr. Alex Carter, Dr. Charlotte Yates, Dr. Malcolm Campbell.

Doctoral degrees include PhD (doctor of philosophy), DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine), D.V.Sc. (doctor of veterinary science) and MD (doctor of medicine). It is not necessary to specify the person’s particular doctoral degree; just use the honorific Dr. on first reference: Dr. Sarah Black.

Also mention separately their appointment as, say, a professor or post-doc in the pertinent department:

Example: Dr. Jennifer Peterson, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, found the animals farther north than expected. “We think this is an instance of climate change-driven range expansion,” said Peterson.

Example: Dr. Pat Morris is studying the topic as a post-doc researcher in the department.Note: Identify faculty in departments and schools encompassing two distinct disciplines by their specific discipline: If Dr. Heather Wilson, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, studies applied nutrition, then identify her as an applied nutrition professor rather than a family relations and applied nutrition professor. This also avoids an awkward pileup of adjectives before the name.Some faculty members may lack a doctoral degree or may prefer Prof. In those cases, use the Prof. honorific: Prof. Winston Green.Professors may be assistant, associate or full, but we use only professor for all faculty members. DO specify adjunct professor. For honorary degree holders, typically use only the name without the honorific, unless the individual prefers to use Dr.

Use the Dr. or Prof. honorific as appropriate on first reference to University administrators. For administrators without a doctorate, simply include their administrative title.

Full names and surnames: Spell out the full name of a person on first reference. On subsequent reference, use only the surname without honorifics. As with references to any individual on or off campus, check to ensure correct spellings of names of individuals, titles and academic affiliations (see U of G academic units below).

Retired, Emeritus/Emerita Faculty Members

When writing about retired faculty members, follow the upper and lower case rules for current faculty members as above: He is working on the study with retired professor Bob Johnson.

Any faculty member may be a retired professor, but professor emeritus/emerita is a designation bestowed by a department. University professor emeritus/emerita is a designation bestowed by U of G and is conferred at convocation.

Professor emeritus refers to a man, and professor emerita refers to a woman. In plural, a group of men are professors emeriti, and a group of women, professors emeritae. For a mixed group, write professors emeriti.

Government: For off-campus titles, including government, you don’t need to use “Honourable” to refer to cabinet ministers, judges, etc. unless you’re writing a formal document. It’s Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield or Lloyd Longfield, Guelph MP. Avoid piling up adjectives in front of the individual’s name, particularly for a lengthy title: Jane Smith, Minister of Pertinent Portfolio in Industry and Trade.

U of G Academic Units

Other universities refer to their divisions as faculties, but U of G uses the term college. In writing college, school and department names, remember that some use science and others use sciences.

  • College of Arts
  • College of Biological Science
  • Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics
  • College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (formerly College of Physical and Engineering Science)
  • College of Social and Applied Human Sciences
  • Ontario Agricultural College (not Agriculture)
  • Ontario Veterinary College
  • Department of Animal Biosciences
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
  • Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Department of Pathobiology
  • School of Computer Science
  • School of Engineering
  • School of English and Theatre Studies
  • School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
  • School of Environmental Sciences
  • School of Fine Art and Music
  • School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management

Buildings, Places and Groups on Campus

Here are some commonly misspelled buildings, places and groups on campus. Watch for “Mac” or “Mc” in place names.

  • Art Gallery of Guelph (formerly Macdonald Stewart Art Centre)
  • Bullring
  • Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety
  • Central Student Association
  • Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE)
  • Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (not Zoonosis)
  • Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI)
  • Computing and Communications Services
  • Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility
  • R.P. Gilmor Student Life Award
  • Graduate Students’ Association
  • Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research)
  • Gryphs Sports Lounge
  • Human Nutraceutical Research Unit
  • J.D. MacLachlan Building
  • Johnston Hall and Green (Not Johnson)
  • MacNaughton Building
  • MacKinnon Building
  • Macdonald Institute, Macdonald Hall, Macdonald Stewart Hall
  • McLaughlin Library
  • MacNabb House
  • McGilvray Street
  • Research Innovation Office (formerly Catalyst Centre)
  • Ridgetown Campus (not College)
  • Thornbrough Building (not Thornborough)
  • University of Guelph Alumni Association
  • University of Guelph-Humber (U of GH; not UGH)
  • W. F. Mitchell Athletics Centre (or simply Athletics Centre)

Campus Athletics

U of G varsity teams and players are called Guelph Gryphons, football Gryphons, volleyball Gryphons, etc. The adjective is Gryphon hockey, the Gryphon cross-country program, etc. Don’t use Gryphon to refer to U of G students in general or the University community.

  • OCGS – Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (not of)
  • IDRC – International Development Research Centre (not Council)
  • OCUFA – Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (not Council)
  • AUCC – Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (not in Canada) Note: This organization is now called Universities Canada.
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
  • Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (not Universities)
  • Ontario Universities’ Fair (not Universities, not University)
  • Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
  • Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC)

Academic Units

Always use upper case when writing out full names of departments, schools and colleges: College of Biological Science, Department of History, School of Engineering. For all units, use and rather than the ampersand symbol. So: Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, not Human Health & Nutritional Sciences. And: the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, not the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences.

Capitalize only full official names. It’s the School of Environmental Sciences but the school when standing alone. Write McLaughlin Library and U of G Arboretum, but the library and the arboretum standing alone. Write the Arrell Food Institute, but the institute.

Non-academic units: Use upper case for names of non-academic departments on campus: Physical Resources, Hospitality Services, Student Affairs.

Academic programs: Capitalize the names of U of G departments and schools but not the programs they offer: the Department of Psychology, the psychology program.

Capitalize University for U of G but lower case units or “program” in generic reference: The University has seven colleges, University priority, University program.

Write: the First-Year Seminar program (caps and hyphen) for the formal name of this program. But lower case: a first-year student.

Plurals: In most cases, the common-noun elements of proper nouns are lower case when used in plural: York and Queen’s universities, the departments of Physics and Psychology, the ministries of Education and Defence.

Other universities: Use upper case when writing the proper name of another post-secondary institution: University of Toronto. Otherwise, lower case when referring to universities in general or anything not U of G-specific: She transferred from another university. Many universities are increasing enrolment.

Groups, committees, task forces: Any common noun capitalized as part of a proper name is normally lower case when standing alone. So it’s the Presidential Task Force on Accessibility but the task force report, the Graduate Students’ Association but the association’s mandate, and the Ministry of the Environment but a ministry spokesperson.

Senate, Board of Governors: The University’s Senate and Board of Governors are always capitalized. Also capitalize Board and Senate on its own. When talking about members of these governing bodies, use lower case: senators and governors.

Courses/Lectures: Capitalize names of courses and lectures, without italics: “History of the Modern World.” Generally spell out the name of the course rather than using administrative course codes alone.

Academic Degrees

Academic degrees aren’t capitalized when they’re written out: bachelor of science, master of landscape architecture, doctor of philosophy. Use an apostrophe to refer generically to a degree program: master’s degree, bachelor’s program. Don’t write: master’s of landscape architecture.

Abbreviations that are all caps take no periods: BA (bachelor of arts), BLA (bachelor of landscape architecture), MA (master of arts), DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine), MBA (master of business administration).

Most lower-case and mixed abbreviations take periods: B.Sc., B.A.Sc., B.Sc.(Agr.), B.Comm., D.V.Sc., M.Sc.

Note: Write PhD like this, without periods and with lower case “h.”

Degrees starting with M have a beginning vowel sound. So if Bob just got his MA, he is an MA graduate, not a MA graduate.

Capitalize the Class of 2010. Refer to individual graduates as John Doe, BA ’10, or Jane Smith, M.Sc. ’99, PhD ’03.