What you need to know

The MIT Bulletin follows a set of standards in order to provide a consistent experience for readers. We encourage you to use this guide for your department’s program descriptions and subject listings.

Keep in mind our helpful style Dos and Don’ts.

  • Do separate instructor’s initials (if relevant) with a space (e.g., J. A. Hoffman).
  • Do use the present tense only (e.g., “Students write”).
  • Do use “term,” not “semester.”
  • Do convey the intellectual content of the subject.
  • Do use “and,” rather than an ampersand. Use the & symbol in transcript titles only.
  • Do write succinct catalog descriptions of three or four brief sentences.


  • Don’t use first-person pronouns, such as “we,” “our,” or “us.”
  • Don’t use the term “in-class,” as in “in-class exercises.” “Exercises” alone implies that they are done in class.
  • Don’t use the term “hands-on.” Instead describe what exactly makes the subject or project “hands-on” (e.g., “Students make” or “involves a project in which”).
  • Don’t use “this subject,” “this class,” etc.
  • Don’t repeat the class syllabus or include long lists of subtopics. 

Common terms & abbreviations

21st century (n) 21st-century (adj) 3-D (n, adj) or three-dimensional (adj) 9/11
bestseller   biomolecular  
c. year (circa year) CAD/CAM case study (n, adj) cash flow (n)
Cold War Course 15 (uppercase C if a program of study, followed by Arabic numeral) cross section cross-cultural
decision-maker decision-making dot-com (n, adj)  
Earth (planet), earth (dirt) end use (n)    
fall term, fall fieldwork field-worker filmmaker
flow rate (n) follow up (v) follow-up (n, adj)  
galaxy go-cart groundwater (n, adj)  
health care hip-hop (n)    
in depth (adv) in-depth (adj) input/output  
life cycle (n) life-cycle (adj)    
mapmaker, mapmaking melt down (v) midterm (adj) multimedia
nonlinear nonparametric (adj)    
offshore (n, adj) on campus, off campus (adv) on-campus, off-campus (adj) online (adj, adv)
policymaking postdoctoral (adj, adv) postwar (no hyphen) present-day
prime time (n) prime-time (adj) problem-solving (n, adj)  
rate-limiting (adv) real-world (adj) roundtable (n, adj)  
scale up (v) scale-up (n) socioeconomic space-time (n)
spring term, spring start up (v) start-up (n) state of the art (n)
state-of-the-art (adj) storytelling (n)    
team-building teamwork theater (not theatre) trade off (v)
trade-off (n) turnkey (adj)    
United States (n) universe (lowercase) US (adj, or referring to a unique organization) upper-level
wavelength website well defined (adv) well-defined (adj)
well established (adv) well-established (adj) worldwide (adj, adv)