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On first use, spell out the full name of an organization or entity unless it is most widely known by its abbreviated name: e.g., IBM, SAT, NASA. If you refer to the organization or entity more than once, follow the initial spelled-out form with the acronym in parentheses and use the acronym for subsequent references. Do not use periods between letters. Do not use “the” before acronyms:

  • She is a member of the Penn Chess Club (PCC) and the Society of Women Engineers. PCC is famous for ...


Not admittance


Not adviser

Alumni (Proper Usage)

Everyone who matriculates at Penn, whether a graduate or not, becomes an alumna or alumnus of the University. Correct usage is as follows:

  • alumna (feminine, singular)
  • alumnus (masculine, singular)
  • alumnae (feminine, plural)
  • alumni (masculine, plural, or mixed group)

Do not use the informal “alum”—just as you shouldn't use “prof” or “doc” or “veep”—in print or on the Web. Feel free to take a familiar, personal tone in writing, but keep in mind Penn’s stature in your communication.

Class of …

“Class” is capitalized as part of the proper name of a class:

  • Jane is a member of the Class of 2005.
  • A plaque commemorates the contributions of John Doe, Class of 1905.

Class Affiliations + Years

When abbreviating class years to two digits, an apostrophe (’)—not an opening quotation mark (‘)—replaces the omitted digits. (Shortcut on a PC is ctrl + quote, quote; on a Mac it is shift + option + right bracket). Undergraduate and graduate class affiliations and years, whether singles or multiples, should be set off from a personal name with commas, front and back:

  • John Smith, W’05, was featured in an October New York Times article.
  • John Smith, W’05, WG’09, is a director at Ernst & Young, PLC.
  • If confusion could result from abbreviation of class year, spell out the year and do not use an apostrophe:

  • John Smith, W1905, was memorialized in an October New York Times obituary.

When referring to a sequence of alumni, follow the style above for the primary person and use parentheses for secondary persons:

  • John Smith, W’85, WG’89, director at Ernst & Young, PLC, was recognized with his wife Mary (C’55) and son Michael (V’11) for their contribution to the Mary and John Smith Endowed Professorship.

See also Penn Academic Degree Abbreviations/Affiliation.