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How do I write... English?

British English

In general, the University of Konstanz uses British English. However, since we are writing for a broad, international audience, there are a few exceptions. For details, see "American, British or international English" below.

We provide this university style guide to help you write English texts more easily and in line with Konstanz-specific guidelines. These are based mainly on the EU English Style Guide and cover topics such as capitalization, numbers, titles, salutations and proper nouns.

American, British or international English

We generally use British English. However, we also take into account that our texts are for readers all over the world.

-ise/-ize endings

In both British and American English, there is the option to use the -ize ending, which is why we have chosen to use this spelling in our texts.


Since the term "grades" is used most commonly around the world, we do not use the term "marks".

Letters/funding applications/emails

For all these documents you may use the standards for the country where they are being sent.

University-specific terms

Our German-English glossary includes terms that we use at our university.
We use "faculty" for the organizational unit "Sektion" and, to avoid mix ups, do not use it for our teaching staff.
"Study programme" is the term we use in Konstanz for all programmes leading to a degree.
"Department" is reserved for the organizational unit "Fachbereich" and is thus not used for divisions of the university administration (e.g. Human Resources).

Kanzler = Kanzler
The responsibilities of a "Kanzler" are not exactly comparable to those of a „chancellor“ which is why we do not translate this term. Where relevant, please add a brief explanation afterwards: (director of the university administration).

Different education systems

German structures and positions do not correspond 1:1 to those in other countries. We recommend: Use either the German name or a general, overarching term with a short explanation in parentheses (see item Titles, degrees and positions).

German English
Privatdozent Privatdozent (lecturer)
apl. Prof. professor (apl. Prof.)
Doktortitel doctorate


Headings and titles

We use "sentence case" in headings and titles (e.g. of web pages, theses, courses and modules). The first letter of the first word is capitalized along with any proper nouns and geographic locations. All other words are written in lower case.
Enrolment at the University of Konstanz
Spanish literature during the Renaissance
The impact of city planning on housing inequality in German cities along the Rhine and Ruhr

Months, days of the week and holidays

All of these words are capitalized in English, but semesters are written in lower case.
The exam is in December.
My office hours are on Monday.
The university will be closed for Christmas.
In winter semester 2022/2023, all courses again took place on campus.

Countries, nationalities and languages

All these terms are capitalized.
I’m from Nigeria.
He is Mexican and is learning French.
She speaks Urdu.

Proper nouns

We capitalize all proper nouns.
University of Konstanz
Faculty of Humanities
Department of Physics
The Rectorate has decided…
In a joint meeting, the Senate and University Council approved the amendments.

General terms

All general terms are written in lower case.
There are lots of different councils at the university.
The elections for the university bodies will take place soon.

Programmes, subjects and disciplines

In general, we write subjects and disciplines in lower case, but the proper names of study programmes are capitalized.
He studies psychology.
I am a student in the bachelor’s programme Computer Science.

Dates and times

Months, days of the week and holidays

All of these words are capitalized in English.
Example: on Monday, Tuesday, Christmas, Halloween, July….

Days of the week and months can be abbreviated using three letters (no period):

Date format

Day month (full name) year - no commas!
Example: 15 May 2025

Use numeric format, e.g. for footnotes or when space is limited:
Example: 23.7.2025


Use the 24-hour system with a colon.
Office hours: Mon – Fri 12:00 – 17:00
The lecture starts at 15:15


Three options:

Full name
(text paragraphs)
Currency symbol
(use a space!)
ISO code
(in contracts etc.)
200 dollars
50 euros
120 Swiss francs

€ 120
$ 70

EUR 300
USD 210


Phone numbers

International format
Example: +49 7531 88-1234

Short form for internal university use
Example: extension 1234


In text paragraphs, spell out numbers 1-12, and write numerals for numbers 13 and above.
one adult and eight children
27 member states

For statistics, temperatures, page numbers, decimal numbers, units of measure, etc. write a numeral.
10° C
page 4
5 million euros

Commas and periods used in numbers

Important: Commas and periods in numbers are used differently in English than in German.

  • In German, the period marks the thousands place; the comma is used for decimals.
  • In English, the comma marks the thousands place; the period is used for decimals. As an alternative to the comma, you can also use a space.
    German: 100.000,40€
    English: € 100,000.40 or € 100 000.40

Millions - billions: abbreviating large units


1 000 one thousand 1 k
1 000 000 1 million 1 m
1 000 000 000 1 billion 1 bn

Tip: Provide an overview of the abbreviations used (e.g. before a corresponding table).

k 1 000
m 1 000 000
bn 1 000 000 000

Quotation marks, colons, bullet points

Quotation marks

We use double quotation marks.
Example: "x"

  • Commas and periods are usually placed after quotation marks.
    "The research results indicate that...", he said.
    In a few months, they will attend the awards ceremony at the "Dies academicus".
  • If the punctuation is part of the quotation, then it comes before the quotation marks.
    She asked: "How are you?"
    "How absurd!" he said.


  • In text paragraphs colons are usually followed by lower-case spelling.
    Please submit the following: three copies of your application, a passport photo and a CV.
  • Full, independent clauses following a colon can be capitalized . This also applies when a colon is followed by several sentences.
    Please consider the following questions: What do I want to research? Who will participate? How much will it cost?

Bullet points

Lists of bullet points within a document should be formatted in a uniform way.

  • Either start each line with a capital letter, or start each line with a lower-case one.
  • Either end each line with punctuation, or end each line without.
    Key questions
    - What do we observe?
    - What factors play a role?
    - What are the potential consequences?

    What to bring along to the open book exam:
    - student ID
    - pencil and paper
    - textbook or other aids 

Titles, degrees and positions

German degrees and positions

Important: We use "doctorate" or "Dr", since the University of Konstanz does not award any "PhD" degrees. This is the case, regardless of the type of German doctorate (Dr. rer. nat., Dr. rer. oec., Dr. sc. math., etc.).

Positions in German universities cannot be directly translated into English as education systems differ somewhat (see item American, British or international English). In such cases, there are two options:

  • Capitalize and do not translate the German name. If you like, include a short explanation in parentheses.
    Sarah graduated with a "Magister" in French Literature.
    He is a "Privatdozent" (lecturer) at the University of Konstanz.
    Diplom-Ingenieur Sebastian Heu
    Business cards:
    Dr J. Peters, Privatdozent
    Sebastian Heu, Dipl.-Ing.
  • Use a general English term along with the German name/abbreviation in parentheses. Advantage: easy to understand.
    außerplanmäßiger Professor
    She is a professor (apl. Prof.) in the Department of Chemistry.
    He is a lecturer (Privatdozent) at the University of Konstanz.

International degrees

We write all degrees without any punctuation .

Bachelor of Arts/Science BA/BSc
Master of Arts/Science MA/MSc
Bachelor/Master of Education BEd/MEd
Master of Business Administration MBA
Doctor of Philosophy PhD

Bachelor and master

  • In general, we write these terms in lower case and in the possessive form.
    The application deadline for bachelor’s programmes is 15 July.
    She has a master’s degree.
    He is writing his master’s thesis.
  • Important: Proper names for degrees and study programmes are capitalized.
    Students in the master’s programme Chemistry learn about…
    He has a Master of Arts in Literature.

Professor and Dr

  • We do not use a period after the abbreviated title.
    Example: Dr Müller
  • Professor and Dr are capitalized directly in front of a person’s name.
    Example: Professor J. Lewis
  • Otherwise (as general terms) they are written in lower case.
    Example: J. Lewis is a professor of law
  • Only the highest title is used before a person's name.
    Example: Professor H. Schmidt (German: Prof. Dr. H. Schmidt)
  • In exceptional cases, all of a person's titles can be used (at their request, or in order to emphasize their position).
    Example: Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. P. Meyer

German names and acronyms

Use of "Konstanz"

We keep the German spelling of "Konstanz" in the names of the university and the city:

  • University of Konstanz (NOT University of Constance)
  • city of Konstanz (NOT city of Constance)
  • However, the German "Bodensee" = Lake Constance

Acronyms and names of German organizations, laws, etc.

  • If there is an official English name (usually on the English website), please use it! Use the (German) acronym after the first mention.
    Example: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft = German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • If there is no official English name, please use the German name and provide an explanation or translation in parentheses (in lower case!). If there is a German acronym, you can use it after the first mention.
    The Landesbeamtengesetz LBG (state civil service act)
    Mutterschutz (maternity leave)
  • The first mention of an acronym needs an explanation/translation.
    Example:The SPD (the German Social Democratic Party)

Emails and letters


  • Split up German spellings with umlauts and ß in addresses since they could be misunderstood, e.g. "ß" could be read as a "b".
    Universitaetsstrasse 10
    Universitaetsstr. 10
  • For post: Keep internal names like "Studium und Lehre", "Personalabteilung" etc. in German, so letters can be delivered more easily. If you are mailing letters to the university from within Germany, please also use the German spelling.
    University of Konstanz
    Studium und Lehre
    Jo Doe
    Universitaetsstr. 10
    78457 Konstanz

    Universitaet Konstanz
    Studium und Lehre
    Jo Doe
    Universitaetsstr. 10
    78457 Konstanz

Starting and ending a letter

For letters and emails, use the standards for the country where the recipient lives.

In English, the first line of a letter/email begins with a capital letter, even if the salutation ends with a comma!
Dear Sam
Thank you for your email.

The salutation is capitalized.

  • In British English, there is usually no punctuation mark after the salutation (occasionally a comma).
  • In American English, there is a colon after the salutation.

Dear Human Resources team
Dear Professor Smith
To Whom It May Concern: (recipient unknown)

In the closing line of a letter, only the first word is capitalized.

Yours sincerely (formal)
Kind regards
Best regards


Mr, Ms and Mx (gender neutral) are honorifics currently used in English. Mrs (married) and Miss (unmarried) are rarely used these days.

Important: In British English, Mr/Ms/Mx/Dr are written without a period, and in American English they are written with a period.

If desired, you can replace Ms/Mr/Mx with titles, like Dr or Professor. In this case, only use the highest title.

German English
Frau Dr. Stein Dr Stein
Herr Professor Dr. R. Stein Professor R. Stein

Another option is to use a person's full name (and academic title).
Dear Alex Meyer
Dear Dr Alex Meyer
Dear Professor Jo Miller