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Guidelines for writing in English

Leiden University has a style guide to ensure consistency across all of its publications. It also has a Terminology List with the preferred translations of terms used within Leiden University and the academic world.

Guidelines for writing in English

  1. British English
  2. Spelling
  3. The time
  4. Dates
  5. Capital letters
  6. Programme titles
  7. Lower case
  8. Hyphens
  9. Single or double inverted commas 


The Executive Board has decided that we use British English rather than American English in University publications.


Here are a few examples of American and British English spelling differences: 

American English British English
-ize (legalize) -ise (legalise)
-ization (legalization) -isation (legalisation)
-or (behavior) -our (behaviour)
program programme
center centre 

Proper nouns such as Leiden University Medical Center are the exception here.

The time

Use the 24-hour clock, with a dot between the numbers and no a.m./p.m./o’clock. For example: 16.00 hrs. 


Write the date as follows: Monday 2 December 2016 

Capital letters

Use capitals for titles: Rector Magnificus and President, the Dean of the Faculty of Law. 

University or university? If you mean an unspecified university, do not use a capital letter (a university). If you are talking about a specific university, Leiden University for example, use a capital letter (the University). 

Programme titles

  • bachelor’s programmes
  • master’s programmes 
  • PhD programmes 

Lower-case letters

The words bachelor’s and master’s should be in lower case, unless you are referring to a specific programme: the Bachelor’s Programme in English Language and Culture. 


Hyphens are used less in English than in Dutch (for example, PhD student rather than PhD-student, case law rather than case-law). 

Single or double inverted commas 

Use single inverted commas for quotations and double inverted commas for a quotations within a quotation. Also use single inverted commas for single words or phrases.

English Terminology List

Unsure how to translate Raad van Bestuur or studentenvereniging into English? The University has its own online dictionary (Leiden University Terminogy List), where you will find English translations of Dutch academic terms used within the University and the academic world.


The translation and editing service at the University’s Academic Language Centre offers various services including translations, editing and proofreading.

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