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Graduation Grammar - how do you write a degree title?


Graduation season is upon us again, and once more I'm being kept busy with plenty of orders for my skyline graduation cards and prints - a really lovely momento for anyone who's spent the last three or four years studying in a new town or city.

Every year I get customer messages asking for some help with the grammar and punctuation surrounding degrees and graduation.  When I receive an order for a personalised product I don't spellcheck it - as often the "mistake" is on purpose - an in-joke or a play on words for example.  I have learnt that my querying anything that might require correction can be a long and time-consuming process; resulting in delays to an order arriving - so I now rely on all my lovely customers proofing their own personalisation details.

However I thought it'd be worth me putting together a quick guide to graduation grammar, just to avoid any really obvious errors.



This sounds really obvious - but please make sure you use capitals or hyphens in the right place. If you need to check spellings then please do so before you place the order; sometimes it's too late to make a change by the time you realise that there's no "i" in Clare's name, or that there's a hyphen in "Smith-Wykes".

Do you want to use the abbreviated version of the recipient's name, or their full name? You might know Bagsy by his nickname, but will he want to hang a print on his wall with "Bagsy" on it?

It's also worth giving some consideration to titles here - if the recipient has just finished a PhD you might like to add "Dr" before their name.  You may also want to add the degree abbreviation after the name, as what's called post-nominals - for example "Emma Downes, MA".


Degree Title

This is pretty critical to get right - no-one wants to be given a print to hang on their wall which has a typo on it. Hence I am often asked, "how do I write the degree title?".

Well, you can go for a full title, eg Bachelor of Arts in Animation; or you can abbreviate the qualification, eg BA (Hons) Animation. Both are perfectly acceptable.

Some common abbreviations are as follows:
Bachelor of Arts – BA (Hons)
Bachelor of Science – BSc (Hons)
Bachelor of Engineering – BEng (Hons)
Bachelor of Laws – LLB (Hons)

I can't stress this enough, please double check the title of the qualification your loved one has completed - there are so many options, and so many variables.  You can ask the graduate directly, or you can check the relevant university's website.  Make sure you have the details correct - including capitals and spellings.

If you wish to add the degree classification then this is where you'd do it, after the qualifiaction and degree title - these are typically written as follows: 1st, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd or Pass.

Common typos I see here are people adding a "t" to Bachelor and missing the "u" out of Honours.  Please do ensure you have spelt these words as you want them to appear on the finished product!


University or College

Another big one - make sure of the establishment your loved one has been attending for the past three or four years - most cities have more than one university!  Do a quick Google to check the proper and complete name of the college or university too.

If your loved one has studied at a Welsh-speaking university they may prefer the personalisation to be in Welsh - for example Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Common errors I see here include adding an apostrophe to Liverpool John Moores University and lots of Xxx University instead of University of Xxx.



Adding the dates to your card or print is a lovely touch; you could either add a "Class of 2023" inscription, or the date or year of graduation, or even the years that the recipient spent studying, eg "2020-2023".

Alternatively, you could opt to have the date of the graduation ceremony.

There's no right or wrong here - it's up to you, but do make sure you have the dates correct!



Another Message

Because my cards and prints are totally customised, you might choose to use one of the lines of text to add a different message - perhaps a well done or congratulations.

You can add whatever you like, as long as it fits in the character limit. However, once more, do just consider whether the recipient will want this message hanging on their wall for the next twenty years.

Hopefully I've given you a few helpful pointers on what information to include, and your options - as well as how not to make any awkward mistakes.