Teams are groups comprised of four individuals that are formed to fight alongside one another. In Beacon Academy and other schools, students are put into teams to learn together and practice with other teams while training to become Huntsmen.
Teams are formed at Huntsman Academies with the intention of forming lasting bonds and fostering empathy between team members. After graduating from an academy, a team may stay together or disband for its members to pursue solo careers.
The first letter of the each team member's name is used to form an acronym that stands for the name of the team. In some cases, the first letter of a member's surname may be used. The team leader's initial is the first letter of the team name.
Every team name follows the color naming rule of Remnant. This means a team name has to be a color, mean a color, sound like a color or make people think of a certain color.
Formation at Beacon
The day after arriving at Beacon Academy, first-year students (such as Ruby Rose, Jaune Arc, etc.) are gathered at the edge of Beacon Cliff overlooking the Emerald Forest where Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch stand before them and explain the procedure of the Beacon Academy Initiation that they will soon undergo. After being launched from the Cliff and landing in the forest below, the first pair of students to make eye contact with each other are partners for the rest of their time at Beacon, which consists of four years.
To complete the team of four, as seen in "Players and Pieces", the two pairs of students who pick matching relics found at the abandoned temple are combined to form a team, and Ozpin chooses the leader based on who displays the best leadership skills during the initiation.
As of "The Badge and The Burden", the team members of each respective team share a dorm. Even Team JNPR, a co-ed team, share a single dorm.
In "End of the Beginning", it is unknown if any of the teams at Beacon remained active after the academy's destruction and its headmaster's disappearance. In particular, Team RWBY had gone inactive due to the separation of its members but later reformed in "Haven's Fate". It's possible that some teams were transferred to another academy, an example being Team CFVY were transferred to Shade Academy.
Since first-year students are seen speculating how teams are going to be formed and even asking others to join theirs the morning before being assigned teammates, the process and details of creating teams at Beacon are kept secret until the initiation. Glynda herself calls what the students heard as "rumors", although Pyrrha knew the teams consisted of four students each beforehand and Nora was previously aware that the test would take place in the forest.
There were twenty black and white chess pieces visible in the temple, two for each piece in chess, both white and black. This would mean that there was a possible total of ten teams of four able to pass the initiation.
Each team has its own motif. For examples, RWBY's is fairy tales, JNPR's is cross-dressing warriors and legends, CRDL's is birds, and CFVY's is various sweets.
All fully revealed teams have a member whose name alludes to a shade of red: Ruby Rose, Pyrrha Nikos, Scarlet David, Velvet Scarlatina, Cardin Winchester, Arslan Altan, Roy Stallion, Octavia Ember, Cinder Fall and Summer Rose.
Due to only having shown two members of each team, it is unknown whether the teams from Atlas Academy also follow this pattern.
Under most circumstances, all letters in a team name consist of their members' first initials. However, there are three cases in which the last initial is the one in the team name: Lie Ren, Sky Lark and May Zedong.
Despite the fact that all teams have their first letters represent the name of their leaders, Jaune, Weiss, and Ruby were all shown to be surprised at who would command the group. This may merely be the students' lack of knowledge as to how teams are assigned.
In the first episode of Volume 4, Ren, Nora and Jaune debate on whether to call their new team RNJR (Ranger) or JNRR (Junior).
Nora explains that there are more members from Team JNPR, so they should be called Team JNRR. Ren disagrees because the pronunciation of the name does not link to a color. He also points out that since they are helping Ruby on her mission, their team name should start with Ruby's initial. Thus, creating the team name RNJR.