The Oxford Magazine is a premium English-language publication. We value consistency and accuracy in our work and rely on a style guide to govern everything that we write. Our perspective reflects that of the internet at large, and we regularly update this style guide to ensure it remains relevant and responds accordingly to changes in common and casual usage of language.
Our preferred dictionary for is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) available online at oed.com. There is a free version available in collaboration with Dictionary.com at lexico.com. In general, use the first spelling of a word (unless it appears in the word list below or is preferred by the Associated Press Stylebook).
Preferred style manual
Our preferred style manual is the AP Stylebook (Associated Press Stylebook). Please consult the Chicago Manual of Style for issues not covered by the AP Stylebook as well as for more detailed information and discussion, where applicable. Generally, AP Stylebook trumps the Oxford Dictionary, but any style point mentioned in this guide overrules those publications.
Please note that this style guide provides a reference to common words and terms used on our website, as well as information on style issues particular to this site. It is not intended to be a comprehensive manual of grammar and style.
Words and spellings
?! (never !?)
@replies, @mentions (on Twitter)
11th hour (but hyphenate as an adjective, e.g., 11th-hour negotiations)
1D (as an abbreviation for One Direction)
4chan (use a lowercase C, and avoid using it to start a sentence when possible)
4th of July
A-list, B-list (etc., when referring to an A-list celeb)
AC (for air-conditioning)
AF (for as fuck)
agender (adj., describes someone who does not identify with a specific gender)
aka (unless it starts a sentence, in which case AKA is acceptable — Aka just looks weird)
alcoholic drink names are usually lowercase unless derived from a proper noun (exceptions: Bloody Mary, Old-Fashioned)
Al Jazeera (not italicised)
a.m., p.m. (OK to cap in headlines)
Amex (for American Express)
amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research)
the Apple Store
Argentine (preferred to Argentinian as adj. meaning of or relating to Argentina)
A side (n.); A-side (adj.)
awards season, awards show (preferable to award)
baby daddy, baby mama (two words)
backseat (all forms)
band names: Usually take a plural construction (The band is on tour; but Arcade Fire are playing tonight.).
BCE, CE (for before common era and common era; not BC, AD)
best-seller, best-selling (e.g., the New York Times best-seller list)
bitcoin (always lowercase)
black girl magic
blonde (adj. and n., all uses)
Bloody Mary, Bloody Marys
bodycam (n., adj.), body camera (n.), body-camera (adj.)
body slam (n.); body-slam (v.)
bougie (adj.); bougiest (from bourgeoisie)
boy band, boy-bander
bread crumbs (for the food); breadcrumbs (for the computer-y term)
breakdance (all forms), breakdancer
breastfeed, breastfeeding (one word, all forms)
brunette (as adj. and n., all uses)
BS, BS’d, BS’ing
B side (n.); B-side (adj.)
bull dyke (n.); bull-dyke (adj.) — avoid, unless used in a direct quote
bused, busing, buses (for forms of bus)
butt-dial (all forms)
bytes (measure digital storage capacity) — abbreviate and cap kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, etc. when used with a figure, with no space between the abbreviation and the figure (e.g., my iPhone is 64GB, a 128GB storage capacity)
caj (for the abbreviation of casual)
cash me ousside, howbow dah
catfished (v., lowercase)
CBGB (not CBGB’s)
celebricat (for a celebrity feline)
celebridog (for a celebrity canine)
cesarean (i.e., C-section)
chatroom (one word)
cheese: Consult MW, but here’s a list of some commonly referenced cheeses: Asiago, Brie, cheddar, Comté, feta, fontina, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano
checkmark (one word in all forms)
child care (all forms)
chile vs. chili: Use chile powder to refer to ground dried chile peppers (like ground ancho chiles or ground cayenne chile); use chili powder for the spice mix of cumin, paprika, and cayenne (and other stuff) that is often added to chili (the stew). (Note: British English generally uses chilli.)
chocolaty (not chocolatey)
cis, cisgender (both adj.)
clapback (n.); clap back (v.)
click through (v.), click-through (n., adj.)
co. (as in TK and company)
colorblock (one word, all uses; preferred to colorblocked)
color-correcting (one word, all uses)
come (v.); cum (n.) — (omg yes, this is really here)
comic con (for a generic comic con); adhere to self-stylisation for specific cities (e.g., New York Comic Con, San Diego Comic-Con)
coming-out (n., adj.); come out (v.)
company and institution names: Refer to a company as it, not they. In lighthearted, non-News posts, it’s OK to personify brands by using they, especially if the alternative sounds awkward and/or stilted. Omit Co., Corp., Inc., Ltd., etc. Do not capitalise “the” in an organisation’s name, except if it is part of its official title e.g. …read The Oxford Magazine.
Con Edison, Con Ed (OK on second reference)
cray-cray (as slang for crazy)
crowdfund (all forms)
crowdsource (all forms)
cueing (not cuing)
dab, dabbing (dance move)
dadbod (and similar constructions, one word for all forms)
dancehall (music genre)
Dark Web, Deep Web
day care (two words)
Day-Glo (trademark, used for fluorescent materials or colors); dayglow (airglow seen during the day)
deadlift (one word, n. and v.)
deal breaker (two words)
Deir ez-Zor (for the city in Syria)
die-hard (adj.); diehard (n.)
Disney Princess (for the brand/line of characters); Disney princess (when referring to a specific character from a Disney film)
diss (meaning to disrespect)
Division One, Two, etc. (for sports references)
DJ (n., v.), DJ’d, DJ’ing
“don’t ask, don’t tell” (lowercase, in quotes, with a comma for the US military policy; in subsequent references, no quotes or abbreviate as DADT)
dos and don’ts
doughnut (but Dunkin’ Donuts)
down-low (also, on the DL)
doxx (not dox)
DREAMer (when referring to advocates and beneficiaries of the DREAM Act)
Dr.: Do not use the term Dr. to refer to nonmedical doctors who hold a doctorate
drunk driving (n.), drunk-driving (adj., v.); preferred to drunken driving
drunk-text (hyphenate as a compound verb)
Duck, Duck, Goose
e-book, e-cigarette, e-commerce
Earth (capped only when referring explicitly to the planet; The biggest on Earth but a down-to-earth guy)
[editor’s note:] (for editor’s notes in running text; cap [Editor’s note:] if it starts a sentence or is its own sentence)
Ecstasy (cap E for the drug)
emoji (singular, and as a collective language unit), emojis (plural)
ever closer (no hyphen)
facepalm (one word, all forms)
face-swap (all forms)
face-to-face (adj., adv.)
FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) (in all other uses)
faceup (adj.); face up (v.)
farmers’ market (n.) – A market where local farmers and growers sell their produce directly to the public.
fast food (n.); fast-food (adj.)
fave, faved, faving (e.g., I faved his tweet)
FBI (OK on first reference)
fiancé (all instances, regardless of gender)
fist-bump (v.); fist bump (n.)
flat iron (hair tool, n.); flat-iron (v.); Flatiron District
flatscreen (one word, both as n. and adj.)
flier for one who flies; flyer for the circular/paper
friend zone (n.); friend-zone (v.)
Frisco (acceptable on second reference for San Francisco)
Froot Loops (not Fruit Loops)
fsociety, (Fsociety in headlines, but avoid if possible)
fuckup (n.), fuck up (v.), fucked-up (adj.)
Gambia (not the Gambia or The Gambia)
Gchat, Gchatted, Gchatting
Generation X, Gen X’er
GIF/GIF’d (v.); GIFs, GIFable (pronounced gif with a hard G, NOT like the peanut butter Jif)
Girl Scout Cookie
girly (as a synonym for girlish); girlie (featuring scantily clad women)
god: Cap only if explicitly referring or alluding to a deity; lowercase otherwise, especially in common phrases (“Thank god she was OK,” “Oh god, he thought,” “And god knows we needed all the help we could get”)
goddamn (per OED), goddamnit, goddamned
gonna (not gunna)
Google+ (preferred over Google Plus)
google (v.); Google (n.); google-able
gray (not grey)
grown-up (as n. and adj.)
guest star (n.); guest-star (v.)
haha (interjection); ha-ha (n.)
hair care (n.); hair-care (adj.)
hair dryer (but blow-dryer)
half hour (not half-hour) (n.)
happy-cry (all uses)
hardcore (all uses)
hate-watching (n.), hate-watch (v.)
“he said, she said”
heartrending, gut-wrenching, nerve-racking: Via MW, heartrending denotes sadness; gut-wrenching is meant to describe something that causes great mental or emotional pain; and nerve-racking describes something causing someone to feel nervous.
hippie (as in Woodstock, peace and love, and all that)
hippy (as in big-hipped)
HIV-positive and -negative (hyphenate in all uses, e.g., Are you HIV-positive? vs. the HIV-positive patients)
ho (plural: hos for the derogatory term)
homepage (also, homescreen, etc.)
hookup (n.), hook up (v.)
hotspot (Wi-Fi connection place); hot spot (for other uses, i.e., vacation hot spots)
H/T (for hat tips, never H/t)
humankind (preferred over mankind)
ice cream (n., adj.; never hyphenate)
iced coffee (not ice coffee)
ID (for identification)
Ikea (not IKEA)
I’mma (i.e., I’m going to, as in: I’mma let you finish…)
indie pop, indie rock (but hyphenate as modifiers, i.e., indie-rock band)
Instagram, Instagramming (capped in all forms)
Internet of Things
iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 Plus (use lowercase S, C, etc., with model numbers)
IT (OK on first reference for information technology)
It girl, It couple
Jell-O (for the trademarked product); jello (as the generic term)
judgy (not an actual word, but preferred to judgey in casual prose)
koozie (for beer/alcoholic drinks)
LARPer, LARPing (for Live-Action Role-Playing)
leaker (preferred term for someone who leaks information, regardless of intent)
left-swipe (hyphenate as a v.)
Lego, Legos (plural)
less vs. fewer: Use less when referring to mass nouns, distance, or money; use fewer when referring to things that are quantifiable (e.g., There was a less of a risk with that option, There were fewer people at Jane’s party than at Julie’s).
like: Use commas on either side for an interjection: If you have, like, a really bad day… No quotation marks when used as a self-referential pseudo quote: I was like, we could never do that. And then we did. Don’t set off with commas when used as a substitute for about: There were like five dudes standing there. As a suffix: See Combining Forms section below.
likes (as in, Facebook) — lowercase, not set in quotes
lil’ (for shorter form of “little”)
lip gloss, lip liner, lipstick
lip sync (n.); lip-synch (v.)
listicle: avoid, use list instead
Listserv: Avoid unless referring to the trademarked software; use email list instead
livestream (all forms)
locs (for abbreviated form of dreadlocks)
log in (v.); log-in (n.)
logline (brief summary of a TV program or film); log line (used on ships)
lookalike (one word, all forms)
lower/upper Manhattan (lowercase L and U)
MAC (the cosmetics brand)
mac ‘n’ cheese
maiden name: Avoid, use birth name to refer to someone’s last name before marriage
make do (not make due)
makeout (n., the act of making out)
makeup (when referring to cosmetics)
match-fixing (hyphenated in all uses)
MD, MDs (plural)
meme, memeing (avoid phrasing like giant meme or viral meme, which are redundant and often hyperbolic; OK as a verb, e.g., Hurry, meme this cat picture!)
men’s rights activists (no caps)
#MeToo (not “Me Too” for the #MeToo movement)
mic’d (as the adj. or v. meaning to attach a microphone)
middle-aged (not -age)
Midtown Manhattan/Midtown (capped)
millennials (avoid using this term when possible, except when referring specifically to demographics; otherwise, generally use twentysomethings, twenty- and thirtysomethings, or teens and young adults, depending on context)
misgender (v. for the use a pronoun or form of address that does not correctly reflect the gender with which a person identifies)
M.O. (modus operandi)
mohawk (lowercase as the hairstyle)
Molly (when referring to the drug)
mommy blogger: avoid, use parent blogger or lifestyle blogger instead
more than vs. over: OK to use interchangeably, but typically, use more with quantities and over with spatial relationships. (e.g., There were more than 20 people packed into the apartment, The plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean.)
MoMA (for Museum of Modern Art)
mother-effing for readbility, but motherfucking
‘n’ (when using in place of and, e.g., mac ‘n’ cheese)
Nae Nae (dance move)
NARS (the cosmetics brand)
National Airport or Washington National Airport: preferred over Reagan National Airport
Native American (not American Indian, unless a person self-identifies as such); Native is also used as an adj. to describe things specific to the population
Necco (not NECCO)
Netflix and chill (n. and v.)
News Feed (when referring to Facebook’s News Feed); newsfeed, one word, in other references
New York magazine
New Wave (for film genre); new wave (for music genre)
nonprofit (as n. and adj.)
No. 1 for official rankings, like on music charts (except in quotes); spell out number one in all other uses (Tuberculosis is the number one cause of death in people living with HIV); #1 also acceptable informally
now: When referring to time, do not use a comma (I used to be completely terrified of heights. Now I’m generally OK with heights). When used colloquially, use a comma (Now, I’d never say that all cats are awesome, but I’ve never met one who wasn’t).
the n-word (style thusly; see more under Profanity)
“O Canada” (for both the national anthem and expressions)
offscreen (adv. and adj.)
OG (no periods)
oh man, oh my god, oh no (all OK without comma after Oh)
okurrr (three r’s, but add more for intensity)
onboard: one word as a modifier (onboard entertainment), but There was a baby on board
on demand (lowercase, unless part of a service’s official title)
onscreen (adv. and adj.)
Other, Otherness: Capitalise to indicate use of the term as a category, especially when discussing race (e.g., I think people make a clear distinction that [Lupita Nyong’o] is this exotic, fetishised Other — and therefore not ‘black’ like the rest of us.)
PA (for personal amplifier)
page 1, page 2, etc. (for references to book pages)
pet sitter, pet-sit, pet-sitting
PhD, PhDs (plural)
phone calling (as a v., no hyphen)
Photoshop (n., the program), photoshop (n., generically, an image that has been altered), photoshopped (adj.), photoshop (v.)
the Pill: Capitalise when referring to birth control, but only when used as a n. and after the (e.g., She was on the Pill to regulate her period. There’s a new pill on the market with a lower dose of estrogen.)
pins, pinners (on Pinterest) are always lowercase
pleaded (not pled, for past tense of plead, per AP)
Plexiglas for the trademarked product; plexiglass as the generic term
plus-one (preferred to +1 in running copy)
pop star, rock star
pour-over (as in the coffee)
PrEP (for the HIV prevention regimen)
primetime (one word, all forms)
pro tip (don’t hyphenate)
PS (for post script)
pseudo words: Don’t hyphenate (e.g., He rose from Obama stand-in to pseudo strategist)
publicly (not publically)
Pumpkin Spice Latte (capped when referring to the trademarked Starbucks beverage)
quote-unquote (in speech)
Recode (the tech site)
Reddit (cap in running text), redditor (lowercase, for someone who uses Reddit)
reform: Avoid in descriptions of political policy, and instead opt for specificity (e.g., tax-cut plan rather than tax reform)
refriend, retweet, repin
ride-hail (noun and verb), ride-hailing (preferred over ride-sharing to describe services like Uber and Lyft)
ride-share, ride-sharing (use only when referring to a shared-ride service, like UberPool)
right-click (hyphenate all forms)
right-swipe (hyphenate all forms)
RIP (no points)
road trip (n.), road-trip (v.)
rock ‘n’ roll
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
room 1, room 202, etc. (lowercase R in reference to room numbers)
round trip (n.)
roundtable (n., adj.)
royal baby, royal family (lowercase)
RT’d, RTs, RT (on Twitter)
Satan, satanic, satanism
SBD (silent but deadly)
sci-fi (but science fiction in all forms)
Screen Actors Guild (no apostrophe)
screenshort (a screenshot of text shared on social media)
screenshot (OK as n. and v.; screenshot as past tense and past participle)
Sharia: Sharia is defined as Islamic law, and therefore Sharia law is unnecessary/redundant when discussing the general framework of Islamic religious law; the term Sharia law should be used to refer to a code of government-implemented criminal and civil laws that are claimed to be derived from Islamic teachings or a provision of such a code.
Shiite, Shiites (not Shia, for the branch of Islam, but Shia is acceptable in quotes)
ship names: Capped, with only the ship name (not the vessel type) italicised, e.g., USS Awesome; Millennium Falcon
shippers (when referring to fans who yearn for a fictional couple’s romance); ship, shipping (v.)
shit talk (n.); shit-talk (v.)
shoutout (not shout-out)
shrink wrap (n.), shrink-wrap (v.)
skin care (two words, all forms)
snowblowed (for past tense of snowblow)
S.O. (for significant other)
spell-check (n. and v.)
spoke out: Avoid; said generally works just as well
spray paint (n.), spray-paint (v.)
Stanky Legg (for dance move)
Starbucks drink sizes: tall, grande, venti, trenta (lowercase)
the States (when referring to the United States)
STD/STI: STI (sexually transmitted infection) is preferred to STD (sexually transmitted disease) in body copy, spelled out on first reference, but STD is acceptable in headlines and when lots of quoted material in a story uses STD and using both terms interchangeably could be potentially confusing to the reader
stepgrandfather, stepgrandmother (close up all step relationships unless next word starts with a vowel)
stop-and-frisk (hyphenate in all uses)
straight-up (hyphenate as an adjective before a n., v., etc.)
student-athlete (also, student-performer, and the like)
subreddit (when naming a specific subreddit, add /r/ in front of it, e.g., /r/thisismylifenow or /r/The_Donald)
sucker punch (n.); sucker-punch (v.)
superpredator (when referring to the 1990s crime myth)
tae kwon do
takeout (n.); take out (v.); takeaway (n.)
Taser, tase, tased, tasing (OK to use as a v., contrary to AP)
taste test (n.); taste-test (v.)
tear gas (n.); teargas (v.)
TfL (as an abbreviation for Transport for London)
The One (as in destined romantic interest)
third world: Avoid; use developing world/country instead
Time magazine (not TIME)
Time’s Up initiative (but #TimesUp)
time-lapse (adj.); time lapse (n.)
timeline (one word, all forms)
timeshare (one word, all forms)
timestamp (one word, all forms)
tl;dr (all lowercase, unless it starts a sentence, in which case, TL;DR; should be followed by a colon if introducing a sentence)
the Today show (not The Today Show)
Toys ‘R’ Us
TP’d (for toilet-papered)
tristate (one word, lowercase)
try to (not try and, as in, I’m going to try to call her later.)
Twitter, tweeting, tweets
type A, type B (as in personality)
ugly-cry (all uses)
underway (all uses)
unfriend (not de-friend)
up front (adv.); up-front (adj.); upfronts (n., refers to the meeting held by television executives)
updog (Nothing, what’s up with you?)
upvote/downvote (n. and v.)
USA, US (generally interchangeable, but preference for USA when referring to geography)
Viner (i.e., someone who uses Vine [RIP💀])
Vine-ing (post a Vine or use Vine is preferred; cap in all uses)
V-Day (as an abbreviation for Valentine’s Day)
Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia (not “French Vogue,” “Italian Vogue”), but British Vogue
vs. (with a period, lowercase in list-y posts), versus (spelled out in news articles, longform stories); but v. for court cases
wack (adj.), not cool, effed up; whack (n., v.), a hard or resounding blow, to hit with a hard or resounding blow; also gangster (as in Godfather) slang, to kill
Wall Street (spell out, rather than “Wall St.,” in running text, unless talking about a specific address)
Walmart (when referring to the retail store and the corporation)
Washington, DC; the DC area — but in datelines just WASHINGTON
web, website, webpage
weightlifting (but weight lifter)
Western (cap for film or book genre, but lowercase for music genre)
whitelist, whitelisted (one word, n. and v.)
whitewater (adj., as in rafting)
wide-awake (hyphenate as an adj. before a noun)
widescreen (one word, both as n. and adj.)
wine varietals: See AP
World Wide Web
www: Never use in a URL unless you can’t access the site without it (or if the URL requires the odd www1. or www2.) — all very rare instances!
YA (for young adult lit)
Yahoo (no !)
YouTube, YouTuber (one word, capitalise T)
zeitgeist (lowercase, even though MW ~often~ caps)
zip code (not ZIP code; postcode in UK i.e. one word)
Ziploc for the trademarked product; ziplock as the generic term
z’s (aka sleep)
In most cases, do not use an acronym or abbreviation on first reference.
- If it is clear and familiar enough in context, no need to put it in parentheses after a spelled-out reference; use your judgment.
- Lowercase acronyms with six letters or more, e.g., Nasdaq; exception is NASCAR.
- Possessive acronyms ending in S — like CBS or PBS — should take an ‘s, not just an apostrophe, e.g., CBS’s sitcoms, PBS’s programs, etc.
- Abbreviations should always be written in all caps, even if the abbreviation includes a preposition with fewer than four letters, e.g., DOD for Department of Defense, DOS for Department of State, etc. Exception: GoT for Game of Thrones).
- Spell out both on first reference, but DOE is the abbreviation for the Department of Energy only, while ED is used for the Department of Education.
- Do not use a period when abbreviating adverbs like very and pretty, e.g., The weather is v nice today. He did a p good job.
- Add an “s” to pluralise abbreviations that can be pluralised e.g. DVDs, CDs, PhDs
- Well-known acronyms and abbreviations do not need to be spelled out, even on first reference. Here are some that don’t need to be spelled out:
- Individual letters and combinations of letters are not usually set in quotes. Exception: Instances relating to spelling, e.g., “Her name is JoAnne with a capital ‘A.'”
- Letters that are used to represent shape are capitalized and not set in quotes: an L-shaped couch.
- Letters used to denote grades are capitalized and roman: “She get straight A’s in her GCSEs” or “She’s a straight A student.”
- Italicise and lowercase letters denoting sounds: “I like the o and a sounds in the word.”
- Add an apostrophe + “s” to pluralize letters: “the four F’s (famous people, festivals, fashion, and food)” or “the five P’s (product, price, promotion, and place)”.
- Use gender-neutral job titles, e.g., “salesperson” or “sales rep” rather than “salesman,” “lawmaker” rather than “congressman/congresswoman,” “chair” rather than “chairman/chairwoman,” “spokesperson” or “representative,” if applicable, rather than “spokesman/spokeswoman”).
- Avoid gendered terms like “actress,” “editrix,” and “songstress” outside of direct quotes and titles. Instead of using a gendered term like “businessman,” be specific — e.g., “entrepreneur,“ “financier,“ “broker,“ “investor,“ “business partner.”
- For guidance on job titles for political figures, see Politics section below.
When referring to a geographic area that may not be familiar to readers across the country, spell out the accompanying town, city, or county area names in the copy on the first reference, e.g., “This happened in Headington, Oxford.” or “He is from Burford, Oxfordshire.”
- September 1961, spring 1955 are preferred over September of 1961, spring of 1955 in news stories.
- In features and essays as well as most news stories, format full dates as 03 October 1983. Do not use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., in dates. Use leading zeros in numbers less than 10 i.e. 01 January or 07 September.
- Capitalize the names of days of the week and months in all uses.
- Abbreviate days of the week as follows Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, and Sat.
- Only abbreviate days of the week when used with a specific date. Spell out the days of the week when using alone e.g., he works half-days on Friday or the next open day is Sun 12 April.
- Abbreviate months as follows Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec. It is not strictly necessary to abbreviate the shorter months i.e. March, April, May, June, and July, except to ensure consistency with the longer month names. I.e. “from 15 Jan to 24 Apr” looks more consistent than “from 15 Jan to 24 April”.
- Only abbreviate month when used with a specific date. Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone i.e., 12 Apr, in April, and April 2020 are all acceptable.
- Do not use a period after an abbreviated day of the week or month.
- Do not separate the day, month and year with commas i.e. 21 March 2020 not 21 March, 2020.
- Use a comma to separate the day of the week when used alongside day and month irrespective of whether the day of the week or month is abbreviated i.e. Sun, 12 Apr 2020 and Sunday, 12 April. Do not use the comma when the day of the week is used with only a date i.e. Sun 12 or Sunday 12. Do not use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.,
- Use en dashes to indicate date ranges, e.g., 1999–2005, 1980–83.
Examples (these apply to headlines as well):
- March is a good month to begin the project.
- 04 Feb was the coldest day of the month.
- His birthday is on 09 April.
- 14 Feb 2009 was the worst Valentine’s Day ever.
- Episode 3 airs Saturday, 01 February at 10:30 p.m.
- They were the editor of the yearbook for the 2018–19 school year.
Use “fetus” when writing about pregnancy in general terms, but for personal stories about pregnancy, “unborn baby” is OK.
When writing about pregnancies in general, try to use gender-neutral language. Avoid referring to “pregnant women” or framing this as something that exclusively affects women. OK to state “pregnant women” in specific cases (e.g., a study about pregnant women).
Always use figures: 8 months pregnant, 6-week abortion ban, etc.
Structure and formatting
- The header for the post’s summary, i.e., the bullets above the updates, should be written in sentence case, e.g., Here’s what’s going on:
- Headers for each individual breaking item should be written in sentence case, with no end punctuation (unless it’s a question), e.g., Boris insists she “crossed no lines” or Mark’s handpicked Russia team is still in place — what does that mean for Trump?
- Body copy can either summarise a story that’s already been posted or stand alone as an update and should be written in the style of a typical news story.
- Attributions should be placed at the end of the breaking item, written in italics, and have no space between an em dash and writer’s name, e.g., —Reporter Name
- Stand-alone links to corresponding stories should be bold and italic, with no end punctuation (unless it’s a question).
- Post footers, which may include names of reporters who contributed to a post, references, or other credits, should be italicised.
- Capitalise the first word and use sentence case with no end punctuation — unless it is a question mark, or, very rarely, exclamation.
- Use the brand underscore for page titles and major headlines. In most cases, our CMS will do this automatically.
- Use sentence case for subheadings too.
- If subheadings are full sentences, capitalise the first word only, use end punctuation, and treat as a normal sentence.
- For recipe names, initial-capitalise each word (except for prepositions, articles, conjunctions that are three letters or fewer — and, at, but, for, of, etc.).
- Please retain the The in superlative headlines, e.g., The 30 most inspiring films, The 25 best GIFs of 2016.
- With the exception of quizzes, generally avoid questions as headlines, particularly headlines posed as ones that can be answered with a yes or no.
- Secondary bylines are used exclusively in pieces where there are two or more authors of different copy blurbs throughout.
- On the first reference, insert byline one space after body copy ends, formatted as follows (em dash, no space, full name, roman): —Claire Foster
- On second and subsequent references, format byline as follows (em dash, initials each followed by a period, no spaces): —C.F.
- If an editor who does not appear in a story’s byline contributed reporting to a story, add their credit at the end of the post in italics, as follows: Rebecca Gibbs contributed reporting to this story.
- At the end of first-person stories told to our editors, use italics, full name, and period on a new line after the last paragraph: As told to Claire Foster.
- If you’re using an em dash for attribution, one space before the dash, no space after. “Quote.” —Person Who Said Quote
- Use [sic] (italicised) after a word to indicate a misspelling in any directly quoted written material. Do not change the misspelling in the original quote provided.
- Generally, all quotes should have attribution, even if it is obvious who is speaking. A colon after the sentence that directly precedes a quote is fine; otherwise, aim for attribution within or after the first sentence of a quote. “Says” and “said” are preferred verbs for attribution; avoid “she notes,” “he laughs,” “they contend,” etc. “Explain” is also frequently misused; is the person quoted really explaining something?
- Most news posts should use past-tense attribution (“said”); service-driven posts generally should use the present tense (“says”). Use your best judgment.
- In crowdsourced posts or posts with anecdotes by several different editors/people, quotation marks around the blurb are not necessary. Just add a “—FirstName LastName” (or “—Anonymous”) after the anecdote.
- Generally, avoid using colons to introduce quotes that are fewer than two sentences long.
- Use a colon to introduce quotes that are more than two sentences long or quotes that are split into multiple paragraphs. e.g. The mayor said: “The multi-paragraph quote starts here…”
Use periods and no spaces when referring to someone’s initials in running copy, e.g., J.K. Rowling is the author of the much-loved series of seven Harry Potter novels. The only exception to this is in Q&As (see Entertainment section) when initials precede colons.
See the end of this document for a more detailed guide to our correction policy, but all corrections should go at the end of a post in the following format when called for:
The gatehouse was rebuilt in 2006. An earlier version of this post misstated the year.
Don’t add a correction without first running the proposed correction by your editor or team leader.
- Structure your writing to avoid writing redacted words or phrases.
- If not possible – for example in a directly quoted material – style using the word redacted in all caps and in brackets, e.g., If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED], who may have a certain level of experience with these people.
There are several instances that warrant adding an update (not a correction) to a post. If a story is not breaking news and has been written through as one article, for example, an update may be added to alert the reader that information has been added (e.g., an additional comment from a source) or removed (e.g., an image).
Typically an update should be added to the bottom of a post, except if from a readers perspective, it will impact their understanding of the story from that point forward. In that case, the update can be inserted at the point where it occurs.
The exception to this is a post that has been created as rolling breaking news and will require several updates or write-throughs.
To indicate that a news post has been updated, the updated timestamp must be enabled to appear next to the published timestamp to indicate the date and time at which the most recent update was made.
If a news story is still developing, add a note in italics at the bottom of the story to indicate such: This is a rolling story and it will be updated with any significant developments.
To indicate that a post has been updated please do so in plain text within the post. Do not italicise, bold, or place the Update or Developing in all caps. You can bold the date/time to draw attention updates occurring over different timeframes. See an example here.
Do not add an update to correct inaccurate information in a published post; if something has been corrected, issue a correction. (See “Corrections” section.)
Grammar and punctuation
- Generally do not use spaces on either side of ampersands in constructions like Q&A, R&B, etc.
- NEVER use a serial comma before an ampersand.
- Don’t use an ampersand as a stand-in for and in headlines or running copy, except in recipes.
- If using ampersands in recipe names, be consistent with their use throughout a post.
- Adhere to self-stylisation for company names, titles, etc., that use an ampersand.
Capitalise words that are “often” or “usually” capped per OED.
Never begin a sentence with a lowercase letter, UNLESS it’s a very well-known brand (like iPad or eBay), though where possible, avoid the awkwardness of starting a sentence with a lowercase letter.
With directionals, lowercase north, south, east, west, etc., unless using them to refer to specific regions (the Northeast, the South, the Western Hemisphere, Southern California, East Africa, West Africa, Eastern Europe, Western Europe); lowercase directionals when referring to nondefined regions (eastern/western Ukraine, southeast Oxfordshire).
Product and brand names should be initial-capped, unless that name is made of initials, e.g., Ugg, Gap, Ikea, Asos, AT&T; exception: MAC.
Product names in all lowercase letters should be capitalised e.g., iPod Nano, not iPod nano.
Intercap that delineates a new word is OK: BlackBerry, eBay, iPod, NyQuil, etc. Intercap that is just graphic treatment is are not: Prana, not prAna.
Do capitalise “The” in the names of print/web publications or companies or institutions, if it is part of the official title, e.g., The New York Times not the New York Times.
Closing up or hyphenating combining forms generally depends on readability and whether closing up a word changes its meaning. Follow the guidelines below, and consult OED in most cases to see if a word has its own entry:
anti- (hyphenate, unless it has its own entry in OEDW: anti-gay, anti-labour, anti-terrorism, but antibiotic, antioxidant, antisocial)
-ass (typically hyphenated: wild-ass party; exceptions: badass, dumbass, kickass)
-bait (typically closed up: clickbait, linkbait, tweetbait)
butt- (typically closed up: buttcrack, buttface, butthole)
co- (hyphenate only if readability is an issue, e.g., co-owner, co-creator, co-counsel, but coworker, cofounder; also, be mindful of whether a co- combining-form word is redundant, e.g., copartner
crypto- (closed up e.g. cryptography, cryptocurrency, etc. Do not use as a stand-alone noun unless in a quote, where meaning should be clear from context)
cyber- (closed up unless it affects readability: cyberwarfare, cyberbullying, cybersecurity, etc., but Cyber Monday)
-esque (closed up/hyphens depend on readability: yolo-esque, Kafkaesque)
-fest (most combining forms should be closed up: lovefest, puppyfest, etc.)
-fuck (usually closed up: clusterfuck, bumblefuck)
-gate (close up and capitalise all forms: Pizzagate, Gamergate, Nipplegate, etc.)
-goer (hyphenate only if readability is an issue: beachgoer, theatergoer, fairgoer, filmgoer)
half (follow OED: half-brother, half-court, half mast)
-head (close up [metalhead, pothead] unless it interferes with readability [hip-hop-head, Phish-head])
hyper- (follow OED, typically closed up)
-ian (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable, e.g., Darwinian
-ish (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable, e.g., emoji-ish, New Yorkish)
-less (usually closed up; hyphenate if not found in OED: childless, witless, cashless, audience-less, pants-less)
-like (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable; use OED and good judgment, e.g., childlike, but doll-like, novel-like)
-maker (follow OED: decision maker, dealmaker, policymaker, lawmaker)
-mate (close up most combining forms: tourmates, cellmates, but running mate)
mega- (generally hyphenate new forms, check OED for existing words e.g. megastructure; also megadonor)
mid- (close up most, follow OED for guidance: mid-1950s, mid-Atlantic, but midterm, midday)
mini (use in an open compound, unless closed up in OED: mini cupcakes, but miniseries)
multi- (follow OED)
non- (close up non- words, unless readability is an issue or the next word begins with an “N”, e.g., non-negotiable)
now- phrases (hyphenate: his now-husband, the now-president)
-plus (preferable to +, as in He was 20-plus years old.)
post- (hyphenate, unless it has its own entry in OED: post-college, postmortem, postdoc, postwar)
pre- (follow OED and close up unless doing so makes a word hard to read)
re- (follow OED and close up unless doing so makes a word hard to read or changes its meaning; consider distinctions, e.g., between re-create vs. recreate and re-cover vs. recover)
-seeker (job seeker, asylum-seeker, thrill-seeker)
self- (hyphenate: self-absorbed)
-shaming (hyphenate: fat-shaming, body-shaming; also hyphenate compound verbs like victim-shame)
-size/-sized: generally use -sized to describe the size of something (a nickel-sized spider); -size to describe something’s function or utility (child-size furniture); also, bite-size, oversize, plus-size
smart- (Close up most smart technology compounds: smartglasses, smarthome, smartphone, smartwatch, etc.)
super- (generally hyphenate if it creates a compound modifier, otherwise two words: a super-long line, but that line is super long)
then- phrases (hyphenate: her then-boyfriend, then-senator Obama)
-time (generally close up, unless the preceding word ends in a “t”: naptime, playtime, lunchtime, but breakfast time)
-turned phrases (do not hyphenate, unless it comes before a person’s name: the actor turned lawyer; actor-turned-lawyer John Smith…)
-ward (not -wards, no “s”: afterward, backward, toward, forward)
-wear (close up unless doing so makes a word unreadable: businesswear, streetwear, workwear)
über- (generally hyphenate if it creates a compound modifier, otherwise two words: an über-cool giraffe, that giraffe is über cool)
-worthy (one word; use hyphen only if readability is an issue: newsworthy, Oscarworthy, lustworthy, law-worthy)
- We use the serial comma (aka the Oxford comma) e.g., We picked up some red, blue, yellow, and black balloons for the party.
- With too:
– When too is used in the sense of “in addition,” use a comma, e.g., I ate a slice of pie and three cookies, too, but omit the comma when too refers to the subject of the sentence, e.g., Oh, you like cats? I like cats too.
– Also use commas with too when you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought: He didn’t know at first what hit him, but then, too, he hadn’t ever walked in a field strewn with garden rakes. (from Chicago Manual of Style)
- No commas before Jr. or Sr. in names.
- To create a list within a sentence, use numbers or lowercase letters and right-facing parenthesis and separate items with a comma, e.g., When I grow up, I want to own a farm that has a) acres and acres of land, b) goats of all shapes and sizes, and c) a pack of huskies for dogsledding.
- Do not use a comma between words repeated for emphasis, e.g., It’s what makes her her, not It’s what makes her, her.
- For ellipses, use three dots in a row, no spaces between each dot: …
- If ellipses are used to indicate a mid-sentence pause, don’t use a space on either side, e.g., We could go there…or not. If ellipses are used to indicate a trailing off in thought or a long pause before a full sentence, insert a space before the next sentence, e.g., I don’t know… Certainly, I don’t think it will be good.
- If ellipses are used after a full sentence to indicate the omission of a full sentence or more (as in a quote), use a period followed by a space before inserting ellipses, e.g., We moved to New Orleans in 2010. … By 2012, we were back in New York.
- If ellipses are used to indicate the omission of words rather than a full sentence or are inserted mid-sentence, use a space on either side of the ellipses, e.g., I adopted the cat yesterday and he’s the best. He’s already made himself right at home would become I adopted a cat yesterday … He’s already made himself right at home; Let’s hang out on Saturday and do something fun because the weather is supposed to be nice would become Let’s hang out on Saturday … the weather is supposed to be nice.
- If ellipses are used at the beginning of a subheading, do not follow with a space, and generally lowercase the word following the ellipses.
- When inserting an ellipsis in a written quote, use brackets to indicate they were added by an editor and not part of the original text.
There are two types of dashes. The en dash is a mid-sized dash (approximately the length of the letter n and slightly longer than a hyphen) and is mostly used to show ranges in numbers and dates. The longer em dash (—) is the length of the letter m and is used to separate extra information or mark a break in a sentence.
En dash usage
- Use the en dash (not a hyphen) in sports scores, e.g., 5–3, date ranges, e.g., 1999–2005, 1980–83, and compound noun constructions such as directions “the New York–New Jersey border,” “the US–Mexico border,” “then–national security adviser Michael Flynn,” “the Denver–London flight.”
- Keep in mind that if a number or date range is introduced with from, the word to should be used instead of an en dash to keep the construction parallel.
- Use the en dash for clarity when using open compound nouns as modifiers, e.g., “a cool tennis shoe–rain boot hybrid,” “a New York–born man,” “a non–high school friend”.
- Do not use spaces on either side of the en dash.
To create the en dash:
- Keyboard shortcut – hold down one of the Alt keys and type 0150 on the numeric keypad. The dash appears when you release the Alt key.
- In MS Word – Ctrl + Minus Key (with Num Lock enabled) will give the en dash.
- In Pages – Option/Alt + Hyphen or Minus Key (with Num Lock enabled)
- Use spaces on either side of the em dash.
- Try to avoid use of the em dash when parentheses, commas, or a semicolon would work just as well.
- If an em dash is used to indicate interrupted speech, set it flush with the text and closing quotation mark: “I’m throwing my dog a bar mitz—”
- Use an em dash to set off appositives that contain commas, to bring focus to a list, or to mark sharp turns in thought. Examples:
- Four of us—Mike, Amanda, Katy, and I—went to the conference last week.
- Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla—all ice cream tastes good, especially on a hot summer’s day.
- Mary, could you—no, Mikey, don’t touch the sharp knife!—Mary, could you please set the table?
- Where the heck is my—wait, what was I looking for?
To create the em dash
- Keyboard shortcut – hold down one of the Alt keys and type 0151 on the numeric keypad. The dash appears when you release the Alt key.
- In MS Word – Ctrl + Alt + Minus Key (with Num Lock enabled) will give the en dash.
- In Pages – Option/Alt + Shift + Hyphen or Minus Key (with Num Lock enabled).
- We are avoiding the use of emojis for now.
- If using emojis at the end of a sentence, place the emojis outside the end punctuation, not inside.
- Do NOT use a hyphen after an adverb (not limited to but including most words ending in “-ly”), e.g., “It was a poorly written book,” NOT “poorly-written”.
- Note that other adverbs besides ones ending in “-ly” don’t need hyphens (“the almost empty glass,” “an often misunderstood rule,” “a very strong beer,” etc.) unless their meaning is ambiguous, e.g., “a little-regarded athlete,” “a still-unknown number,” “a well-known presenter.”
- Do use hyphens for clarity in the following situations (per Chicago Manual of Style) when compound modifiers such as “open-mouthed” or “full-length” precede a noun, hyphenation usually lends clarity. With the exception of proper nouns (such as “United Kingdom”) and compounds formed by an adverb ending in “ly” plus an adjective, it is never incorrect to hyphenate adjectival compounds before a noun, e.g., “A First-Rate Movie,” “Five-Alarm Chili.”
- Hyphens are usually not used when a phrase is made up entirely of nouns, e.g., “video game console,” “crime scene cleanup,” “health care reform,” “toilet paper roll,” especially when the modifying compound noun can be found in the dictionary.
- When adding a prefix before a compound adjective, use hyphens between all components, e.g., “a non-habit-forming drug” — but in extreme cases, it’s better to reword the sentence to avoid awkward punctuation.
- In a list where an element of the modifying phrase is not repeated, use a suspended hyphen, like so: “a university-owned and -operated bookstore”; “second-, third-, and fourth-grade teachers.”
- Slashes are OK in specific contexts (like “and/or”), but use hyphens for basic compounds and double titles like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.”
- When a modifying phrase is longer than a couple of words, quotation marks can sometimes be easier to read than a ton of hyphens, e.g., He heaved a “back to the drawing board” sigh.
- When a hyphenated compound noun is part of a modifying phrase, use an en dash after the hyphenated noun, e.g., “an editor-in-chief–approved plan.”
- Except in page titles, headings and sub-headings, use italics for the names of movies, television shows, books, album titles, plays, art exhibitions, collections, web series, podcasts, radio programs, media franchises, and video games (including console, browser, and arcade; apps, however, should be roman and capped).
- Names that should be italicised (movie names, TV shows, books, etc.) can be set off with quotes in headlines (since they should not be italicised as per above guideline), only if it lends clarity to the headline.
- Use quotations for names of movie/play scenes, television episodes, articles, chapters, song titles, individual pieces of art, and names of studies except in page titles, headings and sub-headings.
- News publication names (both print and digital), magazine and journal titles, news organizations, and local news affiliates should be in roman (normal) type.
- Italicise titles of newsletters that contain more than one article and will be broken down into article-like sections, but use roman type (no quotation marks) for other (typically shorter, less dense) newsletters.
- Board games, card games, and spoken games should be capitalised and in roman type, e.g., Monopoly, Uno, Never Have I Ever.
- Titles of issues and editions (including the words “issue” and “edition”) should be capitalised and in roman type, e.g., Now Toronto’s Body Issue or The Coffee Edition.
- Do not, however, put ship or vessel names in quotes in headlines! Use good judgment, especially if readability is an issue.
- Keep all punctuation that follows italicised, bolded, or coloured (via links) words in roman.
- When using binomial nomenclature, i.e., scientific names, italicise both genus (capitalised) and species (lowercase) names, e.g., Homo sapiens; E. coli.
- For non-English words: If a word or phrase could be unfamiliar to an English-speaking audience, use good judgment when deciding whether or not to italicise it. Traditionally italics have been used to indicate a potentially unfamiliar word, but these italics can often be distracting and especially, more importantly, can be othering. Consider audience and context — usually you can lose the italics without losing any meaning.
- Place full points and commas inside the quotes for a complete quoted sentence; otherwise, the point goes on the outside. For example, “Carefree,” in general, means “free from care or anxiety.” In other words, if the punctuation is part of the quoted material, it goes inside the quotation marks.
- On the other hand, place periods and commas outside the quotation mark if they are not in the original material, such as when the quoted word or phrase is the writer’s input. For example, my username is “OMG24” or who said coined the phrase, “I’m the king of the world”?
Numbers and numerals
- Generally, spell out one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above (exceptions below).
- Be consistent when writing out numbers in succession, e.g. “9, 10, and 11” NOT “nine, 10, and 11”; the same applies to ranges of numbers, e.g., “We are expecting eight to ten people” or “We are expecting 8 to 10 people” (both OK!).
- Use a comma in numbers expressing quantity that are four digits or more.
- Never start a sentence with a numeral — UNLESS a year starts a sentence (“2013 was a totally bodacious year”), but try to avoid this. Otherwise, spell out a number that starts a sentence (“Thirty-five cats live on that island.”)
- Use 1 in 4 voters (figures) if it’s a large sampling. But spell six out of nine senators because these are finite numbers under 10.
- More than 1 in 4 children are obese (not “is” when the subject is plural). Use a singular verb in constructions like “Around 1 in 3 students has the flu.”
- For New York City street and avenue names that use numbers, always use figures in street names e.g. 6th Street or 23rd Street.
- Spell out the number in avenue names e.g. Second Avenue, Tenth Avenue. Do not hyphenate.
- Use numerals for specific ages i.e. “The 5-year-old had a party”, “She was turning 30”.
- Spell out decades (“in your thirties”) and variations (“The twentysomethings…”).
- Always put the date before the month i.e. The event starts on 16 April, not April 16.
- Don’t use “st”, “nd”, “rd”, th’ etc. with dates. Just the number and month are sufficient. And never precede the number with “the”.
- Add a leading zero to single-digit date numbers i.e. 01 February.
- In general, write the decade followed by an ‘s’, i.e. the 1990s.
- Alternatively, use an apostrophe and then the decade number with an ‘s’, i.e. the ‘90s.
- Do not use an apostrophe before the ‘s’, i.e. 1990’s or 90’s 90s, nineties, eighties, or any other combination!
In demographics, for example in entertainment stories
- In 18 to 49, there was…
- 18- to 49-year-olds…
- In the 18-to-49 demographic…
- When spelling out fractions in running copy, hyphenate: “You’ll need one-third of a cup of sugar for that recipe,” “More than one-half of the student body voted for removing soda machines from campus.”
- In “and a half” constructions, e.g., “In two and a half weeks…” no hyphenation is necessary.
- When spelt out, i.e., at the start of a sentence, hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.
He was in the first grade; she was a first-grader; they were both first-grade teachers. Use figures for grades 10–12.
- For lists, always use a numeral. “9 amazing pictures of the Oxfordshire countryside,” “8 beautiful pictures from Burford,” “5 photo stories that will make you fall in love with the Cotswolds”
- For news headlines, use your best judgment: “Two residents lose access to council support after they were racially profiled”; “A gunman killed 7 people in Texas in a highway shooting rampage”
- When written out in full, always use numerals followed by a space i.e. 6 million people or 23 billion messages.
- When abbreviated, always use numerals without a space i.e. 6m or 23bn.
- 99p, £8, £2 billion deficit
- Do not include “.00” in a price, e.g., £17 (not £17.00), except where other prices on the page include pennies e.g. They are priced at £17.00, £18.50 and £19.99.
- Style price ranges using an en dash and the currency symbol before both prices: £10–£20
- When a price includes both figures and words, never hyphenate, even when preceding a noun, e.g., “the £1.7 million house” (not £1.7-million).
- Spell out other currency rather than using symbols (euros, yen, etc.), except for British pounds (£) and dollars $.
- For nations that also use dollars, clarify by using the currency’s abbreviation following the number, e.g., $100 AUD, $25 CAD.
- In headlines and videos, OK to abbreviate thousands, millions, and billions thusly: A $75k Salary, 4.2m People, A $16b Company, etc.
Always use figures: 8 months pregnant, 6-week abortion ban, etc.
- Use figure + per cent sign — unless a percentage starts a sentence, in which case spell out the number and use the word “per cent.” For example, “The survey showed that 88% of people would rather hang out with Prince Harry than Prince William”; “Eighty-five per cent of the staff voted for a pizza party.”
- Note per cent is two words (with no hyphen or period) whereas percentage is one word.
- Exception: OWS terms “the 1 per cent” and “the 99 per cent.”
Use figures for rankings and reviews: 4 out of 5 stars, 1-star Michelin restaurant.
For clothing, format as size 8, size 10, etc., in all uses. For bra sizes, format as 34B, 36DD, A cup, B cup, etc.
It is OK to use abbreviations when referring to measures of speed as follows kilometre per hour is abbreviated to km/h and miles per hour to mph e.g. “This is a 40km/h or 25mph zone”. Note that the abbreviations are in lower case.
- Scores: 5–3 (with an en dash); not “5 to 3.” (Also, no comma necessary after “won” in a sentence such as “The Knicks won 110–98.”)
- Use digits for scores, statistics, and yard lines. Spell out everything else under 10, e.g., ninth inning, first quarter, third base.
- Telephone numbers should not be hyphenated when writing.
- For landlines with three- or four-figure area codes, start with the area code, followed by a space, then the remaining number split into two equal parts, or one odd and one even part in that order. For example, 020 1234 0000 or 0161 123 4567.
- For landlines with a five-figure area code, start with the area code followed by a space and then the remaining numbers e.g. 01865 000000, 01635 123456. No spaces in the numbers.
- Mobile numbers: e.g. prefix followed by a space and then the remaining numbers with no spaces in the numbers e.g. 07900 555555. In other words, treat mobile phone numbers as having a five-figure area code.
- Our preference is for the use of the Celsius scale to measure temperatures.
- In general, use numerals when writing about scientific or technical interests, particularly if you’re also using the degree symbol or an abbreviated unit of measurement. This applies even for temperatures below ten degrees. For example, “In this experiment, the material was heated to a temperature of 1000°C” or “The temperature hit a low of 5°F”.
- Spell out temperatures as words in lifestyle or entertainment stories, especially for smaller or round numbers e.g. “To save money on heating bills, he keeps his house at only three degrees Celsius in the winter”.
- Write temperatures without a space between the numeral and the unit of measurement and use the degree symbol i.e. 30°C.
- If presenting the temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, use Celsius first, with Fahrenheit in brackets i.e. 30°C (85°F).
- When expressed as numeral + “degrees”, there is no need to repeat the word “degrees” if it’s implied, e.g., “It was 15 degrees around lunctime, but it fell to -2 in the evening.”
- Use numerals to express ranges of temperature (“The temperature is going to be in the mid 30s today”). No need to include “Celcius” or “Fahrenheit” if it’s clear from the context.
- When referring to temperature changes, spell out numerals one through nine. For example, the ocean will warm two degrees Celsius.
- Be extremely wary (or don’t bother) converting temperature changes from Celsius into Fahrenheit, or vice versa.
- Our preference is to use the 12-hour clock, with a period mark between the hours and minutes, followed by am or pm with no spaces or period i.e. 4.30pm.
- The period mark and the minutes can be omitted for times on the hour, i.e. 4pm, except for the events section of the website (where it is automatically formatted to include the minutes), and for the sake of consistency when the period mark and the minutes are used on other times. For example, “The lecture starts at 11.30am and ends at 1.00pm” or “Opening hours: from 9.00am to 5.30pm”.
- Use numerals for time of day: 4.00am, 8.30pm ET, 9pm ET/8 CT (when referring to programming times), 2 in the morning.
- Use noon, midnight (not 12 noon, 12 midnight or 12am, 12pm).
- Write out minutes before hours e.g. half past two or a quarter to three in the morning (no hyphen, no o clock or am/pm).
- For 24-hour clock (when quoting, etc.) use a colon between the numbers with leading zeros and omit the am/pm i.e. 00:47 or 23:09.
- Use numerals for time durations when abbreviating hours, minutes and seconds like “she finished the race in 2hr 5min 6sec”.
- The week starts on Mondays, but stories published on Sunday refer to the following week as “this week” and the six days preceding that Sunday as “last week”.
- Our preference is for the metric scale i.e meters and grams for distance and weight respectively.
- Do leave a space after the number and the metric unit, if spelling out metric. Do not leave a space after the figure if the metric unit is abbreviated. For example, 88m and 88 meters are both correct; 88 cm and 88centimeters are not.
- When using the imperial scale, generally, use figures and spell out “inches,” “feet,” “yards,” “miles,” etc., to indicate depth, height, length, width, weight, and distance. The only exception is noun phrases like “8x10s”.
- In the context of a list, for instance, it is also acceptable to use foot and inch marks (5’6″) to indicate a person’s height if spelling out “5 feet 6 inches” appears awkward. Use your judgment.
- She is 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot-11-inch man; the 6-foot man; the basketball team signed a 7-footer; the orca whale is 26 feet long.
- The ship is 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet high.
- The room is 20 feet by 15 feet; the 20-by-15-foot room.
- Forecasters are predicting 8 inches of snow tonight.
- The 750-square-foot apartment.
- He autographed 8x10s.
Collective terms and labels
Use words that end stigma, not perpetuate it. Avoid derogatory language like nuts, lunatic, deranged, psycho, and crazy, especially when referring specifically to people. Consider alternatives like wild, interesting, exciting, shocking, and ridiculous.
Avoid using diagnosable conditions in a non-clinical sense. That is, don’t use terms like bipolar as a synonym for “moody” or OCD as one for “obsessive.”
We also adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines on mental illness, which include not describing a person as mentally ill “unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.”
Mental illness is OK to use as a general term, but specific conditions should be used when possible.
Do not use the term the mentally ill.
- The word ‘disabled’ is a description not a group of people. Use ‘disabled people’ not ‘the disabled’ as the collective term.
- Avoid medical labels. They say little about people as individuals and tend to reinforce stereotypes of disabled people as ‘patients’ or unwell.
- Don’t automatically refer to ‘disabled people’ in all communications – many people who need disability benefits and services don’t identify with this term. Consider using ‘people with health conditions or impairments’ if it seems more appropriate.
- In general, do not describe an individual as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to a story.
- If a description must be used, try to be specific. An ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson’s disease drew nationwide attention. Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis. Rather, has multiple sclerosis. Do not use the word handicapped to describe people.
- Do not use the term mentally retarded. Mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or intellectually disabled are preferred.
- Use wheelchair user rather than confined to a wheelchair or wheelchair-bound. If known/when possible, say why a wheelchair is used.
- However, many deaf people whose first language is British Sign Language consider themselves part of ‘the deaf community’ – they may describe themselves as ‘Deaf’, with a capital D, to emphasise their deaf identity.
- In other words, the lowercase deaf refers to someone with no hearing. The capitalised Deaf is used by members of the Deaf community in relation to identity and culture. Avoid using hearing-impaired; use phrasing such as hard of hearing or partially deaf.
- Do not use the term deaf-mute; the preferred phrasing is that an individual cannot hear or speak. (A mute person may or may not be deaf.)
- The term sign language is lowercase, but capitalise British Sign Language (abbreviate to BSL on the second and further reference). Someone who communicates in sign language is a signer, e.g., a BSL signer.
- Finally, our golden advice is to listen to how people talk about their disability themselves and take your cue from them.
- When referring to the broader community, “queer” (as in “queer people” or “LGBTQ” as in “LGBTQ people”) is appropriate. “Gay” is not. “LGBTQ” is only appropriate when referring to the broader community or groups of people, not when referring to individuals. Discrimination
- Opt for “anti-gay” rather than “homophobic”; “anti-trans” rather than “transphobic.”
- In place of “homophobia,” use “anti-trans/anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ prejudice/discrimination/bias,” etc.
- Unless you already know based on research, it should be standard to ask how people identify themselves: gay, bi, genderqueer, queer, trans, etc.
- A person can be trans WITHOUT also being gay or lesbian. Don’t assume.
- Use “cisgender” (rather than “non-trans”) to refer to a person who is not transgender. “Cis” is also acceptable shorthand.
- “Trans” and “transgender” are generally interchangeable.
- Use “marriage equality” and “marriage for same-sex couples” rather than “gay marriage.” Avoid “gay marriage” and “same-sex marriage” — as GLAAD notes, these terms “can suggest marriage for same-sex couples is somehow different than other marriages.”
- Lowercase “pride” if not part of a proper name, e.g., “a pride event.”
- Capitalise in Pride Month and as shorthand for a proper name or event after first full reference, e.g.: The NYC Pride Parade is Sunday; We went to Pride on Sunday.
- Use “pride flag” instead of “rainbow flag” or “rainbow pride flag.”
“Openly” vs. “Out”
- “Openly” is preferred over “out” as a modifying phrase, e.g., “openly gay” or “openly trans,” but the terms can be used interchangeably if a writer or subject prefers. Be mindful, however, of whether a modifier is necessary given a story’s or sentence’s context; using it may be redundant.
- Always defer to the pronouns a person uses for themself. (It’s not rude to ask. In fact, it’s encouraged to ask, “What pronouns do you use?”)
- If it is unclear what pronoun a person uses and it’s not possible to ask them, use “they”/”themself.”
- Instead of saying “preferred pronoun,” describe the pronoun with which someone identifies in neutral terms, e.g., “Sam Smith uses ‘they’/’them’ pronouns.”
Transgender Terms:Some of these are adapted from the GLAAD Transgender Glossary of Terms.
- Transgender: An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, so use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
- Transsexual: An older term (NOT an umbrella term), which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Use as an adjective and only if preferred by an individual.
- Cross-dressing: To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future.
- Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.
- Deadnaming: The preferred term in the community for using a trans person’s assigned name at birth. Generally avoid the practice of deadnaming in stories, unless it is preferred by the subject.
- Please use the correct term or terms to describe gender identity. For example, a person who transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who transitions to become male is a transgender man.
- Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people’s stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past.
- Use “anti-transgender bathroom bill” (“anti-LGBTQ bathroom bill” is OK in a heading or where space is limited) to describe legislation geared at banning transgender/nonbinary people from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
- Use sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or gender affirmation surgery.
Organisational names may be treated as either singular or plural. Ordinarily, treat the name as singular unless you wish to emphasise the individuals who make up the organisation; in that case, use the plural.
In other words, the organisational name, as a collective noun, takes a singular pronoun if the members are treated as a unit.
Or example, use “management expressed its opinion” if, perhaps, the management team issues a collective statement expressing a united opinion. On the other hand, i.e. “management expressed their opinions” if members expressed their, perhaps, varying opinions as individuals i.e. if they acted individually.
Either way, always use the singular or plural form consistently within the same context.