A brief style guide for contributors and proofreaders




Symbols and Abbreviations



1. Capitalization

1.1 Capitalize all nouns and adjectives formed from proper names and trademarks, eg, Shakespearean, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Microsoft.

1.2 If a colon introduces a complete sentence, capitalize the first word after the colon.

1.3 Capitalize specific references, eg, Part 3.

2. Spelling

2.1 The preferred spelling (apart from hyphenation, which may be different) is that listed first in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. This means, in general, that British spellings will be favoured, e.g., theatre, harbour.

2.2 For personal and family names, be particularly careful with such sound-alikes as Jean and Jeanne, Brian and Bryan, MacDonald and Macdonald. Do not leave off accents from foreign names, even when upper case, e.g., Cécile, CÉCILE.

2.3 Other than in direct quotation from published sources, use the spelling "no one" rather than "no-one". [Revised 20/11/05. Our preference for "noone" was widely ignored.]

3. Hyphenation

3.1 Hyphenate compound modifiers, e.g., split-pea soup.

3.2 Do not hyphenate compound modifiers when the first term is an adverb ending in -ly, e.g., highly respected author.

3.3 Fuse such prefixes as pre-, post-, anti-, ante-, and non- with the following term, even if this results in a double vowel. Retain the hyphen, however, when these precede a proper noun, eg, pre-Madonna, or a compound that is itself hyphenated, e.g., non-split-pea soup.

3.4 Use a suspended hyphen for each modifier of a single term, e.g., long- or short-limbed adults.

3.5 Use a hyphen in such compounds as four-year-olds (noun) and four-year-old brother (adjective). But leave out the hyphens when age is expressed thus: He was four years old. The same is true of measurements, eg, "Besides the 6-inch ruler, he had one that was 12 inches long." [See also Numbers.]

3.6 Use a hyphen in spelled-out fractions, e.g., one-half, two-thirds.

4. Symbols and Abbreviations

4.1 Use per cent (two words) rather than %, e.g., ten per cent, 20 per cent.

4.2 Use dollar rather than $ when referring to the currency itself, e.g., ten-dollar bill, 20-dollar bill.

4.3 Spell out imperial and metric measurements, e.g., inches, miles, metres, kilometres, except where the abbreviation or symbol is more commonly used, e.g., mph, MHz.

4.4 Leave out the periods in such abbreviations-become-symbols as US and MPP and after such "suspensions" as Mr, Mrs, Dr, Rd, and Ave. [Revised 20/11/05 re "i.e." and "e.g."]

4.5 Use a.m. and p.m. rather than A.M. and P.M.

5. Numbers

5.1 Spell out all numbers from one to ten inclusive where no precise measurement or categorization is intended, e.g., six-year-old, 6 inches, six dollars, Grade 6.

5.2 Ordinal numbers are generally spelled out, eg, sixth grade, eighth inning. With centuries, however, always use the numeral, e.g., 18th century, 20th century.

5.3 For decades use only the two digits followed by an s (i.e., without an apostrophe), e.g., the 80s, the 90s.

5.4 Where quantity and measure come into conflict, spell out the quantity, e.g., twenty 5-foot marionettes.

6. Punctuation

6.1 Use the serial comma after the next-to-last term in a series of three or more, e.g., tall, dark, and handsome celebrity.

6.2 For long parentheses, use brackets rather than dashes. Put the end punctuation inside the bracket when the parenthesis is a complete sentence and outside when it is a sentence fragment.

6.3 In dialogue, such introductory verbs as said, asked, and cried are followed by a comma or a colon, eg, He cried, "Hang on!". They are preceded by a comma when this order is inverted, e.g., "I am," she said -- unless the sentence quoted ends with a question mark or an exclamation point , eg, "Hang on!" he cried.

6.4 Use double quotation marks first and then single quotation marks, e.g., "I wondered what he meant when he said, `Hang on!' ".

6.5 Put the end punctuation inside the quotation marks when the quotation is a complete sentence and outside when it is a sentence fragment. [Revised 20/11/05: we now incline to the more usual North American practice of having end punctuation inside the quotation marks in both instances.]

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