a or an before h?
use an only if the h is silent: an hour, an heir, an honourable man, an honest woman; but a hero, a hotel, a historian
Do not use full points in abbreviations, or spaces between initials: US, mph, eg, 4am, lbw, No 10, PJ O'Rourke, WH Smith, etc
Spell out less well-known abbreviations on first mention; it is not necessary to spell out well-known ones, such as EU, UN, US, BBC.
Use all caps only if the abbreviation is pronounced as the individual letters; otherwise spell the word out: the BBC, ICI, VAT, but Isa, Nato
Beware of overusing less well-known acronyms and abbreviations; they can look clunky and clutter up text, especially those explained in brackets but then only referred to once or twice again. It is usually simpler to use another word, or even to write out the name in full a second time
Contractions such as can't, I'm, it's, there's and what's should be used in moderation and only in text communicating in a particularly familiar manner. They might make a piece more colloquial or easier to read, but they can be an irritant and a distraction, and make the serious sound frivolous.
take initial cap: Aids, Isa, Mori, Nato
always lower case: acting committee chair, etc
male and female; avoid actress except when in name of award (eg Oscar for best actress)
plural addendums not addenda
101 Deane Road, Bolton, BL3 5AB
do not use hyphens after adverbs ending in -ly, eg a constantly evolving campus, genetically modified food, etc; but hyphens are needed with short and common adverbs, eg ill-prepared report, hard-won pay rise
exhortations in the style guide had no effect (noun) on the number of mistakes; the level of mistakes was not affected (verb) by exhortations in the style guide; we hope to effect (verb) a change in this
Nigel Hill, 21, not aged 21; little Johnny, four; the woman was in her 20s (but twentysomething, fortysomething). There is no apostrophe in 20s (eg 20's) as we are talking about a decade, not a single year.
to make worse, not to annoy
avoid: use before or in advance of
acquired immune deficiency syndrome, but normally no need to spell out
Don't use such terms as 'Aids victims' or someone 'suffering from Aids'
(note lc and hyphen) before an Arabic name means 'the' so try to avoid writing "the al- ..." where possible
being somewhere else; not synonymous with excuse
Arabic for "the God". Both words refer to the same concept, there is no major difference between God in the Old Testament and Allah in Islam. Therefore it makes sense to talk about "God" in an Islamic context and to use "Allah" in quotations or for literary effect
is right; "alright" is not all right
All Souls College
Oxford: no apostrophe
strictly, a choice between two courses of action; if there are more than two, option or choice may be preferred
take care: 'University of X' is not the same as 'X University'; most states have two large public universities, eg University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University, University of Illinois/Illinois State University, etc
do not call Johns Hopkins University 'John Hopkins' or Stanford University 'Stamford'
use in company names when the company does: Marks & Spencer, P&O but not to indicate the word 'and'
Is a trademark; use answering machine or answerphone
antenna, antennae, antennas
antenna (insect), plural antennae
antenna (radio), plural antennas
Some plural nouns have no 's', eg children. These take an apostrophe and 's' in the possessive, eg children's games, gentlemen's clubs
The possessive in words and names ending in s normally takes an apostrophe followed by a second s (Jones's, James's), but be guided by pronunciation and use the plural apostrophe where it helps: Mephistopheles' rather than Mephistopheles's
Use apostrophes in phrases such as in two days' time, 12 years' imprisonment and six weeks' holiday, where the time period (two days) modifies a noun (time), but not in nine months pregnant or three weeks old, where the time period is adverbial (modifying an adjective such as pregnant or old) - if in doubt, test with a singular such as one day's time, one month pregnant
to estimate worth
armed forces, armed services, the army
the British army, the navy, but Royal Navy, Royal Air Force (RAF is OK)
not artiste (except, possibly, in a historical context)
a day of voluntary fasting for Muslims: Shia Muslims also commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the prophet. For their community, therefore, it is not a festival but a day of deep mourning
Trademark; teleprompter is a generic alternative
awards, prizes, medals
generally lower case, eg Nobel peace prize, Fields medal (exceptions: the Academy Awards, Victoria Cross); note that categories are lower case, eg 'he took the best actor Oscar at the awards'