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backstreet

bacteria
plural of bacterium, so don't write 'the bacteria is'

Baghdad

bail out
a prisoner, a company or person in financial difficulty;
the noun is bail-out;
but bale out a boat or from an aircraft

balk
obstruct, pull up, stop short; baulk area of a snooker table

ballot, balloted

Band-Aid
Trademark; say plaster or sticking plaster

band names
lc the: the Beatles, the Black Eyed Peas, the The; but uc equivalents in other languages, eg Les Négresses Vertes, Los Lobos

B&B
abbreviation for bed and breakfast

B&Q

bank holiday

banknote

barbecue no other variations – eg NOT barbeque, or even worse, BBQ

barcode

barons, baronesses
we call them lords and ladies, even at first mention: Lady Thatcher, Lady Blackstone, Lady Jay, Lord Callaghan, etc

BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4
no spaces

1000BC
but AD1066
beau

plural beaux

Beijing

believable

benefited, benefiting

biannual
twice a year; biennial every two years
biannual is almost always misused: to avoid confusion stick with the alternative twice-yearly; two-yearly is an alternative to biennial

bias, biased

Bible
cap up if referring to Old or New Testament; lower case in phrases such as "Wisden, the cricketers' bible"; biblical lower case

bicentenary
a 200th anniversary; bicentennial is its adjective

biceps
singular and plural: there is no such thing as a bicep

bigot, bigoted

bill
lower case, even when giving full name; cap up only if it becomes an act

billion
one thousand million, not one million million
use bn in headlines;
in copy use bn for sums of money, quantities or inanimate objects: £10bn, 1bn litres of water; otherwise billion: 6 billion people, etc

Biro
Trademark; say ballpoint pen

birthplace, birthrate, birthright
one word

bishops
the Right Rev Clifford Richard, Bishop of Wimbledon, at first mention; thereafter the bishop or Bishop Richard

bite-size
not bite-sized

black
lower case noun and adjective when referring to race

Black Country

black economy
prefer hidden or parallel economy

blackout

blase
no accent

bleeper
not beeper; synonym for pager

blond
adjective, male noun
blonde female noun
the woman is a blonde, because she has blond hair; the man has blond hair too and is, if you insist, a blond

Blu-Tac
TM

Bombay
now known as Mumbai

bona fide, bona fides

bookcase, bookkeeper, bookseller, bookshelf
one word

book titles
No italics and with initial caps except for words such as a, an, and, of, on, the: A Tale of Two Cities, The Crying of Lot 49, etc

bon vivant
not bon viveur

bored with, by
not bored of

both
unnecessary in most sentences that contain 'and', 'both men and women' says no more than 'men and women', and takes longer

both is plural: 'both women have reached the tops of their professions'

box office

boyfriend

brackets
If the sentence is logically and grammatically complete without the information contained within the parentheses (round brackets), the punctuation stays outside the brackets.
(A complete sentence that stands alone in parentheses starts with a capital letter and ends with a stop.)
'Square brackets,' the grammarian said, 'are used in direct quotes when an interpolation [a note from the writer, not uttered by the speaker] is added to provide essential information.'

braille

bric-a-brac

Britain/UK
These terms are synonymous: Britain is the official short form of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Used as adjectives, therefore, British and UK mean the same. Great Britain, however, refers only to England, Wales and Scotland. Take care not to write Britain when you might mean only England and Wales, for example when referring to the education system.

Britart

British Council

British Film Institute
BFI on second mention

brussels sprouts

buffaloes
not buffalos

Burberry
TM

bureau
plural bureaus (furniture) or bureaux (organisations)

burka
not burqa

Burma
not Myanmar

burned
is the past tense form (he burned the cakes); burnt is the participle, a more 'adjectival' form of the verb (the cakes are burnt)

buses, bussed, bussing

businesslike, businessman, businesswoman
one word

businessmen
say business people or the business community if that is what you mean

but, however
often redundant, and increasingly wrongly used to connect two compatible statements; 'in contrast, however, ...' is a tautology

butterflies
lc: painted lady, red admiral, etc; but note queen of Spain fritillary

buyout
but buy-in

byelection, bylaw, bypass, bystander
no hyphen

 



 
 

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