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cabin attendant, flight attendant, cabin crew, cabin staff
not air hostess, air stewardesses

no accent

a person; the adjective is California, or Brian Wilson would have written about 'Californian Girls'


cleric, decree, principle, body of writings, type of music; a cannon is something you fire

tent, painting

solicit votes

Times have changed since the days of medieval manuscripts with elaborate hand-illuminated capital letters, or Victorian documents in which not just proper names, but virtually all nouns, were given initial caps (a tradition valiantly maintained to this day by estate agents). The tendency towards lower case, which in part reflects a less formal, less deferential society, has been accelerated by the explosion of the internet: some net companies, and many email users, have dispensed with capitals altogether. We aim to communicate with people in a manner they find familiar.

Our style reflects these developments. We aim for coherence and consistency, but not at the expense of clarity. As with any aspect of style, it is impossible to be wholly consistent — there are almost always exceptions, so if you are unsure check for an individual entry in this guide. Here are the main principles:

  • jobs
    all lc
    eg, vice chancellor, marketing manager
  • titles
    differentiate between title and job description
    eg the Archbishop of Canterbury, (the Right Rev) Rowan Williams, at first mention, thereafter Dr Williams or the archbishop; the Vice Chancellor Dr George Holmes, thereafter Dr Holmes or the vice chancellor
  • the university, schools, departmentsThe University of Bolton and thereafter the university, The School of Built Environment and Engineering and thereafter the school. When we refer to the university, and mean our university, it is a lower case u. For eg the university will host an international conference
  • acts of parliament
    initial caps (but bills lower case)
    eg Official Secrets Act, Criminal Justice Act 1992
  • artistic and cultural
    initial caps for names of institutions, etc
    eg British Museum, Octagon Theatre
  • churches, hospitals and schools
    cap up the proper or placename, lc the rest
    eg Christie's hospital, Vernon county primary school, Ripon grammar school, St Peter's church, Bolton
  • geographical features, bridges
    lower case, eg river Thames, the Wash, Sydney harbour, Golden Gate bridge, Monterey peninsula, Bondi beach, Solsbury hill (but Mount Everest)
  • words and phrases based on proper names
    that have lost connection with their origins (alsatian, cardigan, champagne, french windows, yorkshire pudding and numerous others) and usually lower case


scratchcard, smartcard, swipecard, but credit card, debit card

career girl, career woman
banned. Have we ever heard of a career man? No we have not.

one word (noun, adjective); cast off two words (verb)

casual (workers)
use freelance; casual labour evokes an image of the docks in around 1953

not two words

cap up, eg Canterbury Cathedral

Catholic church

CD, CDs, CD-rom (Please note, as this is a very common error, there is no need for an apostrophe in CDs)

scale of temperature invented by a man named Celsius, write with fahrenheit equivalent in brackets: 23C (73F), -3C (27F), etc (avoid "centigrade" because of its possible confusion with the 100th part of a grade)

prevent publication; censure criticise severely

on or in; revolve around

sixth century, 21st century, etc

acceptable in place of chairman or chairwoman,

Channel 4, Channel Five
but Five at second mention

one word


noun, adjective; check out verb



Chinese names
mainland China: in two parts, eg Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Jiang Zemin

Hong Kong, Taiwan: in two parts with hyphen, eg Tung Chee-hwa, Chiang Kai-shek (exception: when a building, park or the like is named after a person it becomes three parts, eg Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Centre); note also that Korean names are written the same way, eg Kim Il-sung.

Singapore, Malaysia: in three parts, eg Lee Kuan Yew

for people with Chinese names elsewhere in the world, follow their preference - but make sure you know which is the surname


musical; cord vocal

Christian name
use first name or forename


Christmas Day

means lasting for a long time or constantly recurring, too often misused when 'acute' (short but severe) is meant

lc for the established church: eg 'the church is no longer relevant today'; Catholic church, Anglican church, etc, but Church of England

Coca-Cola, Coke


London theatre; Colosseum Rome

collective nouns
nouns such as committee, family, government, jury, take a singular verb or pronoun when thought of as a single unit, but a plural verb or pronoun when thought of as a collection of individuals:
the committee gave its unanimous approval to the plans;
the committee enjoyed biscuits with their tea
the family can trace its history back to the middle ages;
the family were sitting down, scratching their heads

take initial caps, eg Eccles College

South American country that we frequently misspell as 'Columbia'

use like this: 'to deliver the goods that have been invoiced in the preceding words' (Fowler)

This is a dreadful (but by no means isolated) example of the tendency to use a semicolon where only a colon will do: 'Being a retired soap "treasure" must be a bit like being in the army reserves; when a ratings war breaks out, it's time to dust off your uniform and wait by the phone'

male and female; do not use comedienne

'The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr Peter Marsh, is an expert on style' - correct (commas) if there is only one
'The administration assistant Susan Jones is a little short on style' - correct (no commas) if there are more than one

avoid: prefer 'she said'

company names
use names the companies use themselves, except in cases where they adopt typographical or other devices that, in effect, turn them into logos
So: Adidas, not adidas; BhS (no italicised h); Live TV (not L!ve TV); Toys R Us (do not attempt to turn the R backwards); Yahoo! is OK

compass points
lc for regions: the north, the south of England, the south-west, north-east England; the same applies to geopolitical areas: the west, western Europe, far east, south-east Asia, central America etc
cap up, however, when part of the name of a county (West Sussex, East Riding of Yorkshire) or province
note the following: East End, West Country, Middle East, Latin America, North America

to complement is to make complete: the two strikers complemented each other
to compliment is to praise
a complimentary copy is free

is better than finalise

to consist of; 'comprise of' is wrong

not connexion

plural consortiums


not consult with

continent, the
mainland Europe

refers to things that happen repeatedly but not constantly; continuous indicates an unbroken sequence

In moderation please and only in copy which aims to put the reader at ease, communicating in a particularly friendly manner. Even then while can't and don't is tolerable – remember excess can be a distraction to your reader. In any copy attempting to communicate a serious issue they make it sound frivolous

We give metric measures and convert on first mention only to imperial in brackets (exceptions: miles and pints); if a rough figure is given in metric, do not convert it into an exact figure in imperial, and vice versa, eg if someone says the towns are about 50km apart, convert to 30 miles, not '31.07 miles'; the same goes for rough amounts of currencies, though don't round up £3.6bn to £4bn

cooperate, cooperation, cooperative
no hyphen, but the store is the Co-op


vocal; chord musical

Bolton Council and thereafter the council


no accent

course names

If you name a course it is uc eg Computer Games Design but if you are talking about the gaming industry, for eg 'we find the computer games design companies locally flock to our courses' then it is lc

all lc: court of appeal, high court, crown court, magistrates court (no apostrophe), European court of human rights, international criminal court

a gradual increase in loudness or intensity; musically or figuratively, it is the build-up to a climax, not the climax itself.

cripple, crippled
offensive and outdated; do not use

crisis. The plural is crises. Not crisises

plural criteria

Crown Prosecution Service
CPS on second mention

restrain; kerb pavement

when the whole word is used it is lc: euro, pound, sterling, dong etc

abbreviate dollars like this: $50 (US dollars); A$50 (Australian dollars); HK$50 (Hong Kong dollars)

"now" is usually preferable, if needed at all

a place where two points meet (eg "on the cusp of Manchester and Salford"); sometimes misused to mean on the brink ("a girl on the cusp of womanhood")




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