Writing Style Guide
Parallelism is the principle that parts of a sentence that are parallel in meaning should be parallel in structure. Items of a series also should be parallel in form.
- Seeing is believing.
- To see is to believe.
- Seeing is to believe.
Hyphenate only as a modifier before a noun.
Joe attends school part time. Joe is a part-time student.
Always spell out percent in text and use numerals. Spell out the number if a percent is used at the beginning of a sentence. A percent sign (%) may be used for tables and charts.
Person-first language is used when referring to people with disabilities. In this language, the person is emphasized first, the disability second.
- person with a disability
- person who is disabled
- disabled person
- handicap or handicapped person
- person who is unable to speak
- person who is mute or dumb
- woman who is blind
(only when referring to someone with complete loss of sight. In other cases use woman who is visually impaired or woman who has low vision)
- blind woman or the blind
- student with a learning disability
- a slow learner
- learning disabled
Avoid phrases like confined, bound, restricted or dependent; choose phrases like person who uses a wheelchair, person who walks with crutches.
Avoid labeling or categorizations that begin with the: the disabled, the deaf or the blind.
Handicap can be used when citing laws and situations, but should not be used to describe a person with a disability.
See telephone numbers.
Generally, the only nouns that commonly take ’s for the plural form are (1) abbreviations with more than one period and (2) single letters:
x’s and y’s
A’s and B’s
See also abbreviations.
Apostrophes are never used to form the plural of any proper noun. Plural names of people and other proper nouns are created by adding s or es. Most names ending in es, s, or z, use es to form the plural.
The Taylors will attend.
The Edwardses and Charleses can be added to the list.
The Gonzalezes were invited.
If the plural rule results in an awkward construction, rewrite the sentence.
- The art show collection included seven paintings by Velasquez
- seven Velasquezes
Always one word.
Make singular nouns possessive by adding ’s; make regular plural nouns ending in s possessive by adding only an apostrophe; plurals lacking an s are treated like singular nouns:
a student’s right, students’ duties, women’s lounge
Certain uninflected singular nouns that look like plurals, such as species and series, are treated like plurals to form the possessive:
The lecture series’ costs will be covered by the department.
Do not add ’s to a word ending in s when it is describing a place, entity, event, etc.
Veterans Day, Visitors Bureau, a teachers college
When a proper name ends in s, add only an apostrophe for the possessive:
Plural proper nouns add an apostrophe (no s) to indicate possession:
The reception will be at the Taylors’ home. The Joneses’ tuition payment has been filed.
When a word ends with the s sound, but doesn’t end in s, use ’s.
Post refers to an Army installation. An Army post, but an Air Force base. See base, post.
In general, don’t hyphenate words with a post-prefix:
BUT post-Freudian, post-Darwinian
Don’t hyphenate words with a pre- prefix unless the word that follows begins with an e.
BUT pre-election, pre-enroll
Use before instead.
Use instead of drop-down menu.