STYLE GUIDE | March 2018
The following publications were among those consulted in the creation of this style guide and provided varying degrees of advice, caution, inspiration and reassurance. They are recommended as further reading.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2017)
BBC News Style Guide (2018)
The Canadian Press Stylebook (2017)
Fairfax Media Style Guide (2016)
Financial Times Lexicon (2012; revised and updated 2013-2018)
A Gazetteer of Place Names in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories (1960)
Guardian and Observer Style Guide (2017)
Press Gazette Style Guide (2015)
Reuters Handbook of Journalism (2008)
South China Morning Post Main Style Guide (2009; revised and updated 2010-2017)
Telegraph Style Book (2018)
The Times Style Guide (2017)
What is a style guide?
A style guide, style book or simple style sheet outlines rules to follow for spelling, grammar, punctuation, as well as the use or avoidance of certain words, the formats of names and other proper nouns as well as substantive questions about usage. A style guide can also provide rules or guidance on legal and ethical questions.
As students will no doubt have found, journalism is not an exact science. There are often many ways to tell a story, explain an event or present a fact. So why should JMSC have a rigid rule book that sets out, in most cases, one way of expressing a word or idea? The main idea is consistency. Consistency of language is easier to follow and is reassuring. It suggests a high standard and exudes responsibility. It also helps to make JMSC as a brand cohesive and recognizable.
The Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) follows the general style of The University of Hong Kong in using largely British English spelling. Proper names should retain their original spelling, such as the Australian Labor Party (not Labour), The Center (not Centre, for the building at 99 Queen’s Road Central) and the U.S. Department of Defense (not Defence).
abbreviations Avoid inventing acronyms or abbreviations. Abbreviations are for brevity but never at the expense of clarity. Use generic terms – the agency, the company, the organisation, the panel – rather than use excessive abbreviations, especially where more than two sets are involved. Use all caps, even if it’s pronounced: AIDS, CFIUS, NATO. Use full stops in U.S. (United States) and U.N. (United Nations). Where the word order changes in the translation from the original to English, bracket the initials, e.g. the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Do not bracket initials after a first reference if you are not going to use the initials again lower in the story.
aborigine Do not use in an Australian context. Write indigenous Australians, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
abscess Note spelling.
absorb Note spelling. The noun is absorption
academic titles Capitalise when they immediately precede a personal name – Professor Eliza Lee – but otherwise use lower case – Richard Hu, professor at the HKU Department of Politics and Public Administration. Abbreviate in subsequent references – Prof. Lee.
Academy Awards Also known as Oscars. Individual awards are lowercase — best actor award, Oscar for best picture. They are organised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Refer to as the academy in subsequent references.
accents Use for French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Irish words (but not anglicised foreign words such as café. Proper nouns should also be given appropriate accents where possible — Arsène Wenger was on holiday in Bogotá with Rafa Benítez.
Accenture formerly Andersen Consulting; the new name was devised by an employee from “accent on the future”
accept, except Accept is to take or receive; except is to leave out.
access Do not use as a verb.
accessible Note spelling.
accident and emergency (A&E) Not emergency room or ER
accidentally Note spelling.
accolade Note spelling.
accommodate, accommodation Note spelling.
Achilles heel See above
Achilles heel. Capitalise. No apostrophe. Achilles’ mother dipped him into the river Styx to make him immortal but held him by one heel, which did not touch the water and so remained vulnerable.
acknowledgment Note spelling.
acolyte Note spelling.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
acting Do not capitalise before a title — acting Chairman Lee Huat Oon.
acute, chronic Acute is coming to a crisis, chronic is lasting a long time or deep-seated. Be specific when writing about diseases.
ad-lib Hyphenated for verb, noun and adjective.
AD, BC AD (Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord) and BC (Before Christ) have little meaning to Jews and other non-Christian religions but have established themselves in common usage. Use AD 500 but 754 BC. Do not use AD for dates after 1000.
adage A proverb or old saying. Old adage is a tautology.
adaptation Not adaption
adapter, adaptor An adapter is the person who adapts something. An adaptor is a device for connecting parts of different sizes.
adblocker, adblocking No hyphen
addendum The plural is addendums
additional, in addition to Use more or and.
Adidas Use capitalisation
adjectives Use sparingly. Inject colour into copy with strong verbs and facts instead. When using an adjective and a noun together as an adjective, hyphenate them – blue-chip stocks. When using an adjective and the past participle of a verb together adjectivally, hyphenate them — rose-coloured glasses. Do not hyphenate an adverb and adjective when they stand alone — the artist was well known. If the adverb and adjective are paired to form a new adjective, hyphenate – He was a well-known
administration Lower case – the Trump administration.
admissible, inadmissible not -able
Adrenalin, adrenaline Adrenalin is a brand of adrenaline, a hormone that increases heart rate and blood pressure.
adverse, averse Adverse means contrary, opposed or unfavourable. Averse is disinclined to or reluctant.
advice, advise Advice is the noun, advise is the verb.
adviser Not advisor.
affect, effect affect is a verb meaning to influence, effect is usually a noun meaning outcome or consequence,
Afghan, afghan The former is a nationality, the latter is a hound
aficionado Note spelling. The plural is aficionados
African Union (AU). Based in Addis Ababa.
Afrikaans The language of the white South African people of usually Dutch descent who are known as Afrikaners.
afterwards Not afterward
age Use numerals for all ages, e.g. the 6-year-old girl, the 9-year-old boy. The 66-year-old president or an 18-year-old youth are fine. Avoid the 66-year-old Wong, which suggests he is being distinguished from, say, a 65-year-old Wong. For decades, use figures – The woman was in her 20s, but twentysomething, thirtysomething.
aged, elderly Avoid, because the terms are always relative and can be judgmental
ageing Not aging
agenda Singular. Plural is agendas
aggravate, annoy Aggravate makes worse. Annoy is to irritate or cause trouble to
ahead of Use before.
air base Two words.
air fare Two words.
Air Force One Note capitalisation. This is the radio call sign of any fixed-wing aircraft used by the president of the United States. Marine One is the radio call sign of any helicopter used by the U.S. president.
air force Two words.
Air France-KLM Note hyphen
air hostess Avoid. Use cabin attendant or flight attendant.
Airbus Note spelling.
aircraft Don’t be too specific about makes and models in general stories – He flew there on a Boeing 777 – unless the story refers to, say, extending capacity or range with a specific model such as Boeing 777-300ER. Never use the last two digits as it merely denotes the customer. For example, a Boeing 747-406 is a plane of that model operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from 1990.
airlines Correctly use air line(s), airline(s), airways or other variations if it is part of their generally accepted name. Check the spelling on the company’s Web site.
airplane Do not use. Write aeroplane or aircraft. Avoid plane and warplane.
Al Jazeera Qatar-based television station. Note capitalisation and lack of a hyphen.
Al Qaeda Use only when specifically referring to the militant movement that supports violent attacks.
albino Avoid. Write A man with albinism… or Jane Chan, who has albinism…
alias Refers only to assumption of a false name, not an entire false identity or profession. Do not use AKA or aka.
all right Note spelling. An exception is the 1965 song by The Who, entitled “The Kids are Alright”.
all rounder Not all-arounder. A cricket term that has entered the mainstream vocabulary
all-time, all time The greatest badminton player of all time, but an all-time low. Do not write an all-time record. It is simply a record.
Allahu akbar Arabic for “God is Greatest” (not “God is Great”).
allege, alleged Do not report allegations without saying who made them. Use of the word alleged before a defamatory statement does not provide immunity against an action for libel.
allot, allotting, allotted Note spelling.
Almaty The biggest city in Kazakhstan and the country’s commercial hub. It was the capital until 1997. It is no loner spelled Alma-Ata.
altercation An argument, not a fight.
alternate, alternative Alternate means that A and B take turns, alternative that you have a choice between A and B.
aluminium. Not aluminium.
alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae The masculine, feminine, masculine plural and feminine plural forms.
Alzheimer’s disease A specific progressive, incurable and disabling disease. It is not synonymous with dementia or senility.
ambience Note spelling
America’s Cup Note apostrophe. The sailing trophy is named after the yacht America.
American A U.S. citizen.
American depositary receipt Note capitalisation, but use ADR subsequently.
American Indian Native American (capitalised) is preferred
Americas Includes North America, Central America and South America
amid Not amidst.
amok Note spelling.
among, between Between is restricted to two choices or two parties. Among is for several options or parties. Do not use amongst.
ampersand (&) Do not use, except in company names.
anaemia, anaemic Note spelling.
analog Note spelling.
analyst Do not use alone, but qualify — political analyst, equity analyst, etc.
ancestor One from whom someone is descended. Do not use to mean predecessor.
and Do not use to start a sentence.
Aneurysm Note spelling.
annex Note spelling.
annual general meeting (AGM) Use annual meeting or meeting subsequently, not AGM.
Antarctic, Antarctica Note spelling.
antennae, antennas Antennae are insect feelers. Antennas are aerials.
APEC Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an internal organization famously described in 1993 by Gareth Evans, a former Australian foreign minister, as “four adjectives in search of a noun”.
apostrophe Singular words and plural words not ending in s form the possessive by adding ’s – Boeing’s new airliner, the children’s new books. Plural words already ending in s form the possessive by adding the apostrophe alone – the soldiers’ weapons. Avoid odd constructions such as Woolworths’s results. It’s is a contraction of it is. The possessive form of it is its.
appeal The verb takes a preposition — He appealed against the ruling.
appraise, apprise Appraise is to set a value on or to price, apprise is to inform.
approximately Avoid. Use about, almost or nearly.
April Fool’s Day Note apostrophe and capitalisation.
archaeology Note spelling
Arctic Sea, Arctic Circle. Note spelling. Generically lower case – arctic wind, arctic cold – unless they are actually in or from the Arctic.
army Do not capitalise national land forces — the U.S. army, the French army – unless it is part of a formal name, such as the Palestine Liberation Army or the Red Army. Capitalise specific formations, U.S. 1st Army, British 8th Army. Always use figures for military units.
Asian Development Bank A multilateral development finance institution, with headquarters in Manila. Spell out in first reference, ADB subsequently.
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are members. Timor-Leste is not.
Astana The capital of Kazakhstan since 1997.
athlete’s foot Note spelling.
attaché Note spelling.
attempt Use try
audiovisual One word, no hyphen.
Australian Labor Party (not Labour)
author Not a verb. Use write.
automaker Avoid. Use car manufacturer or vehicle manufacturer.
Automated (or automatic) teller machine (ATM). Do not use ATM machine.
automobile See Vehicle
auxiliary Note spelling.
average, mean and median What is commonly known as the average is the mean: e.g., add the wages of all employees and divide by the number of employees. The median is “the value below which half of employees fall” or the wage earned by the middle person when everyone’s wages are lined up from smallest to largest.
axe, axed, axeing Note spelling.
Alsatian, alsatian The former is a person from Alsace, the latter is a dog better known as a german shepherd
amid not amidst.
amount Refers to a quantity, not something that can be counted.
anaesthesia, anaesthetic, anaesthetist Note spelling.
analysis. Note spelling. The plural is analyses
Angkor Wat One of the 100 or so temples of Angkor.
anglicise, anglophile, anglophobe, anglophone No capitalisation
any more Two words
apex The plural is apexes
app Use application at first mention for something used on a smartphone or similar device.
Apple The company is no longer Apple Computer.
autism, autistic A neurodevelopmental disorder, not an illness. Use only when referring to the condition, not as a term of abuse. An autistic person is someone with autism, not someone with poor social skills
Ayers Rock Avoid. Use Uluru
baby boomer Two words
bachelor Old-fashioned and often irrelevant. Use (if relevant) unmarried. Avoid confirmed bachelor, flamboyant bachelor or other innuendo-laden terms.
backwards Note s on the end
backyard One word.
bacterium The plural is bacteria. Do not confuse with a virus. Antibiotics are not used to treat viruses.
Baghdad Note spelling
Bahá’í The religion is spelled thus.
balance of payments A record of a country’s net international economic transactions including trade, services, capital movements and unilateral transfers.
balance of trade A record of a country’s net imports and exports of physical goods. It can be negative, showing that a country is importing more than it exports, or positive, showing it exports more than it imports.
ballboy, ballgirl, ballgame, ballgown, ballpark One word
ballerina Dancer of leading roles; otherwise she is a ballet dancer
band names Capitalise articles – The Beatles, the Killers, etc. Also capitalise equivalent words in other languages – Les Négresses Vertes, Los Lobos. Arctic Monkeys, Pet Shop Boys and Ramones are among bands without any articles. They take a plural — Snow Patrol are overrated, Iron Butterfly were the loudest band.
Bank for International Settlements Not of.
Bank of China This is a commercial bank, not the central bank. People’s Bank of China is the central bank.
banlieue Singular French word for suburbia, not suburb
barbecue Note spelling. Never use BBQ or bbq.
Barclays Bank Note spelling.
Base jumping An acronym for building, antenna, span and earth
Basel Not Basle
basis point A hundredth of a per cent, so 0.50 percent is 50 basis points.
Beaufort scale This measure of wind speed created in 1806 by Sir Francis Beaufort normally has 13 classes, but 17 are used in China and Taiwan.
Beaujolais, beaujolais, beaujolais nouveau The first is the region in France where Beaujolais and beaujolais nouveau wine are produced
beg the question It does not mean to prompt an inquiry, but to assume what needs to be proved, or more loosely to evade the question.
Beijing Not Peking
Betting Long odds (eg 100-1 against, normally expressed as 100-1) mean something unlikely; shorter odds (eg 10-1) still mean it’s unlikely, but less unlikely; odds on (eg 2-1 on, sometimes expressed as 1-2) means it is likely, so if you were betting HK$2 you would win only HK$1 plus the stake.
between, among Between is restricted to two choices or two parties. Among is for several options or parties. Do not use amongst. Write between 15 and 20 not “between 15 to 20” or “between 15-20”
billion One thousand million. Spell in full. Always use figures before million and billion, e.g. 2 billion, 3 million. When reporting a range of figures, use 1.2 billion to 1.4 billion not 1.2-1.4 billion.
bitcoin Not capitalised.
bite-size Not bite-sized; very few things are the same size as a bite
biweekly Avoid. This can mean twice a week or once every two weeks.
Blade Runner Not Bladerunner or BladeRunner
Blanchett, Cate Actress.
blind Describe people as blind only if they are totally without sight. Otherwise write that their sight is impaired or that they have only partial vision.
blowjob One word.
Bogotá Capital of Colombia.
book titles See titles.
bordeaux Wine from Bordeaux.
Bored Use bored with, not bored of.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Note spelling.
boss Avoid as this word has pejorative or slang connotations.
Botox A brand name; botulinum toxin is normally more appropriate in copy
boycott, embargo A boycott is the refusal of a group to deal with a person or use a commodity. An embargo is a legal ban on trade
Braille Note capitalisation.
Brasília Capital of Brazil.
break point Two words in tennis scoring.
breaststroke One word
Brent crude Brent blend is a benchmark crude oil from the British North Sea against which other crude oils are priced. Use Brent in subsequent references.
Britain See United Kingdom
broach, brooch The former is to pierce or open up, the latter is an ornamental clasp.
broccoli Note spelling.
Brontë family Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell; they grew up at Haworth in what is now West Yorkshire
Buddha, Buddhism Note capitalisation.
buffalo The plural is buffaloes.
buildup Noun, but build up as a verb. The adjective is built-up.
bureau The plural is bureaux.
Burma See Myanmar
burned, burnt burned is the past tense form (he burned the cakes); burnt is the participle, an “adjectival” form of the verb (“the cakes are burnt”)
burqa Note spelling of the one-piece head-to-toe covering for Muslim women, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But burkini, not burqini
Bush, George W son of George HW Bush
businessman, businesswoman But say business people or the business community rather than businessmen
but Do not use to start a sentence. Avoid where possible, particularly in leads as it is imprecise, overused and can imply bias.
BuzzFeed Note capitalisation
by As a prefix needs no hyphen, except in by-election, by-law, by-product.
byte Unit of measurement of computer information storage, eg 320GB hard drive (320 gigabytes)
Byzantine Empire But byzantine complexity
Cabinet Capitalise when referring to a grouping of senior government ministers, heads of department or presidential advisers.
cactus The plural is cactuses
caddy Not caddie
Caesarean section Note capitalisation and spelling.
café Note accent.
calibre Note spelling.
Canada goose Not Canadian.
canvas, canvass Paint on canvas but canvass for votes.
capital account An account in the balance of payments that records movements of capital between domestic and foreign residents. The capital account records changes in the asset and liability position of domestic residents and covers flows such as loans and investments. See also current account, balance of payments.
capitalisation Aim for coherence and consistency. It is impossible to be wholly consistent.
People Generally speaking, capitalise job titles at the JMSC and HKU in general. Capitalise heads of state and government and senior officials before their name – U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam – but not otherwise – Donald Trump, the U.S. president, arrived in Hong Kong today. Write Pope Francis but the pope. When a hyphenated title is capitalised, capitalise both parts, e.g. Lieutenant-General John Smith, Secretary-General Juan Blanco. Capitalise words denominating nationality race or language – Arab, African, Argentine, Caucasian, Chinese, Finnish. Treat nicknames as proper names when they refer to a specific person or thing — Iron Lady, the Wallabies. Common nouns that normally have no initial capital are capitalised when they are an integral part of the full name of a person, institution or object — Queen Elizabeth II, the Sultan of Brunei, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong, Senator Bernie Sanders. But former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. These nouns are normally lower case if they stand alone – the British queen, the Bruneian sultan.
Institutions Capitalise HKU faculties and departments. Government departments in English-speaking countries take an initial capital when the full name is used – the UK Home Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Use lowercase when abbreviated or paraphrased – Britain’s justice ministry, Australia’s immigration department, Canadian fisheries ministry, the Indian railway ministry. Use lowercase for translations of government departments in non-English-speaking countries – the Chinese foreign ministry, Russian ministry of emergency situations. Capitalise specific armed forces names – People’s Liberation Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Canadian Forces, Bundeswehr. Use lower case when referring generically — the French armed forces, the Indonesian navy, the Brazilian air force. Capitalise the official names of legislatives bodies such as Parliament, Senate, Diet at all references. An exception is plurals – the Norwegian and Danish parliaments.
Objects Capitalise the names of astronomical bodies such as Betelgeuse, the Great Bear and Jupiter, but not the sun, moon, and earth. Capitalise Ecstasy and the names of other synthetic drugs. Capitalise geographical and geological names apart from particles, articles, and compass references not forming part of the proper name – River Plate but the river, North Korea but north London. Capitalise nouns and adjectives with a geographic origin but used geopolitically – Western influence, the North-South divide, the West, Eastern Europe and South-east Asia. Capitalise the names of political parties and of movements with a specific doctrine – a Communist official, a Democratic senator. Use lower case for non-specific references – the communist part of the former Soviet Bloc, but the Communist Party of what was then East Germany.
casino The plural is casinos.
catalogue, catalogued, catalogue, cataloguing Note spelling.
Catch-22 Avoid. It’s a cliché
caviar Not caviare
cellphone One word.
cement A constituent of concrete.
cemetery Note spelling.
century Spell out first to ninth, write 10th and above in figures. Do not capitalise.
chairman, chairwoman Use chair only if it’s the actual title.
Channel tunnel Not Chunnel
chateau, chateaux No accent, note plural
Chatham House Informal name for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, based at Chatham House in London. Famous for its rule (not rules), which states: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
Chávez, Hugo Note accent. President of Venezuela 1998-2013.
cheap, low Prices are low, not cheap.
Chek Lap Kok Use Hong Kong International Airport unless referring to the surrounding district.
cheque, chequebook Note spelling.
chequered flag Note spelling.
chicken tikka masala Britain’s favourite dish. But chicken marsala is the Italian dish.
chickenpox One word
Chief executive officer Spell out on first reference. Use CEO subsequently.
Chinese walls, Chinese whispers Avoid.
Chinese-language personal names In the Mainland, they are written in two parts – Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Xi Jinping. In Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, they are in two parts with a hyphen – Tung Chee-hwa, Chiang Kai-shek. In Singapore and Malaysia they are in three parts – Lee Kuan Yew. For people with Chinese names elsewhere in the world, follow their preference – but make sure you know which is the surname
cinéma vérité Note accents.
co-respondent, correspondent A co-respondent appears in a divorce case. A correspondent writes letters.
coast guard Two words.
Cold War Capitalised.
collapsible Note spelling.
collectibles Note spelling.
collision Do not impute blame in a collision — The Danish freighter and the German tanker collided. Only two moving objects can collide so do not write The ferry collided with the jetty. Plain hit is enough.collusion, collaboration
Collusion is to act together to deceive. Do not use it when you mean collaboration or cooperation.
Colombia, Columbia Colombia is the country, but Columbia Records, District of Columbia.
commented Avoid. Use said.
communiqué Avoid. Use statement.
communist Lower case except when referring to a specific party – Communist Party of China, Communist Party of Great Britain.
company names In general, use the names that companies use – c2c, Capgemini, easyJet, eBay, ebookers, iSoft Group – but avoid highly unconventional typography, such as Toys R Us (do not attempt to turn the R backwards). Eliminate exclamation points from company names, such as Yahoo! and Yum!. Companies are singular – Siemens said its plant…
compass points Capitalise compass points only when they form part of a proper name North Korea, but north London; the Lower East Side of New York.
compatriot But expatriate
complement, compliment To complement is to complete or to provide a matching component. To compliment is to praise.
comprise Use only when listing all the components of a whole – Benelux comprises Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. If listing only some components use include – The European Union includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
confectionery Note spelling.
Congo Distinguish between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and the neighbouring Congo Republic.
consortium, consortiums Note plural.
consul-general, consulate-general Note hyphen. Likewise.
consumer price index A CPI, also known as a retail price index, is a measure of retail price inflation. It is usually expressed as a percentage rise or fall in the index.
convince, persuade You convince people of something and persuade them to do something. You do not convince someone to do something.
cooperate, cooperation No hyphen.
coordinate, coordination No hyphen.
copy editor Sub-editors in the United States and Canada.
copyright But copywriter
cord Can be vocal, spinal or umbilical. The musical term is chord.
cornflakes But Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
Cornish pasty Not pastie or pastry
coronavirus One word
cortege No accent.
counteract, counterattack, countermeasures But counter-terrorism
court-martial, courts-martial Note plural.
courtesy titles Do not use courtesy titles such as Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss or their foreign equivalents. An exception would be in a story about two people with the same family name when we might refer for instance to Mr Chan and Mrs Chan to avoid confusion. Use at first reference only titles of nobility and military, medical and religious titles, e.g. Lord Ferrars, Dr Christiaan Barnard, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
credit ratings The measure of a borrower’s creditworthiness. They provide an international framework for comparing the credit quality of issuers and rated debt securities. The major global agencies are Moody’s Investors Service (owned by Moody’s Corporation), S&P Global Ratings (S&P Global) and Fitch Ratings (Fitch Group). Dagong Global Credit Rating Group (Dagong Global) is a major Chinese agency.
crème brulée, crème fraiche Note accents.
cripple, crippled Do not use.
criterion The plural form is criteria.
cross fire Two words.
cross section Two words.
cross-examine, cross-examined Hyphenated.
CrossFit A brand name.
crowd Give the source for the size or number quoted.
cruise missile Lower case.
Cultural Revolution Capitalise the movement launched by Mao Zedong in 1966
cupful The plural is cupfuls
currencies Lower case when the whole word is used – euro, pound, sterling, dong, etc. Abbreviate amounts — US$50; HK$50; A$50. Spell out if obscure or unclear – 50 Zimbabwean dollars, 50 yen (to distinguish from yuan).
current account The sum of the visible trade balance (exports and imports that
currently Avoid or use now.
currently has 20,000 troops in Ruritania. Cut it out.
curriculum vitae Singular. Plural is curricula vitae
cut off, cutoff The verb is cut off, the noun is cutoff.
cutback Use cut for both verb and noun.
cyberattack, cyberbully, cybercafe, cybercrime, cyberlocker, cybernetics, cyberpunk, cybersecurity, cybersex, cyberspace, cyberterrorism, cyberwar
Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, 30 years after Turkey invaded the northern part of the Mediterranean island, known as Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.
czar Use tsar.
Czech Republic No article.
D’oh! Note apostrophe and exclamation mark. Homer Simpson’s remark.
data Note plural.
database One word.
date January 1, January 1, 1999, April 1, 1066, AD 1066, 200 BC.
decades 1930s, 1980s
defriend, unfriend Synonymous in a social media context.
Delhi The name of the Indian city that is part of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is an area within the city
Deloitte Not Deloittes, Deloitte Consulting, or Deloitte & Touche
dementia Not “senile dementia”. Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to various conditions. Some of the more common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and Pick’s disease.
dependant, dependent His dependants were dependent on him.
desert, deserts, dessert Desert is a dry area, the verb means to abandon one’s post. Dessert is part of a meal. Just deserts is correct, not desserts, which part of a meal.
dire straits Not straights
disabled people, disabled person Not “the disabled”. Avoid terms such as victim of, suffering from, afflicted by, crippled by, wheelchair-bound, in a wheelchair, less able, invalid, handicapped, mentally handicapped, backward, retarded, slow, the blind, the deaf, deaf and dumb
discreet, discrete The former means tactful or prudent; the latter separate.
Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland Park The first-named is in California, the third is in Florida.
Dolce e Gabbana The fashion brand.
Dominica, Dominican Republic The former is an island nation in the Caribbean. The latter is a country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti
Dow Jones industrial average Note capitalisation.
Down’s syndrome Note apostrophe – a baby with Down’s syndrome, not “a Down’s syndrome baby”.
dozen Can only mean 12.
draft, draught The first refers to a document, the second to an air current.
draftsman, draftswoman, draughtsman, draughtswoman The first two refer to bills and other documents, the last two to plans and other drawings
DreamWorks Note capitalisation.
dressing room Two words.
drier, dryer Shirts become drier in the tumble dryer.
drily Note spelling.
drink The past tense is drank, the past participle is drunk – He drinks too much. Last night he drank 10 pints, the least he has drunk on any night this week.
driving licence Note spelling. Not driver’s.
drug companies, drug dealer, drug raid, drug squad, drug tsar Use the singular form.
duct tape Not duck.
dumb Do not use for speech-impaired
dwarf, dwarves, dwarfs The plural is dwarves but the verb is dwarf – ICC dwarfs the surrounding buildings
dyslexia People have dyslexia, not suffer from dyslexia