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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ

Contents

PAC

Acronym for political action committee. Raises money and makes contributions to campaigns of political candidates or parties in the United States. At the federal level, contribution amounts are limited by law and may not come from corporations or labour unions. Enforcement overseen by the Federal Election Commission. PAC acceptable on first reference; spell out in body of story.

A super PAC is a political action committee that may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including from corporations and unions, to campaign independently for candidates for federal office. Its activities must be reported to the FEC but are not otherwise regulated if not coordinated with the candidate or campaign.

Palestine Liberation Organization

parentheses

Use in lieu of square brackets when interpolating words in Reuters copy, since brackets do not translate correctly.

parliament

As a general rule, outside the United States, refer to legislative assemblies initially as parliaments, regardless of their formal names. These can be given lower in the story, e.g., Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament ... Replying to questions in the House of Commons, he said ... In American style, capitalise when the name of a formal body, e.g., the British Parliament.

parliamentarian

“Member of parliament” preferable, although parliamentarian is becoming more widely accepted.

participles

There are cases in which an unattached participle is acceptable, e.g., “Considering the risks involved, you were right to cancel the trip.” Although it is not you who is considering the risks,the writer of the sentence, the sense is clear. But avoid the unattached, or so-called dangling, participle when it makes the sentence absurd, e.g.: “Having disarmed, Ruritania’s allies guaranteed its defence.” Here the participle “having disarmed” is wrongly attached to the allies; it is Ruritania that has disarmed. “Fetching anything between $16,000 and $40,000, onIy about 2,500 women around the world can afford to buy haute couture dresses.” The women, not the dresses, are worth $16,000.

partner

Prefer boyfriend, girlfriend or lover.

Pashtun

Not Pushtun, Pushtoon, Pathan. This tribe in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and areas of Afghanistan speaks Pashto, also one of the main languages of Afghanistan.

past, last

Past refers to the time up to the present. “Sales increased over the past year” means the previous 12 months, wherever they fall. “Last year” is the previous calendar year. Also, check for redundancy in phrases such as past history, past record, past achievements.

per

Avoid the Latin. Six dollars each rather than six dollars per item.

per cent

One word in American style. The abbreviation pct is acceptable in alerts and headlines. Use numerals before per cent, e.g., 4 per cent, 6 per cent, 12 per cent. Use per cent after both numbers when writing about a change, e.g., “rose to 5 per cent from 4 per cent,” not “rose to 5 from 4 per cent.”

Do not confuse percentage with percentage points. If a bank rate rises from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, it is a rise of one percentage point and an increase of 100 percent, not 1 per cent. Note that a 100 per cent increase is twice the original figure, 200 per cent three times, 300 per cent four times, etc. It is a common error to write, for instance, that a 400 per cent rise means a quadrupling; in fact it means a fivefold increase.

To calculate percentages, divide the first figure by the second and multiply by 100. For example: 70 as a percentage of 350 is: 70/350 x 100 = 20 per cent. Use a calculator for complicated figures and express the result to the nearest two decimal places, e.g., 75 expressed as a percentage of 350 is 21.42857142 or 21.43 per cent.

percentage

Write many or most rather than a large percentage of.

Persian

Generic name for the language spoken in Iran, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. It is also known locally as Farsi in Iran, Tajik in Tajikistan and Dari in Afghanistan, but Persian is the preferred overall name.

personnel

Use people, staff or workers.

personal names

Check them. Never presume you know how to spell a name, no matter how common and how familiar it may seem. Is it Smith, or Smyth or Smythe or Smif? Only if a given name is not available or if it is known that an individual prefers to be identified by his initials (e.g., Former South African President F.W. de Klerk) should you use initials. To help readers not familiar with names, use a he/she or his/her at second reference to make clear the gender of someone whose name could be of either sex or whose name is not readily known to a nonnative, e.g., Clare, Hilary. See also Chinese names, Ethiopian names, European names, Hispanic names, Korean names, Portuguese names, Thai names, Vietnamese names.

persuade, convince

You persuade people to do something, convince them of something or that something is the case.

PGA

Professional Golfers’ Association. Spell out first or second reference.

pilots

Military aircraft other than strategic bombers and transports normally carry only one pilot. Write the two crewmen, specifying pilot and one co-pilot or navigator, when reporting incidents involving fighter-bombers and the like.

PIN

OK on first reference for personal identification number. PIN number is tautologous.

pious

Avoid describing someone as, for example, a pious Muslim or Christian. Use “practising.”

plan ahead

Just plan will do.

plane

Use aircraft.

plea bargain

Noun. The verb takes a hyphen and is only used intransitively: “If he plea-bargains, he will be sent to a medium-security prison for eight years.”

pled

Legalese. Use “pleaded.” A defendant pleads guilty or not guilty but may not plead innocent.

PLO

Palestine (not Palestinian) Liberation Organisation. PLO is acceptable on first reference. Spell out in a subsequent reference.

plummet

Avoid in market reports unless it is a precipitous decline. A 2 per cent fall is not a plummet.

p.m.

pointed out

Avoid this term if the statement is in any way contentious, since it suggests that the writer accepts that what the speaker is saying is a fact. “Said” is better.

police

Use police officers, not policemen.

Polisario Front

Algeria-based movement seeking the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. It fought a low-level war for independence for 16 years after Morocco annexed the territory with the pullout of colonial power Spain in 1975. Its name is the Spanish abbreviation for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro.

political parties

Capitalise the names of political parties and of movements with a specific doctrine, e.g., a Communist official, a Democratic senator. Use lowercase for nonspecific references, e.g., the communist part of the former Soviet Bloc, but the Communist Party of what was then East Germany; the settlement was run on communist principles; he proposed a democratic vote. The name of a political philosophy should be lowercase as noun or adjective unless it derives from a proper noun: communism, communist, fascism, fascist,. But Marxism, Marxist, Nazi, Nazism.

poll

For technical reasons, avoid the word “poll” in the headline, which should be reserved for polls commissioned by Reuters.

Poona

Use Pune, India.

Pope

Retain the capital on the grounds that there is only one (see proper names). On second reference, the name may be used alone: Francis, Pius (unless omitting the numerals would cause confusion). See religious titles.

Portuguese names

Portuguese and Brazilians, like the Spanish, include the family names both of their father and their mother in their full names. Unlike the Spanish, they put the mother’s name before the father’s and they normally retain both names at second reference. Where they use one it would always be the patronymic, i.e., the last name. Thus Jose Cabral Nettim could be either Cabral Nettim or Nettim at second reference.

posh

Slang. Avoid.

positive

Avoid as a synonym for good or fruitful.

pound

The abbreviation lb (with no full stop and the same in the singular and the plural) is acceptable in all references.

pound sign

Do not use.

precautionary measure

Precaution will do.

precondition

Tautological. Condition is enough.

predawn

If something happened shortly before dawn, predawn may be technically correct, but it is a cliché to be avoided. Never use it to mean merely that something happened during the night.

preplanned

Tautological. Planned is enough.

Presidents Day

No apostrophe. Unofficial name of the holiday celebrating George Washington's birthday, and observed on the third Monday in February. This usage comes up in our copy at least one day a year.

press conference

Use news conference unless broadcast journalists and photographers have been excluded.

prestigious

Avoid this pompous and often tautological word. If something is prestigious, or famous, then we need hardly say so.

price-earnings ratio

On second reference, “p-e ratio.”

prime minister

See titles.

prior to

Prefer “before.”

proactive

Overused. “Active,” “energetic” or “takes initiative/self-starter” are apt to suffice.

process

Can usually be excised in phrases such as development process.

professor

See titles.

profit

The use of “profits” should be reserved for discussion of performance of the various units within a company (investment banking, trading, etc.).

profit-sharing

Hyphenated for both noun and adjective.

pro-life

Use anti-abortion.

pronouns

Use neuter pronouns for countries, ships, cars, aircraft, animals, etc., e.g., Portugal and its territories, Aboard the liner when it sailed. The occasional bright story may be enhanced by the use of a feminine or masculine pronoun to personalise a machine or animal, but these should be rare exceptions.

pronunciation

When a difficult personal or place name appears on the file for the first time, insert a guide to pronunciation. Assume familiarity with the principles guiding pronunciation of European languages like English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and do not provide guides to pronunciation of most names phonetically transcribed from another script, e.g., Arabic or Japanese. Give guidance in parentheses after the name, hyphenating the syllables and capitalizing the syllable stressed, e.g., General Michel Aoun (pronounced OW-oon), a rail strike in Bydgoszcz (pronounced BID-gosh).

proper names

If proper names are in English, use the style and spelling as it appears on the organisation’s nameplate and business cards, e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Scottish Labour Party, U.S. Department of Defense. If proper names are translated into English, use the spelling convention of that region.

proven

Use "proved" except in two cases: in writing of oil reserves or of the Scottish legal verdict not proven (neither guilty nor not guilty).

proverbial

Best excised. If you are using or describing a proverb then there is no need to say so.

publications

No quotation marks around the titles of newspapers or magazines, blogs, websites or trade newsletters. Do not capitalise articles and particles in English-language publications: the New York Times. But Le Monde, Die Welt.

public school

In some countries, this term refers to a private or fee-paying school as opposed to a state or government school. Use only when quoting someone and then explain it.

punctuation

  • apostrophes: For singular proper names ending in “s,” use only an apostrophe: Gates’ tenure; Kansas’ schools. Reuters’ early decades, but Reuter’s birthplace in Kassel. Add ’s for plurals of a single letter: “They were all given A’s.” Do not add for plurals of numbers or multiple letter combinations: the 1980s, RBIs.
  • colons: Put the word following a colon in lower case unless the next word is the beginning of a sentence.
  • commas: See commas.

Reuters does not use the so-called Oxford or serial comma. That is, we use commas to separate items in a list but normally no comma before the final “and,” e.g., “Smith despised ballet, hated the theatre and was bored by opera.” However, a comma should be used in this position if to leave it out would risk ambiguity, e.g., “He admired Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, and Leonard Bernstein.” A comma follows an initial “however.” But as long as there is no risk of ambiguity, there is no need for the comma after opening phrases like On Wednesday the committee decided ... In the first four months of 2002 Britain exported ...

  • dashes: Use dashes sparingly, never to set off relative clauses in a sentence. Until we get the all-clear from tech support, dashes must be made with a single hyphen.

Hyphenate numbers, nouns or adjectives when they are paired to form a new adjective, e.g., a good-looking man, a six-cylinder car. Do not hyphenate where no ambiguity would result: class action status, insider trading scandal, the most desirable outcome, the least likely result, the more obvious solution. Hyphenate fractions, e.g., three-quarter, two-thirds.

Pune

Not Poona, India.

punter

Prefer gambler, not bettor, which is unfamiliar outside the Americas. Do not use in financial stories as a synonym for investors or speculators unless it is in quotes, in which case explain.

purchase

"Buy" is shorter and better.  

This page was last modified 16:05, 15 October 2014.

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