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abbreviations

Abbreviations and acronyms should be spelled out on first reference. Always use a company's full legal name on first reference.

Use the abbreviation in parentheses after the spelled out first reference where you plan to use the abbreviation on second reference, particularly if it is not well known.

CAPS, PERIODS/FULLSTOPS: Generally, omit periods or full stops in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. Most abbreviations of more than two letters do not take periods. But use periods in most two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N. (Exceptions include: EU, UK )

PLURALS: 

Form the plural of abbreviations by adding a lower-case “s” without an apostrophe: ICBMs, not ICBM’s.

BEFORE A NAME: Abbreviate titles when used before a full name: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. and certain military designations listed in the military titles entry.

AFTER A NAME: Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual's name. Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated and limited when used after the name of a corporate entity. See entries under these words and company names. In headlines, do not use periods in abbreviations, unless required for clarity.

WITH DATES OR NUMERALS: Use the abbreviations A.D., B.C., a.m., p.m., No., and abbreviate certain months when used with the day of the month.

STATES: The names of certain states and the United States are abbreviated with periods in some circumstances. See U.S. state names and datelines

MONTHS: Do not use full stops when abbreviating the names of months in datelines. The style is Jan, Feb, March, April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec. In tabulated lists, use only the first three letters for all months. Abbreviate names of months in text when they are used with a specific date: Jan. 19. See entry on datelines.

abattoir

British English for what in American English is called a slaughterhouse

abortion

Unless quoting someone, refer to aborted foetuses rather than unborn babies. Describe those campaigning for a woman’s right to have an abortion as “abortion rights campaigners” and those campaigning against abortion rights as “anti-abortion campaigners.” Terms such as pro-choice, pro-life and pro-abortion are open to dispute and should be avoided. Avoid abortionist, which connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions.

ABS

See ABS.

academic degrees

Avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome.

Academy Awards

Presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of America. Also known as the Oscars. (Both Academy Awards and Oscars are trademarks.) While “Best Director” (etc.) is not the official name of the award, follow common usage and capitalise.

accents

Do not use accents or diacritical marks in English copy as they can cause technical problems for some clients.

access

Avoid as a verb unless in the context of computing and electronics.

accused

To avoid the suggestion of presumed guilt before a trial, avoid phrases like "accused killer" and use a less emotive phrase like "Joe Bloggs, accused of the murder of.."

Achilles tendon

No apostrophe for the tendon connecting the back of the heel to the calf muscles. But use Achilles' heel, with an apostrophe.

acronyms

Avoid where possible and replace with nouns such as “the committee,” “the organisation,” “the inquiry.” Use capital letters for acronyms of five letters and fewer: ASEAN, but Anacafe (Asociación Nacional del Café). See entry on abbreviations.

acting

Do not capitalise before a title: acting Chairman and Chief Executive Paulo Georgio unless it is a formal title.

actor

Actor is appropriate for man or woman.

AD

Use A.D. for most dates in the western calendars. For example, A.D. 73.

additional/in addition to

Use “more” or “and.”

addresses

Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue. All similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.) always are spelled out. Capitalize them when part of a formal name.

adjectives

Use sparingly. Inject colour into copy with strong verbs and facts first. If you have more than two adjectives before a noun, rewrite the sentence. A reader struggles with “the one-eyed poverty-stricken Greek house painter.” Avoid adjectives that imply judgement: “a hard-line speech,” “a glowing tribute,” “a staunch conservative.” Depending on where they stand, some people might consider the speech moderate, the tribute fulsome or the conservative a die-hard reactionary. 


When using an adjective and a noun together as an adjective, hyphenate them if it helps to avoid a realistic ambiguity: “a sliced egg sandwich” could mean two things; “a happy birthday card” can’t; “a blue-chip share,” “high-caste Hindus.” By extension, adverbs that end in “-ly” paired with adjectives modifying nouns do not need hyphens, since adverbs can’t modify nouns: “a poorly planned operation” cannot be misconstrued to mean an operation that is poorly and that is planned. The practice is always in flux; consider the dictionary (e.g., “well-known”).

administration

Always lowercase: the Bush administration.

admit

Use with care. If you say someone admitted something, you imply that it had previously been concealed or that there is an element of guilt. “Said” is usually better.

adoption

Refer to a child’s adoptive status only when the fact is clearly significant. Use the term “birth mother” to refer to the woman who gave birth to a child, if a distinction must be made with the woman who raised the child. ”Birth father” and “birth parent” are also preferred style. Do not use “real” or “natural” to describe parents or children. Avoid loaded and dated phrases such as “give away a child,” “give up for adoption” and “unwanted child.” “Adoptive” as an adjective can refer to parents or the general subject of adoption. Try to describe actions instead of creating labels such as “adopted child,” e.g,. “Hollywood actress Sharon Celebrity, who gave birth to a daughter on Friday, has two other children. She adopted Shenandoah, 4, and Alfalfa, 2, during her previous marriage to actor Tim Hunk.” Be wary of cultural bias or value judgements in covering international adoptions and disputes over parental rights involving families from different cultures or socioeconomic backgrounds.

ADR

See ADR.

advance planning

A tautology. Also avoid pre-planning.

adverbs

Like adjectives, they should be used sparingly. Avoid adverbs that imply judgement, e.g., “generously,” “harshly,” “sternly.”

adviser/advisor

In general use "adviser" in American English, though British English often uses "advisor". However when writing about U.S. proxy advisory firms use the industry standard "advisor".

affect, effect

Affect, as a verb, means to influence or to produce an effect. Avoid affect as a noun, though it is sometimes used as psychology term to mean an emotion. Effect as a verb is to accomplish something or produce an effect, usually used with an object. Effect as a noun is a result, consequence.

Afghan

The term for the people and culture of Afghanistan. Afghani is the Afghan unit of currency.

African-American

Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Also acceptable is black. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. Follow a person's preference. See race

aftermath

Prefer “results.” Use “after” rather than “in the aftermath of…”

AG

German company title: abbreviation of Aktiengesellschaft, a joint-stock company.

aggravate

“Aggravate” means to make worse. Do not use in the sense of “to irritate.”

age

Use numerals for all ages: the 5-year-old boy. With a proper name use, "Bloggs, who is 75,” or “Bloggs, 75.” In many countries it is illegal to identify a defendant under the age of 18. Use sensitivity and be guided by local legal rules.

aged, elderly

Avoid, because the terms are always relative. In some societies a 50-year-old is aged. In others a sprightly 90-year-old who has just written a novel or run a marathon would object to being called aged or elderly.

AGM

See AGM

agnostic, atheist

An agnostic is a person who believes it is impossible to know whether there is a God. An atheist is a person who believes there is no God.

aid, aide

Aid is assistance. An aide is someone who serves as an assistant.

AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The term “AIDS” applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. The initials AIDS and HIV are used at first reference, with the full name given lower in the story. Do not write “HIV virus,” which is redundant.

air bag

Air bag is two words. An inflatable safety device in a car or automobile.

aircraft, airplane

Most airliners and military aircraft are jets, so there is normally no need to specify that a plane is a jet (but be sure not to confuse fighters and bombers). Capitalise the names of aircraft: Concorde, Tomcat. When the number designating an aircraft is preceded by a letter or letters, hyphenate, e.g., Boeing 747 but DC-10, F-111. 



Be specific when giving aircraft models in economic stories because there are cost differences, e.g., Boeing 747-400, not just Boeing 747. Use makers’ names in the form given in Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, e.g., MiG-21. Give numerals for aircraft speeds, e.g., Mach 1, not Mach one. Aircraft names use a hyphen when changing from letters to figures, no hyphen when adding a letter to figures, e.g., F-15 Eagle/747B, but Airbus 3000 is an exception.

airfare

Usually one word airfare.


Air Force One

This is the radio call sign of any fixed-wing aircraft used by the president of the United States. The U.S. Marine Corps is responsible for presidential helicopter support. Marine One is the radio call sign of any helicopter used by the president.

airlift

Sometimes as two words - air lift. Transportation of persons or cargo by air, especially in an emergency. Do not use as a synonym for “fly,” e.g., “The injured man was airlifted to hospital.” Reserve it for shuttle services: “The United States airlifted 50,000 troops to the Gulf.”

air strike

Two words.

Al-Aqsa

Al-Aqsa is the mosque built in the 8th century atop the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Arabs also use Al-Aqsa to refer to the whole area, which houses the Dome of the Rock shrine, also. To Jews the area is known as the Temple Mount, the site of the ancient Jewish temples.

Al-Jazeera

Middle East satellite television news network based in Doha, Qatar. Al-Jazeera America is a sister network broadcast and based in the United States.

Allah

The Arabic name for God in Islam.

al Qaeda

Created by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s, al Qaeda ("The Base") is a militant movement that supports violent attacks on the West, Israel and governments in Muslim countries allied with the West that it believes prevent the creation of a “pure” Islamic world.

The term “al Qaeda” is used by different people to mean different things. When authorities speak about an "al Qaeda plot," we should try to pin down whether they mean it was ordered and directed by "core al Qaeda" or generally inspired by the anti-Western ideology of bin Laden. (Note: AP style is al Qaida )

all right, alright

Usually two words in formal English meaning well, safe, correct. Alright tends to be informal in usage.

all-time, all time

The greatest singer of all time, but an all-time low. Do not write “an all-time record”; it is simply a record. Ensure that superlatives such as “all-time high” are checked and sourced.

Allahu akbar

“God is Greatest” (not, as often written, “God is Great,” a common Muslim rallying cry. Also chanted when Muslims perform their five daily prayers.

allege

Usually used to mean to assert without proof. Specify the source of the allegations. Use of the word “alleged” before a defamatory statement does not provide immunity against an action for libel. Avoid “allegedly”; often "apparent", "ostensible", or "reputed" is better

alpine, Alpine

Lower case if pertaining to any mountainous region. Upper case if referring specifically to the Swiss Alps or Olympic Games Alpine skiing.

altercation

An altercation is an argument or heated exchange of words, not a fight.

alternative

There can be only two alternatives; any more and you face choices, options or possibilities.

altitudes

Convert metres to feet, not yards, when giving altitudes.

a.m.

ambassador

Use for a man or a woman.

American Indian

Acceptable, but “Native American” (capitalised) is preferred, bearing in mind that this includes, e.g., Inuit, who are not Indians. Where possible, be more specific and give the name of the tribe (e.g., Navajo, Cherokee). See race.

America's Cup

The sailing trophy, named after the yacht America.

amid

Not “amidst,” but journalese in any case, although sometimes hard to avoid in headlines. Usually we mean “because of,” “due to,” “in,” or “over.” Or consider recasting: “Consultants said developers were bidding more cautiously amid a softening private-residential market and rising construction costs” is stronger as “A softening private-residential market and rising construction costs are making developers bid more cautiously.” Where preserving the sense of “in the middle of” is desired, “as,” “during” or “in” can usually be substituted: “The protests became more violent amid visits from U.N. officials who were investigating claims of human rights abuses/The protests became more violent as U.N. officials were in the country investigating…”

among, between

“Between” is restricted to two choices or two parties. “Among” is for several options or parties. Use “between” in referring to bilateral contacts, e.g., relations between France and Germany. Use “among” for a collective linkage, e.g., “relations among the NATO states.” Be careful to use “between” if there are just two groups to choose from, even though it looks like several, e.g.: “It was hard to decide between a touring holiday in France, Belgium and Spain or in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania” or, “It was hard to decide among a holiday in France, in Belgium or in Spain.”

analysts

Do not use “analysts” alone, but qualify political analysts, stock market analysts.

anchor, anchorman, anchorwoman, co-anchor

Acceptable when referring to the main broadcaster on a radio or television show.

and

Do not start a sentence with “and.”

anniversary

Etymology (“returning annually”) is a reminder to avoid using for “first anniversary” or “one-year anniversary,” six-month anniversaries, etc.

annual meeting

Lowercase. For companies, use “annual meeting,” not “annual general meeting.”

anonymous sources

See the guidelines on sourcing and ethics in the Reuters Handbook.

another

Avoid when you are trying to say “additional” or “extra.” It should be used only when referring to things of the same type, size and number—e.g., “Two teams were at full strength; another two were short of players.”

antennae, antennas

Antennae are insect feelers. Antennas are aerials.

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

ABM Treaty on second reference.

anticipate, expect

Not synonyms. If you anticipate something, you not only expect it but take precautionary action to deal with it.

antitrust

In U.S. and some other jurisdictions, any law or policy designed to encourage competition and curtail monopolies and unfair business practices.

anti-virus, anti-spyware

anxious, eager

“Anxious” means uneasy with fear or desire. Prefer “eager” if the promised experience is desirable. I am anxious about going to the dentist but eager to go the party.

any more, anymore

”Any more” (two words) means “no more”; “anymore” (one word) means “now” or “currently.” e.g., “I do not have any more stories to edit”; “I don’t edit stories anymore.”

APEC

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a forum aimed at promoting regional trade and economic cooperation. The group comprises 21 Pacific Rim countries.

appreciation, depreciation

An increase or decrease in the financial value of an asset such as stocks, bonds, property etc.

April Fools' Day

In English culture, April 1 is a day when practical jokes are played on April fools.

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.

approximately

“About” is shorter and simpler. So is “almost” or “nearly.”

Arab names

Reuters style is to end Arab names in “i” rather than “y” -- e.g., Ali, not Aly; Gaddafi, not Gaddafy. The words “al” and “el” both mean “the.” They are usually in lower-case and followed by a hyphen. (But al Qaeda, al Shabaab). We prefer al- to el- but should use el- if that is how the person spells his or her name in English. In personal names starting al- or el-, include the particle only on first reference, e.g., Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on first reference, thereafter Assad. In place and other names, the particle is retained on second reference, e.g., al-Arish, (the newspaper) al-Akhbar. Particles that go in lowercase are ait (Mohamed ait Atta), bin and bint (Aziza bint Ahmed), ben (Ahmed ben Bella), bar, bou and ould (Moktar ould Daddah). See also sheikh.

arbitrator, arbiter, mediator

An arbitrator or arbiter is appointed to make a decision and hand down a ruling. A mediator tries to produce a compromise agreed to by both parties in a dispute.

Arctic Sea, arctic chill

Uppercase when referring to geography (Arctic Circle); lowercase to describe the cold (arctic wind). Also use uppercase when referring to the weather phenomenon that originates within the Arctic Circle (e.g. Arctic vortex).

Argentina, Argentine

Argentine is the preferred term for the people and culture of Argentina. Avoid “Argentinian” as an adjective.

army

Only capitalise for specific armies: the U.S. Army, the Palestine Liberation Army, the Red Army. Use figures for military units: 1st Army, not First Army.

around

Use “about” for approximation “about 30,” not “around 30.”

arrest

To avoid prejudging the issue, do not write “arrested for murder.” Instead, write “arrested on a charge of murder. See also allege.

as

An overused conjunction, especially in leads, to link two developments that may have only a distant connection and may occur in different time frames, e.g., “Jones issued new threats against Ruritania as Brown considered his options in the region.” Use with restraint, preferably when actions are both contemporaneous and closely linked, e.g., “Brent futures slipped below $108 a barrel as data showing a fall in China's exports added to fears of a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.”

as, like

“As” compares verbs, “like” compares nouns. He fought as a hero should, but he acted like a hero.

Asian subcontinent

Don’t use. Instead, use “South Asia” for the region that includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

at the present time, at this time

Use “now.”

ATM

“ATM machine” is tautologous.

attache

Not a formal title: lowercase.

attorney, attorney general

In American English an attorney is what in British English is called a lawyer. Similarly, the British English term barrister is called a trial attorney in American English. An attorney general is the chief law officer of a country or state. The plural is “attorneys general.” However, for the plural possessive, make it “the attorney generals’ arguments.”

Australian Labor Party

(not Labour)

author

Never “authoress.” Avoid as a verb.

average

Place the word “average” where it correctly qualifies the item or quantity intended. “Reporters drink an average of six cups of coffee a day” -- not “The average reporter drinks six cups of coffee a day”. 



An average is calculated by adding all the constituent parts together and dividing by the number of parts. The average can also be called the mean. There are also the median, or middle value, with the number of values above it is the same as the number below it, and the mode, or the most commonly occurring value.

“Average” takes a singular or plural verb according to what it refers. The average age is 24, but an average of three men die each day.

awakened

Prefer this form to “awoken,” awaked,” “awoke.”

awhile, a while

I will rest awhile, or I will rest for a while.

This page was last modified 21:38, 14 April 2015.

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