habeas corpus

A writ to produce a prisoner before a court, usually used to establish whether the person's detention is legal. When used in stories, define its meaning.


Not an island. It shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.


Refer to it as the Islamist Hamas movement. The word is an acronym for the Arabic words for Islamic Resistance Movement. Useable context on stories about Hamas: "Its leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip but the Islamist group continues to say it will not formally recognise Israel, and its 1988 founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state."


Use the form HAMILTON, Bermuda as a dateline for the Bermudan capital.


Use hydrogen bomb in text unless directly quoting someone. May be used in headlines.


Reuters uses one word but note Associated Press uses two words.

hedge fund

A private investment fund in which institutions and individuals may invest. It typically aims to produce high returns from rapid, short-term market movements, often by taking very leveraged positions and using aggressive strategies such as short selling, swaps, derivatives, program trading and arbitrage.

heavenly bodies

Capitalise the names of planets, stars and constellations.


Convert the heights of mountains, buildings, etc. from metres to feet, not yards.


Avoid using here as a device to locate a story. It can lead to confusion, ambiguity and sometimes error. It is often not necessary to give a locator in a lead paragraph. For instance, in a Budapest-datelined story on a meeting between the Hungarian and French presidents one would assume that they met in the capital unless the story explicitly said otherwise. In that case the reference to the talks being in Budapest could come in the second or third paragraph.


A unit of frequency of one cycle per second. It usually requires explanation. e.g., 16,000 hertz (cycles per second).


Hezbollah (the Party of God) is a Shi’ite Islamist political and military group with a formidable guerilla army. It is backed by Syria and Iran and wields considerable power in Lebanon.


A harmonised index of consumer prices, a measure of inflation calculated under common rules by all EU member states. No need to spell it out, but at some point in the story it should be explained. In Britain, the HICP is known as the CPI, but the two are the same index.


Use “rise” or “increase” when referring to pay, prices, etc. "Hike" is jargon.


Do not use this inadequate word because it risks making a value judgement. Who said what and where and when?


As a noun or adjective refers to those whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country. Be more specific where possible, such as Colombian or Mexican. Note that people from Portuguese-speaking countries are not Hispanic. See race.

Hispanic names

People in Spanish-speaking countries usually include in their full names the family name of their father followed by that of their mother, sometimes linked by y (and), e.g., Ferdinand Maradona Lopez, Pedro Ardiles y Portillo. Give the full name at first reference, but only the father’s family name (Maradona, Ardiles) at second reference, unless the person is normally known by the combination of two names. Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian soccer players may be known by several names, one name, or a nickname. Follow commonly accepted usage, e.g., Pele, Joao Pinto, Edu.

historic, historical

A historic event is a major and dramatic one, a historical event is one which, even if in itself quite minor, is part of history. Historic is nearly always the word needed in Reuters copy but use it with care to avoid writing a cliché.


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 may be used on first reference with the full name given lower in the story. Do not write HIV virus.


Do not use. See Hezbollah.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, the English physician who first described the disease of the lymph nodes. Formerly called Hodgkin's disease. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, spelled without a possessive, is the more common type and spreads rapidly, especially among older people and those with HIV infections.

hoi polloi

Not the hoi polloi. Prefer the masses, or the common people.


Use the Netherlands except in datelines, where it is just Netherlands, e.g. ARNHEM, Netherlands, May 16 …

holy places

The holy places of Islam are Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, in that order. In Mecca the great mosque containing the Kaaba is venerated especially in the annual haj, or pilgrimage. In Medina it is the Prophet Mohammad’s mosque where the founder of the Islamic religion is buried. Nonbelievers are not allowed to enter Mecca or Medina. In Jerusalem it is al-Haram al-Sharif, which Jews call the Temple Mount.

hospitalize, hospitalization

Avoid outside the U.S. Prefer “taken to hospital.”

House of Commons, the Commons

House of Representatives

Capitalise when referring to a specific body, e.g., the U.S. House of Representatives.

housing unit

Jargon. Use home or household.

human being

“Human” will do.


UK/U.S. long = 112 pounds/50.8 kg. U.S. short = 100 pounds/45.4 kg.


A person is hanged if he dies in the process, but he may simply be hung upside down; a picture is hung.


The most severe of all storms is a cyclone, in which winds blow spirally inward toward a centre of low barometric pressure. In the Caribbean and on the east coast of the United States such a storm is called a hurricane. In many countries, meteorological offices give tropical storms the names of men and women in alphabetical sequence. Capitalise names once a hurricane has been so designated: Hurricane Katrina. Use “it,” not “he” or “she,” as the pronoun.


Usage varies widely and many words once hyphenated are now generally written un-hyphenated, e.g. ceasefire, cooperation, gunrunner, machinegun.

Here are some guidelines.

Use a hyphen if its omission might lead to ambiguity, e.g., three year-old horses is different from three-year-old horses. Extra-judicial duties are other than judicial ones; extra judicial duties are additional duties. So not hyphenate an adjective and a noun when they stand alone, e.g. the left wing of the party. If the adjective and the noun are paired to form a new adjective, they are hyphenated, e.g. the left-wing party, a first-class result. Hyphenate compound words when not to do so would result in confusion of meaning, e.g. cross-section, sea-eagle.

Use a hyphen to show that two or more words are to be read together as a single compound word with its own meaning.

When using an adjective and a noun together as an adjective, hyphenate them, e.g. blue-chip shares, high-caste Hindus.

Hyphenate two adjectives or an adjective and a present or past participle when they are paired to form a new adjective, e.g. a dark-blue dress, a good-looking man, a well-tailored suit.

When using an adjective and a past participle of a verb together adjectivally, hyphenate them, e.g. old-fashioned morality, non-tinted spectacles.

When two nouns are paired to form another noun, hyphenate if their original meanings are clearly retained e.g. actor-manager; otherwise do not hyphenate e.g. housekeeper.

When a verb and an adverb are paired to form a noun, hyphenate if the verb ends and the adverb begins with a vowel, e.g. flare-up, cave-in.

Hyphenate numbers and nouns or numbers and adjectives when they are paired to form a new adjective, e.g. a one-armed man, a six-cylinder car. Hyphenate fractions e.g. two-thirds, three-quarters.

Do not hyphenate an adverb and an adjective when they stand alone, e.g. the artist was well known. If the adverb and adjective are paired to form a new adjective, they are hyphenated, e.g. a well-known artist. Do not do so however if the the adverb ends in "-ly" e.g. a poorly planned operation.

If the second element in a word is capitalized, hyphenate, e.g. anti-Semitism (although transatlantic is widely accepted).

If "pre-" or "re-" is followed by an element beginning with "e", hyphenate e.g. pre-pay, re-employ, but there are exceptions e.g. preempt.

If the first element of a word is "non", hyphenate e.g. a non-aggression pact, but there are exceptions, e.g. nonconformist.

Hyphenate titles when the first word is a preposition. e.g. under-secretary, vice-admiral, or when a noun is followed by an adjective. e.g. attorney-general. (But U.S. titles are not hyphenated: the U.S. Attorney General.) But do not hyphenate when the noun follows the adjective, e.g. second lieutenant.

Hyphenate secondary compass points, e.g. south-southwest, but not the main ones, e.g. southwest.

Do not hyphenate adjectives used to form comparatives or superlatives, e.g. the most desirable outcome, the least likely result, the more obvious solution.

Hyphenate both terms in phrases such as short- and medium-range missiles.

This page was last modified 22:33, 20 November 2015.

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