Capitalise only when referring to a specific government grouping of senior government ministers, heads of department or presidential advisers.


Use Kolkata


The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS is the official abbreviation used by the fund); also California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS)

can't, cannot

Spell out in full in most cases, unless in a quote or a blog or column. The same applies to don't and do not, didn't and did not etc, to avoid potential confusion with non-alpha numeric characters.

canvas, canvass

Canvas is heavy cloth. Canvass is a noun and a verb denoting a survey.

capable, capability

Usually verbose. Write that an aircraft can carry 300 passengers, not that the aircraft is capable of carrying 300 passengers. “The United States can launch...,” not “The United States has the capability to launch.”

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Formerly Cape Kennedy. The John F. Kennedy Space Center located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) principal launch site. Kennedy Space Center is acceptable in all references. For datelines on launch stories: CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida

capital, Capitol

The capital is the seat of government for a city or town; use Capitol for the building where Congress or state legislatures meet.

capital account

See capital account.


academic, aristocratic, military and religious titles: Capitalise when they accompany a personal name, otherwise use lower case, e.g., Professor John Smith, Admiral Horatio Nelson, but "the history professor", "the admiral".

acronyms: See acronyms. When an acronym is made up of initial letters that are themselves capitalised, then capitalise each letter, e.g., NATO for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But if they acronym is formed from initial syllables rather than letters, then capitalise only the first letter, e.g., Aramco for Arabian American Oil Company.

armed forces:' Normally used lower case for the armed services used generically, e.g., U.S. army, British navy, French air force. Capitalise specific official names though such as Royal Air Force, the Canadian Forces and the Luftwaffe. See also army.

astronomy: Capitalise the names of heavenly bodies such as the Great Bear, Orion, Jupiter, Mercury, but not the sun, moon and earth (except in a phrase such as Mother Earth or Planet Earth or when listing Earth among the planets).

corporate, organisational titles: Usually generic titles are not capitalised, e.g. managing director John Smith, chief executive Joe Bloggs, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

drugs: Capitalise Ecstasy and the names of other synthetic drugs but generics like opium, marijuana, heroin are not capitalised.

geographical and geological names: Capitalise, apart from particles, articles and compass references not forming part of the proper name, e.g., North Korea but north London; the Nile Delta but the delta of the Nile, the Upper Pleistocene, the Lower East Side of New York but the lower east bank of the river. However: the Bermuda Triangle, the Triangle.

geopolitical: Capitalise nouns and adjectives with a geographic origin but used politically, such as Western influence, the North-South divide, the West, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia.

government officials: Capitalise the official title when it immediately precedes a person’s name. When when a title is used generically and follows the name or is used alone, use lowercase, e.g.: French Foreign Minister Jean Blanc; Jean Blanc, the French foreign minister; in the US the wife of the president is known as the first lady (no caps).

government bodies: Treat government bodies as proper names and capitalise them when they are an integral part of a specific name. Do not capitalise when unspecific, as in plurals or standing alone: “the Israeli Foreign Ministry” or “the Foreign Ministry said Israel would...,” but “The ministry added …”; “the Australian Parliament,” but “the Australian and New Zealand parliaments”; "the French Embassy" but "the embassy".

hyphenated titles: When a hyphenated title is capitalised, capitalise both parts: Lieutenant-General John Smith.

legislative bodies: Capitalise the official names of legislative bodies such as Parliament, Senate, the Diet. When used in the plural, lowercase: the Norwegian and Danish parliaments.

nicknames: Treat them as proper names when they refer to a specific person or thing: the Iron Lady; Silvio Berlusconi, nicknamed Cavaliere (Knight).

politics: 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: “The communist part of the former Soviet Bloc”; “the settlement was run on communist principles”; “he proposed a democratic vote.” But “the Communist Party of what was then East Germany.”

proper names: Common nouns that normally have no initial capital are capitalised when they are an integral part of the full name of a person, organisation or thing, e.g., Queen Elizabeth, the Sultan of Brunei, the River Thames. These nouns are normally lowercase if they stand alone or in the plural, e.g., the queen, the Malaysian sultan, down the river. But former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, former Managing Director John Brown. Do not risk ambiguity, e.g., “the Speaker told the House of Commons.” Retain the capital also when the person remains specific because there is only one or because he or she is preeminent, e.g., the Dalai Lama, the Pontiff, the Virgin Mary.

proper nouns: Capitalise words that uniquely identify a particular person or thing: Mount Everest, the 7th Fleet. Lowercase articles and particles used as auxiliaries in names like Charles de Gaulle. Keep the capital on words that still derive their meaning from a proper noun, e.g., Marxist, Shakespearean. Do not keep it when the connection with the proper noun is remote, e.g., arabic numerals, herculean.

publications: No quotation marks around the title. Whatever the masthead says, do not capitalise articles and particles in the names of English-language newspapers and magazines, e.g., the New York Times, the News of the World. Where non-English language newspapers begin with a word meaning “the, capitalise: O Globo/Le Monde/Die Welt.

books, films, plays, poems, operas, songs, TV-radio shows, works of art, video/computer games, apps: Capitalise every word in the title apart from conjunctions, articles, particles and prepositions of fewer than four letters: “The Mill on the Floss”; “All About Eve.”

quotes: A quote that follows a colon begins with a capital. “Guzhenko said: ‘The conference has ignored the principle of equality.’”

religion: Names of divinities are capitalised, but unspecific plurals are lowercase: Allah, the Almighty, but the gods, the lords of the universe. Capitalise religious titles when they immediately precede a personal name, otherwise lowercase, e.g., Bishop Thaddeus Smith, Dean Robert Jones, but the bishop, the dean, the pope. Use only the simplest and best-known titles on first reference: the Rev. Jesse Jackson rather than the Right Rev. John Smith.

Capitalise names of denominations and religious movements, e.g., Baptist, Buddhist, Church of England, Muslim, Orthodox. The pope is head of the Roman Catholic Church, but he would celebrate mass in a Roman Catholic church (that is, a building). See religious terms.

sports events: Uppercase for titles of events: French Open tennis championships, the Olympic Games (Summer/Winter Games), the Belgian Grand Prix.

carat, caret, karat

The weight of precious stones, especially diamonds, is expressed in carats. A carat is equal to 200 milligrams or about 3 grains. A caret is a writer’s and a proofreader’s mark. The proportion of pure gold used with an alloy is expressed in karats.

Carnival, Mardi Gras

Capitalize when referring specifically to the revelry in many Roman Catholic countries preceding Lent. Otherwise, a carnival is lowercase. Also known as Mardi Gras, the term describes a day of merrymaking on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In New Orleans and many Roman Catholic countries, the Tuesday celebration is preceded by a week or more of parades and parties.


Capitalized, it is the trademark name for a brand of earth-moving tractor. The formal name of the company is Caterpillar Inc. Headquarters is in Peoria, Illinois. Not to be confused with the caterpillar which is the the wormlike larva of a butterfly or a moth.

Catholic, Catholicism

Catholic, Catholicism. Use Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic or Roman Catholicism in the first references for those who believe that the pope, as bishop of Rome, has the ultimate authority in administering an earthly organization founded by Jesus Christ. Roman Catholic should continue to be used though when the context requires a distinction between Roman Catholics and members of other denominations who often describe themselves as Catholic. They include some high church Episcopalians or Anglicans, who often call themselves Anglo-Catholics, members of Eastern Orthodox churches, and members of some national Catholic churches that have broken with Rome. Those who use Catholic in a religious sense are indicating their belief that they are members of a universal church. Lowercase catholic where used in its generic sense of general or universal, meanings derived from a similar word in Greek.


As a verb, prefer “warn.” Do not write, e.g., “He cautioned that war was imminent.”

ceasefire, to cease fire

Noun and adjective. The verb is cease fire.

CD, compact disc

Spell out on first reference.

celibacy, chastity

Celibacy is the unmarried state, particularly under the force of a vow. Chastity is abstention from sexual activity. You can be celibate but not chaste, but you usually need to be either a celibate or a virgin in order to be chaste.


Originally a trademark, now generic term for the transparent wrapping material


Cellphone (one word) or smartphone (one word) or mobile phone are all acceptable.

Celsius (Centigrade)

Express in Celsius (the same scale as Centigrade) and Fahrenheit, using the scale of the country involved first, with conversion in parentheses. Spell out on first reference, using figures except for zero, abbreviating to C and F subsequently, e.g., 25 Celsius, 80F. Spell out minus for clarity, not -10C. Freezing point in Celsius is 0 degrees, in Fahrenheit 32 degrees. Note that temperatures are not hot or cold but high or low.

cement, concrete

Cement is just one constituent of concrete. Use concrete block, not cement block.

censer, censor, censure

A censer is a container in which incense is burned. To censor is to prohibit or restrict the use of something. To censure is to criticise or condemn.


An official enumeration of the population, with details as to age, sex, occupation. Lowercase: the census data was released Tuesday. Capitalize only in specific references to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Use Celsius.


Spell out; do not use the cents symbol..

centimetre, centimeter

Use cm (no full stops) on all references. Centimetre in British English, centimeter in American English

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Public Health Service national agencies based in Atlanta. Note the plural.

Central America

The strip of land between Mexico and Colombia. The countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

Central Asia

The region includes Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Central Intelligence Agency

Usually refers to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. CIA is acceptable in all references.The formal title for the individual who heads the U.S. CIA is director of central intelligence.


Spell out the word cents and lowercase, using numerals for amounts less than a dollar: 5 cents, 12 cents. Use the $ sign and decimal system for larger amounts: US$1.01, US$2.50.


Spell out numbers one to nine, write 10 and above in figures - ninth century, 20th century (no capital letter)


Especially in American usage, chief executive officer of a company, chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Use chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer on first reference. In other countries that use English, the CEO is often called the managing director, the CFO is often called the treasurer.

chain saw

Two words. The power saw, usually portable, used for cutting trees or lumber.

chairman, chairwoman

Not chairperson or chair unless requested (Janet Yellen has asked to be called “chair” of the Federal Reserve).

character, reputation

Character refers to moral or other qualities. Reputation refers to the way a person is regarded or perceived by others.

charge off

Two words. Usually a loan that is not expected to be repaid or other valueless financial asset that is written off for accounting purposes.


An overused word. Very few people have a spiritual gift or personality that gives them influence over large numbers of people.

chauvinist, chauvinism

An unreasoning devotion to one’s race, sex, country, etc., with contempt for other races, sexes, countries, etc.

cheap, low

Prices are low, not cheap.

check-in, checkout

Following the general rule that a compound noun is one word and the associated verb is two words, write checkout (noun) but to check out (verb). Compound nouns ending with “in” are hyphenated, though, so write check-in as a noun; the corresponding verb is to check in (ditto break-in but to break in, for example).

As a noun, check-in usually refers to entering a building or registering on a website and checkout is the reverse process. In American English in particular, checkout is also the process of paying for one's goods in a store or paying and vacating a hotel room. In British English, as a noun the checkout is often called a cashier.


Not Madras.


Special care should be taken with regard to publishing the names of juveniles involved in crimes, or of people who may have been the victims of sexual assault or other abuse. Privacy laws in some countries may determine whether the person's name can be published. Generally, Reuters does not identify juveniles (under 18) who are accused of crimes or transmit images that would reveal their identity. However, a senior editor may authorize exceptions.


Refers to the nation that includes the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. Use China in mainland datelines with lesser known cities, for example CHONGQING, China, but BEIJING stands alone; HONG KONG and MACAU also stand alone in datelines. See also "one China" policy.

Chinese names

Use the Pinyin transliteration of Chinese names from China. Thus, Guangdong (not Canton), Beijing (not Peking), Mao Zedong (not Mao Tsetung), Zhou Enlai (not Chou Enlai). However, where there are traditional alternatives that are not Chinese, e.g., Kashgar, Khotan, Tibet (and its cities of Lhasa and Shigatse), Urumqi, use these. Mainland Chinese do not hyphenate the given name, e.g., Deng Xiaoping. Taiwan Chinese do, with the second part in lowercase, e.g., Chiang Kai-shek. In both cases, use only the surname at second reference, e.g., Deng, Chiang.


Write “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus” on first reference and usually Jesus thereafter. Use “Christ” on second reference only in the context of Christian theology, i.e., in phrases such as "body and blood of Christ" that are clearly taken from Christian beliefs. See Jesus Christ.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Use Mormon Church unless the story is specifically about the Church’s affairs.


The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. As with the FBI, CIA is acceptable in all references. The civilian intelligence service of the U.S. Government, tasked with gathering, processing and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and his Cabinet. Compare NSA.


Speakers who confuse length with profundity are only too prone to use long-winded phraseology. Journalists are under no obligation to follow their example. Occasionally, if it occurs in a key quotation, you have to retain a circumlocution, e.g. ' the president said: "At this moment in time, our bombers are headed for Ruritania." In general however you should turn indirect speech and all those rhetorical flourishes of the pompous into decent prose.

For example: Adjacent to..... next to; prior to.. before; as a result of.. because; got under way... began; in consequence of.. because of; in the first instance... first; owing to the fact that... because; he himself.. he; end result.. result; at the side of.. beside; each and every.. every; horns of a dilemma... dilemma; pre-planned... planned; weather conditions...weather; went to the polls.. voted; is capable of... can; conducted a search operation.. searched, etc.


For U.S. cities that can stand alone, see U.S. datelines.

citizen, national, subject, native, resident

A citizen is a person who has acquired the full civil rights of a nation either by birth or legal naturalization. A national is applied to a person residing away from the nation of which he or she is a citizen. A subject is a person under the rule of a monarch. Native denotes a person born in a given location. A resident is anyone who lives in a particular geography regardless of whether they are legally a citizen, or a subject or a native etc.

civil cases, criminal cases

In some legal jurisdictions, a civil case is one in which an individual, business or government seeks monetary compensation or damages or relief from another party. Civil actions generally involve a charge that a contract has been breached or that someone has been wronged or injured. By contrast, a criminal case is one that the state or the federal government brings against an individual charged with committing a crime defined as such by law for which the penalties may vary from a fine, or prison sentence etc.

civil war

usually a war between political factions or regions within the same country.


Use of this word suggests the writer does not believe the statement in question. Prefer “said.” It is acceptable to say that a guerrilla organisation claimed responsibility for carrying out an attack. Do not say that it claimed credit.

clichés, euphemisms, jargon, overused words

If it’s the word or phrase you think of automatically, it’s probably hackneyed. Try to become self-conscious about over-used words and think about synonyms instead. Try to use a more specific comparison rather than a vague metaphor. Check a thesaurus for alternatives. Some generic chestnuts:

announcements, events: came out and said, lashed out, slammed, poised to, set to, continued to, etc

comparisons: giant, major, massive, key, landmark, marathon, ground breaking, gruelling, hard-fought, iconic, last-ditch, prestigious, bombshell, explosive chaotic etc; try to use more specific comparatives - biggest, second largest, best, least popular etc

data and markets: slash, hike, sweeping panic, turmoil, turbulent, bottom line, crunch the numbers, continued, doubled down; how about cut, raised, volatile, net profit, calculated etc ?

disasters: mercy mission, rushed to hospital, massive aid, an air and sea search was under way, disaster probe, sifted through the wreckage.

meetings, talks: key talks, last-ditch, hammer out, face-to-face talks, key issues, rubber-stamp parliament, top-level meeting, spear headed a major initiative, took the helm, magic bullet, green light, led the charge, going forward.

violence: crisis, lone gunman, strongman, strife-torn province, embattled city, baton-wielding police, stone-throwing demonstrators, police swoop, pre-dawn raid, staged an attack on, anti-government rebels (tautological), armed soldiers (ditto).

climate change, global warming

The terms climate change and global warming are often used interchangeably. Climate change is more accurate scientifically to describe the various effects of greenhouse gases on the world because it includes extreme weather, storms and changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and sea levels. But global warming as a term is more common and understandable to the public. Though some public officials and laymen and only a few climate scientists disagree, the world's scientific organizations say that the world's climate is changing because of the buildup of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Since 1900, the global average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This has been accompanied by warming of the ocean, a rise in sea level, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and many other associated climate effects. Much of this warming has occurred in the last four decades. To describe those who don't accept climate science or dispute the world is warming from man-made forces, use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science. Avoid use of skeptics or deniers.

clinical death, clinically dead

These terms have different legal definitions in different countries so try to avoid them and use a medical description. The same caution applies to brain death and brain dead.

close proximity

Replace with close to or near.

closed shop

In some legal jurisdictions, a closed shop or a union shop results from an agreement between a union and an employer that requires workers to be members of a union before they may be employed. In the U.S., a a right-to-work state is one in which contracts requiring workers to join a union are prohibited.

closely held corporation, private company

In some legal jurisdictions, a corporation in which stock shares and voting control are concentrated in the hands of a small number of investors, but for which some shares are available and traded on the market. Sometimes called a private company, as opposed to a public company.

cloture, closure

The term in some countries for the parliamentary on congressional procedure for closing debate. Not closure. Whenever practical, use a phrase such as closing debate or ending debate instead of the technical term.

cloud computing

The use of remote servers that can be accessed online for the storage of data and the use of related computing services.

Cold War

Capitalize when referring specifically to the post-World War II rivalry between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

collateral, collateralized debt obligations, collateral damage

Assets that a borrower is obliged to turn over to a lender if unable to repay a loan can be called collateral. Debts, including bonds or mortgages, that are packaged or bundled and resold to investors are sometimes referred to as a collateralized debt obligation or CDO.

In war reporting, avoid collateral damage unless in direct quotes as it is only a euphemism for dead civilians.

collective nouns

Most collective nouns and names of countries, governments, organisations and companies are followed by singular verbs, since they are singular entities. When a collective noun conveys the sense of a plural (the emphasis is on the individuals), use a plural verb, and vice-versa: “The couple were apart over the holidays”; “the couple was on holiday.”


Beware of the legal danger of imputing blame in a collision, but avoid clumsy phraseology such as, “The Danish freighter was in collision with the German tanker.” Better to write, “The Danish freighter and the German tanker collided.”

Only two moving objects can collide. It is wrong therefore to write, “The ferry collided with the jetty.” “Hit” is enough.

collusion, collaboration

Collusion is to act together to deceive. Do not use it when you mean “collaboration” or “cooperation.”


Using a colon before directly quoting a complete sentence is acceptable.

Use a colon a signal that you are about to list things mentioned earlier in the sentence, e.g., "these were: three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree".

Put the word following a colon in lower case unless the next word is a proper noun, a direct quotation or the beginning of a sentence.


Use for a man or a woman. Not comedienne.

"comfort women"

The term “comfort women” is a direct translation of the Japanese euphemism for women who were forced into prostitution and sexually abused at Japanese military brothels before and during World War Two. Japan acknowledged military involvement and apologized to these women in 1993, but some in that nation want that statement to be renounced. The term “comfort women” should only be used in quotes, and on the first reference should be followed by an explanation that it is a euphemism. These women were referred to as “sex slaves” in a 1996 U.N. report, and that is a term that should also be avoided in favor of a direct description of what happened to these women – as in the first sentence above – and the controversy over the role of Japan’s wartime government and military in this issue.


Do not over-punctuate, especially with commas. Any sentence studded with commas could probably benefit from a rewrite.

Use commas as a guide to sense, to break a sentence into logically discrete parts, but do not use them to the extent that they break the flow of the sentence.

Use commas to mark off words and phrases that are in apposition to other words, or to define other words or phrases, e.g., "Rolan Dumas, French foreign minister, said...", "Rudolf Nureyev, most prominent of the defectors from the Bolshoi, has danced..."

Use commas to mark off a clause that is not essential to the meaning of a sentence, e.g., "the airliner, which was seven years old, crashed". But a clause that cannot be removed from a sentence without affecting its meaning is not marked off by commas, e.g., "The airliner that crashed on Thursday was seven years old whereas the plane lost the previous day was new".

Use commas to separate items in a list, e.g., "cheese, fruit, wine and coffee", or "Smith despised ballet, hated the theater and was bored by opera". Note that there is normally no comma before the final "and" ( the so-called serial or Oxford comma). 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".

As in the sentence above, a comma follows an initial "However".

A comma is often needed before "and" or "but" in the middle of a compound sentence to make clear where the new clause begins. "They gave the prize to Jones and his wife, and the family was delighted" is very different from "They gave the prize to Jones, and his wife and family were delighted". But no comma is needed when both or all parts of a compound sentence have the same subject, e.g., "They gave the first prize to Jones and the second prize to his wife".

Use a comma to clarify dates, e.g., “On April 2, 2013, protesters gathered in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, to protest the ruling.”

Use a comma between direct quotations and what introduces or follows them, e.g., “He addressed the matter of intervention by saying, ‘We do not intend to make a move now.’” Similarly, before direct but unquoted questions incorporated within sentences: “The unspoken question was, By what criteria did they predict the outcome?”


Use “begin” or “start.”

commercial paper

A short-term debt issued by companies for working capital, typically with 90 days duration.


A communique is an official announcement. It is tautological to write “an official communique.” “Statement” is usually better.


Lowercase except when referring to the party, e.g., Communist-ruled Cuba.

company names

When writing about a company, provide the full legal company name as listed on national exchanges or in US SEC filings (including Co, Inc, Ltd, etc) on first reference, not necessarily the name the company uses in press release or websites, or how it is listed in the Reuters company name search.

Where this would be clumsy, e.g., if several companies are named together in a lead paragraph, the full legal name may be given at second reference. Give the name in its original language if that language uses Latin characters, unless the company has a preference for its English name.

In general, after a reference to the full legal name, observe the spelling, capitalisation and punctuation used by the company, including apostrophes, hyphens and slashes (e.g., A/S), but use standard abbreviations to indicate what type of company (Co, Inc, etc.). Don’t use points (full stops) after those. Do not use all-capital-letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced: BMW. Others should be uppercase and lowercase: Ikea, not IKEA; USA Today, not USA TODAY.

Eliminate exclamation points from company names, such as Yahoo! and Yum!

Keep lowercase in company names except at the start of a sentence, where eBay becomes EBay.

The following abbreviations show the kinds of registered companies. When such abbreviations come at the end of a company name, they are not preceded by a comma.

AB Aktiebolaget

AG Aktiengesellschaft

A/S Aktieselskabet

Cie Compagnie

Co Company

Cos Companies

Corp Corporation

GmbH Gesellschaft mit beschaenkter Haftung

Inc Incorporated

KK Kabushiki Kaisha (joint stock company)

Ltd Limited

Plc Public limited company

Pty Proprietary

SpA Societa per Azioni

YK Yugen Kaisha (Ltd.)

company titles

Capitalise corporate titles, e.g., “Company Chairman John Smith,” not “Company chairman John Smith.”

compared to, compared with

Compare as a verb is used with an object to examine two or more objects, ideas, people, etc. in order to note similarities and differences, for example, “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?” (Shakespeare). Compare as a verb without an object, for example "Marlowe's plays cannot compare with Shakespeare's."

compass points

See directions.

complement, compliment

Complement is a noun and a verb denoting completeness, for example, "The team has has a complement of 20 people" or "the scarf complements her dress". Compliment is a noun or a verb that denotes praise or courtesy, for example, "The teacher complimented the students". 


Use only when listing all the component parts of a whole, e.g., “Benelux comprises Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.” Do not write “comprised of.” If listing only some components use “include,” e.g., “The European Union includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.”


If you mean “to make worse,” say so.

compound adjectives

Use hyphens when the first adjective modifies the second, and not the noun: “first-quarter earnings.” If an adverb and an adjective are used together in an adjectival phrase, there is no hyphen, e.g., “a closely followed competition,” since an adverb can’t modify a noun, so no ambiguity is possible (the thought behind the general rule). See hyphenation.


Prefer “about.”


Vague. Use more specific terms if possible, e.g., “war,” clash,” “dispute.”


Distinguish between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and the neighbouring Congo Republic. In most stories, only one Congo is involved, so subsequent references can be made simply to Congo or Congolese. In stories about the Democratic Republic of Congo, the acronym DRC may be used in brackets at first mention and can stand alone at later references.

Congress, congressional

Capitalise “Congress” when it is part of the name of an official body. Keep “congressional” lowercase unless it is part of the formal title of an official body.


General consensus is tautological, as is consensus of opinion because consensus means either unanimity or a general trend of opinion.


Use “because” rather than “as a consequence of.”


Lowercase unless referring to a specific political organisation.


Avoid. Define by size; show the reader why something is considerable.


Not “consult with.”

contempt of court

A story that could be held to interfere with the course of justice may give rise to an action for contempt of court in some countries. Danger areas include: allegations that a judge or court may have been motivated by bias; comments on the likely guilt or innocence of an accused person before a verdict is reached (e.g., a reference to a man not yet convicted as "the murderer"); reporting on an accused's previous convictions while a trial is in progress; disregarding reporting restrictions on court proceedings (e.g. juvenile or rape cases); reporting of confessions by the accused. Usually though any accurate and fair report on public legal proceedings published contemporaneously is not considered in contempt of court. If in doubt, mark stories ATTENTION EDITOR for legal checks.

continual, continuous

Continual means frequent and repeated; continuous means uninterrupted.


Use only in quotes, personal columns or more colloquial narratives. Avoid in headlines unless licence to play is appropriate, or if in quote.


One contrasts something with, not to, something else. But it’s permissible to write either “in contrast to” or “in contrast with.”


Avoid. Spell out what is controversial and let the reader decide.


Convert currencies into U.S. dollars, and turn imperial weights and measures into metric equivalents and vice versa. Give the local unit in the country of origin first and then the conversion in parentheses. Never give the dollar equivalent without first giving the local currency figure. 

If a figure for speed, distance, weight, etc., is approximate, the conversion should also be approximate. Write “a 2,000-lb (900-kg) bomb,” not “a 2,000-lb (907-kg) bomb.” Do not give a conversion to more decimal places than are given in the original figure. 

Conversions are a fertile source of errors: Double-check them.

conversions in sports writing

See conversions in sports writing.

convince, persuade

You convince people of something and persuade them to do something. You do not convince someone to do something.


Use helicopter.

corporate America

Not Corporate America.

===counsel, council Counsel is advice, a counsellor is one who advises. A council is a group appointed or elected to take counsel and make decisions.

coup d'etat

The word coup is acceptable for short.

Court of St. James’s

The place to which ambassadors are posted in Great Britain.


Hyphenated. An action or means of concealing or preventing investigation or exposure.


courts-martial (pl.)


Acceptable on second reference for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

credit default swaps, CDS

A contract in which the parties exchange exposure to loss, usually in debt markets, should a creditor fail to make a payment, and thus effectively a form of insurance against default. CDS is acceptable on second reference.

credit ratings

Credit ratings measure a borrower's creditworthiness and provide an international framework for comparing the credit quality of issuers and rated debt securities. Ratings are provided by agencies including Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch. Use the exact combination of letters, upper- and lower-case and/or numbers that each of the rating agencies use, and use the word "plus" or "minus" spelled out in full instead of the "+" or "-" signs to avoid typos and alphanumeric problems with some keyboards. For example, Standard & Poor’s uses AAA, AA+, and AA-. In Reuters style, these would be written AAA, AA-plus or AA-minus. Moody's uses Aaa, Aa1, Aa3. In Reuters style, these would be written Aaa, Aa1 or Aa3. Fitch uses 'AAA', 'AA+', 'AA-' . In Reuters style, these would be written AAA, AA-plus or AA-minus.


A gradual increase in loudness. It is wrong to write that something “reached a crescendo,” which is a probable confusion with reached a climax.


A Black Sea peninsula annexed from Ukraine by Russia in March 2014. The international community has refused to recognize the Russian annexation. The dateline should be Crimea, without reference to Ukraine or Russia: SIMFEROPOL, Crimea.

crisis, crises

Try to avoid. It means a turning point or the stage in events at which the trend of all future events is determined. Overused. A crisis cannot grow or deepen. It just is.

crop year

Take care with crop-year dates because the old crop can be harvested and the new crop planted in the same year. To refer to the 2002 crop can be ambiguous. Commodity producers sometimes have marketing years for produce that differ from the crop year. In such cases, spell out which year is referred to and when each starts and ends.

crowd estimates

All crowd estimates should be sourced, preferably to an official competent to make the estimate or an authority whose responsibility is crowd control.

crown currency

Use this for the Nordic currencies, not kroner, kronor or kronur.


A cliché best avoided. Show the reader why something is crucial and to whom.


Refers to a faith group far from the religious mainstream, implying a charismatic leader and possibly extreme views. Use very carefully.


One word, do not capitalise. Digital tokens created and managed using complex encryption techniques and traded using peer-to-peer technology usually with no central authority or government to control either their production, distribution or value. They are available to buy and sell online and typically use the ‘blockchain’ distributed ledger system that keeps track of all transactions.

CT scan, CAT scan

CT scan or CAT scan. Computerized tomography, or a method of making multiple X-ray images of the body or parts of the body and using a computer to construct cross-sectional views. CT scan or CAT scan acceptable on second reference.

currency movements

Currencies traded on free markets are said to rise or fall, or appreciate or depreciate.

Currency movements that result from deliberate government policy changes are usually referred to as devaluations or revaluations.

Reports of currency devaluations/revaluations should give both the old and new rates against the U.S. dollar or relevant benchmark, the percentage changes, and reasons for the changes.

Remember that the percentage change in the currency can be expressed both domestically (the change in how much of the local currency is needed to buy US dollars) and internationally (the change in how many US dollars it now costs to buy local currency) and the percentage changes will differ as a result.


Unless comparing the present with the past, the word is usually redundant, as in, “The United States currently has 20,000 troops in Ruritania.”


Introduced into English in 1948 by the US mathematician, Norbert Wiener, who coined the word cybernetics.

Cyber was originally a stand alone adjective, meaning relating to or involving computers or computer networks.

But when an adjective regularly becomes associated with a particular noun, the English language tends to evolve in favor of a compound noun.

So for example: cyber marketplace, cyber commerce, cyber crime, cyber citizen, cyber cash, cyber terrorism, cyber surfer, cyber bullying, cyber intelligence, cyber warfare.

But the compound noun: cybersecurity, cyberspace, cybercurrency, cyberattack


In American English "czar", in British English often "tsar". Only capitalize when used as a the formal title for the historical ruler of Russia and some other Slavic nations. Colloquially, some government officials are dubbed "czar" and maybe referred to as such if the context demands, but the term is overused. For example, "the White House drug czar" but the full title of the position is preferable.

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