icon; iconic

Noun best used only to describe a religious image; adjective, see clichés.

ld al-Adha, ld al-Fitr

See Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr.


Former French colonies in South East Asia, now divided into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.


Military jargon and abbreviation for Improvised explosive device. IED is acceptable on second reference. Roadside bomb is an alternative.

illegal immigrant

A migrant usually describes a person moving from one region or country to another to seek employment or residence without implying anything about the legalities of such travel.

In the U.S. context, illegal immigrant is the preferred term, not undocumented worker and not illegal alien which is a term peculiar to the U.S. government. Whenever possible, it is better to describe a subject’s individual circumstances or write about them as living in or immigrating to the United States illegally.

By contrast, a refugee usually refers to a person who is forced to leave his home or country to escape persecution, war, or natural disaster. According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, supported by the U.N., a refugee is someone who has fled his or her country “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

In the US, under the proposed DREAM Act (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), or DACA, so called "Dreamers" are young immigrants in the country illegally who were brought to the US as children and are allowed to remain in the country if they meet certain criteria. "Dreamers" is acceptable, but explain the term: "They are commonly referred to as 'Dreamers', based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act."


Do not refer to the child of unmarried parents as illegitimate. If it is relevant to the story at all, use an expression such as "whose parents were unmarried".


Lowercase when describing the official who leads devotions in a mosque. Uppercase when part of an official title.

impact, impacted by

Avoid “impact” as a verb. “Impacted by” is ugly and imprecise, and many readers associate it with the jargon of politicians, financial analysts, military officials and others. Use affected by, or better, helped by or hurt by. Similarly, avoid impacted on and replace with affected, helped, hurt, etc.

imperial gallon, imperial quart

The standard British gallon, equal to 277.42 cubic inches or about 1.2 U.S. gallons. An imperial quart is one fourth of an imperial gallon.

imply, infer

A speaker or writer implies by suggesting indirectly or insinuating. A listener or reader infers by drawing a conclusion by what is said or written.


Specify to whom.

imports from abroad

A tautology. Just imports will do.


A transitive verb that requires an object. Jim Smith impressed selectors, not Smith impressed during his two-hour innings. The passive “was impressive/unimpressive” is permissible but weaker and less informative.

in addition to

“And” will often suffice, or “as well as” or “besides.” Similarly, “in order to” can become “to.”

in connection with

Clumsy and inexact. Did something happen because of something else?

in the past

Often redundant when used with the past tense. An exception might be a reference to the very distant past.


To convert to centimetres, roughly multiply by 5 and divide by 2, precisely multiply by 2.54.

include, comprise

Use “include” only when listing some component parts of a whole: The European Union includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. If listing all the components, use “comprise,” e.g., “Benelux comprises [=consists of] Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.” The phrase “is comprised of” is always wrong. Since the whole comprises the parts, the reverse can’t be true (e.g., “Of the 50 stocks that comprise the index, 40 had gains” is wrong).


Use carefully as definitions vary. Colloquially income can mean receipts from wages, salary, rents, interest, annuities, pensions or investments. In corporate accounting though income usually equates to profits or revenue minus expenses.

incredible, incredulous

Incredible means unbelievable. Incredulous means skeptical.

index, indexes

Use indexes as the plural.


Use carefully as Indian has different meanings in different countries. It can mean a member of any of the peoples native to or inhabiting India. In the Americas, Indian can mean a member of the original people of North or South America. In the US, Native American (capitalised) is preferred, bearing in mind that this includes. American Indian is acceptable. Where possible, be more specific and give the name of the tribe (e.g., Navajo, Cherokee). See race.


Best avoided because it implies subjective interpretation by the correspondent.


Use carefully as indict has different legal meanings depending on the country in question. In the US legal system in particular, to indict means to charge a person or company with some offence. In some countries an indictable offence is only one which in the USA would be called a felony etc. Avoid the suggestion that somebody is being judged without trial. “He was indicted on a charge of robbing,” not, “He was indicted for robbing …”


Colloquialism referring to a film or video or recorded music produced without the support of a major studio or production company. Spell out.


A word used to refer to the original inhabitants of a place. See Race http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=R#race]

indirect (reported) speech

Do not retain the present indicative in indirect or reported speech. Change is to was; are to were; will and shall to would; has and have to had. Thus it is: He said it was ... not he said it is ... There is an exception in the case of lead paragraphs with the source at the end instead of the beginning of the sentence, where to avoid the present indicative would lead to lack of clarity or smack of pedantry. For example, it is acceptable to write in a lead paragraph: Giant Oil Corp will order three supertankers from the Pusan shipyard in Korea next month, the company said. If the source were at the beginning, we would write: Giant Oil Corp said it would order three supertankers from the Pusan shipyard ... It is usually unnecessary to follow said with that.

Indonesian names

Often Indonesians only have one name, e.g., Suharto.

industrial action

Avoid this euphemism. If you mean a strike, say so. If you do not mean a strike, then be specific.

in fact

Can almost always be excised.


Child up to 12 months old.


Persistent upward movement in the general level of prices which reduces consumer purchasing power. Normally the word standing alone refers to a rise in the consumer price index, but it can also refer to wholesale or producer price rises or wages. Normally reported as a percentage change compared to the previous month and as an annual rate. Economists describe two kinds of inflation: "demand pull" created by shortage of products or a rising in borrowing power that fuels consumer spending; and "cost push" created by rising wages or raw material costs which force businesses to raise prices.


A country's physical capital in the form of roads, railways, airports, water supplies, sewage facilities, schools, hospitals which enable businesses to be productive.

injuries, wounds

Wounds are suffered in combat or are inflicted by weapons or war, injuries by accident or criminal attack. Be as specific as possible, e.g., “His right leg was broken,” not “His leg was broken.” Write “His left arm was broken,” not “He suffered an arm fracture.” Use “suffered” rather than “sustained” or “received.”


In the context of legal proceedings, use "not guilty" or "acquitted" which is usually more legally precise.

in order to

As a prepositional phrase, “to” will do.

iPad, iPhone

IPad is a touch-screen tablet computer sold by Apple Inc. Use "tablet" for other brands. Use IPad (initial capital) when the word starts a sentence or headline. IPhone when referring to Apple Inc's smartphone. Use IPhone when the word starts a sentence or headline.

inquire, enquire

Usually inquire and inquiry in American English and enquire and enquiry in British English.

insider trading

Journalists handling economic or business news stories should be aware that insider trading and tipping are criminal offences in many countries. Insider trading is the buying or selling of securities while in possession of material, non-public information. Tipping is the improper disclosure of such information to third parties. The fact that rumors about this information may be circulating does not mean that the information is public until it appears in a major news publication or news agency or an official government or company public record. See Personal Investments by Reuters Journalists [1]

in spite of

Use despite.

international community

Avoid unless it clearly refers to the body of global diplomatic opinion. Be specific, as in the United States and its allies, or Muslim countries.

International Court of Justice

This is the proper title of the World Court in The Hague, which is the main U.N. judicial body. Use the term “World Court” at second reference. The Court has a dual role: to settle international legal disputes submitted to it by states, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by international agencies.


Means deadly or murderous as well as conflict within a group. “Internecine warfare” is tautologous.


internet - no initial capital. The global data communications system comprising hardware and software that connects computers. The World Wide Web consists of content accessed using the internet but is not synonymous with it. The web (no initial capital) is a collection of documents and other resources linked by hyperlinks, or URLs. The internet also carries, for example, email and downloadable software. Also intranet (no initial capital) for a private network inside an organization.

IP address

Internet Protocol address, a numeric address given to a computer connected to the Internet. Traditional IP addresses take the form of four numbers from 0 to 255 connected by dots, as in xx.xx.xx.xx.


All Reuters stories should be written so that the significance of the events is immediately clear to the reader. This must be done without compromising accuracy, sourcing, or fairness. Quotes from sources with vigorous opinions can be woven in to make a lively, even provocative story so long as the story is balanced overall. See also the Reuters guidelines on sourcing [2] and basic story structure [3]


The International Criminal Police Organisation (Lyon, France). Interpol can be used at all references.


Arabic for “uprising.” It is used to describe two Palestinian uprisings against Israeli occupation. The first began in December 1987 and ran roughly until September 1993 when leaders signed an interim accord under which Israel handed over parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestinian self-rule. A second Intifada began in September 2000. Capitalize.


The name used by the people of northern Canada to describe themselves. There are about 56,000 Inuit who live in an area from Labrador to Alaska. The singular is Inuk, the language is Inuktitut.

in vitro fertilization

Creating embryos by mixing eggs and sperm in a lab dish. Do not hyphenate. IVF acceptable on second reference. Avoid "test-tube babies".


Irish Republican Army. May be used alone at first reference from a dateline in the British Isles. If the full name is used on first reference, the initials need not be bracketed in.


The Republic of Ireland with Dublin as it capital. Sometimes referred to as Eire. Do not confuse with Northern Ireland. See [4]

irony, ironic, ironically

An overused word that is often misapplied as it can have several meanings. Use with care. Irony involves using words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.

But sometimes the word and its adjective and adverb are misused to mean "unexpected" or "coincidental" or "mocking" or "scornful". Compare "sardonic".


An adjective used to describe the culture, art, architecture, music or finance associated with the religion of Islam. Adherents of the religion are usually described by the adjective Muslim though. An Islamic state is a country ruled by Islamic law (sharia). A Muslim country is one whose population is predominantly Muslim.

Islamic State (IS)

Reuters uses Islamic State on first reference and IS on second reference, and avoids ISIS and ISIL. Islamic State refers to the Islamic militant organization that broke with the al Qaeda network in 2013 and took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, where in 2014 it declared a caliphate, a traditional form of Islamic rule. It is largely made up of Sunni militants from Iraq and Syria but has drawn jihadi fighters from across the Muslim world and Europe.

The group was originally known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and is sometimes also referred to by its Arabic acronym Da'ish or Daesh from "ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi'l-Iraq wa-sh-Sham", but on June 29, 2014 the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and renamed itself "ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah" or Islamic State (IS).


A person or organisation advocating a political ideology based on Islam. Islamist is not a pejorative term. Few Islamists advocate violence to achieve their goals. Describe those who do as militant Islamists, or Islamic fighters.

Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al Qaeda-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Koran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadis.

Israeli names

Use ch rather than h in transliterating Israeli names into English, e.g., Chaim, not Haim. Use the h form only if we know it is the individual’s personal preference.

its, it’s

Avoid the contraction unless quoting someone. “Its” as a possessive pronoun is often superfluous, e.g., “The company is trying to reduce its debt and plans to sell its less-profitable assets.”  

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