Not Nanking, China.


the U.s. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In headlines or on first reference, the abbreviation NASA is acceptable for readability, but spell out in full on second reference. See www.nasa.gov

National Guard

Capitalise when used as a title especially for U.S. or state forces - the National Guard, Kansas National Guard, the Iraqi National Guard etc.

national security adviser

Not an official title: lowercase.


Rarely necessary in the phrase nationwide broadcast. If a head of state or government goes on television or radio we can assume the broadcast is nationwide. Specify if it is not.

Native American

The preferred term, bearing in mind that it includes, for example, Inuit, who are not Indians. American Indian is acceptable. Where possible, be more specific and give the name of the tribe (e.g., Navajo, Cherokee). For Canadian usage, see race.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The initials may be used by themselves at first reference with the full name given lower in the story.

nautical mile

1,852 metres or 1.1515 statute miles. Do not convert the nautical mile used for fishing limits, by ships when reporting distances at sea and by NASA and others reporting space shots. If using nautical miles in space stories, make this clear in text. See also knot.


International style is to capitalize if the word appears in the formal title, the British Navy or the Royal Navy, otherwise lower case. In American style, capitalise for U.S. Navy, lower case for other navies.


In text write the Netherlands, in datelines omit the article, e.g. ARNHEM, Netherlands, May 16.

neutral verbs

The verb "to say" is usually the safest, neutral choice in reporting a statement or speech. "Alleged", "claimed", or "maintained" could imply doubt on Reuters part and while "noted", "pointed out", or "emphasized" might imply Reuters editorial support. Avoid "concede" which could imply an implication of guilt; prefer "acknowledge".

news conference

Preferred to press conference, unless broadcast journalists and photographers have been excluded

newspaper titles

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 names of some non-English language newspapers begin with a word meaning “the.” In such cases keep the capital: O Globo, Le Monde, Die Welt.

New Year

New Year's, New Year's Day, New Year's Eve , Happy New Year


Use a nickname instead of a given name if that is the preference of the individual concerned, e.g., Tiger Woods.


See entry on Muslim dress.

Nobel Prize

Capitalize Nobel and Prize. Lowercase prize when not linked with the word Nobel: The peace prize was awarded Monday.


Hereditary British nobility consists, in descending order of precedence, of dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons. A few women are hereditary countesses or baronesses in their own right. Life peers, whose titles die with them, are also barons. the nobility are collectively known as peers and peeresses, not lords, although the upper house of the British Parliament is known as the House of Lords. If a well-known person is made a life peer or peeress, you may use their given names at first reference: Lord David Owen and Owen in subsequent references. Dukes get their full title at first reference, e.g., the Duke of Norfolk; second reference Norfolk or the duke. Never Lord Norfolk. His wife is the Duchess of Norfolk, the duchess, never Lady Norfolk. Refer to all other peers simply as Lord So-and-So, whatever their precise title, and to their wives as Lady So-and-So. But more formal titles may also be used if desired, e.g., the Marquis of Zetland, Earl Cawdor, Viscount Boyd. Barons, whether hereditary or life peers, are always Lord So-and-So. At second reference, simply So-and-So, Zetland, Cawdor, Boyd. Hereditary or life peers are always Lord So-and-So. At second reference, simply So-and-So, Zetland, Cawdor, Boyd. The wife of an earl is a countess, of a viscount a viscountess and of a marquis a marchioness. The children of dukes and marquises and the daughters of earls have the courtesy title of lord or lady before their first names. Do not use the Honourable or the Hon. before the names of the untitled sons of peers. Baronets (whose titles are hereditary) and knights (whose titles die with them) are known as Sir, e.g., Sir Reginald Barnett. At second reference Barnett. However, if you had to distinguish between him and his wife, use Sir Reginald and Lady Barnett, respectively. If he is a government minister, the preferred style is Sir Reginald Barnett, British health minister, not British Health Minister Sir Reginald Barnett. His wife would be Lady Barnett, whether he was a baronet or a knight. A dame, equivalent to a knight, is a woman honoured in her own right. At first reference, Dame Judi Dench, then Dench. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is married to the Duchess of Cambridge—no longer Kate Middleton. Their son is Prince George.


As the subject, may take a singular or plural verb, depending on sense. “None was able to help me” means not a single person was able; “None were able” means not any of them were.

Nordic countries

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Scandinavia comprises only Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Because of the danger of confusion, list the countries even if you use Nordic or Scandinavia in a lead for the sake of brevity.

Northern Ireland

A political division of the United Kingdom consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but not part of Great Britain. Northern is always uppercase. Never use Ulster as a synonym except when quoting someone. The Irish Republican Army, which fought for years to oust Britain from Northern Ireland with the ultimate aim of re-unifying Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland in the south of the island, may be referred to by its initials alone at first reference. Describe Sinn Fein as the political party ally of the IRA.


Avoid noted as it implies something is an accepted fact when it may well be an assertion. (e.g “Mr Smith said Mr Brown was an idiot” as opposed to “Mr Smith noted Mr Brown was an idiot.”


A strong and simple word that should always replace flabby phrases such as “at the present time” and “at this time.”


The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States government, responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). Spell out on first reference.

nuclear power

Some frequently used terms: becquerel -- Unit of radiation. Because a becquerel is very small, measurements may be in trillions of becquerels. If the term tera becquerel is used, say it means trillions. criticality -- Point at which a nuclear chain reaction becomes self-sustaining, producing a steady power output. curie -- Unit measuring the rate at which substances lose radioactivity, or the number of disintegrations per second. fissioN -- Process in which the nucleus of an atom is split in the core of a nuclear reactor. Other atoms are split in a chain reaction, releasing large amounts of energy (the same process as in atomic bombs). The rate of fission is controlled in a power plant by rods pushed into the core of the reactor, avoiding a runaway chain reaction. Fission increases when the control rods are raised, and the reactor shuts down when they are pushed in fully. The fuel is uranium. Heat created by fission is used to produce steam, which drives turbo-generators. fusion -- Brings atoms together and fuses their nuclei at high temperature to form a single large nucleus, releasing large amounts of energy. The process used in the H-bomb. half-life -- The time it takes for half of a radioactive material to decay, or lose its radioactivity. meltdown -- When a nuclear reactor’s core gets so overheated that the fuel melts, raising the possibility of a leakage of radiation. plutonium -- An artificial metallic element formed from uranium and used as fuel in fast-breeder reactors. It forms as the isotope plutonium-239 but disintegrates to become uranium-235. rad -- Unit that measures absorbed radiation. radiation, radioactivity -- Radiation is energy emitted in the form of waves or particles when atomic nuclei disintegrate. Radioactivity is emitted in alpha, beta or gamma rays (the most dangerous) and neutrons. Measured by a Geiger counter. rem (roentgen equivalent man). Measurement of radiation absorbed by humans. An X-ray produces six or seven millirems. roentgen -- Measurement of the radiation from X-rays or gamma rays. sievert -- Measures dose of radiation absorbed by humans. One sievert is 100 rems. uranium -- A radioactive metal. It is enriched by rapid spinning that separates uranium-235, the fuel for nuclear reactors, from uranium-238 (used to make plutonium).


dates, times

Spell out the digits one to nine in text except for dates and times, when figures should always be used, e.g., “The four foreign ministers will meet at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) on March 3.” The other exception is for some business and market usages e.g. 2-year note, 3.0 percent etc.

The same applies to ordinal numbers: first, second, third, etc., up to ninth, then 10th 100th 144th, etc. But always use numbers for court and political districts: the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the 9th Ward, etc.).


Use numerals in ages (a 4-year-old) and before millions and billions (2 million, 5 billion). Use numerals before per cent (6 per cent). Use numerals for dimensions: “He lost 4 cm from the end of his finger.”

10 and above

Write 10 and above as figures, except at the start of a sentence, e.g., “Fourteen people were killed when 20 tons of ice crashed through the roof.” Do not, however, start a sentence with a complex figure, e.g., “Two hundred and forty-three runners finished the Boston marathon ...” Where possible, rewrite the sentence to avoid starting with a number if it is long and clumsy.


  • Round off unwieldy figures, e.g., “Japan produced 1.45 million cars in the six months ended...” not, “Japan produced 1,453,123 cars...” As a rule, round off millions to the nearest 10,000, thousands to the nearest 100, hundreds to the nearest 10.
  • Figures are normally rounded to two significant decimals, with halves rounded upward. Thus, 15.564 becomes 15.56, while 15.565 becomes 15.57.
  • Do not round interest rates. Use the full number of decimal places as given by the source of the information.
  • Round foreign exchange quotations to four decimal places, e.g., “the dollar rose to 0.9784 euros.” If a country adjusts its currency, any rate given must not be rounded off, e.g., “Manchukistan announced a rate of 5.79831 thaler to the dollar.”
  • Do not round company dividends, e.g., “the company announced a dividend of 0.123456 pence per share.”
  • Where totals do not add up because of rounding, this should be explained.

When reporting decimalized figures, always use a full stop, e.g., 42.5. Do not follow the practice in continental Europe of using a comma instead of a decimal point. When reporting thousands, use a comma, not a full stop: 10,000.


  • Repeat the denominator when describing a range of figures, e.g., “$22 million to $30 million,” not “$22 to $33 million.”
  • When reporting a range of figures, use the style “1.2 billion to 1.4 billion,” not “1.2-1.4 billion” or “between 400 and 500 miles,” not between 400-500 miles.”

millions, billions

Always spell out billion, except in headlines, where it can be abbreviated to “bln.” Use decimals before million and billion. Write “2.5 million,” not “two and a half million.” Write “twice,” not “two times.” Bigger numbers should be in the plural, e.g., “seven times champion.”

Note in US English a billion is one thousand million ( 1,000,000,000 ) whereas in British English a billion is a million million (1,000,000,000,000) but the US usage is the more common internationally.

Do not run two sets of figures together. This can lead to errors. Separate them by a word or spell out one of the two, e.g., “20,000 new 50-cent shares” or “20,000 shares with a nominal value of 50 cents each,” not “20,000 50-cent shares.”

Write fractions thus: 4-1/2.


The official name style of the New York Mercantile Exchange, which trades commodities, and is now part of the CME group in Chicago, is NYMEX, not Nymex.

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