oasis, oases


Use them only if they are in direct quotes and if the story would be seriously weakened by their omission. Obscenities, if retained, should not be euphemised or emasculated by the use of dots. In general we should not quote mindless obscenities from the person in the street or, say, an athlete or soldier but should consider using them if people prominent in public life use them in a context that gives their remarks great emphasis or throws in question their fitness to hold office.

obsolescent, obsolete

If something is obsolescent, it is on the way to becoming obsolete.

occur, occurring, occurred


Lowercase when used alone or in plurals, e.g, Indian and Pacific oceans. Uppercase in Antarctic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean.


Not octopi.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (French: Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques, OCDE) is an international economic organisation of 34 countries, based in Paris, and founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members.

official titles

Be restrained in using idiomatic phrases to describe officials or official bodies rather than their official titles, e.g., planning overlord, watchdog commission. Such terms are often necessary in lead paragraphs where use of the full title would be clumsy, but the official title must be given in the body of the story. Do not use idioms with pejorative overtones, such as "trade union boss."


Do not describe government ministers as officials.


Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the principal world organisation of Muslim states, with 57 members. It is funded mainly by Saudi Arabia and based in Jeddah. Among OIC institutions is the Islamic Development Bank, which provides soft loans for development projects in Islamic countries. See www.oic-oci.org

oil barrels

A barrel of oil is equivalent to 35 Imperial or 42 U.S. gallons or 159 litres or 0.159 cubic metres. To convert cubic metres or kilolitres (1,000 litres) to barrels, multiply by 6.29. Japan often quotes oil statistics in terms of kilolitres. The conversion from barrels (volume) to metric tonnes (weight) depends on the specific gravity, or density, of the oil. The lighter the oil, the more barrels per tonne. To convert Brent crude from barrels to tonnes, multiply by 7.57. To convert tonnes to barrels, multiply by 0.132. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has 7.62 barrels per tonne. For Russian Urals crude, usually expressed in tonnes, multiply by 7.33. Refined petroleum product conversions also vary according to specific gravity. As a rule, use 8.6 barrels to a tonne of gasoline, 7.9 barrels per tonne of jet/kerosene, 7.59 barrels per tonne of heating oil, 7.4 barrels per tonne of diesel and 6.4 barrels per tonne of residual fuel oil.


One word.

oil statistics

Oil production and export figures are usually expressed in terms of barrels per day (bpd), although they are sometimes quoted also in tonnes per year. Standardise on bpd figures, normally giving them as a bracketed conversion after any figure expressed in tonnes per year. When converting from tonnes per year to bpd, don’t forget to divide the barrel figure by 365 for the daily rate. As with all conversions, give an approximate conversion of an approximate figure and do not convert to more decimal places than are given in the original figure.

oil strikes

It is not correct to report the discovery of a new oil well. Nature does not provide ready-made oil wells awaiting discovery.


Not okay. Try to avoid in alerts and headlines. Do not use in text of stories unless you are quoting someone.

old-time, old-timer, old times


A situation where a few firms selling an item control its supply and hence influence its price.


Use only to mean the period of four years between two Olympic Games.

on behalf of

Use "by" unless you really do mean acting as a representative of or in the interests of.

on to

Two words. Into – one word.

"one China" policy

The most accurate explanation, using wording from a 1979 joint communiqué between China and the United States, is: The United States has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.

one word or two

Contemporary usage is to prefer one word, with hyphenated words becoming increasingly rare. However, common sense applies. Use a hyphen if it helps to clarify. We should avoid double consonants, double vowels or using double letters if they detract from clarity or are difficult to read (e.g., profit-taking is more readable than profittaking). As a general rule, words with "pre-" and "post-" prefixes should be one word. See hyphenation and prefixes.


Usually tautological, as in "the ongoing crisis." If you need such a word, use continuing.


One word for computer connections and the Internet.


As a rule, only should go immediately before the word or phrase it qualifies. Only SAS flies to the Faroes on Sunday means that on a Sunday SAS is the only airline operating to the islands. SAS flies only to the Faroes on Sunday means that on Sunday the only SAS flight operating is to the islands. SAS flies to the Faroes only on Sunday means that the airline has only one flight a week to the islands.


Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 13 petroleum-exporting nations, founded in 1960 by the first five members, and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria. The 13 countries account for about 40 percent of global oil production and 73 percent of the world's "proven" oil reserves, making OPEC a major influence on global oil prices. In 2016, OPEC's members were Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Two-thirds of OPEC's oil production and reserves are in its six Middle Eastern countries that surround the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

opera titles

See capitalisation.

opinion polls

A story based on the results of an opinion poll should include, as a minimum, the name of the organiser, who published it, the size of the sample and how and where it was carried out. If available, the margin of error should be given, as well as the survey’s history – is it carried out on a regular basis? Do not write stories based on Internet polls, unless they are conducted by a reputable polling organisation. These can be easily manipulated and may be unreliable. For technical reasons, avoid the word "poll" in the headline, which should be reserved for polls commissioned by Reuters.


Not a simple superlative that can replace biggest, best or largest. It means the best for the achievement of an aim or result, or the point when any condition is most favourable.

ordnance, ordinance

ordnance is artillery, ordinance a decree.

organisations and institutions

Use the name style that appears on their official websites.


Prefer to orientate. When using to refer to the Far East, capitalise: Oriental cuisine.

Orthodox Church

Eastern Rite Churches returned to communion with Rome after the 1054 East-West split between Rome and Orthodoxy but worship in an Eastern, usually Orthodox rite. Each returned to unity with Rome at a different time in the past 900 years or so.

Osama bin Laden

Use bin Laden at second reference. He was stripped of Saudi citizenship, so refer to him as Saudi-born.


The statuettes presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Also known as the Academy Awards.


Beware of this word when reporting such things as casualties. It is usually unnecessary, as in 50 people were killed and 200 others injured.



To convert to gram,s roughly multiply by 30, precisely multiply by 28.35. Dry ounce = 28.35 grams, ounce troy = 31.10 grams. Liquid or fluid ounce: UK = 28.4millilitres (20 fluid ounces = 1 pint); US = 29.6 millilitres (16 liquid ounces = 1 liquid pint).


Except in a legal context, the word is ousting. Dismissal or overthrow is better.

out of court, out-of-court

They reached an out-of-court settlement and she was paid out of court.


One word.


Never outside of.

Oval Office

White House office of the president.


Use 'more than' with numbers, e.g., more than 100, not over 100. This is often used instead of 'because of' or 'about." Workers are striking over pay. Keep 'over' for place, e.g., over the moon.

oxford blue

As a colour, lowercase. But if an athlete has represented the University, then Oxford Blue.


A figure of speech that deliberately combines opposites, such as bittersweet, living dead.

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