style guide

Well-written, clear information and stories are easier to understand.

This style guide provides the rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar for use across all of our university’s collateral.

If you can’t find what you are looking for you can get in touch or you can take a look at the BBC News style guide, which we are happy for you to follow. But be aware that as an academic organisation, some of our rules differ slightly from those presented by the BBC. Where we advise a different way of presenting grammar, this guide supersedes the BBC.

If you can't find what you're looking for or need some extra advice, we're happy to help.

  1. Acronyms

    Spell any acronyms out in full at first reference. If it’s repeated later in the text, add the acronym in brackets, for example, The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). In most cases, use all capitals with no full stops or spaces, for example FA, IRA or NUT. Alternatively, you can introduce it with a descriptive label, for example, the public sector union, Unite.

    1. If there really is absolutely no chance of any misunderstanding, you can use the abbreviated form of a title without explanation, for example, UN, NATO, IRA or BBC. When creating content for a specialist audience, for example, copy advertising an upcoming academic conference, other, less well-known abbreviations may be permitted, such as REF or OfS.
    2. One important point to remember is that Leeds Beckett University attracts students from around the globe. Understanding acronyms as a non-native speaker is particularly difficult and can add an extra barrier to comprehension.
  2. Acronyms as names

    Some acronyms are so well known, we usually pronounce the set of letters as a word, for example, Aids, Nasa or Opec. In these cases, write them like a proper noun, such as Friday, London, Martha or Unilever – so, first letter in upper case, lower case for the rest.

    Some exceptions to the rules:

    • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is capped up to NICE
    • The UK Independence Party is capped up to UKIP
    • Strategic Health Authority becomes SHA, as ‘Sha’ looks like a typo
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder becomes SAD, as ‘Sad’ would be confusing
    • For names with initials, avoid full stops and spaces, for example JK Rowling and WH Smith
    • When abbreviating a phrase, rather than a name or title, use lower case, for example, lbw, mph
  3. Addresses

    Addresses

    Follow these rules for writing addresses:

    • No full stops at the end of addresses
    • No comma between the number and the street name
    • Don’t abbreviate Road, Street, Avenue
    • No comma between town or county and postcode
    • Building numbers that cover a range, for example, 196-198, should be separated by a hyphen with no spaces

    Where the address is in a city or major town, do not include the county:

    Leeds City Council
    Merrion House
    110 Merrion Centre, Leeds
    LS2 8BB

     If the address is for a department, put the department name first:

    Community Services
    Leeds City Council
    Merrion House
    110 Merrion Centre, Leeds
    LS2 8BB

  4. Alumni

    When referring to our graduates, in most cases the term ‘graduate’ should be used. We generally use alumni when referring to specific groups of graduates within the context of their achievements, for example, alumni who’ve gone on to start businesses.

    If you are using one of the Latin terms, please remember that as an academic institution, it’s important that we observe the correct use in each instance:

    • Alumnus – male singular
    • Alumna – female singular
    • Alumni – male plural – also, used for mixed groups which comprise both male and female graduates
    • Alumnae – female plural
  5. Apostrophes

    Don’t be scared of apostrophes. They have just two primary uses, which are to indicate:

    • Possession, for example, our university’s new library – the library belongs to (is possessed by) the university. If the possessive noun is plural, the apostrophe moves after the ‘s’, for example, our libraries’ security systems – we have more than one library, and we’re referring to the security systems for them all
    • The omission of one or more letters – usually in a contraction, for example, It’s busy on campus today (when we contract ‘it is’, it becomes ‘it’s’ with the apostrophe replacing the missing ‘i’)

    Also see 'Contractions'.

As always, there are some uses that don’t follow the general rules or that need extra clarification:

  • There is no apostrophe in the possessive ‘its’, for example, Virtue is its own reward
  • Some common abbreviations don’t require apostrophes, for example, phone, plane, flu
  • It’s wits’ end (wits are assumed to be plural) and winner’s medal (only one winner gets this medal)
  • Dates don’t require apostrophes, for example, 1900s – unless the century is omitted, for example, the England squad of ’66
  • Apostrophes aren’t used for plurals, for example, MPs, MBEs, but they are for the pluralisation of letters of the alphabet, for example, Our task now is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s
  • For names, use the possessive ’s whenever possible, for example, Burns’s, Jones’s, Charles’s, James’s, Dickens’s, Phillips’s. But be guided by how the last syllable of the name is pronounced, for example, Jesus’, Bridges’, Moses’, Hodges’, Griffiths’, Walters’ – also Wales’
  • There should be an apostrophe before the word ‘time’ in sentences such as The game will be played in two weeks’ time or They stop work in an hour’s time
  1. Buildings, campus names and locations

    Correct names for buildings and facilities should be used, for example, the Great Hall and Sheila Silver Library, rather than City Campus Library. Also, Library should be capitalised.

    When referring to different buildings, the word building should be lower cased, for example James Graham building.

    Headingley Campus and City Campus should be capitalised. General references such as the campus should not be.

    Leeds city centre should not be capitalised.

  2. Bold

    Bold text is used for emphasis and to draw the user’s eye to key points – use bold sparingly. Overuse will reduce impact. If everything’s in bold, none of it stands out.

  3. Bullet points

    Use a bulleted list for items that do not have to be in a specific order. Use a numbered list for items that must be in a specific order, such as steps or a timeline of events.

    Always use sentence case for bullets – so, start each bullet with an initial capital letter followed by lower case. Bullets should never have a full stop at the end – we use bullets to make lists easier to read but also to split subject points that don’t require a separate sentence into easily digestible bullets. And because each bullet is a separate, standalone point, we never, ever put an and or similar joiner at the end of a bullet.

    Where a full stop, or any other punctuation used at the end of a sentence, occur in the middle of a bullet, that’s okay, as is using a question mark at the end.

    For example:

    • Bullets should always begin with an upper-case letter
    • They never have a full stop at the end
    • But what if a bullet is a question?
    • Shouldn’t it be able to end in a question mark? The answer is always ‘yes’
  1. Capitals

    Try to minimise the use of capital letters. Titles work best for readability and online accessibility when they are in sentence case with no full stop at the end. For example:

    Ways to find accommodation

    University job titles have initial caps only when the title is next to the name, in whatever order. Thus:

    • The School Secretary, Harold Thomas, said...
    • Student Union President Jane Tucker

    Any post mentioned without reference to the postholder should be in lower case, for example, the dean will be out of the country for several days. It should be Dr with no full stop and Professor written in full, never abbreviated – there are a few titles that are always capped up, whether you name the person or not, for example, the Queen, the Pope or the Archbishop of XX, but these are clearly not university titles.

    For place names, use upper case for recognised regions, and for vaguer political or geographical areas. For example, the Middle East, Western Europe. Otherwise use lower case, for example, south-west France, east Lancashire, south Wales.

    For Latin names of plants, animals, etc, use italics and cap the first word only, for example Corvus corone.

  2. Colleagues

    Colleagues should be referred to as such, don’t use staff. Job titles should be capitalised.

    Also, see capitals above for how we write about our colleagues’ job titles.

  3. Common phrases and words to watch / avoid

    These have crept into the language from corporate-speak – they’re designed to make fairly mundane messages seem more dynamic. However, they’ve been around long enough that your users recognise them for what they are – don’t use them as they damage both trust and credibility within your readers:

     

     Don't say...  Say this instead...
     Action – as in we will action  Do
     Utilise Use
    Assist Help
    Prior Before
    Prestigious - particularly in the context of a prestigious award
     Only use if the award is genuinely of particular merit
  4. Contractions

    A contraction is a word or phrase that’s been shortened by replacing one or more letters with an apostrophe. They’re commonly used in speech and when we read – the voice in your head naturally contracts what you’re reading.

    So, while they’re viewed as being informal, for web copy, we always use contractions – such as don’t (instead of do not), isn’t (instead of is not) and can’t (instead of cannot).

  5. Course titles, job titles and qualifications

    Course titles

    Quote the course title in full, for example MSc Landscape Architecture or BSc (Hons) Architecture. When referring to an area or sector, lower case should be used, for example, studying a course in the area of landscape architecture.

    Acronyms should initially be written in full, with the acronym only following in brackets if it is to be repeated later in the text, for example, The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

    Job titles

    University job titles have initial caps only when the title is next to the name, in whatever order. Thus:

    • The School Secretary, Harold Hardy, said...
    • Student Union President Jane Tucker

    Any post mentioned without reference to the postholder should be in lower case, for example, the dean will be out of the country for several days.

    Use academic titles whenever appropriate, remembering that it should be Dr with no full stop and Professor written in full, never abbreviated. Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor are not hyphenated.

    Initial use of names for academic staff should include title, first and last names: Professor Jackie Bloggs, Dr Fiona Rabbit. Future uses should be Dr Rabbit or Professor Bloggs.

    The exception to this is for internal feature pieces where first name use may be more appropriate.

    Qualifications

    Use Masters not masters, Master’s or Masters’ and PhD not phd or PHD.

    When referring to A levels, please use this format, which is consistent with UCAS – no hyphen and capital A and lower-case l.

  1. Dashes – Em and En

    A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that’s used to join words or parts of words, for example, 20-year-old. It’s not interchangeable with other types of dashes. A dash is longer than a hyphen and is commonly used to indicate a range or a pause.

    The most common types of dashes are the En dash (–) and the Em dash (—). The En dash is slightly longer than the hyphen but not as long as the Em dash. British online grammar in the 21st Century doesn’t really use the longer Em dash – you’ll generally only find mention of it in American grammar articles or in Victorian novels.

    For consistency, follow these two simple rules:

    • If the words separated touch the dash or hyphen, use a hyphen
    • If there’s a gap between the separated words, use En dash

    An En dash can be used instead of brackets – like this – and is considered to be easier to read online than brackets. They’re more versatile than brackets too and can be used for a closing remark – like this, ending in a full stop, where brackets need closing with ‘)’.

    Also see ‘Hyphens’

  2. Date and time

    Use this format:

    • Day, date, month and then year, for example, Monday 15 January 2019
    • Show times using a 24-hour clock, for example, 21:00 or 17:00

    Include the day, time and venue for forthcoming events, and when advertising an event for an international audience, such as an Online Open Day, state the time zone as well as the time. For example, 14:00-16:00 (BST).

    Don’t use ordinal indicators – the superscripted -st, -nd, -rd and -th following the day number. For example, write 15 January and not 15th January.

  3. Direct, active language

    Use an active voice when writing for the web. In active sentences:

    • The thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence
    • The thing receiving the action is the object

    Most sentences are active, but it doesn’t hurt to take the time to ensure you’re using an active voice at all times. This is what the structure of an active sentence looks like (followed by examples):

     [Thing doing action]  [verb]  [thing receiving action]
     The professor  teaches the students.
     The police pursued  the criminals.
     The lions ate the trophy hunters.
    Passive voice

    You should only really use the passive form:

    • If you think that the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasised
    • If you don’t know who’s doing the action or don’t want to mention who’s doing it

    In passive sentences, the thing receiving the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing doing the action is optionally included near the end of the sentence. The structure of a passive sentence looks like this (followed by passive versions of the examples above):

     [Thing receiving action]
    [be + past participle of verb]
    [thing doing action]
     The students are taught by the professor.
     You will be taught by the professor.*
     The criminals were pursued by the police.
    The trophy hunters were eaten by the lions.

    *This slight alteration of the example above shows you how passive voice can be used to make communications user-focused.

    If used in a user-centric way, passive voice can make your sentences livelier, easier to read and generally more ‘human’. It also makes you naturally use more words like ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘our’. It also helps users understand what our university is going to do for them and what they need to do for themselves.

  1. E.G. for example

    Don’t use E.G., EG, e.g. or eg when writing web copy. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this abbreviation, along with I.E., actually breaks the eye’s flow over the words. E.G. can also be read as ‘egg’ by screen readers.

    Instead, always use for example, followed by a comma. For example, like that.

    Also see ‘I.E.’.

  1. Fewer or less

    This is a funny one – in the strictest terms, use ‘fewer’ when you can count something, use ‘less’ when you can’t count something. However, descriptive grammarians – who look at how language is actually used – point out that this rule doesn’t correctly describe the most common usage of today or the past. For consistency, however, it’s best to stick to the following rules:

    • Use fewer when you can count something, for example, the committee wants to have fewer meetings next year
    • Use less when you can’t count something, for example, voters are calling for less bureaucracy
    • The same goes for percentages – Less than 30% of the internet cares (you can’t count ‘internets’) and Fewer than 30% of readers care (because you can count readers)
    • Never use no less than with numbers – always say no fewer than, for example, He exceeded the speed limit on no fewer than 12 occasions
    • Use less for ages, heights and weights, for example, Tom Thumb was less than 3ft tall; the man is less than 30 years old; she weighs less than seven stone
  2. Forward slash

    Don’t use forward slashes in titles or headings. Try to replace them with ‘and’ / ‘or’.

    Make sure that when you do use them, there’s a space on both sides of the slash. For example, ‘see policy on office maintenance / repairs’. This helps copy to remain ‘dynamic’ – that is, it responds to the size of the screen the user is viewing the website on.

  3. Full stops

    Should be used at the end of proper sentences but not with titles.

    For use of full stops with lists, see 'Bulleted lists' and 'Numbered lists'.

  1. Grammar

    When we’re writing for the web, more than in any other media, we need to be succinct. We read differently online. Simple fact. Online copy has to make the journey from the page to user comprehension, as short as possible. And that’s what grammar’s for.

    So, while the rules of grammar may sometimes seem archaic or overly fussy, just remember, they’re there for a reason and that reason is to help your reader, not to make more work for you. Look at the examples below that involve the simple comma – arguably the easiest piece of punctuation yet, when omitted from a sentence, it can cause chaos:

    • With: Most of the time, travellers worry about their luggage
    • Without: Most of the time travellers worry about their luggage
    • With: Let’s eat, grandpa
    • Without: Let’s eat grandpa

    There are specific sections for how to use the most common forms of grammar that you’re likely to use. If in doubt, look at the BBC Style Guide.

    But, be aware that, as an academic organisation, some of our rules differ slightly from those presented by the BBC. Where we present a different way of presenting grammar, this document supersedes the BBC.

    Also see ‘Apostrophes’

    Also see ‘Dashes – em and en'

    Also see ‘Hyphens’

    Also see ‘Punctuation’

    Also see ‘Quotes’

  1. Hyphens

    Like all punctuation, hyphens are there for a reason. In their simplest form, they help the text make immediate sense – they shorten the journey from eye to understanding by removing ambiguity. Despite being frequently misused, hyphens play a vital role in succinct communication, as shown in this example:

     

    With

    Without

     She never tips black-cab drivers

    This mean the woman in question doesn't tip any drivers of black cabs.

     She never tips black cab drivers

    This means she doesn't tip a cab driver, if the driver is black.

    They can be pretty tricky, however, so we’ll keep the rules simple to aid consistency.

    Compound adjectives

    An adjective is a word naming an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, red or technical. A compound adjective is a single adjective made up of more than one word. For example, two-seater or free-range. Note that free-range is a single attribute, made of two words, but joined by a hyphen.

    So, the words in a compound adjective are often linked together with a hyphen (or hyphens) to show they are part of the same adjective.

    However, they’re not used when part of the adjective is an adverb ending in -ly. For example, ‘badly researched report’, ‘severely wounded person’, ‘newly cleaned car’.

    We’d say Jim Smith is a father of two, but it’s father-of-two Jim Smith because in the second example, father-of-two is an attribute – a compound adjective – of Jim’s. Likewise, Jim Smith is 25 years old but 25-year-old Jim Smith.

    Phrasal verbs

    These are constructions such as build up, turn out, drive in, take over. Some need hyphens when they are used as nouns:

    • Those ending in -in, -to, -on or -up use a hyphen – check-up, break-in, turn-on
    • Those ending in -off use a hyphen – pay-off, turn-off, drop-off
    • Don’t use a hyphen for those ending in -out – payout, turnout, dropout, bailout
    • Don’t use a hyphen for those where the second part is four or more letters – takeover, clampdown, giveaway, setback, lookahead, runaround
    • Rare exceptions are where two vowels need to be separated by a hyphen, as in go-ahead, though this isn’t always necessary
    • In most cases, use a hyphen to separate repeated letters in a compound word – re-emergence, co-operative, night-time – annoyingly, there are some random exceptions to this rule, including filmmaking, overrun, override, overrule, underrate, withhold
  1. I.E

    We use I.E. (ie, i.e.) to clarify a sentence but it’s not always well understood. And while terms like eg, ie and etc, are common, they make reading difficult for some.

    Also, we have a high number of overseas visitors to our sites – anyone who didn’t grow up speaking English may not be familiar with terms like eg, ie and etc. Even those with high literacy levels can be thrown if they’re reading under stress or are in a hurry – like a lot of people are on the web.

    As such, we don’t use I.E.

    Instead, try writing sentences to avoid the need to use it. If that isn’t possible, use an alternative such as ‘meaning’ or ‘that is’.

    Also see ‘E.G.’

  2. Imperatives

    This is any sentence that tells you to do something or not to do something – basically, to convey a command, a request or a forbiddance. They’re brilliant for giving instructions (firstly, turn off the electricity) and giving extra help (be careful not to touch any live wires).

    Imperatives are excellent for conveying useful information in an easy-to-follow format, which is why you’ll find them in nearly all instruction manuals. As such, they’re a vital tool for web copy, as they let your users know quickly and easily what action they need to take to get what they want from your page.

    Write like an instruction manual

    Don’t be afraid to use simple, to-the-point language. This isn’t us ‘dumbing down’, it’s opening up – it helps your users get what they need from your content, whether that’s information, advice or instructions on actions they need to take.

    Who’s your content addressing? Once you know that, ask yourself these questions:

    • What do they want from your content?
    • What action do they need to perform?

    Try answering them as if you’re writing an instruction manual addressed to your audience – this is a great, really simple way to create the basic structure of your page.

  3. Indirect speech

    Also called reported speech – this is a means of expressing the content of statements, questions or other utterances, without quoting them explicitly. For example, He said “I’m joining the panel” is direct speech, whereas He said that he was joining the panel is indirect speech.

    More often than not, the tense you need to use will be common sense. There are some general rules, however, so if in doubt, use the guidelines below. At its most simple, the tense in which someone speaks often has to be changed in indirect speech to avoid ambiguity. What determines this is the tense used in introducing the indirect speech.

    For example, imagine Professor Jordan says, “I am resigning”. He uses the present tense. If you introduce this with either the present tense (“He says”) or the perfect tense (“He has said”), then you should retain the present tense within the quotation – so, the text can say either Professor Jordan says he’s resigning or Professor Jordan has said he’s resigning.

    If you opt for the past tense (“He said”), then you have to ‘knock back’ by one tense from that used in the original. For example, Professor Jordan said he was resigning. By the same rule, if Professor Jordan’s next words are “I saw the Dean on Tuesday”, then you can write either Professor Jordan says / has said he saw the Dean on Tuesday or Professor Jordan said he had seen the Dean on Tuesday.

    With remarks looking to future events, the word ‘will’ survives into reported speech only if the introduction uses the present or perfect tense. For example, if Professor Jordan continues, “I will leave our university on Saturday” then this can become either Professor Jordan says he’ll leave our university on Saturday or Professor Jordan has said he’ll leave our university on Saturday. But if you use the past tense as an introduction, then ‘will’ becomes ‘would’. For example, Professor Jordan said he would leave our university on Saturday.

    Also see ‘Quotation marks’

  1. Job titles, course titles and qualifications

    Job titles

    University job titles have initial caps only when the title is next to the name, in whatever order. Thus:

    • The School Secretary, Harold Hardy, said...
    • Student Union President Jane Tucker

    Any post mentioned without reference to the postholder should be in lower case, for example, the dean will be out of the country for several days.

    Use academic titles whenever appropriate, remembering that it should be Dr with no full stop and Professor written in full, never abbreviated. Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor are not hyphenated.

    Initial use of names for academic staff should include title, first and last names: Professor Jackie Bloggs, Dr Fiona Rabbit. Future uses should be Dr Rabbit or Professor Bloggs.

    The exception to this is for feature articles where first name use may be more appropriate.

    Course titles

    Quote the course title in full, for example, MSc Landscape Architecture or BSc (Hons) Architecture. When referring to an area or sector, lower case should be used, for example, studying a course in the area of landscape architecture.

    Acronyms should initially be written in full, with the acronym only following in brackets if it is to be repeated later in the text. For example, The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

    Qualifications

    Use Masters not masters, Master’s or Masters’ and PhD not phd or PHD.

    When referring to A levels, please use this format, which is consistent with UCAS – no hyphen and capital A and lower-case l.

  2. Jargon

    Avoid jargon and university-speak.

    Sometimes terms that are specific to our university, such as The Office for Students, cannot be avoided. Write these terms out in full the first time they are used.

    See also ‘Acronyms’

No entries

  1. Language – direct, active

    Use an active voice when writing for the web. In active sentences:

    • The thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence
    • The thing receiving the action is the object

    Most sentences are active, but it doesn’t hurt to take the time to ensure you’re using an active voice at all times. This is what the structure of an active sentence looks like (followed by examples):

     [Thing doing action]  [verb]  [thing receiving action]
     The professor  teaches the students.
     The police pursued  the criminals.
     The lions ate the trophy hunters.
  2. Language - passive voice (as a contrast to active, direct)

    You should only really use the passive form:

    • If you think that the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasised
    • If you don’t know who’s doing the action or don’t want to mention who’s doing it

    In passive sentences, the thing receiving the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing doing the action is optionally included near the end of the sentence. The structure of a passive sentence looks like this (followed by passive versions of the examples above):

     [Thing receiving action]
    [be + past participle of verb]
    [thing doing action]
     The students are taught by the professor.
     You will be taught by the professor.*
     The criminals were pursued by the police.
    The trophy hunters were eaten by the lions.

    *This slight alteration of the example above shows you how passive voice can be used to make communications user-focused.

    If used in a user-centric way, passive voice can make your sentences livelier, easier to read and generally more ‘human’. It also makes you naturally use more words like ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘our’. It also helps users understand what our university is going to do for them and what they need to do for themselves.

  1. Miscellaneous

    • Freshers’
    • Masters not masters, Master’s or Masters’
    • PhD not phd or PHD
    • Wi-Fi
  1. Numbered lists

    Use a numbered list for items that must be in a specific order, such as when you’re explaining instructions that need to be performed in sequence, or a timeline of events. Use a bulleted list for items that do not have to be in a specific order.

    Always use sentence case for numbered lists – so, start each number with an initial capital letter followed by lower case. Each item in a numbered list should have a full stop at the end – it’s part of a unified paragraph that’s been broken down purely to make steps in a task easier to follow. It’s also partly to drive home the difference between bullets and numbered lists – consistency and using the right tools for the right job are vital to making it easy for users to use the pages on our site.

    For example:

    1. First of all, make sure your numbered list begins with an upper-case letter.
    2. After that, check that there’s a full stop at the end.
    3. Finally, ensure you’re using normal punctuation rules for each number. This means using full stops, question marks and En dashes as appropriate.
  2. Numbers

    Numbers between one and nine should be written as words, numbers 10 and above as numerals. For example, ‘seven, eight, nine, 10, 11’. Never start a sentence with a numeral, for example, 23 June is…

    When writing one thousand in numerals, a comma should be used, for example, ‘1,000’.

    When writing percentages use ‘%’ rather than ‘per cent’.

    Always use the Leeds 0113 code with telephone numbers. When using the international code, the format should be: +44 (0)113 812 0000. For UK only audiences, please use the following format: 0113 812 0000.

  1. Our university

    When you’re writing about Leeds Beckett University, use the phrase ‘our university’ rather than saying ‘the university’. Note that ‘university’, when used in this way, is lower case.

    One permissible exception to this rule is for news copy and press releases intended for use by journalists, when it is permitted to use ‘the university’ rather than ‘our university’.

    Our university’s name should be written as Leeds Beckett University, not Leeds Beckett, Leeds Beck, Beckett or Beckett University. Where space is restricted (such as Twitter) common sense should be applied. When tweeting about our institution, it is permissible to abbreviate the name of our university to Leeds Beckett or LBU.

    School titles should be accurate and used in full wherever possible:

    • Leeds School of Social Sciences
    • School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality Management
  1. Punctuation

    When we’re writing for the web, more than in any other media, we need to be succinct. We read differently online. Simple fact. Online copy has to make the journey from the page to user comprehension, as short as possible. And that’s what punctuation’s for.

    Punctuation is there for a reason and that reason is to help your reader.

    • Avoid exclamation marks – your audience is web savvy and finds exclamations marks too shouty!
    • The same goes for CAPITALISING IMPORTANT POINTS
    • Don’t use speech marks or qualifying inverted commas to highlight words, for example, a ‘great’ place to work – it sounds sarcastic
    • Don’t use ampersands (&) in copy as they look shabby and lazy – an exception is where an ampersand has become an established convention, for example, School of Events, Tourism & Hospitality Management

    Also see ‘Apostrophes’

    Also see ‘Em dashes and En dashes’

    Also see ‘Grammar’

    Also see ‘Hyphens’

    Also see ‘Quotes’

  1. Qualifications

    Use Masters not masters, Master’s or Masters’ and PhD not phd or PHD.

    When referring to A levels, please use this format, which is consistent with UCAS – no hyphen and capital A and lower-case l.

  2. Quotation marks

    Quotation marks are used for direct speech – always use double quotation marks when quoting someone, for example, “I love grammar,” said Professor Jordan.

    Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes, for example, “When the student representative said, ‘We love grammar too’, it made me happy,” Professor Jordan told the panel.

    Each section of direct speech ends with a punctuation mark. If there’s no reporting clause (where you tell the reader who said the quote, for example, ‘said Professor Jordan’), then the punctuation mark is likely to be a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. For example, “It’s a great day for our university.”

    Notice that punctuation marks are included inside the speech marks.

    If there is a reporting clause, use a comma before the final speech marks. For example, “I think this really puts Leeds Beckett University on the map,” said Professor Jordan. Again, the punctuation marks are included inside the speech marks.

    Also see ‘Indirect speech’

  1. Reported speech

    See ‘Indirect speech’

    Also see ‘Quotation marks’

  1. Singular and plural

    Treat collective nouns – universities, the public, companies, governments and other bodies – as singular. For example, Leeds Beckett is going to… rather than, Leeds Beckett are going to…

    There are some exceptions:

    • Family, couple or pair, where using the singular can sound odd
    • Sports teams – although they’re singular in their role as business concerns, for example, Arsenal has declared an increase in profit
    • Rock / pop groups
    • The police, as in Police say they’re looking for three individuals – but, individual forces are singular, for example, The Metropolitan Police says there is no need to panic

    Some words remain the same even as plurals, such as aircraft, cannon, sheep and fish – although you would use fishes when referring to different kinds of fish. For example, He studied freshwater fishes of the UK.

    Be careful with some words that are plural but often mistakenly used as singular:

    • Criteria (criterion)
    • Bacteria (bacterium)
    • Phenomena (phenomenon)
    • While data is strictly a plural, we follow common usage and treat it as singular
    • The same goes for agenda
    • For words ending in ‘-ium’, such as stadium, use stadiums
    • For index, use indexes for the plural – the correct word, indices, is only in a mathematical / scientific context

    If in doubt, use the first version offered by the Oxford English Dictionary.

  2. Spaces

    Use just one space between sentences – there should never be more than one space in succession in online text, not even after a full stop.

  3. Spelling

    As a general rule, refer to the Oxford English Dictionary. Where options are given, always choose the first use. Hence, say:

    • Protester instead of ‘protestor’
    • Medieval instead of ‘mediaeval’
    • Focused / focusing instead of ‘focussed / focussing’

    Two exceptions…

    Firstly, always use ‘...ise’ rather than ‘...ize’ – the former is British, the latter is American. For example, recognise instead of ‘recognize’, specialise instead of ‘specialize’.

    Secondly, never use ‘x’ in the middle of a word where there’s an alternative spelling of ‘ct’. For example, inflection instead of ‘inflexion’, reflection instead of ‘reflexion’, connection instead of ‘connexion’.

    In the cases below, where there’s more than one spelling, use:

    • Adrenalin
    • Adviser (but advisory)
    • Burka
    • Caesarean
    • Dispatches
    • Impostor
    • Inquiry
    • Jail
    • Judgement
    • Protester
    • Tsar (rather than czar)
    • Yoghurt
  4. Split infinitives

    A split infinitive is created by placing an adverb, or adverbial phrase, between the to and the verb. For example, to boldly go, to casually walk, to gently push.

    Split infinitives have been widely condemned in school classrooms, but they’re commonly used in writing of all kinds. As such, they aren’t banned.

  1. Tautologies

    A tautology is a phrase or expression in which the same thing is said twice in different words. Don’t use them – they’re considered to be a fault of style.

    Common examples include:

    Advance warning
    Fixed phone line Pre-planned
    Anti-government rebel forces Local resident ;Sharia law (Sharia means Islamic religious law)
    Armed gunmen Mutual co-operation  Universal panacea
    Crew members Past history Weather conditions
    Exact replica Pre-conditions
  2. That / which

    As a general rule, ‘that’ defines, and ‘which’ informs.

    What does that actually mean?

    So, in the sentence, “The house that Jack built is to be knocked down”, the phrase “that Jack built” is included to differentiate his house from a group of houses.

    Imagine four houses – one built by Jack, and one each by Jill, the Three Little Pigs and Wimpey. Of those four houses, only one is to be knocked down – the house that Jack built. ‘That’, in this sentence, defines which house we are talking about – which of the four houses will be knocked down.

    In comparison, “The house, which Jack built, is to be knocked down”, assumes we know exactly which house we’re talking about. The fact that Jack was the builder is the new information. So, the phrase, “which Jack built”, gives us additional information – it informs.

  3. Times and dates

    Use this format:

    • Day, date, month and then year, for example, Monday 15 January 2019
    • Show times using a 24-hour clock, for example, 21:00 or 17:00

    Include the day, time and venue for forthcoming events, and when advertising an event for an international audience, such as an Online Open Day, state the time zone as well as the time. For example, 14:00-16:00 (BST).

    Don’t use ordinal indicators – the superscripted -st, -nd, -rd and -th following the day number. For example, write 15 January and not 15th January.

  4. Titles and headers

    Titles and headers within the body copy of a page are all in sentence case, Not First Word Capitalised or ALL IN CAPITALS.

    Where it’s appropriate to use capitalisation in titles and headers, this has already been built into the content management system (CMS) of our website. So, when adding titles, headings and subheadings, always apply sentence case.

    This aids accessibility and readability. It’s also less jarring for people who didn’t grow up speaking English.

    See our Accessibility guide for more information.

  1. Underlining

    Because underlining is sometimes used to indicate links – either to an internal destination within the same website or an external site – text should never be underlined on a web page or in a document that is uploaded to a website. This helps to avoid confusion for the user.

  2. Units of measurement

    We should use both imperial and metric measures in most stories. Context will usually decide which measure comes first, but if the first figure is part of a quote it should be retained, with a conversion in brackets immediately afterwards.

    Where instantly recognisable abbreviations exist, these should be used throughout, even at first reference. For example, don’t write the words ‘metre’, ‘kilometre’ out in full. Use the abbreviations m and km.

    • All numbers preceding abbreviations should be rendered as digits
    • Where units are written out in full, our usual numbers convention is followed
    • There should not be a gap between number and abbreviated unit
    • Units of measurement do not in general take an ‘s’ in the plural

    A nanometre is one thousand millionth of a metre. Spell it out in full at first reference, then trim to nm, with the accompanying number expressed as digits, for example, 6nm, 52nm.

    For weights, use grams, kilograms and tonnes (not the imperial ton).

    • For kilograms, use the abbreviation kg throughout
    • For grams – one thousandth of a kilogram – use the abbreviation g throughout
    • This rule applies whether singular or plural
    • They’re both lower case with no gap between number and unit, for example, she caught a 150g fish, he weighed at least 90kg
    • Avoid the term ‘metric ton’ and the tautological ‘metric tonne’

    For volumes, use litres – note that ‘litres’ is not abbreviated, because ‘l’ looks like a number one.

  3. University events, students and graduates

    Use an upper-case first letter for event titles, for example, Open Days and Graduation 2021.

    The terms undergraduate, graduation, postgraduate and international aren’t capitalised, unless they are part of an event title, for example, Undergraduate Open Day.

    The use of UG and PG is acceptable for internal use only.

    Also see ‘Alumni’

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