Style Manual

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Abbreviated Guidelines

  • Avoid tired, overused metaphors
  • Favor short words over long words
  • Leave out unnecessary words
  • Use active voice, not passive voice
  • Avoid jargon; do not use foreign words or phrases unless there is no English alternative
  • Prefer everyday language; don't be stuffy; avoid legalisms, beaurocratese, euphemisms, and circumlocutions
  • Avoid using slang words and expressions
  • Be discriminating with trendy phrases; don't verb nouns
  • Use good syntax
    • Do not be sloppy in sentence construction
    • Do not split infinitives
    • Use contractions (can't, don't, won't...) sparingly
    • Plural nouns require plural verbs
    • Use the subjunctive properly
    • Respect the gerund
    • Be lucid


We prefer using the serial, or "Oxford", comma in sequential constructions. Write "apples, oranges, and bananas" instead of "apples, oranges and bananas".

Names and Titles

We generally avoid the use of honorific titles when referring to people, favoring the use of the last name or other commonly used name, unless the context requires the title to distinguish the person from another. Thus, after mentioning "Olaf III, King of Sweden", refer to "Olaf" or "Olaf III" rather than "King Olaf III". Similarly, use "Einstein" in preference to "Dr. Einstein" or "Prof. Einstein", except when making a point by using the title.


All source material must be accurately cited. We tend to follow the Chicago Manual of Style for citations, although we prefer writing the authors' names in natural rather than collation order; we won't fuss provided the necessary information is clearly presented. For reference, see Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide (use "Notes-Bibliography Style") or How to Cite Electronic Sources.

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