Writing-style guide

For StaffWriting-style guide

Writing-style guide

The WIT writing style guide for communications

Writing guidelines for admin staff, academic staff, researchers and students

Editorial style guides are common in large organisations where people have different ways of writing.

The WIT editorial style guide has been developed by the Communications & Content section of the Marketing & Outreach Office to help people write text that will be used for communications purposes in a consistent manner.

While some of the details below relate to proper use of English, others relate to usability and improving the user experience through crisp, clear and consistent language. If there’s anything you would like to see included here please email [email protected].


How to refer to WIT correctly

Waterford Institute of Technology not the Waterford Institute of Technology

In the second and subsequent instances it is WIT not Waterford IT

Waterford IT is only used in relation to sports teams and sports reports

It is commonplace to refer to WIT as ‘the Institute’ in internal communications, this can be replaced by WIT

WIT is singular. Refer to WIT as it rather than they


How to refer to people correctly

Use a person’s first name and surname when they are mentioned first, as well as their job title and an academic title.

Academic titles

Dr not Dr. or Doctor

Prof rather than Prof. or Professor

(The use of . in Dr. may be commonplace however it is an Americanisation and unnecessary)

Job titles

Capitals are fine in job titles that are specific – but are not used if you are being general (eg a science lecturer)

Mr/Ms

If a person does not have an academic title we do not use Mr or Miss/Ms/Mrs


Times and dates

Our preferred use for simplicity and a clean look is

  • 17 March 2017
  • Or Friday, 17 March 2017

Things to avoid:

  • adding th and so on after a date
  • writing out dates phonetically the 1st of March
  • Putting the number after the month eg March 17 – this is an Americanism

Times

10am or 6pm. 10.15am or 5.15pm

There is no need for dots or spaces or adding in extra zeros (10.00 a.m.)

When issuing an embargo on a press release please use 12.01am rather than 12am to denote midnight and avoid confusion.

You can say something will take place from 9-5pm or between 9am and 5pm.There is no need


Numbers

For consistency we ask that people use:

  • One to nine are spelled out
  • 10 upwards is in numbers

Numbers at the start of a sentence are always spelled out. If you don’t like the look of this – word your sentence so it doesn’t start with a number.

Place a comma in numbers over 1,000

% / per cent / percent. Please ensure you use one style throughout your text, and stick to it.


School, Department, Course titles

Please check correct School, Department and Course titles.


Capitalisation

It’s commonplace to uppercase words unnecessarily to denote importance. Best practice to ease the reader experience is to lowercase words unless they are proper nouns i.e. a proper name for something.

Headlines and subheadings should never be written like this: National Award for School of Engineering Lecturer

Instead words that are not official titles should be lowercase like so: National award for School of Engineering lecturer


Full writing style guide A-Z

Addresses

Ensure that 'County' or 'Co' is used to indicate a county as follows: 'Co' is to be used in addresses.

'County' is to be used within body text. Do not use full stop after 'Co'.

Ampersand (&)

Do not use unless it's part of an official course/company title. Use 'and' in normal text.

Apostrophes

1990s, 1980s etc do not take one. Be careful in general about misuse of apostrophes, eg omitting them when they are necessary ('Its one of the best courses') or using them when not necessary ('it's beautiful surroundings make it special').

Only plurals end with 's' for the possessive ('tourists’ cars', 'visitors’ feedback'). But for one visitor, the apostrophe goes before the s ('visitor’s feedback'). Where 's' is the last letter in the word ('James') add on the apostrophe s at the end ('St James’s Street', 'William Butler Yeats’s poetry'). 

Capitalisation

Don't overuse. Okay to cap up 'Club' in the title of a golf club, but thereafter, should be referred to as 'the club'. Similarly, if giving the title of a river, eg 'the River Suck' cap up, but thereafter, it's just 'the river'. Do not cap up 'links', 'golf' or any other non-proper nouns in middle of sentence.

DO NOT WRITE SENTENCES ALL IN UPPERCASE as it is more difficult to read online.

Commas

Use two commas, or none at all, when inserting a clause in the middle of a sentence

NOTE: In some cases using two commas to create a sub-clause is still incorrect. You know it is incorrect if, when you remove the sub-clause entirely, the sentence does not make sense

Company titles

Omit 'Ltd', 'plc' etc – it is not necessary

Comprises

Do not follow with 'of'

Dates

Use format: Tuesday, 3 February 2009. Note comma after the day.

Easter

Uppercase

E.g.

Use full stops for consistency.

Email

No hyphen, lower case unless at start of sentence ('Email us at' but 'You can email us at').

Etc

No full stop 

Euro

Lower case unless at start of sentence.

Exclamation marks

Keep to a minimum.

Ezines

No hyphen, lower case unless at start of sentence.

Festivals

Use upper case for full titles, lower case for other references ('The Galway Arts Festival takes place in July. The festival attracts visitors from...').  

Figures

Use words for nine and under except with addresses, distances, percentages, weights and measures ('three years', 'four mountains' but '1km', '8kg', '3m' (metres), '5m2' (BUT '3 square miles')). 

Use figures for 10 and over ('27 years ago', 'over-60s'). Same rule applies for 'seventh, ninth, 21st'.

Exception: any number used at the start of a sentence should be written out in words even if it is 10 or over ('Seventy-five visitors attended the exhibition').

If using millions or billions, use the full word not 'm' or 'bn' and do not write out the full figure including all the zeros ('8.7 million units', £1.5 billion').

For large numbers, use commas ('2,996' not '2996').

Forward slashes ('/')

Do not insert a space before or after ('Waterford / Dungarvan' should be 'Waterford/Dungarvan').

'Founded'

No need to ever use word 'originally' before this.

Group

Lowercase if used in a general way or to describe part of something larger ('project working group') but uppercase if part of the title of a major organisation ('Kerry Group').

H

Words beginning with 'h' take 'a' when the stress is on the first syllable ('a history', 'a hospital') but 'an' when the stress is on the second ('an hotel', 'an historic occasion').
Hyphens

Include when two words are tied together to make an adjective ('top-class accommodation’, 'business-oriented approach). Also, a building is three years old but it is a 'three-year-old building’.

i.e.  

Use full stops for consistency

Italics

Avoid where possible, as they are harder to read on screen.

Job titles

In most cases the person’s title will take precedence to their name, so putting title first and then name is usually most appropriate ('WIT Job Title Firstname Surname today said').

Uppercase job titles 'Chief Executive’ unless talking about 'chief executives' in general, which would be lowercased.

Key

An overused word ('this project will be a key focus for 2018'). Try: 'this project will be a focus for 2018'.

Keywords

All one word.

Less v fewer

Use 'fewer' when referring to individual items grouped together ('fewer events’), otherwise, use 'less' ('less space').

Licence/license

The first is a noun ('a licence'), the second is a verb ('licensing the premises').

'Meet with'

Just use 'meet'. Same applies to 'sell off' – just use 'sell'.  

Minister

Uppercase for noun whether full title or generic ('The Minister for Education, 'Government Ministers') but not adjective 'ministerial'. 

Money

€10 not €10.00.

Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr, Prof

No full stop after. Same goes for 'St Stephen’s Green' – no full stop after 'St'.

Northern Ireland

Write as written here.

Numbers

See Figures. 

Online

All one word. Same goes for 'website'.

Over

Often used when 'more than' would be better ('more than 60% of visitors' not 'over 60% of visitors').

Per cent

Use symbol ('1%'; '15 to 20 %').

Period of time

Just use 'period' or replace with the actual length of time ('several years').

Pluralisation

United States is a plural so 'The United States are'.

But most other entities - countries, companies etc - are singular, so treat as such (‘the organisation was planning’ or ‘WIT is on hand to’).

President

Uppercase if referring to the President of a country; otherwise lowercase.

Quotations

Use single quotation marks -

  • In headlines, sub headings and picture captions
  • For a quote within a quote (The Chief Executive said: “This is a big improvement on what was described in the report as ‘an inefficient system’.”)

Otherwise use normal, double quotation marks.

If omitting some text from the middle of a quote, use three stops and a space after ('He said: "It filled me with optimism that young people can develop skills… to move forward in their careers in tourism.”)

Regions

Lowercase and separate. Eg south east

Report

Use uppercase for the name of a report, but lowercase otherwise

Representatives

Takes 'of' not 'from' after ('representatives of').

Spacing

Ensure there is one space after every full stop before start of next sentence.

Titles (of plays, books etc)

Avoid italics and quote marks. Just say 'Ulysses by James Joyce', 'Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett'.

Lowercase words such as 'a', 'an', 'and', 'at', 'for', 'from', 'in', 'of', 'the', 'to' unless they are the first word of the title/sentence.  

Under way

Two words.

US spelling

Do not use. So 'modernize' should be 'modernise'. Use s instead of z. Similarly, 'remodeled' should be 'remodelled' and 'meters' should be 'metres'.

Vitally important

Just use 'vital'.

Web

Lowercase unless at the start of a sentence.

Webpage

All one word and lowercase unless at the start of a sentence.

Website

All one word and lowercase unless at the start of a sentence.

Which/that/who

'Which' or 'that' for things [including the Government, companies, councils, etc]; who for people. So 'the company that has worked hard' but 'the employees, who have worked hard'.

While

Not 'whilst'; if you mean although, use 'although'.

Here's some guides we've put together for you

Writing tip: writing for the web

Writing tip: bullet points

For consistency please use the following:

Main Campus

The buildings on WIT’s Main Campus, Cork Road, Waterford are:

Tourism & Leisure Building

Main Building not Engineering & Science Building

Business Building

FTG Building

Walton IT Building

O’Connell Bianconi (Health Sciences) Building not Nursing Building

The Luke Wadding Library

The Courtyard [student services]

R Block [Clubs and societies, maintenance etc]

Multi-purpose Hall not Sports Hall

The Gallery

The Dome Bar

Student accommodation on this campus is called College Fields

Applied Technology Campus

This is in Waterford Industrial Estate

The buildings here are:

Applied Technology Building not Norco

Engineering Research Building

Plumbing Building

West Campus

WIT’s West campus, Carriganore, Waterford is often called Carriganore, however the correct use of the building name followed by West Campus, Carriganore, Waterford is encouraged.

The buildings here are:

The WIT Arena

Arclabs

Netlabs

Carriganore House

Beechfield House

Archives

College Street Campus

Convent Building

Arts Building

St Dominic’s

3D studios

HA Building

The Bakery

Pottery

The Granary

WIT’s Department of Architecture is based in The Granary, Hanover Quay, Waterford

Kilkenny Campus

Research and Innovation Centre, WIT Kilkenny Campus, Burrell Hall, St Kieran’s College