For Journalism and PR at Sunderland University


The ability to write clear, grammatical English is the key skill for anyone working in the communications industry. This guide is designed to help you communicate effectively. Let it be your guide whenever you write a piece of journalism or public relations copy.

Here, you will find advice on grammar and punctuation, and guidance on how to conform to our house style – the rules we have established within the Journalism and PR department to keep our writing consistent as well as clear.

Do we say the Government is, or the Government are?  Is it while or whilst?  Do we express numbers in words or digits? The answers to these questions and many more will be found here.

Style guides exist across the communications industry; by following our style guide you will be preparing yourself for the world of work.


How We Do It



A-Z of Tricky Words

Copy Guidelines

Referencing Guide

Sports Journalism Style Tips

Further Reading


Acronyms and Abbreviations

For instance, BBC, Nato, Ofsted, NUT

  • Write the organisation’s name out in full the first time you refer to it, unless it’s so common you don’t need to:
  • The National Union of Teachers voted for strike action last night.
  • The BBC has released its autumn schedules.

         Note:  no full stops between the letters.

  • If you can’t pronounce it as a word – BBC, NUT, UN, EU – then write it out in capital letters. If you can pronounce it as a word –Nato, Aids, Ofsted – then cap the first letter and use lower case for the rest.
  • Use acronyms and other abbreviations sparingly, especially for groups that are not widely known (for instance, Pennywell Neighbourhood Centre, which calls itself the PNC). They can confuse the reader and slow a story down. It’s better to write the name out on first reference, then refer to it in more general terms: the community group, the teachers’ union.


  • Don’t give street numbers – they make it too easy for people to be tracked down
  • Do give road or street name in full, with capital letters for each part:
  • Green Lane
  • If you are writing for a national or even regional audience, add the county or metropolitan borough to show where a town or suburb is:
  • Joan Smith, of Newminster Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle,


  • Helps reader form a mental picture of the person in your story, so include age whenever possible
  • Don’t say aged 42, just put age in commas:
  • Joan Smith, 42, of Newminster Terrace,
  • Note style for a 42-year-old woman – hyphens, and year not years
  • Note descriptions for various ages:
  • Up to 18 months – babies
  • 19 months-3 years – toddlers
  • 3-12 years – children or youngsters
  • 13-17 – teenagers
  • 18 or older – men or women, but not gentlemen or ladies (old-fashioned)
  • Don’t say pensioner (many people have pensions by 50 or 60)

Collective Nouns

  • Businesses, organisations and public bodies are single entities, so take a singular verb:
  • Nissan is (not are), Oxfam is, Sunderland City Council is.
  • Exceptions include police, sport and entertainment:
  • Police are investigating …(but the fire service is)
  • Sunderland are the only North East team in the top flight.
  • Oasis are splitting up.


  • January 1, 2010, not January 1st
  • September 2009 (no comma)
  • She last met her adopted sister in the 1950s. (not Fifties and no apostrophe)
  • Use 14th Century (not 14th century) and note it is 200BC but AD 2004
  • Use the First World War/Second World War (not World War One/World War Two)


Avoid offending readers, and bear in mind your wider responsibility not to reinforce negative and harmful perceptions.

  • Don’t call a person mental or a mental patient, but you may need to say someone is mentally ill or is a psychiatric patient
  • Don’t say someone suffers from a disability, say they have it:
  • Sally has cerebral palsy.
  • Don’t say someone is wheelchair-bound. You may need to say they use a wheelchair
  • Do be specific about what someone’s disability is, and don’t use terms such as cripple, spastic or handicapped
  • If someone is visually impaired, don’t wrongly call them blind.
  • They might not be totally deaf, but might have a hearing impairment
  • Deaf and dumb, and deaf mute, are inaccurate; use deaf without speech for those who have no useful hearing and whose normal means of communication is by signs, finger spelling or writing.


  • Don’t define an individual in terms of their partner
    • Not John Smith and his wife Lynne, but John and Lynne Smith
  • Don’t call someone a mother-of-two or refer casually to their appearance (eg blonde Jane) when it’s irrelevant to the story, ie when you wouldn’t refer to a man in the same way
  • Do use gender-neutral terminology:
    • actor (for both male and female), not actress
    • air steward, not air hostess
    • business people or executives, not businessmen
    • firefighter or fire crew, not fireman/men
    • journalist, not newsman/newsgirl
    • nurse, not male nurse
    • photographer, not cameraman
    • police officer, not policeman/woman
    • refuse collector, not dustman
    • supervisor, not foreman


  • Use metric measures rather than imperial, except for speeds and distance in miles not kilometres, and people’s weight (especially babies) in stones, pounds and ounces
  • For temperatures, use Celsius first, then Fahrenheit in brackets, as in 20C (68F), but it is fine to use Fahrenheit for impact when, for example, the temperature reaches 100F
  • Use the following abbreviations:
    • inches in
    • foot/feet ft (So, 5ft 9in)
    • yard/s yd
    • millimetre/s mm
    • metre/s m
    • kilometre/s km
    • centimetre/s cm
    • miles spell out, but miles per hour mph
    • ounce/s oz
    • pound/s lb
    • stone/s st (So, 10st 6lb)
    • milligram/s mg
    • gram/s g
    • kilogram/s kg
    • tonne/s spell out
    • pint pt
    • gallon gal
    • litre spell out


  • Use £46.22 (not £46.22p)
  • £7million (no space) on first reference then £7m; £7billion then £7bn
  • Include a comma in thousands:
  • It will cost £75,000.
  • Use the euro in text but €200 when giving specific amounts.


You need a first name and a surname – a story (even a vox pop) can’t be published without both.

  • Give a person’s name in full the first time your refer to them in a story, without using their title of Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss:
  • Joan Smith has appealed for the return of her daughter.
  • Thereafter, use Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms Smith (note, no point after them). Always check the title a woman prefers. If in doubt, use
  • Mrs Smith, 46, said she was desperate for news about her daughter Kelly.
  • But there are exceptions to this rule. Refer to children (under 18) by their first name after the first reference:
  • Kelly Smith has been missing since Tuesday. Kelly, 17, was last seen at her friend’s home.
  • In features and human interest stories, it is often appropriate to use first names throughout after the first reference.
  • Fred Jones is celebrating today after winning the Lottery. Fred, 82, has won £2million.
  • In business, sport and arts stories, use only surnames after the first reference:
  • Beckham was jeered on the pitch last night.
  • In sport, nicknames are acceptable in tabloid journalism:
  • Fergie, Becks
  • Refer to defendants in court cases and convicted criminals by surname only, whether male or female, after the first reference.
  • Smith, of Alexander Terrace, Sunderland, denied three charges of child cruelty.


  • Write one to nine in words, then 10 (not ten), 11, 12, 13 etc in digits:
  • James, 22, has a sister who is only nine.
  • Exceptions are percentages, weights, dates, time, temperature, sports scores, betting odds and votes:
  • The meeting will be held at 9am on Monday, September 7.
  • Another exception is when a number is at the beginning of a sentence. Spell it out, even if it is 10 or above:
  • Two hundred people are feared dead after an earthquake in China

Per Cent

Not %, or pc, or percent. So 15 per cent or 68.6 per cent, or minus 4 per cent.


  • Use North East, not North-East or northeast
  • Newcastle upon Tyne has no hyphens. But for local use, just say Newcastle
  • Distinguish between Durham City and County Durham
  • Note the spellings of Middlesbrough, Edinburgh, Peterborough


  • Never refer to skin colour or ethnic origin unless crucial to the story
  • Try to avoid the word immigrant, which is often used incorrectly to describe people who were born in Britain and which has negative connotations. Don’t confuse illegal immigrant with asylum seeker (someone who has applied for refugee status). There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker, and an asylum seeker can become an illegal immigrant only if he or she remains in Britain after having failed to respond to a removal notice.
  • Only mention the word Gypsy or Traveller if absolutely relevant. Recognised as ethnic groups under the Race Relations Act, so take a capital letter.
  • Use black for people of African and African-Caribbean origin, Asian for those of Asian origin and white for Caucasians

Telephone Numbers

Use 0191 515 2000 (no hyphens, grouped by exchange).

With mobiles, leave a space between the five-digit network code and the number. So 07964 865443.


That can often be cut from a sentence to save words.

  • He said that he would be leaving in half an hour.
  • It is claimed that the defendant stabbed his partner after a row.


  • The event will take place at 7.30pm (no points between p and m, but a point distinguishes hours from minutes)
  • For midday, use noon
  • Seasons: autumn, winter, spring, summer – no caps – but events such as Christmas, Easter, Good Friday and St George’s Day do take caps


  • Use a capital for the first letter of each word in the title of a book, film, play, hymn, song, newspaper, painting or the name of a ship, train or boat, but don’t put those names or titles in italics or quotes.
  • Use lower case for job titles (apart from Government – see below), so it is headteacher and managing director. Local council posts are also lower case:
  • chief executive Coun Dave Smitheven if the council itself uses capital letters for them.
  • When referring to police forces, local councils and specific churches, cap up the title when you use it in full. But thereafter, use lower case for the council, the police, the church.
    • Sunderland City Council met last night. The council decided to raise taxes.
    • Northumbria Police have issued a new appeal. The police want to trace a missing man.
    • St Peter’s Church was built in 674. The church has been nominated for a World Heritage Site.

Note – cap up Church when you are talking about the institution in general:

  • The Church is much less liberal in Nigeria.
  • Police. For police chief constable, use full title on first reference followed by Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss:
  • Chief Constable Joan Smith, followed by Ms Smith.
  • For lower police ranks, use full title on first reference followed by abbreviated form of title:
  • Superintendent Joan Smith, followed by Supt Smith.
  • More abbreviations:
    • Chief Superintendent – Chief Supt
    • Chief Inspector – Chief Insp
    • Detective Chief Inspector – Det Chief Insp
    • Detective Inspector – DI
    • Detective Sergeant – DS
    • Detective Constable – DC
    • Sergeant – Sgt
    • Police Constable – PC (note – don’t use WPC; women are police constables too)
  • Council Abbreviate Councillor to Coun (note – no point afterwards), used for first and subsequent mentions. Remember, job titles are lower case
    • Coun Joan Smith, cabinet member for housing,
  • Government. The Government, the Cabinet, the General Election, and posts such as Prime Minister, Chancellor and Defence Secretary all take caps. But ministers and references to former governments and previous general elections, etc, are lower case
  • Journalists commonly contract titles such as Secretary of State for Defence, to Defence Secretary, and Minister of State to defence minister. There is only one Secretary of State in a department, but there can be several ministers
  • MPs: use Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin, or Chris Mullin, MP. In debate reports etc give party and constituency after the name on first mention, so Fraser Kemp (Lab, Houghton and Washington East).
  • Courts. Judges are Lord Justice or Mr Justice Smith or, for County Court Judges, His Honour, Judge Smith. Then the Judge
  • Church of England clergy are referred to as the Rev John/Jane Smith, then Mr/Mrs/Ms Smith (note it is the Rev).
    • Archbishop – First time refer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, then Dr Williams.
    • Bishop – The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, then the bishop or Bishop Wright.
    • Roman Catholic parish priests are initially Rev John Smith, then Father Smith.
    • Pope – Give his full name first time, so Pope Benedict XVI, then the Pope.
    • Jews – religious teachers are rabbis (eg, Rabbi Lionel Blue).
    • Islam – followers are known as Muslims, and their spiritual leaders are imams (eg, Hussein Ahmed, Imam of the Whitechapel mosque).
    • Hindus – refer to a Hindu priest (eg, Nathubhai Patel, priest of the Southall Hindu temple).
    • Sikhs – followers worship at a gurdwara (temple) and their religious teacher is a priest (eg, Surinder Singh, priest of the Barking Gurdwara).
  • Army. Use full title on first reference, then abbreviated form. E.g., General John Smith, then Gen Smith. Other abbreviations:
  • Field-Marshal – FM
  • General – Gen
  • Major – Maj
  • Brigadier – Brig
  • Colonel – Col
  • Captain – Capt
  • Lieutenant – Lt
  • Sergeant – Sgt
  • Lance-Sergeant – L Sgt
  • Corporal – Cpl
  • Private – Pte
  • Guardsman – Gdsmn
  • Trooper -Tpr
  • Royalty. Refer to the Royal Family (note caps)
    • the Queen
    • the Prince of Wales
    • the Duchess of Cornwall
    • the Princess Royal (not Princess Anne)
    • the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Philip
    • the Duke of York or Prince Andrew
  • Honours. For Knights, Baronets and Dames – full name and title on first reference, then title and first name thereafter
    • Sir Bobby Robson on first reference, then Sir Bobby.
    • Dame Jennifer Jenkins, then Dame Jennifer.
  • Trade Names
  • Follow a company’s style of referring to itself, right down to use of capitals:
  • easyJet, adidas, Bhs, Coca-Cola, MetroCentre, One NorthEast and PlayStation
  • Don’t use a company name or trade name as a generic term. So
    • ballpens, not Biros
    • condoms, not Durex
    • cash dispenser, not Cashpoint
    • sticky tape, not Sellotape
    • vacuum cleaner, not Hoover
    • whirlpool bath, not Jacuzzi
    • adventure holiday, not Outward Bound

Wasted Words

Keep your writing as concise and concrete as you can. Avoid jargon and words that are redundant, too formal or imprecise. Some examples (and preferred options) are:

  • adjacent to – near
  • approximately – about
  • as a result of – because
  • as yet – yet
  • at an early date – soon
  • at present – now
  • at this moment in time – now
  • cause injuries – injure
  • concerning – about
  • the deceased – use the name
  • despite the fact that – although
  • during the course of – during
  • exceeding the speed limit – speeding
  • for the purpose of – to
  • gale-force winds – gales
  • gathered together – met
  • head up – head
  • in attendance – present
  • in connection with – about
  • in order to – to
  • in the near future – soon
  • in the event of – if
  • managed to is always redundant, so he escaped, not he managed to escape
  • park up – park
  • pass away – die (pass away is also a euphemism – an indirect, unnecessarily polite way of referring to something. Whenever possible, we avoid euphemisms.)
  • per annum – a year
  • resides at – lives at
  • the police – police

Avoid tautology – using words to say the same thing twice. Examples are past history (history is always past), free gift (a gift is by definition free), creating 20 new jobs (if they’re being created, then they must be new), still remains, link together, completely full, etc.

Also avoid currently – it rarely adds anything useful. And steer clear of recently, especially in intros, because it is too vague to be of much use.


The Sentence

Clear, accurate writing is at the heart of good journalism and PR. Sentences are the building blocks of that writing.

  • A sentence expresses a complete thought.
  • A sentence makes complete
  • Make sure your sentences are clear and complete.

We can have one-word sentences.  Commands such as “Jump!” or “Stop!” are sentences, as are exclamations such as “Never!” or “Unbelievable!”, and questions such as “Who?” or “Where?”

However, most of the sentences we use in journalism and PR must have a verb and a subject.

  • The verb expresses the action in a sentence. It is the most important word; it gives a sentence its power. Sometimes that action is obvious – when we talk about walking, eating, jumping, shooting, for instance; sometimes it is less obvious – as in being, becoming, feeling.
  • The subject carries out the action.

Example:  The journalist writes a story for the newspaper.

  • The journalist is the subject
  • Writes is the verb
  • The sentence makes complete sense: we have a clear mental image of the journalist writing a story.

A sentence can have more than one main verb:

  • The journalist writes a story and sends it to the news editor.
  • The journalist wrote a story, sent it to the news editor and left the office.

Subject and main verb can be seen in complete journalistic sentences:

  • Estate agent Carole Bohanan will brew up some toil and trouble after winning an X Factor-style witch hunt. (Daily Mirror)
  • A Cambridge physicist who pioneered the idea that everything in the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings of energy is to succeed Stephen Hawking in the most prestigious academic post in the world. (Guardian)

If you’re writing full sentences like this, check that they have a subject and a main verb. Read them through; if possible, read them aloud.

We can think of a subordinate clause as a group of words forming part of a sentence.   A subordinate clause adds information to that sentence but cannot stand on its own.

  • Estate agent Carole Bohanan will brew up some toil and trouble after winning an X Factor-style witch hunt.
  • The words in bold form a subordinate clause. On its own such a clause does not form a sentence; it is merely a fragment (sentence fragment).
  • Don’t write: Estate agent Carole Bohanan will brew up some toil and trouble. After winning an X Factor-style witch hunt.
  • Some fragments look very much like sentences – they have subject and verb but they begin with a subordinating conjunction, or linking word, that is clearly part of a previous sentence.
  • Some fragments create quite strong images but do not work as sentences because they are incomplete – they leave questions unanswered.

The following words in bold are not sentences. They are fragments.  In each case the fragment is part of the previous sentence and should be preceded by a comma, not a full stop. Don’t make the mistake of writing fragments like these instead of full sentences:

  • James Smith has been back to his home town many times. Although it is more than a decade since he visited the club where he played his first gig.
  • He has just released his second album. Produced by studio wizard Trevor Horn at his state-of-the-art recording complex.
  • Brown has had much experience of life in the Championship. Playing in midfield for Wolves and Ipswich before his transfer to Reading.
  • Sentences can start with and
  • Sentences can start with but
  • And and but are not subordinating conjunctions; they are coordinating conjunctions.

These are sentences:

  • To pay his university fees John worked every night of the week in a supermarket. And for the next three years he studied hard to get a good degree.
  • Many of the students battled through the snow to get to their lectures, arriving cold but ready to work. But some of them, who lived a long way from the campus, were unable to get to classes on time.

While sentence fragments should be avoided in formal writing, they are sometimes used by expert writers to create a particular effect. However, it is rare for these fragments to be merely snapped-off subordinate clauses.

Here’s an example from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, by the celebrated journalist and author Hunter S Thompson, which first appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971:

  • “About 20 miles east of Baker I stopped to check the drug bag. The sun was hot and I felt like killing something. Even a big lizard.

In examples like this, the subject and/or verb is usually understood. Such formations are often used in speech.

  • “I’ve never had any ambition, or thought of what I should be doing or had any idea of what I’d like to do. And still don’t.” (Joanna Lumley interviewed in the Guardian).
  • In both cases the subject and the verb are understood – (I have) Never (had). And (I) still don’t (have).

The Comma Splice

Another common mistake in sentence construction is to splice two sentences together with a comma.

  • A junior minister who fiddled his expenses has resigned from his post after an investigation by the Daily Telegraph. He will, however, stay on as an MP.
  • These are two crisp, complete sentences. They tell two distinct parts of the story.
  • Don’t make the mistake of joining them with a comma.
  • Don’t write: A junior minister who fiddled his expenses has resigned after an investigation by the Daily Telegraph, he will, however, stay on as an MP. 

Make sure it all adds up

  • If your sentence has two subjects with one verb, make sure your verb is plural.
  • Punctuation and grammar do make a difference to the quality of a piece of writing.
  • Don’t write: Punctuation and grammar does make a difference to the quality of a piece of writing.
  • If you have a singular subject, don’t have a plural verb.
  • “Anyone who thinks I will resign from my job is
  • Don’t write: “Anyone who thinks I will resign from my job are

Make sure your nouns and pronouns match up.

  • The North East fishing coble is rarely seen off the coast these days because it has been superseded by larger boats.
  • Don’t write: The North East fishing coble is rarely seen off the coast these days because they have been superseded by larger boats.

The Paragraph

Sentences are combined in paragraphs. In news and online writing keep paragraphs short, carrying one or two, at the most three, crisp sentences of related material. Sentences and paragraphs must follow a logical progression; don’t write a series of unconnected statements. It is unusual for a news paragraph to exceed 50 words. In feature and magazine writing paragraphs can be longer.

Verbs – Past Participles

  • Usually when we turn a present tense verb into a past tense we add –ed


  • I walk
  • I walked
  • I have walked
  • I had walked
  • However, many everyday verbs don’t follow that pattern, and they often cause trouble for students.


  • I write, I wrote, I have/had written
  • I run, I ran, I have/had run
  • I go, I went, I have/had gone
  • I take, I took, I have/had taken
  • I get, I got, I have/had got (not gotten)
  • I speak, I spoke, I have/had spoken
  • I have, I had, I have/had had
  • I ring, I rang, I have/had rung
  • The past participle of lead is
  • I led a simple life.
  • I have led a simple life.

Do not confuse led (the verb) with lead (the metal).  

The Dangling Participle

This is a really common problem in journalism and PR. Watch out for it.

Example:  Heaped on a massive plate, she did her best to polish off her meal.

  • The participle in the opening subordinate clause (heaped) does not refer to the subject of the sentence (she); it refers to meal.
  • The participle in an opening clause such as this must refer to the subject.

The sentence should have been written like this:

  • She did her best to polish off her meal, which was heaped on a massive plate.

A similar problem can arise with phrases used to introduce sentences:

  • A clever girl, she easily passed her exams.

This is correct.  The phrase (a clever girl) relates to the subject of the sentence (she).  Compare with this example:

  • A clever girl, her exam questions were brilliantly answered.

This is incorrect.  The phrase (a clever girl) does not relate to the subject of the sentence (her exam questions).


The Full Stop

  • Use at the end of sentences
  • Don’t use with abbreviations, contractions, initials or titles:
  • Mr not
  • BBC not B.C.
  • TS Eliot not T.S. Eliot
  • 8pm, not 8 p.m.
  • Don’t use in headlines, standfirsts, captions

The Comma has many uses; these are a few of the most important.

  • Use it to separate a series of adjectives:
  • Journalists have a duty to be honest, accurate, ethical citizens.
  • Don’t use it when tightly linked adjectives build up a picture:
  • The reporter bought a bright red sports car.
  • Use it when you have a series of main verbs in a sentence:
  • The reporter wrote a story for the paper, knocked out a piece for the website and filmed some video footage. Note there is no comma before the last item in the list.
  • Use it when attributing quotes:
  • “It’s the best story he’s written this year,” she said.
  • Use after for example, however, nevertheless, (when used adverbially):
  • However, the event turned out to be disaster.
  • Use when you are inserting a phrase or clause into a sentence:
  • John Smith, from Brighton, is a fine student journalist.
  • John Smith’s first novel, From Here To Hove, was published in 2005.
  • John Smith, who used to work for Tesco, began studying journalism at Sunderland University in 2009.

In these examples the words between the commas could be taken out and the sentence would still make sense.


  • No commas. Brighton novelist John Smith came to Sunderland in 2009.

If you take out John Smith, it no longer makes complete sense.

  • Be careful with sentences such as these:
  • The Brighton novelist, John Smith, came to Sunderland in 2009. This suggests there is only one novelist in Brighton.
  • John Smith’s novel, From Here To Hove, was published in 2005. This suggests he has written only one novel.
  • It would be more accurate to write: The Brighton novelist John Smith came to Sunderland in 2009. John Smith’s novel From Here To Hove was published in 2005.
  • Use a comma when you put a clause at the beginning or end of a sentence, if you feel it will make the sentence clearer or will allow the reader to take a pause.
  • Because he has already written novels, John Smith finds it easy to write journalism.

The Semicolon

Use it:

  • To join two closely related sentences:
  • For years John Smith had dreamed of publishing a novel; now he had achieved it.
  • In balanced sentences, where one half has equal weight to the other:
  • Some journalists were brilliant; some were less so.
  • To separate long items in a list:
  • Among the journalists you will find on a newspaper are reporters, who gather the news; sub-editors, who write the headlines and often arrange the words on a page; and editors, who are in charge of a section, or who run the newspaper itself.

Some tabloid newspapers avoid the use of the semicolon – particularly in news stories.

The Colon

Use it:

  • To introduce full sentence quotes:
  • He said: “I find it impossible to believe this man.”
  • To introduce lists, or to introduce words that explain or expand on a statement:
  • There were three kinds of tree in the park: elm, beech and oak.

The Hyphen

Use it:

  • When putting a prefix on a word:
  • extra-marital, pre-Christian, multi-purpose
  • When linking words in descriptions:
  • Ice-cold beer, Sunderland-born man, 12-year-old girl
  • When forming compound nouns:
  • check-in, get-together, brother-in-law
  • When writing out numbers at the beginning of sentences:
  • forty-four, eighty-nine
  • When double letters need to be separated:
  • co-operate, re-examine
  • When distinguishing between meanings:
  • re-creation and recreation, re-form and reform, resign and re-sign, recover and re-cover


  • Don’t use with adverbs that end in-ly:
  • A newly built school, a recently discovered plan; not a newly-built school, a recently-discovered plan.
  • Make sure you have the hyphen between the right words. As Lynne Truss points out:
  • A cross-section of the public is not the same as a cross section of the public (2003:171).
  • Remember that such pairs of words lose their hyphens when used in other contexts:
  • We check in at the check-in.
  • Use a hyphen with well and much when they come before a noun:
  • He was a well-known actor. The actor was well known.
  • He was a much-loved character. He was a character who was much loved.
  • This is a well-founded belief. The belief was well founded.

The Dash This is twice the length of a hyphen. Microsoft Word will produce a dash automatically if you leave a space after a word, type the hyphen, then leave a second space before your next word.

  • If you are including material within a sentence in parenthesis – where you insert a passage for explanation or comment – use dashes rather than brackets:
  • Many of the professions – medicine, law, teaching, for example – require entrants to have a university degree.
  • Don’t write: Many of the professions (medicine, law, teaching, for example) require entrants to have a university degree.
  • Use it to expand upon, explain, justify a statement:
  • That was how it was explained to him – as a means of equipping people to be better citizens.

In this example, a colon could be used instead. The colon is more formal; the dash is often used in tabloid journalism, but some publications have banned journalists using a dash where a colon or, in some cases, a semicolon, could be used.

  • Use it to introduce an element of surprise, or to include remarkable information
  • Sunderland was under siege today – from Oasis fans trying to get tickets for the band’s show at the Stadium of Light.

The Exclamation Mark

  • Much used in informal writing – emails, texts etc – but best avoided in journalism and formal writing. Use it when quoting people shouting or exclaiming:
  • The young man kept shouting: “Jump out of the window!”

The Slash or Oblique Stroke

  • signifies an alternative:
  • and/or
  • Don’t use it where a hyphen is needed:
  • A singer/songwriter is someone who is either a singer or a songwriter. The correct usage is singer-songwriter – someone who is a singer and a songwriter.

The Apostrophe

  • It is used when we contract words
  • It is used to show ownership, or possession


  • haven’t (have not)
  • shouldn’t (should not)
  • they’ll (they will)
  • I’d (I would)
  • let’s (let us)
  • here’s (here is)

Possession (much easier than you think)

  • With most singular nouns, we show possession like this:
  • the book’s cover (one book)
  • the city’s biggest shops (one city)
  • It’s the same with these plurals:
  • the women’s clothing
  • the children’s shoes
  • people’s beliefs
  • But with most plurals, which end in ‘s’, the apostrophe goes at the end of the word:
  • the books’ covers (more than one book)
  • the cities’ biggest shops (more than one city)

Possessive of names ending in ‘s’:

  • In these cases it’s all about ease of speaking. If you can add an apostrophe ‘s’ and it’s easy to say, do so:
  • Dylan Thomas’s
  • But if it is clearly going to be a right gobful to add an apostrophe and an ‘s’, just put an apostrophe:
  • Socrates’
  • Ulysses’
  • Aristophanes’
  • It’s the same with certain singular nouns which end in ‘s’, such as goodness: as in the phrase for goodness’ sake.


  • We write:
  • six weeks’ time
  • eight months’ time
  • 14 years’ time

because we are talking about the time belonging to six weeks, eight months or 14 years.

  • Don’t use apostrophes with numbers, dates:
  • 1600s
  • 1980s

Don’t use an apostrophe to make plurals: pizzas, not pizza’s, potatoes, not potato’s.  Don’t use an apostrophe to make names plural. For instance, the Wilsons, the Browns. Surnames ending in ‘s’ add -‘es’ when plural: the Davises, the Ellises. If you want to talk about the cat belonging to the Davis family, it is the Davises’ cat.

  • Do use an apostrophe with plurals of letters:
  • p’s and q’s


You don’t need to put an apostrophe with a possessive pronoun:

  • Hers
  • yours
  • ours
  • theirs
  • its

It’s has an apostrophe when it is a contraction of:

  • it is
  • it has

Note the difference in this sentence:  It’s a question of ethics – and commerce – when a newspaper does not act in the best interests of its readers.


Our style is:

  • He said: “It’s just too late. I don’t think we can save her.” (Note the space between colon and quote marks)
  • “It’s just too late. I don’t think we can save her,” he said.

Note that the full stop in the first example, and the comma in the second, is inside the quotes.

  • It’s the same when you use a question mark or an exclamation mark:
  • He asked: “Is this the way to Amarillo?”
  • He shouted: “Get off the grass!”
  • If you need to quote within quotes you do it like this:
  • The vicar said: “The churchwarden has expressed his ‘extreme regret’ about this unfortunate incident.”
  • Thinking is treated the same as speaking:
  • I thought: “I’ve got to find some way out of here.”
  • If you have to use a partial quote, it goes like this:
  • He said it was a “complete disgrace” that nothing had been done.

If the partial quote comes at the end of a sentence, the full stop goes outside the quote marks.

  • He said it was a “complete disgrace”.

Note:  Make sure that, before you quote, you have named the person you are quoting.

Quotes in feature writing

In news writing the style is to attribute quotes (say who’s speaking) at the start, or sometimes the end, of a sentence. In feature writing the words flow less rigidly, more creatively.  You can place the attribution where you think it will work best – to emphasise certain words, for instance, or to add colour, drama or description.

  • “It haunts me,” says Paddy McAloon in his lovely, lilting North East accent, as he emerges, “blinking into the daylight” for an hour-long tussle during which he repeatedly tries to “square the circle” of writing hundreds of songs and yet releasing almost none of them. “It haunts me, it really does. I look at all the boxes, and inside some of them I know are good songs but I can’t remember them. I’ll write a new song with the same title sometimes because I can’t be bothered to look for the old one. It’s reached that stage.” Reclusive, prolific songwriter Paddy McAloon, formerly of Prefab Sprout, interviewed in The Word.
  • “The Bee was heaven,” she says, in a warm, sad kind of way. “He thought he was a dog, I think, because when I used to go and post letters in the village where we lived down in Kent, he would walk down the street with me.” Joanna Lumley talking about her cat in the Guardian’s G2.


This section covers common misspellings and words that don’t mean quite what you think they do.

As a general rule, prefer –ise to –ize (so organise, not organize), -ed to –t (so learned, not learnt), and  -y to –ie (so aunty and chippy, not auntie and chippie).

Use a dictionary. Remember, many computer spellcheckers default to a US dictionary, so check yours is set to use UK English. Spellcheckers are a useful tool for highlighting possible errors but don’t understand meaning so will let mistakes through.


a or an before h?       use a when the h is sounded: a historic event, a history lesson,

                                      a hotel, a historian; use an when the h is silent: an hour, an

                                      honour, an honest guy, an honorary doctorate

abattoir                       not abbattoir

about                           use with figures, so about 100 not around or approximately

accede                         use allow, grant

accidentally                not accidently

accommodation         two ‘c’s, two ’m’s

acknowledgment       not acknowledgement

adopted, adoptive     a child is adopted, the parents are adoptive

adorable                      not adoreable

adrenalin                     not adrenaline

advise/advice              advise is the verb (meaning to give advice), advice is the noun (it’s what you give)

adviser                         not advisor, but advisory

affect                            is the verb (pollution affects climate change), effect is the noun (pollution has an effect on climate change)

ageing                          needs the ‘e’

aggravate                    intensify, make worse, not irritate or annoy

aerial                            for TV reception and in the sky; arial is a font

A-level                         hyphen, no quotes (not ‘A’ Level)

all right                        never alright

alter                             means change, an altar is found in church

amendment                not double ‘m’

amid                             not amidst

among                         not amongst

ante                             means before

anti                               means against, ie anti-war protester

appeal                          We appeal against a decision/verdict/sentence. We don’t

appeal a decision/verdict/sentence. See impact

avert, avoid                 avoid things that are; avert their possibility (in the future) so By stepping on to the pavement I avoided  a car and averted an acciden


bachelor                      not batchelor

banister                       one ‘n’

bank holiday               no caps

banknotes                   one word

bare                              to reveal, exposed, eg  he bared his soul, the bare facts

bear                              furry animal, or to hold (to bear the weight), to tolerate (I can’t bear it), or to accept (to bear responsibility)

believable                   -ie-

benefit, benefited, benefiting

best man                     no caps. Write The best man was John Smith rather than the judgmental John Smith was the best man

biased                          adjective (bias is the noun). So Sports writers can be biased. There is a bias in favour of London clubs.

biannual                      half yearly, twice a year, biennial is every two years

Bible                             cap when it is the Holy Bible, lower case when general (Wisden is the bible for cricket fans)

bishop                          lower case, unless referring to a specific person, eg the Bishop of Durham

blackout                      one word

black                            avoid as a pejorative description, eg black economy

breakdown                 one word as noun, but two as verb. eg I’m heading for a breakdown. But will my car break down?

breakthrough             one word

breach                         ….of trust, but breech of a gun

breath                          as noun, eg take a deep breath. But breathe as a verb, eg breathe more easily

breathalyser               not a ‘z’

broadband                  one word, lower case

the Budget                  capped when refers to official statement of Government spending plans, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, otherwise lower case (eg budget cuts)

budgeted                    one ‘t’

bullseye                       one word

buses                           plural of bus (not busses)

by-election                  hyphen

bylaw                           not bye law or by-law

bypass                         no hyphen

by-product                  hyphen


Cabinet                        in Government takes cap, lower case for council cabinet

canvas                         is material used for tents

canvass                        discuss, seek votes

Catholic                       capped for the religion but lower case for general, eg She has catholic tastes

chair                             use chairman/woman unless the individual prefers chair

changeable                  -ea-

Channel 4                    not Channel Four

charges                        she admitted six charges of theft (not US counts)

checkouts                    (supermarket), one word

Christmas                    Xmas is banned in copy, OK in headlines

chronic                        means continuous, not severe or painful.

civil servant                 lower case

climactic                      (climax) but climatic (climate)

closed circuit  television     not close circuit television, CCT thereafter

clubhouse                   one word


collectables                 not collectibles

commence                  use start or begin

common sense           as noun, eg he has a lot of common sense, but commonsense for adjective, eg he had commonsense values

compared  to              means to liken to, as in Wayne Rooney compared himself to Pele.

compared with           means to make a comparison, as in We might compare potatoes with tomatoes, to  see which is the more nutritious.

complement/              makes something complete, go with



complimentary           you pay someone a compliment. Complimentary is something nice or something free (complimentary remark, a complimentary ticket)

comprise                     to include or consist of. Note – not comprise of

contemporary            at the same time (not necessarily at the present time).

council tax                   lower case

councillor                    someone elected to a council (note, not US councilor)

counsellor                   someone who gives advice (not US counselor)

crackdown                  as a noun, eg police launched a crackdown on crime. But two words as a verb, eg the police must crack down on crime

co-operate                  needs the hyphen

cul-de-sac                    hyphenate, plural is culs-de-sac

curb                              means restrain, kerbs are at the side of a roa


damage                        £100 damage, not £100 worth of damage

data                              singular is datum

daydream                    one word

deckchair                    one word

defensible                   not  –able

desert                          noun meaning arid region or verb meaning to abandon

dessert                         is a pudding

definite                        not -ate; often unnecessary, ie a decision must be definite

demonstrators           not demonstraters

device/devise              device is the noun meaning a gadget, scheme or trick, devise is the verb meaning to come up with a scheme or plan

different                      followed by from, not to or than

downbeat                    one word

downgrade                  one word

downfall                       one word

download                     one word

downmarket                one word

downplay                      one word

downright                     one word

downsize                       one word

down-to-earth              hyphens

downturn                      one word

down payment             two words

drum’n’bass                  no spaces

dryer                              noun – as in device for drying clothes or hair

dynamo                       plural is dynamos


the Earth                     cap, but the sun, the moon, lower case

echo                             plural is echoes

effect                            is the noun (the film has great special effects), affect is the verb (that film really affects me).  Less commonly can be used as a verb, as in effecting a change

eg                                 for example, no points

e-fit                              not E-fit

either                           … this or that, neither this nor that, can only be used of two, and takes a singular verb

eliminate                     use in the sense of get rid of, not destroy or abolish

email                            verb or noun, no hyphen or capital letter

embarrassed              two ‘r’s, two ‘s’s

enrolled                       but enrolment

embryo                        plural is embryos

encyclopedia              not –ae-

enquiries                     always inquiries

the euro                      currency, not the Euro. But Euro-MP (not euro-MP)

ever                              Do not use with a superlative. First, biggest, best, etc, are not improved by it.

extrovert                     not extravert

eyewitness                  don’t use – use witness


facelift                         one word

fahrenheit                   lower case when in full, F when abbreviated.

farther                         for distance; further for quantity

fascist                          take care, legally dangerous if wrongly used

feasible                        not –able, and possible is better

fewer                           refers to numbers of things or people; less refers to amount (that can’t be counted). eg 100 fewer calls means less work for receptionists

fiancé                           male, fiancée female

fire engine                   two words

fingerprints                 one word

first aid                        two words lower case

flashback                     one word

fliers                             not flyers

flyover                         (bridge) one word

focusing, focused       not double ‘s’

forbear                        refrain from

forebear                      ancestor

forego                          to do before

forgo                            to do without

foundered                   when a vessel sinks

floundered                  when somebody makes a mistake

frier                              deep fat, not fryer, but Friar Tuck


fulfilled                        but fulfil and fulfilment

fundraiser/                  one word, no hyphen



ghetto                          plural is ghettoes

Gypsy                           recognised as an ethnic group under the Race Relations Act,

use with a capital letter. Same goes for Traveller.

glamorous                   adjective from glamour

go-ahead                     noun, as in get the go-ahead, but two words as verb (let’s go ahead with this)

goalkeeper                  one word

gorilla                           ape, guerrilla for fighter

golden wedding         two words, lower case

graffiti                          two ’f’s, one t (singular is graffito)

grandad                        one ‘d’

granddaughter            two ‘d’s’

grandson                      one ‘d’

grassroots                     one word

great-grandad/granddaughter/grandson/grandfather/grandmother etc

greenhouse effect     lower case

grow                              flowers and children grow but avoid such business jargon as

grow the company.  Only permissible if quoting someone.

gutted                          OK in quotes, otherwise avoid



hairdo                          no hyphen


hairstyle/dresser        one word

handful                        not handfull

handout                      not hand-out/hand out

hanged                        people are found hanged, not hung

hangar                         houses aircraft, but coat hanger

harass/ed                    one ‘r’

hat-trick                       hyphen

hero                             plural is heroes

hiccup                          not hiccough

hi-tech                         not high-tech

homemade                 one word

homeowner                one word

housework                  one word

horseracing                 not horse racing/horse-racing

humourless                 but humorist, humorous


ice cream                    two words, no hyphen

ideological                  not idealogical

idiosyncrasy                note -asy

impact                          avoid its use as a verb – as in the decision will impact on the             

                                      the situation, or (worse still) the decision will impact the

                                      situation. Use affect instead – the decision will affect the  

                                      situation; or use impact as a noun – the decision will have an

                                      impact on the situation.

ingenious                    clever

ingenuous                   artless


inoculate                     one n

inquire, inquiry          not enquire, enquiry

insistence                    -ence not –ance

install,  installed         but instalment

instil                             as in instil good manners, not instill

-ise   not -ize               in fertilise, neutralise, naturalise

the internet                lower case, not Internet


jewellery                     not jewelry

jet-ski                           hyphen

Jobcentre                    not Job Centre

joyrider                        one word, but avoid – it’s not fun if it’s your car

judgment                    not judgement except in The Day of Judgement


kerb                             of pavement, but curb temper

kick-off                        as noun, eg the kick-off has been delayed. But no hyphen as verb, eg let’s kick off with some ideas.


lady/ies                        avoid. Adult females are women (unless it’s a title)

laidback                       one word

lamppost                     not lamp post/lamp-post

laptop                          (computer) one word

lap dancer                   two words

lawnmower                one word

lay, lie                          I lay a trap. The table is laid, I lie down. I lay (past tense) in bed. I have lain (not laid) in bed all day

layby                            not lay-by

layout                           when used as a noun

learned                        not he learnt the subject

left wing                      (politics) two words, lower case, eg he is left wing. But hyphen as noun (he is a left-winger) and as adjective preceding noun (the Mirror is a left-wing newspaper)

lend                              is a verb (I will lend you £5), loan is the noun (thanks for the loan). Note – don’t confuse with borrow (I need to borrow £5)

less                               see fewer above

liaison/liaise                don’t forget the second ‘i’

Liberal Democrats     no hyphen but after first reference use Lib-Dems

licence                         you hold a driving licence (noun) which licenses (verb) you to drive

lifeboat                        one word

lifeline                          one word

lightning                      precedes thunder, lightening reduces the load

line-up                          when used as a noun; note the hyphen

literally                        don’t use unless it really is, eg he was literally glued to the TV: no glue so no literally.

loth                              means reluctant

loathe                          means dislike

long-stay                     car park – hyphen

lookout                         when used as a noun


make-up                      when used as a noun; note the hyphen

manifesto                    plural is manifestoes

masterclass                 not master class

may, might                  take care: you may go to the shops but you might not want to

maybe                          perhaps (adverb). Don’t use as verb: You may be right there. Not you maybe right there.

mayor                          lower case so Sunderland mayor Fred/Freda Smith

medieval                     not mediaeval

met with                      Use met, not met with, as in she met him (not she met with him)

middle age                  two words, but middle-aged

mileage                        not milage

minibus/cab                one word

more than                   not over when referring to numbers, as in more than 100 people

mother                        use for serious stories:  Mother fights off attacker

mother-in-law            lower case, hyphenate

Mam/Mum                 use for light-hearted stories: Mum is top of the class

mousy                          not mousey

100mph                       not 100 mph – no space, no points


National Lottery         (first reference) then the Lottery

nevertheless               one word, no hyphens

New Year                     not new year

newborn                      not new born/new-born

newsworthy                one word

next of kin                   no hyphens

none                            singular, so none of the strikers has (not have) scored

no one                         not no-one/ noone

nonetheless                one word

noticeboard                one word


observer                      not -or

occur                            but occurrence (happen is better)

offbeat                         no hyphen

off-licence                   hyphen

offshore                       one word

offside                          no hyphen

off of                            never use!

OK                                not okay, or ok

on to                            two words

online                          one word

open-heart                  (surgery) hyphen

opencast                     one word

open-plan                   (office) hyphen

outdated                     one word

over                              don’t use with numbers . Use more than instead, as in more than 100 people

overact                        one word

over-active                  hyphen

overall                         one word

over-confidence         hyphen

overlook                      one word

over-react                   hyphen

overrate                      one word

override                       one word

overseas                      one word

overweight                 one word


parallel                        to, not with

partly                           refers to part but not the whole

partially                       to a limited extent: His health has partially recovered.

passer-by/                            not passerby/passersby


past and last               over the past few weeks interest rates have fallen, not  over the last few weeks interest rates have fallen. But it is correct to write He scored in the last few minutes of the match – when talking about a precise event

payroll                         one word

phase                           a stage or to schedule, as in to phase in. Don’t confuse with faze which means to cause to be disturbed (I’m not fazed by insults)

phone-in                      hyphen

photocopy                  one word

peninsula                    (noun),  peninsular (adjective)

per cent                       two words. Don’t use large percentage or small percentage when many or few is better

picnic                           picnickers

point-blank                 hyphen

post-mortem examination  not just post-mortem, and not autopsy (US)

potato                          plural is potatoes

practice                       noun, as in doctor’s practice

practise                       verb, as practising (perfecting) football skills

premier                        prime minister or most important, as in Premier League

premiere                      first showing of a play or film

prenuptial                   not pre-nuptial

preventive                   not preventative

pre-war                       hyphen

principal                      first or most important (My principal concern is cost)

principle                      rule of conduct (Spending is against my principles)

program                      a computer program

programme                 a television programme, a programme leader, etc

prostate                      (gland) not prostrate (lying flat)

protesters                   not –ors


questionnaire             two n’s



racecourse                  one word

Radio 1                        not One

razzmatazz                  not razzamatazz

recover                        to regain possession, re-cover means cover again

redesign                      not re-design

re-elect                        hyphen

Register Office            people are married here, not at the Registry Office

reopen                         not re-open

responsible                 people bear responsibility, not things. Rain can cause floods, I cannot be responsible for them

rethink                         one word

r’n’b                             no spaces

rock’n’roll                    no spaces

roofs                            not rooves

run-up                          when used as a noun

rush hour                    (noun) two words, but rush-hour traffic


Saint                             use in full when referring to a saint, but St in place names

schoolchildren            one word

setback                        (obstacle) not set-back

St James’s Palace

St John Ambulance    not John’s

schoolboy/girl            one word

sewage                        is the stuff, sewerage  is the plumbing

shipbuilding                one word

short-stay                    (car park) hyphen

skill                               but skilful

standstill                      one word

stationary                    means not moving

stationery                    means paper, etc

stepfather/stepmother/stepson/stepdaughter no hyphen

step-family                  hyphen

stock car racing          no hyphens

Sunday school            but St Peter’s Sunday School when referring to a specific one

supersede                   with an ‘s’ not a ‘c’

sustain                         means keep going, so you suffer or receive injuries

swap                            not swop

swot                             (study) for exams, but swat a fly


takeaway                     one word for noun (let’s get a takeaway), two words for verb (take away this rubbish)

take-off                       (aircraft) when used as a noun

takeover                      noun, as in bid, but verb (I will take over that job) is two words

targeted                      not targetted

tattoo                          plural is tattoos, also tattooing

taxpayers                    everyone who pays income tax, but council tax payers

tearjerker                     one word

their                             possessive pronoun, as in it’s their responsibility

there                            preposition, as in look over there

they’re                         contraction of they are, as in they’re responsible

Third World                caps, but developing nations is better

throw-in                      when used as a noun

threequarters             one word

till                                 until, but note double “l”

toilets                          not public conveniences, WC or loo

tomato                        plural is tomatoes


try to                            try to win/, not try and win

T-shirt                          not t-shirt or tee-shirt

troublespot                 one word

Tsar                              … of Russia, but drugs czar


under                           less than or fewer than is better

undercarriage, underclothes, undercover, undercut, underdog, underemployed, underestimate etc all one word, but under way needs two

under-age                   hyphen

unique                         cannot be qualified. Don’t write quite unique, very unique etc

up-and-coming           hyphens (as in an up-and-coming band, meaning promising, likely to be successful), but upcoming (as in an upcoming tour) one word

up-to-date                  hyphens when used before a noun, as in an up-to-date book.

                                      Not the difference: This book is up to date.



veto                              plural is vetoes

vice-chairman             hyphen


wacky                          not whacky

wartime                       one word

wavelength                 one word

wedding of                  not wedding between

well known                 If someone/something is well known, you don’t need to say so

widow                          a woman whose husband has died; a man whose wife has died is a widower

wintry                          not wintery

weekend                     not week-end

were                             as in you were there (past tense of to be); don’t confuse with …

where                           as in where are you?

whereas                       one word

while                            not whilst

whisky                         Scotch has no ‘e’, but Irish whiskey does

who’s                           contraction of who is (who’s a clever girl, then?)

whose                          pronoun (whose bag is this?)

withhold                      two ‘h’s

world wide web,        lower case


Xmas                            Christmas (except in tabloid headlines)

x-ray                             hyphen, no cap, except Camp X-Ray



your                             possessive pronoun, as in your label is showing

you’re                          contraction of you are, as in you’re a disgrace


This is how you should set out your copy for all practical journalism modules – be they news, sport, magazine or fashion, and for print or online.


Student’s name, date

Headline for web or print here


Introduction starts here. Font should be simple, for example Arial, and should be at least 12 points in size.

Lines must be double spaced. You must leave an extra space between paragraphs. If the story goes on to a second page, put mf (stands for “more follows”) at the bottom of the page. Put name, date and page number at the top of the next sheet, too.

When the article is finished, write Ends and put the word count in brackets. Don’t include the headline in the word count. And come up with key words if your story is for the web, and picture/video/audio opportunities at the end.

Ends (273 words) 


  • Citations
  • Citations are used in the main body of your essay to back up your claims and say where you’ve got your quotes and information from. When used to support a general assertion they require author’s name and year of publication:
  • Sports journalism is no longer regarded as the ‘toy department’ (Boyle 2006; Steen 2008).
  • Direct quotes also require the page number. Either of the following styles is acceptable:
  • As Boyle (2006: 12) argues: ‘Sports Journalism has changed.’
  • Or
  • ‘Sports journalism has changed’ (Boyle 2006: 12).
  • When citing newspaper or online articles just use author’s name and, if available, year – do not include full web address or headline until the bibliography.
  • Bibliography
  • A bibliography provides the full reference details of the sources cited in your essay. It should be on a separate page and in alphabetical order of author using the following styles:
  • Books
  • Boyle, R. (2006) Sports Journalism: Context and Issues.  London: Sage.
  • Book chapters
  • Rowe, D. (2005) Fourth estate or fan club? Sports journalism engages the popular, in Allan, S. (ed) Journalism: Critical Issues. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Journal articles
  • Schultz, B. & Sheffer, M.L. (2010) ‘An exploratory study of how Twitter is affecting sports journalism’, International Journal of Sport Communication, 3, 226-239.
  • Newspaper articles
  • Preston, P. (2013) ‘Trial by television only saves others from BBC blame’, The Observer, September 15, p.46.
  • Online sources
  • com (2011) ‘Barclays Premier League Tweet Map’ at,,12306~2288403,00.html (Accessed 23 July, 2011).


  • A scoreline (eg Sunderland 2 Newcastle United 2) should be included on the top of all match reports
  • Use a person’s full name only when first mentioning them. Then, just use their surname (unless another person in the same article shares the surname, in which case use their full names throughout)
  • When match reporting, report the time of key action/goals etc as the minute in which the incident took place (eg if someone scores after 27 minutes and 30 seconds, it should be reported as a 28th-minute goal)
  • As advised elsewhere in the Style Guide, write numbers between one and nine up full, but numbers 10 and above as a figure (eg England fast bowler Stuart Broad took eight wickets as Australia saw 10 batsmen dismissed for just 60)


Amis, K. (1998) The King’s English. London: HarperCollins.

Evans, H. (2000) Essential English: For Journalists, Editors and Writers. London: Pimlico.

Hicks, W. (2013) English for Journalists. London: Routledge.

Shrives, C. (2012) Grammar for Grown-ups. London: Kyle Books.

Truss, L. (2003) Eats, Shoots & Leaves. London: Profile.

Waterhouse, K. (1993) Waterhouse on Newspaper Style. London:  Penguin.

Waterhouse, K. (1991) English, Our English: And How To Sing It. London: Viking.