Upstart Style Guide

Contents

 

Quick links: Quoting and quote punctuationNames and titles | Numbers, weights and measures | Dates and time | Capitalisation | Titles of books/movies/songs/articles etc. |Government and politics | Social media | Sports style guide | Holidays and religious occasions | Writing age | Writing percentages

See also: The upstart punctuation guide | The upstart writing guide

Visit the Responsible Reporting Guidelines and Code of Conduct

Click the letters to jump to the following sections:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


 

 

Abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms

In most cases, except the most common (ABC, MCG, AFL, TAFE), write out the organisation’s name in full the first time, with the acronym in brackets following it. Use the acronym in subsequent references.

e.g. The World Health Organisation (WHO) was formed in 1946. WHO is a special agency of the United Nations.

Australian states and territories: Spell out in the first instance (except ACT, which is always ACT) without the acronym in brackets, and then use the shortening in subsequent uses.

e.g. Correct abbreviations: SA, NT, Vic, Tas, WA, QLD, ACT

Abbreviations that are pronounced as words are usually capitalised.

e.g. NASA, UNICEF, UNESCO, AIDS, APEC

There are some exceptions, however, where abbreviation have become a part of the lexicon.

e.g. Anzac, eftpos, scuba

Title abbreviations: Doctor and Master and Mistress have no full stops.

e.g. Dr Singh, Mr Nguyen, Mrs Lauer.

Versus: This is shortened as follows:

e.g. Tonight’s match is Sri Lanka v Pakistan.

Time abbreviations: Write as follows:

e.g. 10:30am, 7pm

Latin abbreviations: Write as follows:

etc., et al., e.g., i.e.

Measurement abbreviations: These do not need to be pluralised.

e.g. 10,000km 10,000kms

BC/AD: When referring to the dates AD (Anno Domini) and BC (before Christ) in specific contexts, AD is written before the date and BC written after.

e.g.302BC and AD244

Aboriginal

Aboriginal is an adjective, usually used in the expression Aboriginal Australian. It should not be used as a noun.  Also, note that there is a distinction between Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who have different heritages and cultures. The term Indigenous Australians covers both. Capitalise both words.

Where possible use Indigenous proper nouns.

e.g. Uluru not Ayers Rock

Note: There are several protocols in place to ensure students correctly and respectfully protect the cultural customs of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Please the Responsible Reporting section.

Accents

Accents are symbols carried over from foreign languages. Sometimes, when a foreign word has become common in English, like cafe (formerly written as café), the accents are no longer used. If unsure, consult an Australian dictionary.

e.g. cafe, cliche, facade.

Proper nouns with accents should retain them.

e.g. Paul Cézanne, Chișinău (city in Republic of Moldova).

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Actor/Actress

Actor is a gender neutral term and is preferred.

 

Affect/effect

The word affect is a verb. It means to produce an effect or a change.

e.g. The epidemic largely affected the elderly.

The word effect is most often used in its noun form, describing the result of the influence or impact. It is usually preceded by an or the.

e.g. The effect on students was startling.

Effect can also be used as a verb, to mean to accomplish or carry out a deed

e.g. The new manager effected a change in policy at the company.

Age

Use numerals when expressing a person’s age.

e.g. Three children, aged, 5, 8 and 11 were injured in the crash.

Always hyphenate age when it comes before the noun (or the noun is implied):

e.g. A 30-year-old runner died of a stroke yesterday.

e.g. The ruins of a 280-year-old palace were found.

e.g. The victim was a 3-year-old (the noun ‘child’ is implied).

Do not use hyphens when age is expressed after the noun and is in its plural form (tip: if you’ve written the plural years in the phrase, you probably don’t need to hyphenate it).

e.g. The runner was 30 years old.

e.g. The palace is 280 years old.

 

Ampersand (&)

This is the symbol for and. Use only in company names where the ampersand is part of their branding. In all other cases write out the word and.

e.g. Smith & Wesson is a firearm manufacturer based in the US.

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Apple products

Use the following spelling.

e.g. iPhone 7s, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPad Mini, MacBook Pro

 

Apostrophes

Despite fairly consistent rules for use, apostrophes are a common source of errors in student writing. Apostrophes serve two main functions: to indicate ownership or tell us something has been abbreviated or contracted. See the Punctuation guide  for information on how to use apostrophes correctly.

 

April Fool’s Day

Capitalised and with a possessive apostrophe on Fool’s as above.

 

Around

Use about instead of around for approximation.

e.g. about 20km not around 20km

 

Asylum seeker, refugee

There is some confusion between the terms refugee and asylum seeker. An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. A refugee is someone who has been recognised as such under the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees.

 

Australian Rules football

Do not use capital letters when referring generically to the game of football. Do use capitals when referring to the official league name. You do not need to spell out the acronym AFL in the first instance in upstart, as it is considered recognisable among Victorian readers.

e.g. football, Australian rules football, Australian Football league, AFL

 

Awards ceremonies

Award names are capitalised (e.g. Oscars, Emmys, Grammys)

The full titles of awards categories are capitalised, unless you are shortening it to its non-official title.

e.g. She won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

e.g. She won best actress two years in a row.

 

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Billion/million

Always use figures before the words million and billion, and write the words million and billion. (To save readers from having to count the zeros!)

e.g. 2 billion NOT two billion

e.g. 1.2 billion to 1.4 billion NOT 1.2-1.4 billion

 

Black

In cases where black is being used to denote skin colour or race, the word may be used as an adjective (where relevant), but not a noun.

For example, when writing about African American culture, it is often used as an adjective, but African American is the preferred noun.

e.g. Writer and intellectual, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a prominent African American, wrote the essay ‘My president was black’ in 2017. It is oft-cited by members of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The term black is not used to describe Indigenous Australians except in specific reference to skin colour or when using (where appropriate) terms like Blackfella. For reference to Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, see entry under ‘Aboriginal’

 

Book titles

See entry under ‘Titles of books/movies/songs/articles’ under T.

 

Brackets and parentheses

Parentheses: These are used for acronyms and for adding non-vital information to a sentence.

e.g. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced…

e.g. George Washington (the first president of the United States) gave his farewell address in 1796.

Square brackets: In journalism these are used to provide context, correction or clarification to quoted material.  The square brackets indicate that the information within has been added in by a journalist or editor.

e.g. “The outcome of the [marriage equality] vote will be announced tomorrow.”

e.g. “When he leave[s] the building.”

For more information, go to the Upstart Punctuation Guide

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Capitalisation

Capital letters are often overused in writing. Use capitals for proper nouns only. This includes the formal names of people, places and things. Do not use them for generic references.

Some examples of words that should be capitalised include formal titles, days of the week and months, languages, ethnicities, countries and geo-political areas and titled events.

e.g. Queen Elizabeth, French, Syria, The Age, La Trobe University, January, Spring Racing Carnival.

Common mistakes in capitalisation are the names of jobs, animals, sports and interest areas and arts. These are all common nouns.

e.g. badminton, fox terrier, journalist, art, film, internet, painting.

Here are some specific style rules for using capitals:

Dates, seasons and days of the week: Weekdays and months are capitalised. Seasons are not.

e.g. It will be on the third Tuesday in July.

e.g. The Melbourne Cup takes place in spring.

Careers: Most generic descriptions of jobs don’t take capitals (e.g. plumber, pianist, politician). Certain job titles that are granted to certain professions are capitalised (Dr, Executive Director).

e.g. Doctor Ong didn’t always dream of being a doctor. When she was a child she also considered being a flight attendant, an engineer and prime minister.

Academic, military, royal and religious titles: When you are writing a person’s official title (along with their name) it is capitalised. When referring generically to a job or role, you do not.

e.g. Captain Sanjeeva Ranasinghe became a captain two years ago

e.g. Pope John Paul told his mother he’d be the pope one day.

Political terms and titles: See the entry under ‘Politics and government’.

Geographical areas: Use capitals for the proper names of countries, cities, regions and areas.

e.g. He was born in Ecuador, but educated in the United States, where he attended college in New York. He studied languages and cultures, with a particular interest in the people of Eastern Europe.

Compass directions: Capitalise when they comprise part of the place name or geopolitical region, but not when they simply refer to a direction.

e.g. She left her north London flat to take a teaching job in North Korea.

Cultures and languages:  Use capitals to refer to the country or culture, as well as its language or its people.

e.g. The majority of French people speak French as their first language. You will also find the French language spoken in Canada.

e.g. There is no such thing as speaking Indian in India. There are many languages spoken there, including Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali.

Capitals and Australian Indigenous cultures: When referring to Australian cultural groups, the terms Aboriginal and Indigenous are capitalised.

e.g. He wrote a book about his experience growing up as an Aboriginal Australian. Other Indigenous writers praised his book.

When referring more generically to indigenous groups of other nations, we do not capitalise aboriginal or indigenous.

e.g. “The Inuit are indigenous people who inhabit areas of Canada, Alaska and Greenland.”

Titles of books, films, TV shows: These should have every word capitalised except for conjunctions and articles.

e.g. The film Wake in Fright is a classic Australian thriller.

Universities:  When referring to a university, a department, a subject or an academic, the official title of each is capitalised. When it is a generic reference to a topic or interest area, it is not.

e.g. I have always been interested in media and communication. I gave a lot of thought to going to university. I made the decision when I learning that you could study both journalism and public relations subjects in the Bachelor of Media and Communication at La Trobe University. At Open Day, Professor Smith, the head of the Department of Communication and Media, told me the lecturers had all worked in the media industry.

Sport: These are not capitalised. However, the names of teams, official sports events, leagues and associations are.

e.g. She is studying sports journalism because she wants to work for the Australian Football League one day. She also enjoys tennis and swimming, and recently completed an internship with Tennis Australia where she got to report on The Australian Open.

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Christmas

See entry under ‘Holidays and religious occasions’.

 

Colons

See the Punctuation Guide for advice on how to use colons and semi-colons.

 

Commas

See the Punctuation Guide for advice on how to use commas.

Contractions

Contractions such as can’t, it’s and won’t are commonly used in text. However, the contractions he’s, she’s, would’ve, she’ll are not normally used outside of quotes.

e.g. The committee can’t decide if she is able to go. She would have gone on Tuesday, but they hadn’t decided yet.

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Countries and territories

For accurate names of countries and territories, including their spelling, capitals and their status as a recognised country or territory, consult the United Nations cartographic department’s list here: http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/english/geoinfo/geoname.pdf

 

Court titles

Refer to courts using their full title:

e.g. Victorian Court of Appeal, Victorian Supreme Court, Victorian County Court.

Note: If the court is sitting outside Melbourne, you might say “the Victorian Supreme Court, sitting in Mildura”.

When reporting on the Magistrates Court, you would refer to the locality of the court.

e.g. Melbourne Magistrates Court, Dandenong Magistrates Court, Kerang Magistrates Court.

 

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Dates and time

Upstart date format is date/month/year with no commas.

e.g. 23 August 2017

 

Daylight Saving

Not daylight savings plural as is often used in speech.

 

Defence, defensive, defensible

Defence/defense: The correct Australian English spelling is defence. The American style is defense.

e.g. She talked about the particular need for defence at our borders.

Defense and defensible: Both English and American English use defensible and defensive.

e.g. The system is not morally defensible.

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Disinterested/uninterested

These are commonly confused terms.

Uninterested means to not be interested.

e.g. She is uninterested in studying the health sciences.

Disinterested means to show no bias.

e.g. When writing news, a journalist should give a disinterested account of an issue.

 

Doctor/Dr

The correct shortening of doctor is Dr without a full stop separating the name and abbreviation.

e.g. Dr Singh has worked in this office for 10 years.

 

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Easter

See entry under ‘Holidays and religious occasions.’

 

Effect/affect

The word affect is a verb. It means to produce an effect or change.

e.g. The epidemic predominantly affected the elderly.

The word effect is most often used in its noun form, describing the result of the influence or impact. It is usually preceded by an or the.

e.g. The effect on students was startling.

Effect can also be used as a verb, to mean to accomplish or carry out a deed

e.g. The new manager effected a change in policy at the company.

 

Eid

See entry under Holidays and religious occasions.

Ellipses

See the Punctuation Guide for advice on how to use ellipses

 

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Facebook

Capitalise Facebook and Facebook features (News Feed, Facebook Memories, Timeline)

Do not use Facebook as a verb (Facebooking, Facebooked).

Likes: Use like in lowercase and without quote marks. It is common enough most people will know you are talking about the act of hitting like.

Reactions: When using the other reactions (love, wow, haha, sad, angry) as verbs, add an ‘ed to the end.

e.g. I liked her post and wow’ed that picture.

Use unfriend, not de-friend.

 

Fewer/Less

Use fewer when referring to numbers or things you can count, and less when referring to quantities or amounts of something.

e.g. Australian has fewer people than Canada and exports less gold.

 

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Government and politics

Government

Capitalise for official titles, as well as when referring to the official incumbent body.

e.g. The Government, State Government, State Opposition, Federal Government.

Lowercase for adjectives and plurals.

e.g. At state government level, many opposition leaders.

Parliamentary institutions

Capitalise when referring to the specific institutions

e.g. Parliament/ House of Representatives/ The Senate/Legislative Council

This includes the shortened version.

e.g. the Senate, the House, the Council

Do not capitalise for adjectives.

e.g. There will be a parliamentary inquiry next year.

Political titles

Ministers and other titles: Capitalise ministers when you are referring to their title/portfolio, and those whose title is their portfolio.

e.g. Treasurer, Opposition Leader, Deputy Prime Minister, Education Minister

Use lowercase when generically describing their position.

e.g. The minister said that the former minister had left it the portfolio in disarray.

Governor-General: note the hyphen. When making plural, the s is attached to governor (e.g. The governors-general)

Senators: Use uppercase when part of title, but lowercase the rest of the time.

e.g. Senator Smith met with another senator to discuss it.

Members: Use lowercase.

e.g. The member for Fremantle

 

GP

The term GP as an acronym for general practitioner is so widely accepted that it does not need to be written out.

e.g. The witness said she visited her GP on the Monday after work.

 

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Headlines

Headlines should be short, descriptive of the article, with no full stop at end. They should be written in minimal caps, with only the first word and proper nouns capitalised.

e.g. “Prisoner stabbed to death inside Port Phillip Prison”

 

 

Holidays and religious occasions

Holiday names and religious festivals are capitalised.

e.g. Christmas, Eid al Adha (commonly referred to as Eid), Easter, Hannukah.

Holiday greetings are not capitalised:

e.g. I wanted to wish them happy Hannukah, seasons greetings, or merry Christmas.

Capitalise New Year when speaking of the holiday occasion.

e.g. New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s resolution.

Do not capitalise when talking generically of a new year.

e.g. It is January and a new year is upon us.

April Fools’ Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all take possessive apostrophes as above.

 

Hyphens

Please see the See the Punctuation Guide for advice on hyphen use.

 

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Indigenous/aboriginal

Indigenous describes people who are the original inhabitants of an area.

In Australia, when referring to Indigenous Australians, the word is capitalised, and is used to refer to both Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

Aboriginal is an adjective and Aboriginal people is the preferred noun. Black should be avoided as a noun for Aboriginal Australians. It can be offensive and is not a meaningful description.

Where possible use Indigenous proper nouns for places.

e.g. Uluru NOT Ayers Rock

Note: there are several protocols in place to ensure students correctly and respectfully protect the cultural customs of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Please refer to the upstart guide to culturally sensitive reporting.

 

Instagram

Capitalise Instagram, as well as filter names (e.g. Clarendon, Lark, Reyes), and features like Instagram Stories and DM. Do not capitalise feed.

Verbs: It is acceptable to use instagramming and instagrammed. Do not use the short form unless quoting speech. If so, write as ‘gram. Make a verb of DM using apostrophes ( Dm’ed, DM’ing).

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Internet terms and acronyms

Internet is not a proper noun and thus does not need to be capitalised (although some older versions of Word will spellcheck it that way). Same goes for web.

Web: Capitalise the full name World Wide Web. However, it is sufficient to say web in most instances these days.

Compound words made from web are generally lowercase and one word.

e.g. webpage, website, web

Screen words: Computers and the internet have created a lot of compound words using screen. As a general rule, make them one word.

e.g. screengrab, screenshot, screensaver

Internet acronyms: Use uppercase letters.

e.g. LOL, BFF, AF (only use AF when quoting!), JK, IRL, FOMO, IDK

e.g. JPEG, GIF (GIF’ed, GIFable)

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Into/in to

Into is a preposition that relates to direction and movement.

e.g. He walked into the room, she stepped into the shower, he walked into the lamppost.

Sometimes in and to can end up next to each other in a sentence in a case where in is connected to the verb. Do not join in these cases.

e.g. We broke in to the room.

e.g. She walked in to hear her mother talking about her.

 

iPhones and Apple products

See entry under A for Apple products.

 

Its/whose/it’s/who’s

These are commonly confused. Here is when to use them with and without an apostrophe:

It’s and who’s should only be used when creating a contraction. This is the process of shortening two words into one. In this case the apostrophe is telling us that something has been removed, and has nothing to do with ownership.

It is become it’s:

e.g. It’s a common question.

Who is becomes who’s:

e.g. Sam, who’s the president, is announcing it today.

Who has becomes who’s:

e.g. Sam, who’s been running for an hour, told me he is getting tired.

Its is used when you are using the possessive form to expressing belonging.

e.g. The cat drank its milk.

e.g. The company and its partners launched the new product.

Whose is the possessive form of who or which.

e.g. I want to know whose shoes these are.

e.g. Sam, whose resume is very impressive, is a contender for the job.

 

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Judge/Justice

 

There are particular protocols for referring to judges in Australia. These depend on the court.

Supreme Court: Justice Jane Smith on first reference and then Justice Smith.

County Court: Judge Wendy Smith on first reference and then Judge Smith.

Magistrates Court:  Magistrate John Smith at first reference, and then Mr (or appropriate title) Smith.

 

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Style Guide K-Q

Koran/Quran/Qur’an

The Koran is the book of the Islamic faith. There are multiple spellings that are all correct but for simplicity Koran is preferred in English text.

 

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Labour/Labor

Australian English spelling takes the ending -our for words like labour, colour, flavour etc.

The -or ending is the US English form of spelling. (See the Writing in upstart style guide for more on Australian English Spelling v US spelling.)

One important spelling exception is the Australian Labor Party. When using the title of the party, it takes the US English form of the word.

e.g. The Labor Party discussed labour conditions for factory workers today.

 

Lady

Lady is only to be used as part of a title or name. Otherwise all references should use woman or women.

e.g. Methodist Ladies College is an all-female college, but both men and women teach there.

e.g. Lady Stanton was a highly educated woman.

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Last/latest

Avoid last as a reference to a past event unless it really was the final event. If there is any chance the event may occur again, use latest.

e.g. His last words before he died were…

e.g. His latest attempt at breaking the world record was in March, 2016.

 

Lent and leant

Lent is a period in the Christian calendar. Leant is the past tense of lean.

 

Licence/License

In Australia, licence is the noun and license is the verb.

e.g. One who is licensed to drive must carry a driver’s licence

American spelling uses license as both a noun and a verb. Also, see practice/practise

 

Like/as

Writers tend to use these terms interchangeably when they actually mean different things. Most commonly it is a problem of using like when you ought to be using as/as if/as though. The simplest way to get it right is to ask yourself the question each time you use like: Can it be replaced with the phrases as/as if/as though? If it can, then it should be.

e.g. Correct

He treated the student like a baby.

She acted like a hero.

e.g. Incorrect (could be replaced with as/as though/as if)

He went on talking like nothing had happened.

Like the professor said…

 

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Man

Use man to describe humans of the male gender. In all other case, always use gender neutral terms where possible. Avoid phrases like ‘man the pumps’ and ‘man hole’. The gender neutral terms here would be ‘to staff’ or ‘attend’ the pumps, and an ‘access hole’.

 

Many

Many is considered too vague in journalism. Be specific with amounts and numbers where possible.

 

Meter/Metre

 

In Australian English, a meter is a device for measuring something, and a metre is a unit of length. In the US, meter is used for both cases.

e.g. The electricity meter is five metres from the back door.

 

Metric system

Always use the metric system (the measurement system used in Australia) and convert anything not in the metric system for readers. When non-metric figures are in direct quotes, put the conversion in brackets.

e.g. “I walked thirty-two miles [51.5km] to get help,” he said.

 

Money

Write amounts of money in numerals, even if the amount is under nine. There is no space between currency unit abbreviation and the symbol.

e.g. I only paid $8 for it, but she paid $25.

When other currencies are referenced put the Australian conversion in square brackets.

e.g. He said: “The bill came to $80 [AUD$94.50].”

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More than

Use more than with numbers, and over when referring to less specific quantities.

e.g. More than 50, over half a cup.

 

Movie titles

See entry under ‘Titles of books/movies/songs/articles’.

 

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Names and titles

The correct spelling of names of people, places, and things is extremely important. All names, however simple, must be checked before publication. Be careful with foreign name conventions, such as Chinese names, where the surname comes first.

In journalism it is common to refer to a person by their full name, or full name and title at first reference. In following references you can refer to just their last name, or their title and last name.

e.g. Anh Nguyen is a prolific author. Before she had even published her first book, Nguyen had started another.

e.g. Dr Adam Almasi treated the patient five times. The third time Dr Almasi saw her, he prescribed a different medication.

In broadcast media the convention is to put the position before the name.

e.g. ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie said…

In print, the convention is reversed

e.g. Michelle Guthrie, managing director of the ABC, said….

Titles

We do not use Mr and Mrs on people’s names on upstart. When necessary, however, Ms is preferable to Ms or Mrs. Use Dr where necessary. They do not require a full stop after the abbreviated part (Dr Jones not Dr. Jones). Give the person’s full name at first reference then refer to them by surname thereafter.

 

Spelling of names: Use the official spelling and style of proper names of organisations even if it contradicts the upstart publication style.

e.g. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Defense

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Numbers/numerals

Here are some general rules for writing numbers:

Words v numerals: Numbers are written as words from one to nine, and figures are used for numbers above nine.

e.g. eight, nine, 10, 11

However, always spell out numbers at the start of a sentence, even if it is below nine.

e.g. Seven people were injured during a bar brawl last night.

Measurement: Always use numerals for units of measurement.

e.g. weight (3kg), time (3pm) or currency ($2), weight (3kg)

Time: Write in numerals and as follows.

e.g. 10:30am, 7pm

Metric: Always use the metric system (the measurement system in Australia) and convert anything not in the metric system. When non-metric figures are in direct quotes, put conversion in brackets.

e.g. “I walked thirty-two miles [51.5 km] to get help,” he said.

Large numbers: Use a comma for numbers over a thousand.

e.g. More than 2,000 people protested.

Millions and billions are written with figures and words. This makes it clear for the reader and saves them from having to count all the zeros.

e.g. 100 million, 2 billion.

Money: There is no space between currency unit and the symbol.

e.g. AUD$100 or US$20

When other currencies are referenced put the Australian conversion in brackets.

 

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Offence, offensive

The correct use in Australian English is offence and offensive. The American spelling is offense.

 

Okay/ok

Use the full word okay in both writing and quotes.

Olympics

Olympics is capitalised.

e.g. There are two kinds of Olympic Games, the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.

They treated as a plural (because they are a series of games, hence the full name).

e.g. The Olympics are being held in Tokyo next.

When saying the games on your second reference (say Olympic Games the first time) it is in lowercase.

e.g. These games have been fraught with controversy.

Medals should be in lowercase.

e.g. She took gold in the relay, but only silver in the 400m.

 

Onto/on to

Use onto to mean on top of, to a position on, or upon.

e.g. She climbed onto the roof.

Onto can also be used to mean to be aware of or to be informed about something.

e.g. I’m onto your scheme.

Use on to when the on is connected the verb instead of the preposition.

e.g. I’m going to log on to the computer.

 

Over

Use more than for numbers, keep over for references to places.

e.g. More than $100.

e.g. The plane flies over the water. I’m over the moon.

 

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Parentheses

See the entry under ‘Brackets and Parentheses’ Punctuation guide

 

Past/last

Past refers to the time up until the present moment. The term past year means the previous 12 months. Last year means the previous calendar year. Also avoid redundant uses such as past history or past record.

Percent

Percent is written in the upstart style as one word. Do not use the symbol % except in charts.

Despite the usual rule of writing numbers, percentages are always written as numerals in prose unless at the start of a sentence.

e.g. Of those surveyed, 5 percent disagreed with the rule.

 

Person

Person is the singular. People is the plural. Persons is common in American English but not used in Australian English.

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Plurals

Plurals can be tricky and several different systems apply in English, depending on the derivation of the word.

Most commonly -s or -es is added to a word.

e.g. atlases, donkeys.

Many words ending in -y use an –ies in the plural.

e.g. cities, babies.

Some words ending in -f or -fe simply take an -s but others take -ves.

e.g. roofs, selves, lives .

Words ending in –o vary. Check a dictionary if you are not sure.

e.g. broncos, potatoes.

Words with -i endings are always pluralised with an -s.

e.g. taxis, bikinis.

The Greek-derived -on ending uses an -a or an -s.

e.g. phenomena, protons.

Note: Words such as media and criteria are plurals. They must be expressed that way.

e.g. The criteria are. The media are…

Latin derived words ending in -us, usually take an -es, or sometimes an -era.

e.g. cactuses, genera.

The plural -s is not necessary for metric contractions.

e.g. 20km NOT 20kms.

Compound words can be tricky and should always be checked for the correct plural form.

e.g. ‘attorneys general’ or ‘five chiefs of staff will be chosen.’

 

Politics and government

See entry under ‘government and politics’.

Practice/practise

Practice is the noun and practise is the verb in Australian English spelling.

e.g. A GP practises medicine in a medical practice.

Note: In American English practise is used for both forms.

 

Preventive

Preventive is the correct spelling, not preventative.

 

Principle/Principal

Can be confused. Principles are rules or standards. The principal is the person of highest standing (principal of school) or an amount of money before interest.

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Profanity

Avoid profanity in prose for upstart. When quoting, use dashes to signify some missing letters.

e.g. f—ing idiot, f—wit, sh—head

Political parties

Capitalise the names of political parties.

e.g. Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, Australian Greens.

This includes the shortened, common names for political parties.

e.g. Richard Di Natale said the Greens are considering the proposal, even though Labor swiftly rejected it.

Political philosophies are lower case unless a proper noun is part of the term.

e.g. communism, fascism, Marxism, Nazism

 

Possessives

See  entry under ‘apostrophes’.

 

Proper Names

Use the official spelling and style of proper names of organisations even if it contradicts the upstart publication style.

e.g. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Defense

 

Prosecutors

In the Magistrates Court, prosecutors are usually police. You would check their name and rank.

e.g. ‘Police prosecutor David Bentley’ for first reference followed by ‘Sergeant Bentley’.

In the County and Supreme courts, prosecutors might have a formal role with the state Office of Public Prosecutions. They might be described initially as, for instance, Senior Crown Prosecutor Kerri Judd, QC. After that, you would refer to her in the story as Ms Judd. Here is a list of crown prosecutors. http://www.opp.vic.gov.au/About-Us/Crown-Prosecutors/Listing-of-CPs

 

Otherwise, other barristers might be prosecutors in the higher courts. At first reference, it might be ‘Prosecutor Trevor Wing, SC’, then Mr Wing later in your court story. If Mr Wing was acting as the defence lawyer, you might describe him as ‘Defence lawyer Trevor Wing, SC’, then Mr Wing after that.

 

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Quarter-final

This is always hyphenated. So is semi-final.

 

QC and SC (Queen’s Counsel and Senior Counsel)

These titles reflect a barrister’s seniority and status. In Victoria, the Chief Justice appoints barristers to this status each November. The barristers can choose to be a QC or SC if appointed. Symbolically, they wear silk, not the normal cotton, black robes in court. Journalists need to know if a barrister is a QC or SC. Here is a link to the barristers’ website, the Victorian bar, to help with the check: https://www.vicbar.com.au/.  

 

Quoting and quote punctuation

 Double quotes are used to quote speech and writing in print text.

e.g. “The report is both damning and enlightening,” Turnbull said.

Single quotes are used only for quotes inside quotes and titles of certain texts (see “titles”).

e.g. “When I spoke to the principal on Thursday, he said it was ‘foolish and irresponsible’ of the students,” Nguyen said.

It is very important that student punctuate quotes correctly.

For full quotes the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, and for partial quotes outside.

e.g. “It was a long and arduous journey,” she says.

e.g. She said the conditions in the race were “sweltering”.

e.g. He said it the decision was “very controversial”, but would not comment further.

Use partial quotes sparingly. Unless the partial quote is necessary, try to paraphrase the information.

For more information about how to punctuate quotations see the Punctuation Guide and the Writing in Upstart Style .

 

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Recent

In journalism, recent is too general and should be avoided. Try to provide a more specific time frame.

e.g. In the last six months, his game has improved.

 

Refugee, asylum seeker

There is some confusion between the terms refugee and asylum seeker. An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. A refugee is someone who has been recognised under the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees.

 

Refute/reject/repudiate

Reject and refute are sometimes confused. To reject means to not accept something. To refute means to disprove something.

e.g. The committee rejected the proposal to change the date. The dog rejected her puppies.

e.g. They produced evidence that refuted his claims.

 

Religious titles

Capitalise the names of religious denominations and titles.

e.g. Buddhist, the Reverend Jesse Jackson

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Restaurateur

Someone who runs a restaurant is a restaurateur, not a restauranter as is commonly misspelt.

 

Revert to

To avoid redundancy, write revert to, not revert back to.

 

Roofs

The plural form of roof is roofs, not rooves.

 

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Said/says

The upstart style is to use said in our speech tags instead of says (and always after the quoted person’s name).

e.g. “The decision will be made on Tuesday,” Haj Raseem said on Tuesday.

 

Sceptic/skeptic

Sceptic is correct. Skeptic is the American spelling.

 

Screen words

Computers and the internet have created a lot of compound words using screen. As a general rule, make them one word.

e.g. screengrab, screenshot, screensaver.

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Seasons

The four seasons are not capitalised. Also avoid using seasons as a time reference. Try to be more specific by naming a month or the date.

 

Semi-colon

See the Punctuation guide  for advice on how to use a semi-colon.

 

Slang

Avoid slang, unless you are quoting it in direct speech.

 

Smartphone

Write as one word in lower case.

e.g. He bought a smartphone but hates it.

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Snapchat

Capitalise Snapchat and Snapchat features (Snapchat Stories, Snapchat Discover), but use lowercase for snap (like tweet) and snap story.

Verb forms are Snapchatting/Snapchatted or snap/snapped.

 

 

Sports Style Guide

 

AFL Teams

First reference either the full name – Essendon Bombers, or place-name Essendon. Then throughout the story other nicknames are acceptable, Bombers, Dons etc.

Plural vs non-plural teams.

Singular team names take a singular verb.

e.g. Melbourne is playing Hawthorn, the team is on the road.

Teams with plural names take plural verbs.

e.g. The Melbourne Demons are in town.

Umpires/Referees/Officials

Officials – AFL and cricket have umpires, rugby league, football (soccer) and rugby union have referees.

Australian League Names.

  • AFL – Australian Rules Football
  • NRL – National Rugby League
  • Big Bash – cricket.
  • Super Rugby – rugby union.
  • A-League – football.

National Team Names

As a general rule, use the name used by sport governing body. Note that the Australian cricket teams are now known as the men’s national cricket team and the women’s national cricket team.

Anzac

As in Anzac Day matches. Initial cap but not the entire word.

Olympics

The Olympics are capitalised

e.g. There are two kinds of Olympic Games, the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.

They treated as a plural (because they are a series of games, hence the full name).

e.g. The Olympics are being held in Tokyo next.

When saying the games on your second reference (say Olympic Games the first time) it is in lowercase.

e.g. These games have been fraught with controversy.

Medals should be in lowercase.

e.g. She took gold in the relay, but only silver in the 400m.

Distances

In sports with distance events, such as athletics and swimming, we express distances in the abbreviated, non-plural form.

e.g. 400m hurdles/400m freestyle.

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Capitals in sports titles

Capitals are used where the title is attributed directly to a named individual

e.g. “FIFA President Sepp Blatter said …”

But not when the title only is used.

e.g. “The president said…”

Or when using the title in general.

e.g. “FIFA presidents have always been drawn from South America or Europe …”.

Capitals should not be used for player position, or coach.

e.g. Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt, not Richmond Forward Jack Riewoldt.

e.g. Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann, not Australian Cricket Coach Darren Lehmann.

Team names should be capitalised.

e.g. Melbourne Demons, the Demons.

Specific event names do take capitals.

e.g. The 2018 Australian Open, the 2018 AFL Grand Final, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Note we use test cricket, not Test Cricket or Test cricket.

Titles of sports events

Use lower case for: sport names, junior, men’s, women’s, championship, tournament, meeting, match, test, race, and game.

Use upper case for title of the events.

e.g. French Open tennis championships, Dutch Open golf tournament.

Use singular championship when one title is at stake and plural championships for more than one.

e.g. U.S. Open tennis championships (men’s, women’s, doubles). U.S. Open golf championship (one winner).

The name of the sport should precede the word championship, tournament etc.

“Disaster”/”tragedy” is sports writing

Do not use disaster or tragedy for sporting contests because this devalues the word. Losing a football match is not a disaster. A stand falling down and crushing fans is.

Specific sports positions and terms

In most sports, separate phrases. Rugby is the notable exception.

Rugby positions: Run two words together

e.g. flyhalf, scrumhalf, fullback (as opposed to soccer positions which are expressed as separate words).

e.g. tighthead prop, inside centre, loosehead prop, hooker.

Soccer positions:  Written as two words

e.g. wing back, centre half, full back, centre forward except for goalkeeper.

Cricket positions:

left-arm spinner – Slow bowler in cricket, note hyphen.

leg slip – Fielding position in cricket. Two words.

leg-spinner – Bowler in cricket.

wicketkeeper – One word.

wicketkeeper-batsman – Hyphenated. A cricketer who is a recognised batsman but also fulfils a wicketkeeping role when his side is fielding.

third man – Fielding position in cricket is two words.

square leg – Fielding position in cricket, two words, but hyphenated as as adjective as in the square-leg umpire.

Tennis: This is mixed.

backhand – One word in tennis and badminton.

match point – Two words in tennis, racket sports.

tiebreak – one word in tennis.

topspin – One word in tennis.

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Sponsors

Writers should not become billboards for a profusion of sponsors, though journalists must note that it is legitimate to use sponsor names within strict criteria. Usage should be related to the way media in general use sponsors’ names. Sponsors are becoming increasingly aggressive and are more likely to refuse to accredit journalists to events where the sponsor’s name is not used. On some occasions it may be counter-productive to refuse to comply with this, but on principle it should be resisted as far as possible.

Team names

Sponsors names should not be used in team names when the sponsorship may change on a periodic basis

e.g. Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg (correct usage SV Salzburg).

Exceptions should be made for teams which began as works sides or for teams where sponsorship provides the only means of identity (some cycling teams).

e.g. Bayer Leverkusen

Events

Most sporting events have a sponsorship name attached. Where it is clear what the event is without the name of the sponsor, we should drop it.

e.g. world championships, the FA Cup etc.

Rankings and statistics

Sponsors’ names should be used only where it is necessary to distinguish them as a legitimate source.

e.g. Reuters golf rankings.

FIFA world soccer rankings is a source in itself and would not need to have a sponsor’s name. In soccer, avoid sponsors’ names on domestic leagues that can all be described by their category

e.g. English Premier League.

 

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Social Media

Facebook

Capitalise Facebook and Facebook features (News Feed, Facebook Memories, Timeline)

Do not use Facebook as a verb (Facebooking, Facebooked).

 

Likes: Use like in lowercase and without quote marks. It is common enough most people will know that you are talking about the act of hitting like.

Reactions: When using the other emoji reactions (love, wow, haha, sad, angry) as verbs, add an ‘ed to the end.

e.g. I liked her post and wow’ed that picture.

Use unfriend, not de-friend.

Instagram

Capitalise Instagram, as well as filter names (e.g. Clarendon, Lark, Reyes), and features like Instagram Stories and DM. Do not capitalise feed.

Verbs: It is acceptable to use instagramming and instagrammed. Do not use the short form unless quoting speech. If so, write as ‘gram. Make a verb of DM using apostrophes (DM’ed, DM’ing)

Snapchat

Capitalise Snapchat and Snapchat features (Snapchat Stories, Snapchat Discover), but use lowercase for snap (like tweet) and snap story.

Verb forms: Snapchatting/Snapchatted or snap/snapped.

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Tumblr

Capitalise Tumblr, but do not italicise. Do not capitalise reblog or like. Write newsfeed as lowercase and one word (News Feed like this is only for Facebook)

Blog titles: Individual Tumblr blog names should be italicised.

Post titles: Titles of posts (where possible-some aren’t named) go into single quote marks.

Twitter

Capitalise Twitter and verb forms that include the full name (e.g. Twitter user, Twitterstorm). Do not capitalise tweet and other verb forms (tweeted, tweeting, live-tweet, subtweeted).

Hashtags: hashtag is one word. Use capitals to separate words in a hashtag to make it easier for readers (e.g. #ThrowbackThursday #StayWoke #LetVenusPlay).

Twitter handles: Write exactly as on Twitter, even if it goes against normal punctuation/spelling rules (@InnerstrengthN)

Direct messages: use capitals and apostrophes (e.g. DM, DM’ed, DM’ing)

YouTube

Capitalise YouTube and YouTuber and write as one word.

Do not capitalise comments.

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Song titles

See entry under ‘Titles of books/movies/songs/articles’

 

 

Stadiums/stadia

Both are accepted plurals in most dictionaries but stadiums is more common and is preferred.

 

Swearing

See entry under ‘profanity’.

 

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Tense

Most news and feature writing maintains the present tense.

e.g. Police are investigating two robberies.

However, when referring to past events or speeches, past tense is always used.

e.g. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is in no rush to discuss the bill, but last year in a speech to the National Press Club he said that he would debate the bill at the “earliest possible opportunity”.

 

Television

The shortening is TV.

That

The word is usually redundant. The best way to find out is to ask yourself if the sentence still makes sense without that. If it does, take it out.

e.g. ‘He thought it was a good idea’ not ‘He thought that itwas a good idea’.

 

The

Remember that the is not always needed before a title or role.

e.g. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

However, be aware of when the is part of an official term or title.

e.g. The Age newspaper, is owned by Fairfax Media.

 

Time and date

Use numerals for time, and write as follows:

e.g. 10:30am, 7pm

Upstart date format is date/month/year with no commas.

e.g. 23 August 2017

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Titles and names

Titles

Use Mr, Ms (not Mrs) and Dr where necessary. They do not require a full stop after the abbreviated part (Dr Jones not Dr. Jones). Give the person’s full name at first reference then refer to them by surname thereafter.

The correct spelling of names of people, places, and things is extremely important. All names, however simple, must be checked before publication. Be careful with foreign name conventions, such as Chinese names, where the surname comes first.

Name

In journalism it is common to refer to a person by their full name, or full name and title at first reference. In following references you can refer to just their last name, or their title and last name.

e.g. Anh Nguyen is a prolific author. Before she had even published her first book, Nguyen had started another.

e.g. Dr Adam Almasi treated the patient five times. The third time Dr Almasi saw her, he prescribed a different medication.

In broadcast media the convention is to put the position before the name.

e.g. ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie said…

In print, the convention is reversed

e.g. Michelle Guthrie, managing director of the ABC, said….

Titles

We do not use Mr and Mrs on people’s names on upstart. When necessary, however, Ms is preferable to Ms or Mrs. Use Dr where necessary. They do not require a full stop after the abbreviated part (Dr Jones not Dr. Jones). Give the person’s full name at first reference then refer to them by surname thereafter.

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Titles of books/movies/songs/articles

When naming the titles creative products such as movies, books, songs, poems, and articles, you will either italicise or use single quotes. The general rule is that the complete creative product title (e.g. the album or book name, magazine) is italicised, while the part of the whole creative product is in single quotes (e.g. the song, chapter title, article)

 

Toward/towards

Towards is preferred. Toward is American spelling.

 

Transgender

This is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity differs from that assigned to them at birth. Always use a person’s chosen name and refer to them as the correct or preferred gender pronouns. Only mention a person is transgender if relevant to the story. Transsexual is an outdated term. Use transgender instead.

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Try and/Try to

In speech, many people say they will try and do something. However, in correct writing, try to is correct not try and.

e.g ‘I will try to call him’ not I will try and call him’.

 

Tumblr

Capitalise Tumblr, but do not italicise. Do not capitalise reblog or like. Write newsfeed as lowercase and one word (News Feed like this is only for Facebook)

Blog titles: Individual Tumblr blog names should be italicised.

Post titles: Titles of posts (where possible-some aren’t named) go into single quote marks.

 

Twitter

Capitalise Twitter and verb forms that include the full name (e.g. Twitter user, Twitterstorm). Do not capitalise tweet and other verb forms (tweeted, tweeting, live-tweet, subtweeted).

Hashtags: hashtag is one word. Use capitals to separate words in a hashtag name to make it easier for readers (e.g. #ThrowbackThursday #StayWoke #LetVenusPlay).

Twitter handles: Write exactly as on Twitter, even if it goes against normal punctuation/spelling rules (@InnerstrengthN)

Direct messages: Use capitals and apostrophes (e.g. DM, DM’ed, DM’ing)

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Under/Over

Under and over should not be used with numbers. Fewer and more than is the correct usage.

e.g. more than 100 people walked over the bridge

Under way

Under way is two words. Others such as underage are one word so always check an Australian dictionary when unsure.

 

Uninterested/disinterested

These are commonly confused terms.

Uninterested means to not be interested

e.g. She is uninterested in the health sciences.

Disinterested means to show no bias.

e.g. When writing news, a journalist should give a disinterested account of an issue.

 

Unique

The word is absolute and has no fractions or degrees. In this sense something or someone cannot be described as very unique or slightly unique. They are simple unique or they are not.

 

Up/down

Avoid using these words in economic and financial reporting. Instead use higher and lower or increased and decreased.

 

US (United States)

When referencing the country, spell out at first reference (the United States), then use US for subsequent references or headlines. When referring to a person, American is correct.

 

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Versus/vs/v

The preferred upstart style is to use the abbreviation ‘v’.

e.g. Australia v Pakistan.

 

Vice

The prefix vice takes a hyphen.

e.g. vice-captain, vice-president.

 

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Wake

Avoid in the wake of. Use after or following.

 

Web

Capitalise the full name World Wide Web. However, it is sufficient to say web in most instances these days.

Compound words made from web are generally lowercase and one word.

e.g. webpage, website, web

Well

Well is hyphenated when used as a prefix to a noun.

e.g. She is a well-read woman.

 

Western Australia

Not West Australia.

 

Where

This is often used incorrectly when in which or at which are correct.

e.g. ‘The meeting in which it was discussed’ not ‘The meeting where it was discussed’.

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Which

Which and that can be confused. That is a clause that defines what is being talked about. In the following example that defines what kind of dogs are being talked about and can’t be removed.

e.g. Dogs that bark scare me.

Which adds additional information but is non-restrictive. This means it can be removed with changing the meaning of the sentence.

e.g. Dogs, which can be expensive, make great pets.

 

Who/whom

Who refers to the subject of a sentence, while whom refers to the object.

e.g. Who made these awesome tacos?

e.g. To whom was the letter addressed?

 

Wide

Worldwide and nationwide are one word.  Wide-eyed and wide-open are hyphenated when used before a noun.

 

World Wide Web/Internet

Use internet (lowercase) instead of web or world wide web.

 

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X-ray

The word x-ray is hyphenated.

 

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Years

Use figures to express the year.

e.g. 1975, the 1980s

 

YouTube

Capitalise YouTube and YouTuber and write as one word.

Do not capitalise comments.

 

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Photo: by George Becker is available here and used under a Creative Commons licence. The image has been cropped.