Editorial style rules



Introduce bullets with a colon:

  • Use round body bullets in documents.
  • Capitalize the first word and follow with lowercase letters, except when using proper nouns or acronyms.
  • Use final punctuation only if the bullet is a whole sentence (such as this one) or includes an illustrative example that is a whole sentence.
    • Indent sub-bullets under the main bullet. Use the hollow circle with a black border for indented sub-bullets.
  • Do not use a period after the last bullet (see below) unless it is a whole sentence.

This is an example of bullets without punctuation:

  • Financial security
  • Member satisfaction


Use italics for:

  • Book and publication titles (use quotes for the titles of a short story, presentation or song)
  • For emphasis in text, but use sparingly and try to find an alternative if possible
  • Foreign phrases that are not assimilated into English, such as sotto voce

Do not italicize “eg” (for example) or “ie” (in other words), but do use a comma after each.


In the electronic age, we use one space after each sentence, not two: The hazard of ink spreading between words printed by a printing press and rendering them unreadable is in the past.



Use apostrophes to:

  • Represent missing letters (eg, “don’t,” “isn’t,” “Helen’s early”)
  • Denote periods of time (eg, “a day’s leave,” “a week’s holiday,” “in three weeks’ time”)
  • Show possession (eg, “Jane’s bag,” “the group’s project,” “workers’ rights”)

In general, do not use an apostrophe to make a term plural, including in dates and abbreviations (eg, “peas,” “HGVs,” “CVs,” “1990s”). Exceptions arise only when omitting the apostrophe might cause ambiguity (eg, “do’s and don’ts,” “A’s and B’s”).

For the possessive form of a word, proper name or plural ending in an “s”, add an apostrophe only (eg, “James’ project is the best,” “the aardvarks’ escape route was blocked”).


Use parentheses to:

  • Include optional information, eg, “almost half (48 percent)”
  • Explain a term, eg, “Forum mindset (Gestalt)”
  • Introduce an abbreviation, eg, “the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”
  • Cross-reference, eg, “in the member category list (page 43)”
  • Indicate the possibility for singular or plural versions of a term, eg, “staff professional(s)”


Use hyphens to:

  • Join related adjectives (compound modifiers) before a noun (eg, “information-led society,” “long-term solution”)
  • Form some compound words—generally, a hyphen should separate identical letters (eg, “re-examine”), but there are anomalies (eg, “coordinate,” “biannual”)

Do not use a hyphen when writing regional titles. EO uses a comma, as in:

  • Coordinator, US West Region
  • Manager, South Asia Region
  • Director, Europe

Quotation marks

Use double quotation marks at all times; you can use single quotation marks when you need to include a quotation within a quotation.

Use double quotation marks at all times; you can use single quotation marks when you need to include a quotation within a quotation. For example, “One of my favourite quotes is from Oscar Wilde, he said ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken.’ It reminds me to follow my own instincts.”

En dash versus em dash

There are two kinds of dash that we use at EO: the en dash (–) and its longer cousin, the em dash (—). For publications featuring professional layout, EO uses en dashes and em dashes as described below.

At EO, the en dash is used to:

  • Show a range or sequence, eg, 1999–2004, A–Z, 5 pm–6 pm, Paris–Dakar rally

The em dash is used to:

  • Explain, paraphrase or draw a conclusion from something you have just written, eg, “He had a natural flair for leadership—hence his promotion.”
  • Highlight a parenthetical point, eg, “The show—a runaway success—just had its final week.”

Note that EO uses a “closed” em dash, meaning that there is no space on either side of the em dash.

Capitalization, dates and anything to do with numbers


Association-centric words, such as member, membership, chapter and region, are lower case unless they refer to a specific person or entity (eg, Membership Director Joe Bloggs, South Asia Regional Council, the EO Puerto Rico Chapter, etc).

If you refer to a job role in general, do not use initial capitals (eg, chapter president, president-elect, tier 1 leader). For example, “All associate directors will be allocated a line manager.” or “The chapter president and president-elect will attend the meeting.”

Don’t use initial capitals where the title is being used as a description (usually preceded by “the” or “a”). For example:

  • “The chief executive is Jane Doe and the associate director is John Brown.”
  • “I’ll need to ask our sales director.”
  • “I work as an engineer.”

Use initial capitals where the term is serving as an actual title—just as you would on a business card or email signature. For example, “Chief Executive Jane Doe and John Brown, Associate Director, were both late.”

Unless it is the first word in a sentence, email and website is lowercase and un-hyphenated.

Write abbreviations that are pronounced as individual letters—such as BBC and CEO—all in upper case. See the complete list of EO-related acronyms below.

EO uses sentence case rules (ie, capitalizing only the first word, proper nouns and acronyms) for all titles, page and section headings, collateral pieces and on our website. Use bold for headings and sub-heads. Avoid using underline. For example:

  • Membership make-up (not Membership Make-up)
  • Awareness and usage (not Awareness and Usage)
  • EO Membership Committee priorities (capital letter used for a title that is made up of proper nouns)

If you are unsure if a committee, event, product, etc. is capitalized or in lowercase, when in doubt, make it lowercase!


  • Always put the date before the month (eg, “4 March”). When using “mid”, use a hyphen (eg, “Training will be held mid-June.”).
  • Where a year starts the sentence, eg, “1989 was of special interest,” rephrase the sentence (“The year 1989 was of special interest.”).
  • When listing a complete date (eg, “6 May 2018”), do not put a comma between the month and year.
  • Do not use superscripts for dates (ie, use “6 May” not “6th May”).


  • Always spell out numbers less than 10, unless you’re talking about money, dates, ages or addresses; numbers 10 and above should always be in numeric form.
  • Never start a sentence with a number; spell it out (eg, “Twenty-five people ate at the restaurant.”).
  • Always use figures if decimals or fractions are involved (eg, 3.8 or 6 ¼).
  • Write fractions equivalent to less than one in full and hyphenate them (eg, two-thirds of the job).
  • Avoid mixing words and figures in the same phrase (eg, “You can order in multiples of 9, 12 or 16”; not “nine, 12 or 16”).
  • Use a comma for four digits or more (eg, 5,000); the exception is dates (eg, 2000 BC).
  • Write thousands as 60,000 (not 60K).
  • Use “percent” in running text, not the percentage symbol (%). Use the percentage symbol (%) in tables and graphs.

Fiscal year: Always use full years with a forward slash in between (eg, “FY2018/2019”); fiscal quarters are Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4. It is a fiscal year, not a financial year. In tables and graphs, an abbreviated version (FY18/19) is acceptable.

Time: Write time as: 3:30pm, 3pm and 3–4pm. Do not use periods in writing “am” or “pm”. Do not use the 24-hour clock (eg, 14:30). When an event is occurring in a specific region, use that region’s time zone (eg, “10pm Hong Kong”). If international audiences are expected, as in the case of virtual events, use the host region’s time zone and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), (eg, “10pm Hong Kong (2pm UTC)”).

Money: Write US$5,000 (no need to add .00; always put a comma); when it comes to millions, billions or trillions, write those words out (eg, “US$5 million”).

Phone numbers: List all phone numbers in the +1 703 519 6700 format (“+” signifies that it may be necessary to enter a preceding country code).

Abbreviations and acronyms

Do not use stops in abbreviations like eg, ie and etc. Of course, there is a period if it is the last word in a sentence.

When first referring to a programme, entity or title that goes by an acronym, such as PoL, first refer to it as Path of Leadership (PoL), and then use the acronym in the rest of the document. See list of EO-isms and acronyms at the end of this document for all EO-related abbreviated terms.

Avoid using an ampersand (&) as a substitute for the word “and”. However, ampersands are acceptable in the official name of a company (eg, “Ben & Jerry’s”), or as the title of a programme.

For common title abbreviations/acronyms (eg, “CEO,” “CFO”), capitalize all letters; when spelling out a title that does not directly precede a name, make the term lowercase (eg, “the chief financial officer” vs “Chief Financial Officer, Joan Doe”).

Other frequent style questions

Measurements: When listing temperatures, always use both the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures to ensure we are being globally sensitive. Since Celsius is used more commonly on a global level, write it first, like this: 16ºC (60ºF).

Academic degrees: Use an apostrophe (“bachelor’s” or “master’s”); when it’s a specific type of degree, capitalize the words (“Bachelor of Arts” or “Master of Science”), but don’t add an apostrophe. You may also abbreviate as BA, BS etc.

Series: EO style does not use the Oxford comma (comma before “and” or “or” in a list) unless it is necessary to avoid confusion.

  • eg, “Brian, Bubu and Carrie are attending the upcoming MyEO event.” (no comma before “and”)
  • eg, “Those who are traveling to GLC must have an up-to-date passport, proper documentation from their chapter, and both digital and hardcopy materials for their track, which are stipulated by each program or department.” (comma before “and” to show that “both digital and hardcopy” go with “materials for their track”)