This editorial style guide is a tool for everyone who writes content for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). It provides clear guidelines and expectations so that we are consistent in our written materials.
Use this guide to help you when you are writing for EO. If you have a question that it doesn’t answer, contact one of the Communications team. We will revisit and update these guidelines based on future needs and trends. Like languages themselves, the “language of EO” should not be stagnant.
The “voice of EO” is our organization’s approach to written and verbal communication. It’s the voice to which our members respond best. This voice is part of EO’s brand. How we communicate our brand directly affects its power and ability to inspire. It’s important that all EO communications—whether from chapters, regions, our staff professionals or member leaders—are consistent in tone. This voice must flow through all internal and external communications.
Just as Forum encourages members to communicate in a manner where experience is more valued than analysis, EO must consistently use an experiential voice in its content. Forum works when members share personal experiences as opposed to giving advice; likewise, our greatest successes in communication have been the result of EO members sharing experiences. The organization is built on trust and respect. We learn from one another.
EO members are high-energy and innovative, and that is the tone to which they respond. Our voice is not formal—it’s conversational. It’s never condescending, and it’s always inclusive. In sum, our voice is experiential, conversational, clever, innovative, fun, inspirational and educational.
Writing style guide
Our house style is to use an international form of English, which reflects that we are an international organization even though our head office is in the USA.
This means that we do not conform to “American” English or “British” English, but instead use Oxford spelling. This is a common approach used by international organizations including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Amnesty International and the World Economic Forum.
In practice, this means we use a “z” in ize (and-ization) instead of –ise (and-isation) (organize and organization instead of organize and organisation, for instance). In most other cases, the Oxford spelling standard follows the British spelling standard in that it uses centre and not center, enrol/enrolment rather than enroll/ enrollment, programme not program, colour instead of color, analyse not analyze.
The online version of the Oxford English Dictionary is the current authority for spelling at EO (ensure it is set to British and World English). If more than one spelling is given in the dictionary, use the form listed first unless otherwise indicated below.
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.
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.
- o 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.
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.
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’re referring to a job role in general, don’t use initial capitals (eg, chapter president, president- elect). 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.”
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 in Appendix B.
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.
- Membership make-up (not Membership Make-up)
- Awareness and usage (not Awareness and Usage)
- Global Membership Committee priorities (capital letter used for a title that is made up of proper nouns)EO Global
We are phasing out the use of “Global” as a proper noun within EO terminology. The primary reason for this is that “Global” might be ambiguous—it can represent EO staff, EO’s head office, the Global Board or a number of other meanings. Continue to use “global” as a descriptive word (ie, lowercase “g”) where appropriate. Using “Global” as a proper noun:
- Write out Global Board in full (rather than “the Board”).
- When we mean the organization or EO staff, use: o “EO head office” o “EO staff professionals” or “staff professionals” or “EO staff”. Other uses of “Global” such as “Global dues” and “Global University” will continue until further notice—Dates
- 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”). Numbers
- 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.”).
- Write out first, second, third, etc, in full (not 1st, 2nd, 3rd).
- Always use figures if decimals or fractions are involved (eg, 3.8 or 6 1⁄4).
- 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. 7 © 2018 Entrepreneurs’ Organization. All rights reserved. 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”. Writing style guide Continued 49 SAMPLE APPLICATIONS 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 program, 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 Appendix B for a list of 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 (eg, “Strategic Technology & Platforms”). 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, Ellen Gardner”).