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.
- 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.
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, 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.”
EO products, programs and publications, such as Forum, EO Accelerator and EOupdate, are always capitalized. See the complete list of EO products and programs in EO-isms and acronyms section of this document.
Unless it is the first word in a sentence, email is lowercase (note: no hyphen). The same is true for website, which is one word.
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, remember: when in doubt, make it lowercase!
We are eliminating the use of “Global” and “EO Global” as proper nouns within EO terminology. The primary reason for this is that “Global” is ambiguous—it can represent EO staff, EO’s head office, the EO Board (formerly the Global Board) or a number of other meanings. Continue to use “global” as a descriptive word (ie, lowercase “g”) where appropriate.
- 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.”).
- 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 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”).
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, “upper case (capital letters)”
- 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”)
- Exception: Adjectives or adverbs ending in “ly” (eg, “quickly running emu”)
- Exception: When “very” is used as a modifier (eg, “very tight knot”)
- 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
Use double quotation marks at all times; you can use single quotation marks when you need to include a quotation within a quotation.
Use punctuation inside the quotation marks only if it’s part of the quotation. Quoting a complete sentence means quoting the period, too, so it goes inside the quotation marks. Quoting part of the sentence doesn’t, so the period goes outside.
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. For internally produced documents (eg, briefing notes and emails), it is OK to use hyphens for all uses (ie, the key next to the zero on the top row of typical keyboards).
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.
Other frequent style questions
Locations: Write out the city, state/region or country; ie, “Las Vegas, Nevada, USA”; put a comma after the country if the location reference isn’t at the end of the sentence. Be consistent between countries—for example, if you say “Johannesburg, South Africa”, you should also say “London, UK” not just “London”.
Events: Always put “Year EO event title,” ie, 2010 EO Cape Town University; on second reference, use “Cape Town University” or just “University”.
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.
EO staff professional(s): Use this term or “EO staff” or “professional staff”.
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”)
Regions: US East, US Central and US West do not have a hyphen between “US” and the location.