Our house style

1. Use British English spelling, not American

2. Spell out numbers below ten and use numerals for 10 and up. Exceptions: in ages standing alone after a name (Melanie, 2, has two brothers); in monetary units preceded by a symbol ($5, not $5.00). Always spell out numbers at the start of a sentence and try to avid using a year to start a sentence

3. Use the percent symbol (10%, not 10 percent)

4. Convert all measurements and currency to metric and US dollars

5. Use ‘$’, not USD$10

6. Always spell out billion but use ‘million’ when quantifying humans and ‘m’ for inanimate (Last year, five million people lived on $1m a day.)

7. Use metric, not imperial (hectares, not acres; metres, not feet; kilometres, not miles)

8. Spell out metres, square metres, but use kph for kilometres per hour

9. The general rule is to dignify with capital letters organisation and institutions, but not people’s positions

10. For Westerners, use people’s last name once they have been identified. For Asians, use the name deemed most polite by the person

11. Use single spaces between spaces, not double

12. Full stops are used sparingly (Dr Jones, Mr Smith etc)

13. Use the em dash with a space before and after (To make a radio station work – even to start one – experience is needed.)

14. Do not use accents on words accepted as English (chateau, cafe), use accents when they make a crucial difference to pronunciation (exposé)

15. Use italics for main event (album name, not song titles)

16. Acronyms and abbreviations – unless an abbreviation or acronym is so familiar that is used more often than the full form (BBC) – write the words in full on first appearance. After the first mention, try not to repeat the abbreviation too often. If an acronym can be pronounced, it should be spelt out in upper and lower case (Unicef, Nepad, Asean)

17. If you are tempted to use a superlative, think about it. Is it really the first, the worst, the heaviest? Do not try to add impact to your stories by using superlatives you cannot justify.

18. Use the active voice wherever possible

19. Subject-verb-object structure is the basis of the English language

20. Use simple, concise language

21. Check the meanings of words you are not sure of, many words are frequently confused

22. Avoid jargon and explain specialist terms and ideas in terms the reader will comfortably understand