Online style guide

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a lot Link to this term

is two words, as is all right

a or an before H Link to this term

all words beginning with H now take ‘a’, not ‘an’: a hotel, a historian, a hero, and so on, except, of course, for silent H words like ‘an heir’.

abattoir Link to this term
abbreviation Link to this term

In formal writing we prefer the full versions of:

  • et cetera (not etc)
  • for example (not eg)
  • that is (not ie)
  • okay (not OK)

 

abject Link to this term

degrading (as in abject poverty), or humble (as in abject apology), not 'total'

Aboriginal (adjective) Link to this term

and Aborigine (noun) always capitalised to describe Australia’s original inhabitants

abridge, abridgment Link to this term
abscess Link to this term
Abu Ghraib Link to this term

prison

AC Nielsen Link to this term

the pollsters

academic departments Link to this term

department of history, department of economics (no caps)

academic qualifications Link to this term

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), DipEd (Diploma of Education), MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science)

accents Link to this term

French words in common use like résumé and paté probably do need their accents to indicate the pronunciation of the final E that distinguishes them from similar words. Deja vu, chateau and cafe can be written without accents because they can't be confused with any other words.

accessible Link to this term
accidentally Link to this term
accommodate, accommodation Link to this term
accordion Link to this term
accrue Link to this term

does not mean 'acquire'. It means to come as a natural increase, usually financial.

achilles heel Link to this term
acid test Link to this term

(cliché) the success or failure of something

acknowledgment Link to this term
acquiesce Link to this term
act, Act Link to this term

capitalised in 'Native Title Act 1993', lower case in 'the act was passed in 1993', or 'we don't need an act of parliament to do it.'

AD, BC Link to this term

1100 AD, 45 BC. Second century AD, first century BC. Same arrangement applies to CE (common era) and BCE (before common era)

adage or cliche Link to this term

Found on the RN site this week: You know the old cliche, a photo says a thousand words... That's not a cliche, it's a traditional adage, proverb or saying, and it should read: 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. A cliche is an overused phrase that has lost its meaning, like 'at the end of the day' or 'battle with cancer'. An adage usually tells a universal truth and its wording is set in stone. Its use can be metaphorical: 'Too many cooks spoil the broth,' or 'It's a long road that has no turning.'

Tags: 
adaptation Link to this term

not adaption

adapter Link to this term

someone who adapts something (but electrical double adaptor)

Addis Ababa Link to this term
administration Link to this term

Bush administration, Clinton administration, etc.

adrenalin Link to this term
adverse, averse Link to this term

adverse weather conditions, but risk-averse

adviser Link to this term

American spelling is advisor, but we're holding out for adviser in Australia—at least for the moment.

advisory Link to this term
AEDT, AEST Link to this term

AEDT stands for Australian Eastern Daylight Time, and is used when daylight saving is in force. AEST stands for Australian Eastern Standard Time, and is used when daylight saving's over. We're still getting them confused because we think the S stands for summer. It doesn't; it stands for standard.

aerate Link to this term
aerobics Link to this term
aeroplane, aerodrome, aerodynamics, aeronautics, aerospace Link to this term

but aircraft, aircraft carrier, airline, airport

aerosol Link to this term
affect, effect Link to this term

(it affected me badly, to affect indifference, but: it had a bad effect on me.)

affinity with or between Link to this term
afforestation, reforestation Link to this term

not reafforestation

Afghan Link to this term

native of Afghanistan

afghani Link to this term

official currency of Afghanistan

aficionado Link to this term
Afrikaans Link to this term

language, Afrikaner person

after Link to this term

The US president is expected to outline a plan to restore the Gulf coast and reduce the country's dependence on oil after spending the last two days touring the southern states. What? Too confusing. Less confusing is this: Having spent the last two days touring the southern states, the US president is expected to outline a plan to restore the Gulf coast and reduce the country's dependence on oil.

age Link to this term

a six-year-old boy, my 20-year-old brother, our 40-something peers, now that he's 45—not '45 years of age'. Too wordy.

aged care facility Link to this term

Even though this has, regrettably, become standard usage, there's nothing wrong with 'home'.

ageing Link to this term

not aging

agenda, agendas Link to this term

This report sets our water saving agenda for the coming year. Those two speakers have different agendas. Let's stick to the agenda. Please print both agendas and bring them to the meeting. (Agendum, the original Latin singular form, is no longer used in everyday writing.)

agreement of person Link to this term

When generalising about Australians, some Australians start off in the third person : 'Many Australians...' then switch to first person to include themselves: 'plant native trees in our gardens.' Should be either 'Many Australians plant native trees in their gardens,' or 'Many of us in Australia plant native trees in our gardens.'

agreement of person (like) Link to this term

'But like many of her female contemporaries *their influence is not fully understood...' Their here is wrong. The comparison with a group does not alter the singular subject. The correct version is But, like many of her female contemporaries, her influence is not fully understood.

aid or aide Link to this term

to aid and abet, a study aid, a hearing aid; but a person (an assistant) is an aide

Tags: 
aide-mémoire, aides-mémoire (plural) Link to this term
AIDS Link to this term

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome. HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus which may lead to AIDS.

aircraft, aircraft carrier, airline, airport Link to this term

but aerodrome, aeroplane, aeronautics

airhead Link to this term
al-Qaeda Link to this term

(al- means 'the' in Arabic) so 'the al-Qaeda' is wrong

Albright, Madeleine Link to this term
Albuquerque Link to this term

New Mexico

all right Link to this term

not alright

all together Link to this term

as in 'we went all together in a group'. Not synonymous with 'altogether'

all-time classic Link to this term
Allen and Unwin Link to this term
allies Link to this term

no caps

allude to Link to this term

refer to indirectly (sometimes confused with elude which means to escape or avoid.)

Almodovar, Pedro Link to this term

film-maker

along with Link to this term
alongside Link to this term
alternate Link to this term

my mood alternates between rage and indifference

alternate reality Link to this term

you can't fight it—it's language change in action, driven here by online gaming. So we can say goodbye to any distinction between alternate and alternative as outlined here. In popular culture at least.

alternative Link to this term

If you don't like potatoes, rice might be a good alternative ... or alternatively you can go without.

altogether Link to this term

means wholly, completely, as in 'it's altogether disastrous'

Alzheimer's disease Link to this term
am, pm Link to this term

6 am, 7.15 pm ... not 6 am in the morning. Either 6 in the morning or 6 am.

ambassador Link to this term

The 'former Syrian ambassador' is not the same as the former ambassador to Syria. One comes from Syria and one goes there.

ambition Link to this term

realise or fulfil a dream or an ambition, reach or achieve a goal—you can't achieve an ambition, even if you climb every mountain.

American spellings Link to this term

are a giveaway if you're copying (rather than quoting) from a US-based website. Center, meter, theater, and so on, in Australian spelling have 're' endings. Other common American spellings are defense, skeptic, traveler, advisor, color, humor; which in Australia are spelled defence, sceptic, traveller, adviser, colour, humour.

amid Link to this term

not amidst

amok Link to this term

run amok (not amuck)

among Link to this term

not amongst

ampersand (&) Link to this term

please avoid unless part of company name or trademark

analogous Link to this term
analogy Link to this term
analysand Link to this term

person being analysed

analyse, analysis, analyst, analytic, analytical Link to this term
Anangu Link to this term

Anangu is the term that Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people from the Western Desert region of Australia use to refer to themselves.

anathema, anathemas Link to this term

acid jazz is anathema to me

ancestor Link to this term

anyone you're descended from (your descendants are your offspring)

and Link to this term

please spell out in full; don't use the ampersand symbol (&) unless it's part of a trade mark or title.

Anglophile Link to this term

someone who loves everything English

Anglophobe Link to this term

someone who fears or hates England and the English

anglophone Link to this term

an English-speaker

annex (verb) annexe (noun) Link to this term
anniversary Link to this term

means 'the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event' (Macquarie). So first anniversary, 21st anniversary and so on. Not '10-year anniversary'.

Tags: 
anoint, anointed Link to this term
Antarctica, the Antarctic Link to this term

Antarctica is the name of the continent within the Antarctic region.

antenatal Link to this term

before birth (not anti-natal, which would mean against birth...)

anteroom Link to this term
anti-Semitic, anti-Semitism Link to this term
anticipate Link to this term

means to prepare in advance for something, not the same as to expect.

any more Link to this term

but anyhow, anyone, anything, anyway, anywhere

Anzac Link to this term

not ANZAC

apocalypse Link to this term
Apostles Creed Link to this term

no apostrophe

apostrophes Link to this term

for tips on how to use apostrophes in joint ownership and after names ending in 's', follow see also link below:

appal, appalling Link to this term
apparatuses Link to this term
apparel Link to this term
apparent Link to this term
appraise Link to this term

to assess (apprise is to inform)

APRA Link to this term

Australasian Performing Right Association

Arab or Arabic? Link to this term

An Arab, an Arab woman, Arab architecture, Arab sensibilities. The Arabic language, Arabic writing, Arabic poetry (meaning poetry written in Arabic) but Arab poetry if you mean poetry written by Arabs in other languages.

Arrernte Link to this term

Central Australian Aboriginal tribe (formerly Arunta or Aranda)

art nouveau Link to this term
artefact, artisan, artifice Link to this term

remember the artefact is the object made by the artisan, who might show some artifice in the process.

articles Link to this term

in journals, chapters in books: titles appear in single quotes

arts bias Link to this term

be careful not to reproduce PR claims like world's greatest or premier. They may represent received opinion, but they are still bald assertions and need qualifying according to the ABC's editorial policy.

asphalt Link to this term
aspirin Link to this term

generic term, so no caps

assassinate Link to this term
attorney-general, attorneys-general Link to this term
auger Link to this term

a hole-boring tool

augur Link to this term

it augurs well for the future

Aung San Suu Kyi Link to this term

Burmese democratic leader

AusAID Link to this term

Australian Government Overseas Aid Program

Austen, Jane Link to this term
Austin, Texas Link to this term
Australian state and territory abbreviations Link to this term

ACT (Australian Capital Territory)
NSW (New South Wales)
NT (Northern Territory)
SA (South Australia)
WA (Western Australia)

Qld (Queensland)
Tas (Tasmania)
Vic (Victoria)

authoritative Link to this term

not authoritive

avant garde Link to this term

or avant-garde

averse to Link to this term

disinclined, reluctant (adverse means opposed, unfavourable, as in adverse weather conditions). The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide says: With such adverse results from the election, he was not averse to a little whisky...

Ayatollah Khomeini Link to this term
Ayers Rock Link to this term

Uluru

Azerbaijan Link to this term
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