Online style guide

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
bachelor Link to this term
bacillus, bacilli (pl) Link to this term

any rod-shaped bacterium. Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax.

back foot Link to this term

get off on the back foot

backflip Link to this term

if you mean a change of mind, it’s better to use ‘about-face’ . When you do a backflip you end up still facing the same way.

backup Link to this term

police backup, but you back up to a door, or back up your files

backwater Link to this term
bad rap Link to this term

give someone a bad rap, but wrap up the day's news

Baghdad Link to this term
bail out Link to this term

to scoop water from a boat, or pay to get someone out of custody

bailout, bail out Link to this term

one word, as in $700 billion bailout but two words, no hyphen, in 'If the EU and the USA can find billions to bail out the banks...'

bain-marie Link to this term

this came up in a story about the NRL grand final breakfast and was written as 'bay marie'. Phonetically close but not how it's spelled.

ballpark figure Link to this term
balmy Link to this term

it was a balmy summer night, but you drive me barmy

Tags: 
Ban Ki-moon Link to this term

Secretary-general of the United Nations. Note lower-case 'm'.

band names Link to this term

are never italicised, no matter how strange you think they are

Band-aid Link to this term

trademark, so capitalise

bandwagon Link to this term
banister Link to this term

the rail at the side of a stair, but Sir Roger Bannister was the first to run a mile in under four minutes

Barak or Barack Link to this term

Ehud Barak is a former Israeli defence minister and Labour party leader, and Barack Obama is of course the US president.

barbaric Link to this term

primitive, uncivilised but not bad (barbarous is more likely to be cruel as well as unrefined).

barbecue Link to this term

not BBQ or barbeque

bare or bear Link to this term

'...the right to bare arms' is not what this writer meant when referring to the Second Amendment to the American Constitution.

Tags: 
bare, bared Link to this term

they bared their souls (not bore)

barometer Link to this term

barometer of style, barometer of public opinion. Car sales have always been a barometer of how the economy is travelling should be rewritten as 'car sales have always been a barometer of the economy' or 'car sales have always been an indicator of how the economy is travelling.'

Bartok Link to this term
bas-relief Link to this term
based, born Link to this term

London-based writer, Australian-born artist, Chicago-based poet, Russian-born dancer. You can be born Russian, Australian etc, but you can't be based Russian or Australian. So 'English-based' is wrong. Better to say 'based in England', or if you can narrow it down to a city or town use 'London-based' etc.

Bauhaus Link to this term
bazaar Link to this term

a market, but bizarre is odd

BC, AD Link to this term

44 BC, 1250 AD. Fourth century AD, third century BC. Same arrangement for BCE (before the common era), CE (common era).

Bean Bag Link to this term

trademark, so capitalise

beaujolais Link to this term
bebop Link to this term
bee's knees Link to this term

just the one bee

beg the question Link to this term

this means to evade the issue (strictly to assume as the resolution of an argument the point being argued). It does not mean to raise the question, as in 'that raises the question of whether politicians should get funded study trips at all'. So when you mean to raise the question, please use raise, not beg.

Tags: 
beggars description Link to this term

indescribable

bellwether Link to this term

leader of opinion (literally a castrated ram with a bell around its neck, used to lead a flock of sheep). Not 'bellweather'

bench (parliamentary) Link to this term

back bench, front bench, back bencher, front bencher

benefited, benefiting Link to this term
benighted Link to this term

intellectually or morally ignorant

berserk Link to this term
bestseller, best-selling Link to this term
bete noire Link to this term

doesn't need a circumflex accent and plural is betes noires

between you and me Link to this term

not between you and I

Bhutto, Benazir Link to this term
biannual Link to this term

twice a year (biennial is every two years)

bias, biased Link to this term
Bible Link to this term

capitalised when referring to the Old and New Testaments, but lower case for biblical and fishermen's bible.

Bible references Link to this term

Bible references should be written like this: book (Mark, Psalms, Genesis etc) followed by letter space, followed by chapter number, or psalm number, followed by colon, followed immediately (no letter space) by verse number(s). For instance, Mark 6:3 or John 3:2–4 or Psalms 12:1–2

Note that books of the Bible are not italicised (the Book of Genesis, etc).

bicentenary, bicentennial Link to this term

200th anniversary

biennial Link to this term

every two years (biannual is twice a year)

Big Apple Link to this term

needs caps when used as a nickname referring exclusively to New York

bigot, bigoted Link to this term
bill, Bill Link to this term

lower case while a bill is being introduced in parliament, upper case once it's become law

bin Laden, Osama Link to this term
biography Link to this term

author of a new biography of Gough Whitlam, not 'on'...

Biro Link to this term

trademark, so capitalise

bite Link to this term

a sound bite (a byte is a number of binary digits, or bits, usually 8)

BitTorrent Link to this term

one word, capital B and T

bizarre Link to this term

strange (bazaar is a market)

blasé Link to this term

always needs its acute accent

blaze the trail Link to this term

means showing the way for others who come after you. So blazing a new trail is a tautology.

bloc Link to this term

political group

block quotations Link to this term

indented quotations of more than a few lines, set in roman type (no italics) with no surrounding quotes (inverted commas).

blonde (f) blond (m) Link to this term

as in 'a blonde' (f) or 'a blond' (m) but it's blond hair for everyone

Bogota Link to this term

is the capital of Colombia, not Columbia

book titles Link to this term

should appear in italics when in body text (not in headings)

bookcase, bookseller, bookkeeper, bookshelf Link to this term
Booker prize Link to this term

correctly known as the Man Booker prize from 2003 on, because it's now sponsored by the Man Group, but still colloquially referred to as 'the Booker'.

Books of the Bible Link to this term

are not italicised but are written in upper case: the Book of Genesis, the Book of Jonah, etc.

BookScan Link to this term

(Nielsen BookScan) one word, capital S

born, raised and based Link to this term

American-born, French-born, Welsh-born...New York-raised, Sydney-based, etc

borne Link to this term

carried by, as in airborne, or 'our conjecture was borne out (corroborated) by events. Borne is the past tense of the verb 'to bear'. But we say 'her fear was born of childhood trauma.'

Bosnia-Herzegovina Link to this term
Botanic Gardens, the Royal Link to this term

not Botanical

both Link to this term

often redundant, as in 'John and Joe both hate one another'. 'Should appeal to both art lovers, newcomers and locals' is also wrong—both can apply only to two things or groups of things, not three or more. Correct usage would be: 'Last year the leaders of both Germany and Britain declared their multicultural policies had been a failure.' Here 'both' is useful because it underlines the perception that the policy failure is widespread.

boulevard Link to this term
Boutros Boutros-Ghali Link to this term
brahman Link to this term

breed of cattle. Brahmin describes the Hindu priestly caste and sacred cattle.

Brasilia Link to this term

capital of Brazil

breach, breech Link to this term

a breach of protocol, the flood levee has been breached, but the baby is in breech position

breakdown (noun) break down (verb) Link to this term

a family breakdown might give us a nervous breakdown, but we might say a relationship is likely to break down, or 'Let's break those figures down.'

Breakfast Link to this term

brekkie (not breaky)

breastfed, breastfeeding Link to this term
bric-a-brac Link to this term
British Link to this term

better to be more precise and refer to English, Scottish, Irish, or Welsh

broadband Link to this term

download speed (data transfer) is measured in megabits per second, not megabytes. Megabytes describes units of storage capacity, not data transfer. Megabits per second can be abbreviated to Mbps.

Brookings Institution Link to this term

Washington-based think-tank. Institution is its title, not institute

brussels sprouts Link to this term
brutalise Link to this term

to make brutal (not to treat brutally)

Buddha, Buddhist Link to this term
Budget Link to this term

federal Budget capital B, but federal budgets, state budget, lower case

budgeted Link to this term
built in, built-in Link to this term

'...a massive fan base built in...' or '...a massive built-in fan base...'

bulleted lists (punctuation in) Link to this term

dot points that are not complete sentences need no end-of-line punctuation (comma, full stop or semi-colon). The final dot point in the series, though, should end with a full stop.

bullfrog Link to this term
bulrush Link to this term
buoy, buoyed, buoyant, buoyancy Link to this term
bureau, bureaus Link to this term

not bureaux

bureaucrat Link to this term
burned, burnt Link to this term

I burned the toast (past tense of verb). You'll get your fingers burnt (adjectival participle). This is like learned and learnt—always contentious, but this is a style guide so we won't sit on the fence.

bus, buses, bussed, bussing Link to this term
businesslike, businessman, businesswoman, business people Link to this term
butt Link to this term

butt together, butt out, sit on your butt

buy back, buyback Link to this term

the government plans to buy back irrigation licences, but the government has been accused of having a buyback mentality

by-election Link to this term
bylaw Link to this term
byline Link to this term
bypass Link to this term
byte Link to this term

a number of binary digits, or bits—usually eight (but it's a sound bite)

byword Link to this term
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