Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable Society: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
Publication Style Guidelines*
These guidelines do not judge other styles as wrong but rather define a style based on widely recognized conventions. Adherence to these guidelines promotes uniformity of document presentation and adds to the professionalism and credibility of your publications.
Guidance for document style issues that are not addressed in this guide can be found in the style manuals listed in the references. In all cases, decisions regarding document style should be based on the needs of the audience of your publication.
Whenever possible, limit the use of abbreviations in your publications. Abbreviations save little space and may be unfamiliar to readers. Extensive use of abbreviations (or acronyms) makes writing difficult to read.
In text, use an abbreviation only if you mention it more than once. At the first use in a document, spell out the abbreviation followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Similar to an acronym, you may need to spell out an abbreviation again later in the text depending on (1) length of the document, (2) how many times you use the abbreviation, and (3) how familiar the reader is with the abbreviation.
The ground water
should be remediated to concentrations of
Avoid abbreviations in titles or headings.
Abbreviate units of measurement the same in the singular and the plural.
1 m 43 m 0.5 mg 7 mg 4 lb 1 lb
Check Latin abbreviations to be sure you've used them correctly. You can generally avoid the use of the Latin abbreviation etc. A good rule of thumb regarding etc.: if there's more to say, say it!
Latin Abbreviation Latin Phrase English Phrase
i.e . id est that is
et al. et alii and others
etc. et cetera and so forth
In text, write out names of cities, states, and countries except for U.S. when it is used as an adjective for a government agency.
Environmental Protection Agency
In tables and graphics,
you can generally use an abbreviation when space is limited even if the
abbreviation hasn't been used in text.
An acronym is formed from the initial letters or parts of words in a name or series of words. Some acronyms are associated almost exclusively with the environmental field (see the list of environmental acronyms). Take care that you do not use acronyms that are unfamiliar to your readers.
You should use an acronym in text only if it is mentioned more than once. Spell out the acronym followed by the acronym in parentheses at the first use in the document. Similar to an abbreviation, you may need to spell out the acronym again later in the document depending on (1) length of the document, (2) how many times the acronym is used, and (3) how familiar the reader is with the acronym.
includes the building's heating, ventilating,
Avoid using acronyms in titles or headings.
Add a lowercase -s
without an apostrophe to make an acronym plural.
Form the possessive of an acronym by adding -'s.
No set of rules for capitalization is universally applicable. Proper capitalization depends on context, field of study, and level of readership. In general, capitalize the first letter of proper nouns, words in titles or headings, and first words in sentences.
Capitalization in Text
In text, capitalize the
initial letter of proper nouns. Proper nouns include names of specific persons,
places, things, concepts, or qualities.
Capitalize names of
organizations, agencies, institutions, and associations. Also
capitalize internal divisions, organizations, and departments.
Use an initial capital
letter for chapters or parts of a publication identified by number.
Capitalize proper names for buildings, areas, facilities, and processes.
Building 12a Room 4
Capitalize the words north, south, east, and west when they are in a proper noun that refers to part of the country. Otherwise, make them lowercase.
East St. Louis the West North Denver
The building is east of the cooling tower.
Capitalize months and days of the week but not seasons.
January Monday spring fall
Don't capitalize titles
of persons unless the person is mentioned by name in conjunction with the title.
Capitalize individual letters that serve as names or indicate shapes.
X-ray U-shaped pipe I-beam
In proper nouns that are
several words long, do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), coordinate
conjunctions (such as and, but, and or), or short prepositions (such as of, in,
and at), but capitalize prepositions with more than four letters.
Capitalize the first letter of a proper noun combined with a common noun.
hardness number Boyle's law
In titles and headings,
capitalize the initial letters of the first word, the last word, and all major
words. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), coordinate conjunctions (such as
and, but, and or), or short prepositions (such as of, in, and at) unless they
begin a title or a heading. Capitalize prepositions with more than four letters.
Consider each word of a hyphenated compound in a title or a heading for capitalization.
X-Ray Fluorescence Potential-to-Emit Limitations Under Review
This section includes
guidelines for use of commas in some common but often confusing
In a series of three or more items, use a comma after each item except the last.
chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride are used to
Use commas before and after the year when dates are written in the month-day-year format. However, do not use commas when dates are in the month-year format.
November 17, 1996, the contractor completed
Set off the individual elements in names of geographical places with commas.
is the center of a great deal of
Use commas to set off groups of three digits in numbers.
168,800 1,900 3,465,000
When used adjacent to a closing quotation mark, place the comma (or period) before the mark.
field, "05," is the sample
In general, hyphens are used:
* In compound words,
Many compound words are always spelled with a hyphen.
self-contained by-product maintenance-free
Refer to a dictionary for guidance on questions concerning whether a word should be hyphenated (on-site), open (on site), or closed (onsite).
A compound modifier is a
group of two or more words that is used as a single modifier of a
noun. Hyphenate compound modifiers when they precede a noun.
Hyphenate compound modifiers with a numerical first part.
55-gallon drums 24-inch pipe 3-inch-diameter well
If a noun has more than one modifier and if each word modifies the noun clearly without the other modifying words or word, a hyphen is unnecessary.
waste storage area preventive maintenance schedule
Do not use a hyphen when one of the words in the compound modifier ends in -ly.
privately owned company partially consumed wire
Prefixes generally do not require a hyphen.
nonhazardous unknown deionized recharacterized
Numbers are a frequent source of inconsistency in technical writing.
Numbers can be written out or can appear as numerical figures.
Use figures for all numbers that express units of measurement, time, or currency. Measurement includes distance, length, area, volume, weight, and velocity.
2 inches 40 hours 100 nCi/g 10:00 a.m. 3 ounces
Write out numbers that do not express units of measurement, time, or currency if they are below 10. Use figures if the numbers are 10 or greater.
agency issued a draft RCRA permit for
Write out numbers that begin a sentence or rewrite the sentence.
Twenty or 30 gallons are generated each month.
Express numbers in the same sentence or in a series consistently, but never use figures to start a sentence.
The document is 1 of 12 such reports.
When two numbers follow one another in a sentence, spell out one of them.
soil will be collected to fill two
Use figures to number:
Do not follow words expressing a number with the figure in parentheses except in legal documents.
Change: Twelve (12) discrete samples will be collected.
Use a combination of figures and words to express large round numbers (1 million or greater).
1.6 million square feet $2 million
Qualify and spell out approximate numbers.
around fifty pounds about five hundred yards south
Use figures for percentages and decimals.
Copper may be
combined with beryllium to form an alloy
Place a zero left of the decimal in decimal values less than one.
0.05 milligrams per cubic meter 0.1 nanocuries per gram
This section provides guidelines for use of common signs and symbols such as $, &, /, and chemical and element symbols.
The $ sign should always precede dollar amounts.
The contract is worth approximately
Use an ampersand (&) as appropriate in proper nouns.
Geraghty & Miller, Inc. Dames & Moore
Use the slash or solidus (/) to replace per in abbreviated units of measurement.
mg/kg nCi/g mg/L
If you need to mention a chemical or element frequently in the text of a publication and if the audience has a technical background, you can use the chemical or element symbol. At the first use in text, spell out the chemical or element name followed by the symbol in parentheses. You may need to spell out the chemical or element name again later in the document depending on (1) length of the document, (2) how many times you mention the chemical or element, and (3) how familiar the reader is with the chemical or element symbol.
whether the process could recover nitric
You can also use symbols for:
* Mathematical equations and
You should use arbitrary symbols such as *, +, or † to footnote tables that include equations or numbers because the reader may confuse numbers or letters used for footnotes with data in the table.
Use of the number sign (#) is often unnecessary and can usually be avoided.
Change: Task #2
Change: Permit #92012
According to the U.S. Trademark Association, Trademarks are words, symbols, or designs that businesses use to identify their products or services and distinguish them from those of competitors. Businesses can lose ownership of a trademark if they allow the trademark to be misused.
At a minimum, always use initial capital letters for trademarks. Depending on the type of publication, trademarks may have to be CAPITALIZED (not just initial capitalization); enclosed in quotes; italicized; or used in conjunction with an ®, TM, or SM designation. For at least the initial use of a trademark that is not widely recognized, use the generic term after the trademark.
Mariko solvent is used during the cleaning
Do not use trademarks as verbs.
Change: Xerox the report.
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