a or an before h?
- Use ‘a’ for words that do not have a silent ‘h’, eg a hospital, a historic agreement.
- Use ‘an’ for words that have a silent ‘h’, eg an hour, an honest opinion.
- Include hyphen
abbreviations and acronyms
- Don’t use full stops between the letters of any abbreviation, eg GCSE (or GCSEs), NHS, LEA, CV. (See also Contractions.)
- Write out the word in full first time, with the short version in brackets, then use the short version, eg Oxford Brookes International (OBI) is responsible for supporting international students.
- For external facing communications, don’t use ‘eg’, ‘ie’ and ‘etc’; instead use for instance, such as, for example. (See Eg, ie and etc for further details.)
- When an abbreviation is written out in full, it is lower case, eg CPD becomes continuing professional development.
- When an abbreviation is a proper name, each main letter is upper case, eg DfE becomes Department for Education.
- Abbreviations and acronyms in common use, such as UCAS and NHS, don’t have to be written out in full.
- If the name or term occurs once, write it out in full - there’s no need to abbreviate it.
- For plurals, add an ‘s’ to acronyms, without any apostrophe, eg LEAs.
- Where individual organisations use an acronym, follow the style that they use on their websites, eg HEFCE (all caps), Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education)
- Subsequent references to a specific institution take lower case, eg the school, the department, the government.
Common abbreviations and acronyms and their meanings
- APQO - Academic Policy and Quality Office
- BIS - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now disbanded)
- CPD - continuing professional development
- DBS checks - Disclosure and Barring Service checks (replaced CRB checks)
- DfE - Department for Education
- HEFCE - Higher Education Funding Council for England
- JHBB - John Henry Brookes Building
- NMAS - Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (now disbanded)
- RBDO - Research and Business Development Office
- SBPO - Strategic and Business Planning Office
- TEF - Teaching Excellence Framework
- The CIM - The Chartered Institute of Marketing
- DipHE - diploma of higher education
- PGCE - postgraduate certificate in education
- PGCert - postgraduate certificate
- PGDip - postgraduate diploma
- PhD - doctorate
- See Terms of address
- Don’t use an accent on common anglicised words, eg cafe and cliche.
- If you need to add an accent, the quickest way is to copy and paste from a list of accents for the Mac keyboard, or this for PC users.
Oxford Brookes has a legal responsibility to make sure the University's websites are accessible in accordance with the Special Education Needs and Disability Act (2001) and the Disability Discrimination Act (1995).
- Our copy needs to be accessible and easy to read, even if the reader is scanning the text quickly. As a guide, aim for an Automated Readability Index (ARI) score of 5-8 when writing for a non-academic audience.
- Check the ARI for your copy using hemingwayapp.com by copying your text and pasting into into the HemingwayApp page. The tool will then display an ARI score (top-right.)
- Avoid capitalising whole sentences where possible to increase readability for people with dyslexia.
- Use italics sparingly as it also affects readability. For further guidance on style, see this guide from the British Dyslexia Association.
- For guidance on terms to avoid when writing about disability, see also Discriminatory language.
Only include commas when written as a sentence. So:
Headington Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 OBP, UK
NB. The current Headington Campus address is as above; no mention of Gipsy Lane.
See also Campus names
- Use generic subject addresses rather than those of individuals who may move or leave. email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org
- You don’t need to prefix the address with ‘Email’, eg email@example.com rather than ‘Email: firstname.lastname@example.org’
- Leave out ‘http://’ or ‘https://’. Instead start with ‘www’ only if this is part of the usual form of the address: www.brookes.ac.uk
- If the URL doesn’t have a ‘www’, (some of our department sites don’t) then do include: http://bms.brookes.ac.uk
- If the URL ends in a ‘/’, remove this.
- If a web address comes at the end of a paragraph, don’t use punctuation after it, eg For an up-to-date insight into the lives of Oxford Brookes students, visit our Student Blog www.brookesstudents.blogspot.co.uk
- Check all web addresses work - and go to the intended place - before they're published. You can use the Google Transparency Report tool, to check that third-party websites are safe.
- Remove hyperlink underscores in printed publications.
Long URLs (these may appear in references)
- Use a shorter alias where possible.
- If a URL stretches over two lines, don't insert an extra hyphen at the line break. Doing so could be confusing, as it is common for URLs to contain hyphens.
- Instead, find a natural break like a slash, number sign, or other symbol, or if you must, in the middle of a long string of letters or numbers. Use common sense: don't break a URL right after a full stop or readers might think the full stop marks the end of the sentence.
Avoid ageist terms such as ‘the old’, ‘the elderly’. Instead use older people, elderly people.
- Names of academic faculties and departments within Oxford Brookes take ‘and’, not an ampersand, eg School of Arts and Humanities.
- Only use ‘&’ when it is part of a proper name, such as a department’s logo image or a company’s name, eg Marks & Spencer. You can quickly check this using the Companies House register (a simple online search resource).
- Park & Ride - not Park and Ride.
- Where appropriate, an ampersand can be used as part of subject area headings, eg Education, Early Years & Teacher Training is a main heading for a subject area in the prospectus. Do be consistent in applying across all subject area headings if you use.
- When showing a possessive, for singular nouns the apostrophe comes before the ‘s’, eg the student’s chair, one year’s study.
- When showing a possessive, for plural nouns the apostrophe comes after the ‘s, eg the students’ workspace, four years’ study.
- When describing students from Brookes, there is no need to add an apostrophe as the University does not ‘own’ the students: Brookes students (not Brookes’ students).
- When referring to something that the University does possess, such as a reputation, the apostrophe should appear after the ‘s’ and does not require the addition of a further ‘s’: Brookes’ reputation (not Brookes’s reputation).
- Its is a possessive meaning ‘belonging to’; it’s means ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
- If the item is plural but the word ends in a letter other than ‘s’, the apostrophe goes before the ‘s’, eg the children’s teacher.
- If the item is plural and ends in an ‘s’, you do not need to add another ‘s’, eg all the companies’ results.
- Use contractions like you’ll and we’re as long as they don’t interfere with clarity, but avoid should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, they’ve - as these can be hard to read.
- Think about tone when using contractions - a good rule to follow is to use the full term first, then the contraction after: At Oxford Brookes we are doing x, y, z and we’re also planning to….
- Avoid using asterisked footnotes on web pages as they can be confusing. If the information is important, include it in the body text. If it’s not, leave it out.
- On web pages, asterisks are reserved for marking obligatory fields (see Visual Style Guide) and should not be used as a tool for adding footnotes. Where they are used in this way, you will need to include explanatory text on your form:
* indicates a required field