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The Archer house style ready reference

Here's a handy reference guide to The Archer's house style which aims to ensure a consistent style within the paper. But, don't worry, you don't have to remember all these rules if you are sending us a contribution. Our experienced team of sub-editors will change any text you send us to our house style before publication.

Abbreviations, Contractions and Acronyms

There is a trend towards omitting stops, and internal spaces, especially in newspapers, and The Archer follows this trend, omitting stops where permitted and not confusing. Use abbreviations cautiously!

All-capital abbreviations and acronyms normally run without spaces or full stops unless of a single letter or someone's initials, e.g. RSPCA, BBC, LUL, NE

Words shortened by removing the middle normally run without spaces or full stops

E.g. Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Cllr, St, Revd.

Omit stops from units of measure (except in., gr. for grain, qr. for quarter, a. for acre, st. stone)

E.g. oz, lb, g, l (litre), km, ft, mph, pt, F. Note also plc, PhD, BSc, sic, Ltd

You still need points for e.g., i.e., ibid., ed. and single letter abbreviations

The Archer, along with many other newspapers, omits the stops in am and pm


Delete 'East Finchley' after street names; only streets outside East Finchley need their area to be given.

For letters or by-lines, use the postal code, i.e. N2, after the street name e.g. By Fred Bloggs of Chandos Road, N2. Note that Road, Avenue etc. should always be written in full.


If you start a series of sentences or paragraphs with an asterisk the page-setters will interpret this as a marker for bullets and will format as a bulleted list if appropriate. There is no need to format with special styles or hanging indents as this will be done for you.


() Parenthesis. Use round brackets to insert an explanatory or qualifying phrase into a sentence in a more separated way than using commas. Round brackets follow punctuation rules for speech quotes.

[] Use square brackets to insert your own words or letters into a quote for clarity, or for editors inserts.

{} Use curly brackets around messages you do not want printed.


Follow the original capitalisation for names of organisations. Otherwise never use all-caps. Below refers to initial caps for each word (title case).

Capitalise institutions and organisations, days, months, festivals, holidays but not seasons.

Only capitalise titles of rank when they appear before the name and with no intervening punctuation or when using the title as a synonym for a particular person.

E.g. Councillor Helen Gordon, but one of the Labour councillors, Helen Gordon and the mayor, Vic Lyons

Capitalise the Council, the Government or the Borough when referring to a particular administration but not otherwise.

Additional capitalisation (e.g. Pollution Scare) may acceptable in headlines, but not sub-headings.


A colon is used to link cause and effect or anticipation and realisation and should be used sparingly.

E.g. There are three main modes of transport in London: bus, tube and taxi.

E.g. He asked them a simple question: "Where is East Finchley?" Comments - usually in italics, but also see brackets.


Type dates as Tuesday 26 November 1950 (day first; no th; no commas). Omit parts of the date that are unnecessary, but always keep the order the same. Decades use 1960s or sixties, not 60s, no apostrophes.


Try to work your words to provide any emphasis. If you must emphasise a word, such as in reported speech, use italics, as here; never use underline, all caps or bold.

Foreign words

Italicise foreign words, including Latin and Greek classification names, except where the words are completely absorbed into every day English

E.g. en masse or ad infinitum but not cafe or bistro. Note that Anglicised words do not require accents.

Full stops and commas

Avoid over complex sentences and unnecessary commas as these break up the flow. If using commas for parenthesis, use them in pairs. If using for a pause do not place between subject and its verb.

Use plenty of full stops but do not use at the end of a headline, by-line or sub-heading.

Hyphens and Dashes

Hyphen -

This is the normal "-" on the keyboard.

Use for joining words or words and prefixes to create new words or to make meaning clear

E.g. re-cover vs recover, brothers-in-law

Short dash (en rule) –

Alt + 0150 on Num Pad PC

(Alt + hyphen on Mac)

Use without spaces to indicate a transition between numbers, times, dates or places

E.g. London–Brighton rally or 6.30–7.30 pm

Or with spaces as a pause or parenthesis in punctuation somewhat longer than a comma – as in this case! Use sparingly or not at all.

Long dash (em rule) —

Alt + 0151 on Num Pad PC

(Alt + shift + hyphen Mac)

Use as a blank word or end of word, e.g. "Oh, b— !" Use without spaces.

Names and titles of books etc.

Italicise titles of plays, films, books, newspapers, TV programs, individually named vehicles of transport, works of art., songs and poems. Notice how such titles have a made-up quality about them.

E.g. Casablanca, Middlemarch, The Archer, Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, The Golden Arrow

Do not italicise names of streets, restaurants, hotels, pubs, theatres, organizations, buildings or monuments even when they are foreign.

E.g. English National Opera, Maddens, rue St Honoré, The Globe Theatre, the Cenotaph

Do not italicise the objects themselves, such as the Bible, Mozart's Symphony No. 41, the House of Commons.

Sometimes the may form part of the title, Note The Times, The Archer but the New York Times.

Some shop names end in s, others 's and some with neither. They have to be learned.

E.g. Harrods, Boots, Barclays but McDonald's, Levi's, Waterstone's


Spell out numbers up to ten; use figures for 11 upwards, but always spell out a number that comes at the very start of a sentence (and then note the hyphen in twenty-one, a hundred and sixty-two etc.)

Present money as £5, £5.25, £5,000, £5 billion, etc. Present percentages as 5%, unless at the very start of a sentence, then use five percent. Present millions as 5 million, 2.5 million, etc. Hyphenate three-quarters, one-third, but not a half or a third. Hyphenate the 28-year-old victim, but not the victim was 28 years old.

Quotes and speech

Direct speech is the exact quotation of another person's words – it must be exact. See also brackets

Use double quotes to surround direct speech, including all its own punctuation but, if the final punctuation mark before the introduction of the speaker would have been a full stop, change it to a comma. Also use a comma after the speaker and before the quote (not a dash and rarely a colon).

E.g. He said, "They should never have done it." OR "They shouldn't have done it," he said.

Keep the punctuation of your own 'main' sentence outside the quotation marks. If, logically, this would result in a full stop on both sides of the end quotation marks, omit the final one outside the quotation marks. If there is a full stop on one side and an exclamation mark or question mark on the other, omit the full stop.

E.g. She told me, "That's right." Did she say, "That's right"? No, she said, "Why not?"!

Use single quotes for quotes within quotes and quotes within headlines.

Use single quotes for sayings and quotations where you are not reporting anyone as saying them.

Use italics to identify a phrase of your own that you wish to refer to.

Ordinary indirect speech (as usually follows 'that') needs no special formatting and no quotation marks.


Semicolons can be used for joining related sentences or for providing a pause that is longer than a comma. Use sparingly or for lists within lists.

Singular and plural

Treat collective nouns such as 'party', 'crowd', 'the public', 'the audience' as singular when the emphasis is on the body as a whole but plural when the emphasis is on its individual members.

E.g. 'The audience was enthusiastic', 'The committee was appointed', 'The committee were divided'.

Collective nouns for inanimate objects are usually singular, whereas collective nouns followed by of + a plural noun or pronoun are usually treated as plural.

Times of day

Show all times in the 12-hour clock e.g. 2 pm, 4.30 pm. Note no spaces or stops in am and pm.