Places - Do not at first reference say eg: 'the North East' if you mean north-east England - it could as well mean north-east Scotland...


Do not at first reference say eg: 'the North East' if you mean north-east England - it could as well mean north-east Scotland. Also, do not talk about events happening 'in Scotland' or 'in Wales' - we wouldn't, after all, normally say 'in England'. Locate by town/city/county as appropriate. The rule of thumb is that if a place has a league football team no county is required. So it would be just Norwich, but Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. However, where a city or town shares a name with a unitary authority, eg: Newport or Bridgend, it can be acceptable to say in south Wales.

Compass points are not capped up (ie north, south, east, west). Compound nouns (eg: south-west) are usually hyphenated and lower case (eg: He loved France - and the south-west above all). But avoid ambiguity - say northern England rather than just 'the North', which would make no sense for someone in Scotland. Only when the geographical context is clear are terms such as the South East, the North West acceptable (ie separate words, capped up). Use lower case and hyphens for adjectives eg: south-east wind, a north-westerly direction, north-east England.

Basel - not 'Basle'

Beverley - the town in Yorkshire has an 'e' before the 'y'.

Beverly Hills - there is no third 'e' in California's Beverly Hills.

Brands Hatch - has no apostrophe. 

Chennai - our style is to use Chennai rather than Madras, but we should include the formulation Chennai (Madras) once high up in the body of the story.

Colombia/Columbia - first is a state in South America, spelt with two 'o's. Columbia is the capital of the US state of South Carolina - as well as a District (as in Washington DC) and a river - all these are spelt with a 'u'.

Dakar/Dhaka - Dakar is the capital of Senegal; not to be confused with the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

Gulf - and not 'the Arabian Gulf' or 'the Persian Gulf'.

Haringey/Harringay - The name of the London borough is Haringey; one of its wards is Harringay.

Kiev not Kyiv 

King's Cross - area of London has apostrophe

Lord's - the cricket ground has an apostrophe before the 's'. 

Macau - is our preferred style for the special administrative region of China, rather than Macao.

Marseille - without an 's'

Middlesbrough - not 'Middlesborough'

Newcastle-under-Lyme - with hyphens

Newcastle upon Tyne - no hyphens anduponrather than 'on'.

No 10 - is the style for Downing Street, not 'Number Ten'.

Scilly Isles - either the Scilly Isles or the Isles of Scilly. Do not say 'the Scillies'.

Shetland - say Shetland, or the Shetland Islands or the Shetland Isles - but not 'the Shetlands'.

Snowdon - (the highest peak in England and Wales), not 'Mount Snowdon'.

South East Asia - all three words capped and no hyphen.

Strasbourg - is our favoured spelling (and not 'Strasburg').

Sadler's Wells - the London theatre has an apostrophe.

St James' Park - the football grounds in both Newcastle and Exeter.

St James's Park - the open space in London (also St James's Palace).

Sea of Japan - how we describe the body of water between Japan and the Korean peninsula, and not 'East Sea' or any other variant.



Temple Mount - both words capped. Note that the area in Jerusalem that translates from Hebrew as the Temple Mount should also be described, though not necessarily in the first four pars, as known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (ie lower case 'al', followed by a hyphen - and never 'the al-Haram al-Sharif', which is tautological). The Arabic translates as the Noble Sanctuary.

The Gambia - definite article must be included.

Ukraine - and not 'the' Ukraine

United Kingdom - is made up of Great Britain (ie England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland - but not the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Valletta - rather than Valetta

Western Wall - (in Jerusalem) avoid 'Wailing Wall' except after a first reference - eg: The man attacked tourists near the Western Wall (the so-called Wailing Wall).

Wirral - and not 'the Wirral'.

Take care; not every capital city is the obvious one:

Australia - Canberra, not Sydney or Melbourne

Brazil - Brasilia, not Rio de Janeiro

The Netherlands - Amsterdam, not The Hague (which is the seat of government)  

Nigeria - Abuja, not Lagos 

South Africa - Pretoria, not Cape Town (where parliament sits)

Switzerland - Bern, not Geneva

Ivory Coast - Yamoussoukro, not Abidjan.

Our preferred spelling of Middle Eastern cities/towns often in the news:


Baghdad - (not Bagdad)





East Jerusalem (not Arab East Jerusalem)





Khan Younis



Nad Ali



Sharm el-Sheikh


Tehran (not Teheran)




Use Roman numerals with names (eg: Elizabeth II). Only our own monarch retains the initial cap in all circumstances (eg: The Queen has arrived in Australia). Other monarchs are capitalised only when the name is used.

In general, prince and princess have an initial cap if used with the name, ie Prince Harry; lower case in references to the prince or the princess. At first reference, Prince Charles should be described as the Prince of Wales.

We cap up the Princess Royal at first mention - even though this is likely to be without a name. At second reference, she is either Princess Anne or the princess.

The Duke of Edinburgh or the Duke of York are capped up at first reference, with or without the name. At later reference, Prince Philip/Andrew, or alternatively the duke or the prince, both capped down.

Diana, Princess of Wales was her full title. But she may be referred to as Princess Diana (or, at second reference, the princess).

Titles (people):

A marquess, earl, viscount or baron can be called Lord Surname or, where they have taken the name of a place, Lord Placename. The forename must not be included. An exception is where two people have the same title, so Lord Alan Smith and Lord Peter Smith may be used to distinguish.

The title 'Lady' is conferred on the wife of a marquess, earl, viscount, baron, baronet or knight, or the daughter of a duke or marquess or earl. In the first of these groups, the first name is not used, so it is Lady Hermon rather than Lady Sylvia Hermon. But those in the second group do include their first name in the title (eg: Lady Antonia Fraser is the daughter of the late Lord Longford, the surname having changed when she married). A baroness may use that title eg: Baroness Simpson, but can also be referred to less formally as eg: Lady Simpson.We would generally use Baroness at first reference, then Lady.


Mr, Mrs etc should be used, except for convicted criminals - and also journalists, sports people, authors, actors, artists, musicians and entertainers in their professional capacity (eg: Throughout the interview, Paxman refused to be sidetracked. But: The burglars entered Mr Paxman's house.) Court reports, in the UK and abroad, should give defendants an honorific unless and until they are convicted.

In choosing between Miss, Mrs and Ms, try to find out what the person herself uses, and stick to that. Avoid foreign honorifics (eg: Herr, Madame or Signora).

There is no ban on using honorifics with the dead: it's a matter of judging what is appropriate eg: A man murdered in front of his family does not immediately become 'Smith'; he remains Mr Smith. It would be difficult to defend a court report where the victim was 'Smith' and the alleged killer 'Mr Jones'.

All surgeons, even trainees, are normally referred to as Mr/Ms (Miss/Mrs if you know their status). There is a misconception that all consultants can be referred to in this way, but it is only appropriate if they are surgically qualified. However, someone who is a professor of surgery may well prefer to use Prof.

In common with our style on Dr, we should abbreviate Professor to Prof on first and subsequent references. But, when used as a generic rather than a title, full out and lower case: He was appointed as a professor of psychology last year.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi - (Libyan convicted over Lockerbie who died in 2012). We previously used the full name given in legal documents - Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. However, for consistency and simplicity, stick to the above. On second reference it is just Megrahi.

Mahmoud Abbas - We should call the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas alone, unless he is referred to in a quotation as Abu Mazen, when we can use the formula 'Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen' to explain.

Ban Ki-moon - Mr Ban at second reference.

Col Muammar Gaddafi - spelled with a 'G' rather than a 'Q', and a double 'd' with a single 'f'.

Mohamed ElBaradei

Inuit - the correct name for native people inhabiting the Arctic region from Greenland to Eastern Siberia. Do not use 'Eskimo'.

Lloyd Webber/Lloyd-Webber - The family name has no hyphen (eg: Julian Lloyd Webber). But Andrew became Lord Lloyd-Webber to take his seat in the Lords.

Maasai - with three 'a's is our preferred spelling for the nomadic people.

Mao Zedong - and not 'Mao Tse-tung' or any other variant.

Benjamin Netanyahu - not Binyamin.

Aung San Suu Kyi - always spelled out in full in her own language, as any abbreviation would be regarded as impolite. We can use 'Suu Kyi' for headlines and 'Ms Suu Kyi' in text - never Mrs (her husband, now dead, had a different name).

Barbra Streisand - not Barbara.

Foreign names:

Do not use foreign titles (Monsieur, Herr) - say Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss as appropriate.

In the case of Spanish American and European Spanish names, the last of the three names is usually the mother's name, which should not be used on its own. So Manuel Echeverria Valdez becomes Mr Echeverria, not Mr Valdez. This does not apply to Brazilian/Portuguese names.

In genuinely German names, von is in lower case when the whole name is given eg: Herbert von Karajan. It disappears when only the surname is given eg: Karajan died in 1989. There may be variations with anglicised or American derivatives, where the individual might have chosen to retain the von with the surname.

The Dutch van and the Italian di are lower case if the whole name is used. They are capped if only the surname is used eg: Angelo di Loreto says he might retire, but It is not the first time Di Loreto has said so.

When French surnames start with Le or La, an initial cap is used, whether or not the forename is included eg: Jean-Marie Le Pen, and also Mr Le Pen.

In Chinese names, the family name comes first - so Hu Jintao becomes Mr Hu at second reference.

Arabic names:

Names beginning with al- such as Bashar al-Assad lose the prefix on second mention - ie Mr Assad. If it's a place name, no need for the al- at all.

Do not use an apostrophe in an Arabic name. Examples: Baath, Shia.

For the founder of Islam, our style is the Prophet Muhammad. Second reference: Muhammad or the Prophet. For the spelling of individual Muslims named after him: there is no simple rule, because the spelling (Muhammad/Mohamed/Mohammad) varies from country to country. But in the Arab world, where Arabic script rules, we should standardise the name as Muhammad.

Bin or bin: Osama Bin Laden is written with a capital 'B' because the Bin Laden is in this case a family name. Bin can also mean 'son of'. In such cases we should write Abdullah bin Hussein ie with lower-case 'b'.

Abu: means 'father of'. We do not follow the practice of some news agencies in using a hyphen - eg: 'Abu-Mazen'.

Some common men's names:








It's Christian name, with aninitial cap. But do not use 'Christian name' when you mean 'first name'.

Company names

We should spell company names as they do themselves, but always use an initial cap. There are occasional exceptions, such as eBay and iPhone – see separate entries. Also, a name using all caps should be rendered in upper and lower case.

We treat most company names as though their punctuation were conventional (eg: 'easyJet' is Easyjet). But there are specific exceptions (eg: PricewaterhouseCoopers, iMac, NatWest), and one general exception: that we do use a lower case 'e' at the start of a name, where it stands for 'electronic' (eg eBay). If in doubt, check with the Business team.

Barclays Bank - no apostrophe.

Boots - no apostrophe


Coca-Cola - with a hyphen and both words capped.

eBay - lower case 'e', and upper case 'B', except at the start of sentences, where it should be written 'EBay'; but headlines can begin 'eBay'.


iMac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes - lower case 'i', followed by capital, except at the start of a sentence, where it should be IMac, IPhone etc.

JP Morgan/JP Morgan Chase - rather than JPMorgan or JPMorgan Chase.

Lloyds/Lloyd's - without an apostrophe for the bank (Lloyds TSB) but with one for the insurance underwriters and the register of shipping (Lloyd's).

Marks and Spencer - in the full name, the 'and' is spelled out. But it is reduced to an ampersand in the abbreviated form (M&S - no gaps, no points).

McDonald's - the burger people have no 'a' in 'Mc' and an apostrophe before the 's'. But: Big Mac.

MySpace - with a capital 's'.

Npower - is our style for the company that sponsors Test cricket (rather than 'npower', which is how the company refers to itself).

O2 - with cap 'O' (not zero). We do not follow the company's own style, which is 'O2'.

PlayStation - cap 's'

Rolls-Royce - hyphenated

Sainsbury's - with an apostrophe before the 's' (the company being J Sainsbury plc).

Scottish Power - two words - in line with its company registration, Scottish Power plc (and despite its rebranding as 'ScottishPower').


Yahoo - and not 'Yahoo!' - ie we drop the exclamation mark.



ChildLine - we follow the charity's own convention of including a rogue capital in the middle.

EastEnders - middle 'e' is capped

Harrods - no apostrophe

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh - one 't' and with a hyphen

Jobseeker's allowance

Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore university endowed by financier Johns Hopkins, so with an 's' at the end of both names - and no apostrophes.

Office for National Statistics - not 'of'

Performing Right Society - there is no 's' at the end of 'Right'.

St John Ambulance Brigade - not 'St John's'.


These are registered by companies to prevent others from using them. They should not be used generically, and there is a risk of legal action if they are. Use the trade name (with initial cap) if it has direct relevance to the story; otherwise substitute with a general description. Some commonly used trademarks are listed below with suggested alternatives:  

Ansafone - answering machine

Biro - ballpoint pen

Bluffer's Guide - title registered by Oval Projects; avoid

Cashpoint - cash machine

Elastoplast - sticking plaster

Fibreglass - glass fibre

Filofax - personal organiser

Formica - plastic laminate

Gumbusters - gum-removing machine

Hoover - vacuum cleaner

Jacuzzi - whirlpool bath

Jeep - four-wheel drive vehicle

Jiffy bag - padded envelope

Kleenex - paper tissue

Levi's - jeans    

Muzak - background music

Outward Bound -a court order exists concerning this; adventure training or similar.

Perspex - acrylic sheet

Plasticine - modelling clay

Polaroid - instant camera/ sunglasses

Portakabin - portable building

Portaloo - portable lavatory

Primus - portable stove

Rawlplug - plastic wall plug

Ray-ban - sunglasses

Rollerblade - rollerskates

Rough Guide - guide book

Scotch tape - adhesive tape

Sellotape - sticky tape

Smart Board - interactive whiteboard

Snowdome - indoor snow centre

Tannoy - public address system

Taser - most are, but if not electric stun gun

Teasmade - automatic teamaker

Teflon - non-stick

Thermos - vacuum flask

Time Out - listings magazine

Tupperware - plastic food container

Vaseline - ointment

Velcro - fabric fastening

Weightwatchers - slimming club

Xerox - photocopy

Yellow Pages - classified telephone directory

Zimmer - walking frame

Catseye - is acceptable in a generic sense, even though it is a trademark.

Child Trust Fund -is the government's 2003 Budget scheme to provide cash for every newborn child. Do not call it a 'Baby Bond' - that phrase is a trademark.