D

Dail - is the lower house of the Irish Parliament. Do not use in headlines or summaries, but it should always be referred to by name at least once - with initial cap...

Dail 

is the lower house of the Irish Parliament. Do not use in headlines or summaries, but it should always be referred to by name at least once - with initial cap. A Member of the Irish Parliament should not be referred to as an "MP", but as a member of parliament, parliamentary deputy, deputy or even TD - so long as it is clear from the context that this is the Irish abbreviation for member of the house ("Teacht Dala").

Daily, the

Do not cap up the word "the" when referring to a newspaper, regardless of whether it appears as part of the masthead. Hence, we say: the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph.

Note that the word "London" is not part of the title of the Evening Standard.

Dakar/Dhaka

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

Dalai Lama

ie with initial caps.

damage

Phrases such as "damage worth millions" are meaningless. Say damage put at, or damage estimated at, or similar.

daring

Do not use in the context of a crime or military action, as it suggests admiration.

dashcam

one word – also helmetcam and similar constructions.

data

Strictly a plural - but follow common usage and treat it as a singular, taking a singular verb (eg: Data was collected across the country).

dates

Put the date before the month, without suffix (eg: 12 April). There is no added comma for the year (eg: 12 April 2003), but there should be one if the day of the week is included (eg: Saturday, 12 April).

Avoid the 12/04/2012 formulation, as this will be understood in the US as 4 December. And one exception to the general rule: in a US context, spell out the Fourth of July.

days

Our readers live in various time zones, so avoid references to "yesterday", "this morning", "today", "tonight", "tomorrow" etc. Instead, days should be referred to by name (eg: Voting begins on Monday). Do not follow the American custom of omitting the preposition (eg: "Voting begins Monday").

When writing about events that have happened or are due to happen on the day a story appears, avoid putting the day of the week in the top four pars. If some indication of timescale is needed, use another form of words such as "within hours", "shortly" or "earlier". If there is a potential for confusion, include the day lower down the story (although the date stamp should mean this is unnecessary in most cases).

Dax

(Frankfurt’s main stock market index) ie initial cap only.

D-Day

(6 June 1944) ie hyphenated - with two caps.

dead on arrival

is a term to be avoided. It’s ambulance service jargon, being the term used in duty logs, where it often appears as "DOA". The implication that the individual died en route to hospital is often false.

death row

ie lower case.

decades

Use digits, without apostrophes (eg: 1960s or the 60s; Henry Hyde is now in his mid-40s). The exception is where an adjective is attached - in which case, the decade is written with an apostrophe (eg the Swinging ‘60s).

decimate

is a word liable to create misunderstanding. Strictly, it means "to destroy one-tenth of something" - but it’s commonly used to mean "destroy a large part of". Best avoided.

defence

is our usual spelling, even with job titles which in their original form use US spelling (eg: the US Defence Secretary John Wayne - and not "Defense Secretary"). Follow the American spelling of the department if using its full name (eg: the US Department of Defense), but use UK spelling for an abbreviated form eg: the US defence department. This is often preferable, in order to avoid spelling the same word in two ways in the same story.

Delhi

Do not refer to it as "New Delhi", which is only one part of the Indian capital.

Democratic Party

is the correct name for the US political party, not the "Democrat Party". But party members may be called "Democrats".

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

(responsible for business and enterprise support, higher and further education, promoting scientific research).

Department for Communities and Local Government

(responsible for planning, housing, working with councils, community relations).

Department for Education

(responsible for education and children’s services). No initial caps if referred to as "the education department").

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

may be shortened to Defra (ie initial cap only). No caps for the environment department.

Headed by the environment, food and rural affairs secretary who may, according to context, be referred to as environment secretary, food secretary, or rural affairs secretary (titles capped up if accompanied by name).

Department for Exiting the European Union

is the correct title of the department, but we can refer to the Brexit secretary or Brexit minister.

Department of Health

may be abbreviated at second reference to the DoH or the health department (ie with no caps).

Department for International Development may be abbreviated at second reference to DfID or the international development department (ie with no caps).

Department for Work and Pensions

Headed by the secretary of state for work and pensions, who, according to context, may be referred to as the work secretary or the pensions secretary (capped up if accompanied by name). Department may be abbreviated at second reference to DWP (ie all caps). No caps for the work department or the pensions department.

dependant/dependent

The noun is dependant (eg: Mr Smith told the court he had 14 dependants). The adjective is dependent (eg: Mr Smith told the court he was heavily dependent on drugs).

deprecate/depreciate

Deprecate means "to express disapproval of". Do not confuse with depreciate, which means "to diminish in value".

Derry

The city and county are Londonderry. The city should be given the full name at first reference, but Derry can be used later. The local council is Derry City Council.

deterrent

To talk about a "nuclear deterrent" implies acceptance of the doctrine of deterrence, which not all do. Referring to a "nuclear weapons programme" might be a suitable alternative.

Diamond Jubilee

As in the Queen’s. Capped up.

Diana

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

dictator

is a term generally to be avoided (except in a historic context) because it is too subjective. The word leader will usually suffice.

different

Say different from (rather than "different to" or "different than").

direct quotes

Pick only the best lines for direct quotation; anything else should be converted into indirect speech. Eliminate superfluous conversational devices (eg: "to be honest with you", "what I want to say is"). Make sure the meaning is clear - if not, leave it out.

Avoid exposing a speaker to ridicule by bringing his/her grammatical/linguistic incompetence to a wider audience. A combination of indirect speech and omission should solve the problem.

Punctuation: with complete sentences, the closing quotation marks go after the full stop. With a single word or phrase, the quotation marks go before the full stop. Where part of a quote has been omitted, use triple dots with a space after the last dot (eg: The quality of mercy is not strained… it is twice blest.)

director general

(of the BBC) ie two words, no hyphen, no caps.

disabilities/illnesses

We should be careful about the language we use when referring to disabled people. The phrase "the disabled", for example, is widely perceived as implying uselessness. Disabled people is preferred over people with disabilities. The same applies for mentally disabled people. Do not use words such as "cripple" or "the handicapped".

Say deaf people, not "the deaf" - and not "deaf and dumb". Also, avoid describing people as "mute". "Unable to speak" is a suitable alternative.

Do not refer to someone being "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair", since wheelchairs provide mobility - not confinement. Instead, write about a person who uses a wheelchair or who is in a wheelchair or a wheelchair user.

Spastic is a term that is not acceptable. Speak of people with cerebral palsy.

Bipolar disorder is the accepted term for manic depression, although this is acceptable in terms of clarification.

In general, it is best to avoid defining people by their condition or illness - a schizophrenic, for instance. Say instead that the person "has schizophrenia" etc.

We do not speak of "epileptics" or "epilepsy sufferers". Instead, say people with epilepsy. The use of the term "fit" for an epileptic incident is increasingly seen as outdated and can be offensive. The preferred word is seizure, though attack can also be acceptable. However, if a speaker uses fit in a direct quote that's OK.

Avoid using the word "leper" when describing someone with leprosy. It carries very negative connotations, suggesting an outcast or pariah. This association dates from the time when people affected by leprosy were segregated from their families and communities because of fear of infection. There will inevitably be occasions when someone says he/she was "treated like a leper". This is acceptable provided it is in direct quotes.

Avoid using the terms “battle” and “fight” when referring to someone seeking to overcome an illness or disease such as cancer, unless they themselves use it. Think carefully about using the terms “sufferer”, “suffering from” and “victim” for a person with an illness or disease. They can imply passivity or victim status.

Avoid using the terms “battle” and “fight” when referring to someone seeking to overcome an illness or disease such as cancer. Equally, avoid referring to a “sufferer” of an illness. Do not refer to people as “victims” of an illness or disease.

In reporting stories about albinism, we should recognise that it might not be a familiar term to everyone. People with albinism or albino people would be our preference, with "albinos" only to be used in headlines.

disc/disk

CDs and DVDs are discs, and someone may suffer a slipped disc; but for the computer storage devices we use a disk (eg hard disk, floppy disk).

discharge

People are not "released" from hospital - they are discharged (or sent home, allowed home etc).

disclose

Use with care. It implies that what is being said is true.

discreet/discrete

Not to be confused: discreet means "careful" or "tactful"; discrete means "distinct and separate".

disinterested

means "impartial" (eg: a tennis umpire is a disinterested onlooker). Do not confuse with "uninterested".

Disney

The original theme park in California is Disneyland. There is also Walt Disney World in Florida. The European one is now Disneyland Paris (no comma), although the company that owns it retains the name, Euro Disney.

dispatches

Is our preferred spelling, as opposed to despatches. In Parliament, ministers lean on the dispatch box ie without caps.

dissociate

ie not "disassociate".

distances

In most cases, use both imperial and metric measures. UK and US stories should usually put miles first, followed immediately by a conversion to km inside brackets. Similarly, yds / ft / in should be followed by a metric conversion (eg: The US president has travelled more than 2,000 miles (3,200km); Officials in Norwich have defended the introduction of a double yellow line measuring just 45in (1.14m). But don’t be too literal in the conversion of an approximate figure, as in The lifeboat picked up the man about 200m (656ft) from the shore.

In non-UK/US stories, metric should usually come first - with a bracketed conversion to imperial (eg: Police in France say the floods reached a peak of 5.3m (17ft 8in); At least five fugitives from English justice are living along a 10km (6.2 mile) stretch of the Spanish coast.) Sometimes, logic will dictate that metric should come first (eg: Train speeds on the British side of the Channel Tunnel compare badly with French top speeds of 300km/h (186.4mph).

The words "metre", "kilometre" etc are not written out in full, even at first reference; use the abbreviations m, km, etc - with no space and no "s" in the plural.

DA notice

Defence Advisory Notice (formerly D notice) - an official request to withhold a news item for reasons of national security.

Doctor

Use the title Dr (always abbreviated) for doctors of medicine, scientific doctors and church ministers who hold doctorates - but only when it is relevant. So it would be Mr Liam Fox. But do not use Dr for politicians who have a doctorate in politics, history etc. Surgeons should be referred to as Mr/Mrs/Ms.

dogs

In general, lower case unless the name refers to a country eg: German shepherd, great Dane, Afghan hound, rottweiler, labrador, Portuguese water dog, pekinese, Irish wolfhound, poodle, spaniel, dachshund.

Dominica/Dominican Republic

are different places. Dominica is a Caribbean island; the Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

dotcom

ie no caps, all one word.

Dow Jones

(index of the share prices of the 30 leading US companies) ie initial caps. Full title: Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Downing Street

is an acceptable synonym for a government spokesman (eg: Downing Street says...). You can also use No 10.

Down’s syndrome

is the appropriate term (not "mongolism"). Cap "D", lower case "s".

down under

colloquialism referring to Australia & New Zealand) ie lower case.

draconian

means "excessively harsh" only with reference to laws. Do not use in any other context.

drink-driving

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is: 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath; 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.

In Scotland, the limits are 50 milligrams, 22 micrograms and 67 milligrams.

The limit in most other European nations is lower.

drugs

When referring to seizures of illegal drugs,say drugs with a street value of… (and not "drugs worth…")

Duchess of York

Say the Duchess of York at first reference; then the duchess (lower case). Do not call her "Fergie".

due to

means "caused by", and should be used in conjunction with a noun, not a verb: eg His frustration was due to their inefficiency (and not "He was frustrated due to their inefficiency").

Duke of Edinburgh/York

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.

Duma

(the lower house of parliament in Russia) ie always capped up.

Dutch names

In genuinely Dutch names, it is Van with an initial cap if only the surname is given (eg The painting was by Van Gogh). But it is lower case if you use the whole name (eg The museum is dedicated to Vincent van Gogh). This may vary with anglicised or US derivatives, where an individual might have chosen to retain the capitalised Van in all circumstances. 

 

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