Prohibited phrases: “In conclusion,” “All in all,” “I think not,” etc. Avoid phrases whose frequency outstrips their value. Avoid cliches, sports analogies, overused quotations, etc. — phrasing should be original.
Never open or close an article with a quotation or definition, as this is lazy and poor style. Adverbs: adverbs should be used sparingly, especially ones that end in “-ly.”
Passive voice: passive may be used when the actor is not important, and only the action and the object matter
Numbers that begin sentences and numbers zero through ten should be spelled out, except in dates and addresses. Use Arabic numerals otherwise.
Do not begin sentences with a year number: “1997 is the year when I was a terrible writer.” This is offensive to the eye and scares readers and editors alike.
Be mindful of the distinctions between its and it’s and among their, they’re and there. It’s the Street, but it’s also Prospect Avenue.
Avoid dangling adverbs, which are usually weak substitutes or encapsulate trite ideas. Avoid: “Ideally, we’ll have a proofreader soon.” (used to mean “It would be ideal if”); “Hopefully, the homeless will get shelter.” (meaning “I hope”).
There is no grammatical rule against ending a sentence with a preposition. However, it should be avoided if it leads to awkwardness. So too with split infinitives, which are not proscribed by grammar but which may be inelegant.
Do not use the first or second person, excepting articles that are narratives or editorials. In those instances, use sparingly.
Punctuation and Capitalization
Semicolons are intermediate in strength between commas and periods, and usually link two independent clauses that could stand alone as sentences but are related enough to warrant inclusion in the same sentence. They can also be used in place of commas in a series following a comma that is particularly complicated or lengthy.
Hyphens are used between two words that are used attributively (as an adjective preceding a noun) and are considered together. The practice is to hyphenate such compound modifiers when preceding a noun, but not after verbs: “he was an up-to-date student,” but “the student was up to date.” When the first word of the compound modifer is an adverb, no hyphen is used.
Quotation marks: always smart quotes, or curled (like small 66 99); colons and semicolons go outside, all other creatures of punctuation within. Question marks that do not appear in the original are also placed outside quotation marks.
Punctuation: exclamation points may only be used after the word “Zing!” This is to avoid attempts to lend gravity to statements that are not interesting on their own.
Em-dash: “—” used to join two thoughts in a sentence; use a space before and after.
Apostrophes: not used after decades (the ’70s, the 1800s). Also, when placing an apostrophe before a number as above, it must face that direction — it should not look like ‘. So too with acronyms and initialisms: “the ABCs of history.”
Apostrophes: Always used an “’s” after words ending in “s” unless the word is a plural noun. “The eighth grade science class’s project focused on the biological classes’ characteristics.”
Contractions: dreaded in news and national articles; acceptable in Bullyrag, editorial and humor writing.
No comma after the penultimate element in a series joined by “and” or “or.” The only exception to this rule is for lists with multiple-word items that may create confusion: “The texts were written by Malkiel, Baumol and Blinder, and Rosen.”
Abbreviations: Formerly known as (“f/k/a”), also known as (“a/k/a”), television (“t.v.”), and for women who may or may not be married, no period (“Ms”).
Capitalization: President when referring to a specific president (“the President denied all charges”; “a president may be impeached by the House”); University when used to mean Princeton University or a specific school (“the University raised tuition”; “universities generally cost too much”); never capitalize an entire word for emphasis — use italics.
Two spaces between sentences.
Layout and Typography
Editorials: italics used exclusively for emphasis, not for titles; reasonable use of first person plural to indicate the paper’s opinion.
Headlines: only secondary headlines must be complete sentences; all headlines should be entirely in italics or roman, despite the presence of titles that usually require italicization — place titles in ‘single quotes’ in headlines. No periods in titles.
Subtitles are always two lines, and end with periods or question marks.
Four spaces are involved in an ellipsis: before, between and after (shown by underscores here): “He was_._._._my father!”
Boldface and underlining: not used in text.
The symbol “%”: not used. Write “percent” instead.
Italics: used for the names of stand-alone works. “The Spectator” is not italicized in our own pages. In editorials, used only for emphasis; titles are left in roman type.
Use “number” and “fewer” with countable quantities, “less” and “amount” for quantities that can’t be counted. Write: “Fewer grains of sand,” but “Less sand on the beach.” “The number of people on financial aid is proportional to the amount of money available for grants.”
Do not disgrace The Spectator: “e.g.,” — for example, “i.e.,” — that is. Italicize neither those nor “viz.,” nor “et al.” as they are common in English. “Ibidem,” “scilicet,” “infra,” and such like should be italicized if they are used, which is deprecated.
Use “that” for dependent or restrictive clauses, which do not require commas. Use “which” for independent clauses, which must be separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. “The winning entry, which was submitted by an extraterrestrial, was the one that The Spectator printed.”
“Farther” deals with distance, “further” with extent or detail: “To further his inquiry into Latin America, he travelled farther than Mexico.”