Writing Style Guide
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Travel Souk Style Guide

The thinking behind developing a house style is to ensure that we are all speaking(or writing) the same language and that our pages are as readable and accurate as possible. The style guide may seem fussy at times, but you stick to it, then readers should stick to our sites.

Be succinct: The Guardian online style guide opens with a quote by Thomas Jefferson which reads "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do".and Travel Souk couldn't agree more. Don't: indulge in worthless verbiage and endless clauses. Do: keep sentences and paragraphs short and punchy.

Introductions: Avoid stating the obvious, such as 'when looking for a holiday it pays to shop around'. Seek a 'way in' to your subject that hooks the reader before you go on to expand their knowledge in the second paragraph. The intro is where the most common problems with copy occur - it needs to be the strongest part of a piece but it is often the weakest.

Avoid the first person: Travel Souk is an independent guide, not an online journal. The only place for the 'I' word is in the Features section, and then it should be used sparingly. if at all.

Stay Active: Your copy will be livelier if you go easy on the adjectives and use the active voice. This means writing phrases such 'the search produced good results,' rather than ' good results were produced by the search.' Say 'the company gives refunds' rather than the passive 'refunds are given by the company'.

Avoid PR speak: Don't write promotional blurbs for companies or products. Travel Souk isn't selling anything, nor are we out to rubbish anything. We simply want to present an informed and balanced view. Of course, if there's something you are so passionate about that you want to shout about it; please feel free.

Avoid clichés: They are already over-used by their very nature. 'There is nothing worse than discovering than discovering your plane has been delayed'.well we can think of a thing or two. Also avoid referring to a company's 'amazing growth', 'a quantum leap', or a 'state-of the-art product' Save it for something that really is amazing.

Avoid religious, racial and political comment: There may be a time and place for this sort of thing, but it isn't within the electronic pages of Travel Souk.

Style A to Z

Actually: Usually redundant.

Addresses: Spell out addresses for places such as hotels in full, avoiding foreign abbreviations for street names. So it's 'avenida' for a Spanish avenue, not 'Avda'.

Affect, effect: To affect means to have an effect on, or change a situation. To effect is to bring about, to accomplish.

Apostrophes: Write plurals as they are pronounced. So it's ' Paris 's charms' and ' London 's landmarks'.

Biannual: Twice a year; biennial means every two years.

Both: Often redundant. No need to say 'both in the workplace and at home'.

Build-up: Hyphenated

Cliches: Avoid them like the plague, especially phrases such as 'state of the art' and 'quantum leap'. Also beware of fashionable phrases which will soon look tired.

Companies: Singular. 'The company aims to please.' 'Sainsbury's offers online shopping.'

Compass points: North, South, East and West are capitalized if they are part of the title of an area, such as Western Australia or South-east Asia, but write 'southern Scotland '.

Comprise: to consist of; "comprise of" is wrong.

Currently: Another unnecessary word.

Dates and time: Day month year(29 April 2006) - no commas.

Decades/centuries: 1990s(not 1990's) or the Nineties. 14 th century, 20 th century.

When writing about a stretch of time, say 'from 1994 to 1998' not '1994-1998'. Similarly say 'between 1914 and 1918'(not 'between 1914-18').

EG, etc, ie, NB: Avoid. They look ugly in text and can usually be replaced with a form of words, such as 'for example'. Often it is neater to use brackets than 'ie' or 'NB'.

Fewer/less: ' Fewer than' a number, such as 'fewer people' but 'less than' a quantity: 'less population'.

First, second: Not firstly, secondly.

Hyphens: Include them when describing something with compound adjectives. 'It is a small-scale company,'(not a small scale company - which would be a company that makes small scales). But you would write: 'The company was successful on a small scale.' Adverbs ending ' -ly' do not need to be followed by a hyphen, as in 'a properly run company'.

Italics: Italicise names of films, books, newspapers, plays and ships in green type.

Last: Prefer 'the past year' to 'the last year' to avoid any confusion.

Like: Do not use instead of 'such as' before an actual example or list of examples. Write 'companies such as Microsoft', but 'he wanted to build a company like Apple'.

Market-place: Hyphenated.

Measurements: Use imperial measurements for weights and sizes, such as 12st 8lb and 6ft 7in. Give distances in miles, not kilometres. If you need to convert a distance, 100km is 62 miles.

More than/Over: More than a number, over a mountain or a certain age.

Mr, Mrs, Dr, St: No full points.

Numbers: Spell out one to ten, use numerals from 11 onwards. Exceptions are when referring to sums of money(£9 million) or before abbreviations(5kg).

Per cent: Spell out, as in 20 per cent, rather than using the percentage symbol.

Telephone numbers: Give the international dialling code in full(0034 for Spain, not +34) followed by a space and then the rest of the number broken in two, with no dashes. 0034 97158 7535. For UK numbers(on UK sites) it's 01486 123456 or 0207 500 6000.

Temperatures: The style is 16C(61F) and minus 15C. Use 'minus', not the minus sign in text. Do not refer to temperatures as hot or cold; they are high or low.

That/which: That is almost always better than which in a defining clause. 'The company that you need is based in Birmingham '. Use which for descriptive clauses and place it between commas. 'The company, which is based in Birmingham, makes computers'.

Trade names: All need to take a capital letter, and should rarely be used generically. The brand owners can and do take legal action if their names are used in the wrong context. Examples include: Biro, Botox, CinemaScope, Hoover, Kodak, Land Rover, Lycra, Perspex, Polaroid, Portakabin, Portaloo, Rollerblade, Sellotape, Tannoy, Technicolor, Thermos, Valium, Walkman, Xerox, Yale lock.

Under way: Always two words.

Unique, unprecedented: If you use them, remember that something cannot be 'almost unique' or 'virtually unprecedented'.

Utilize: Prefer 'use'.

Very: Is usually redundant.

Phrases to avoid. with alternatives

A majority of - Most

A range of safety features - Safety features

A sufficient amount of - Enough

Accordingly - So

Along the lines of - Like

Along with - With

At such time as - When

At the present time - Now

Attractive to look at - Attractive

Be in a position to - Able to

Currently available on the market - Available/on the market

Despite the fact that - Despite/although

Give consideration to - Consider

In a matter of minutes - In minutes

In close proximity to - Near

In excess of - More than

In many cases - Often

One word is better than two:

Adequate enough - Adequate or enough

Advance planning - Planning

Appears to be - Appears

Automatically assume - Assume

Basic essentials - Basics or essentials

Close proximity - Close/near

Consensus of opinion - Consensus

Definite decision - Decision

First priority - Priority

Future predictions - Predictions

General rule - Rule

Green-coloured - Green

Initial prototype - Prototype

Major breakthrough - Breakthrough

Necessary requirement - Requirement

Office environments - Offices

Rate of speed - Speed

Resemble in appearance - Resemble

Retail environments - Shops/supermarkets

Totally unique - Unique

True facts - Facts

Six in number - Six

Usual rule - Rule


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