Every publication has
its own guidelines for writers
-- rules that
create consistency from page to page.
At SNN, we have a style guide, too. But instead of starting
from scratch, we've turned to some of the experts for help!
is a Style Guide?
A style guide offers answers to nagging
questions you may have.
- The second time you refer to someone in your story, do you
call him by his last name or do you use a title like Mr.?
- Do you write "ten thousand students marched in the protest"
or is it "10,000 students"?
- How do they spell "color" if they live in Canada?
Or is it "color"?
The Canadian Press is a national
news agency that helps media outlets exchange and receive news
and information from across the country and around the world.
This is the style guide most Canadian journalists use and it
is the style guide that SNN uses. It includes guidelines on spelling,
numbers, titles, punctuation and other details that make stories
clear and easy to read.
a brief overview of the SNN Style Guide.
we do not use courtesy titles or honorifics like Mr., Mrs. Miss
or Ms. You should use the person's full name the first time you
mention them and use their last name every time after.
- Kim Campbell was prime minister of Canada for 133 days.
Campbell was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative party
in June 1993, defeating Jean Charest.
You may want to use titles if their story includes several
people with the same last name -- a parent and child, cousins,
siblings or a married couple. Sometimes, you may need to call
the person by their full name to make the story clear.
If a married couple shares the same name, refer to them with
both their first names and their last name:
- Jean and Aline Chretien were at Rideau Hall for the ceremony.
If they have different names, you may want to explain their
- Joe Clark and his wife, Maureen McTeer attended the event.
You should use the title Dr. for medical doctors and licensed
health professionals, not those who have doctorates in other
For religious titles, use the title and the full name on first
reference and use their last name in later references: Rev. John
Smith and then Smith.
presented in quotation marks must be an exact representation
of what the source said. The only exception is that grammar,
pauses, etc. may be corrected if the only purpose is to make
the source's thoughts clearer. The meaning of a quote may not
be changed for any reason.
Sentences which introduce a quotation should include proper
punctuation between the rest of the sentence and the quote. For
Principal Robert Buzzy said, "I hate students."
I think you're all nuts," said Randall, "Leave
If punctuation comes at the end of a quotation, it must be
placed inside the quotation marks, for example:
"The cafeteria food is delicious," said Weckbaugh.
The only exception is quotation around brief phrases or titles
wherein the whole quote is used as one part of speech, for example:
"Soul Man" is a classic song.
that words are spelled consistently, the Canadian Press relies
on one source -- the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
CP prefers to use Canadian spellings for words like honour,
colour and favour -- instead of the American spelling: honor,
color and favor.
Here are some commonly misspelled words:
The world of computers and the Internet raises some style
questions. How do you spell new words and punctuate sentences
with computer jargon and addresses in them? Here are a few examples:
- E-mail or e-mail
- WWW or World Wide Web or the Web
- Web site
- the Internet
When it comes
to numbers in news stories, spell out whole numbers below 10
and use figures for 0 and above.
- Examples: five cars, the third period, nine minutes, the
16th hole, 10 skiers, the 22nd day
When should you use actual numbers?: in addresses, stand-alone
ages, dates and years, decimals, numbers larger than one with
fractions, scores, odds, military terms, money, temperatures,
and times. If you aren't sure about it, ask someone, like the
teacher, for help.
- Examples: (a) 2 Meadow St., (b) Ryan, 2, has a younger
brother, (c) Dec. 8, 1990, (d) 0.35 centimetre, 4½ days,
(e) The Cougars beat the Bears 7-5 (but a two-goal win), (f)
a 10-1 longshot, (g) 2nd Lieut. Tammy Smith, (h) $2 (not $2.00),
$150, (i) 8 C, -6 C, (J) 1 a.m. (not 1:00 a.m.), 5 o'clock, 9:15
Numbers are usually avoided at the beginning of sentences,
but if you must, spell out numbers at the start.
- Twenty-five people escaped from the plane without a scratch.
With larger, rounded numbers in the millions, spell them out
instead of putting in all those zeros.
- Examples: 10 million cars, $2.5 billion, 8 million jelly-beans.
Also spell out numbers you use in everyday speech.
- There were thousands of pelicans flying across the sky.
Words: Most words should
be written out rather than abbreviated, i.e. "Street",
not "St.". If long names are repeated throughout the
article they may be written out the first time with the future
abbreviation marked, i.e. "Students Against Driving Drunk
(S.A.D.D.)". On further references, just the abbreviation
may be used, i.e. "S.A.D.D.".
Dates: March, April,
May, June and July are never abbreviated. The other seven months
are abbreviated: Jan.; Feb.; Aug.; Sept.; Oct.; Nov.; and Dec.
Specific date usage may also be used, i.e. Nov. 21, 1976 or just
Nov. 21. If there is no specific date, November 1976 may be used.
There is no comma between the month and year if no specific date