Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide
Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide

Maintaining a tasteful, disciplined, and uniform style at KOL Social magazine is paramount. As such, our editorial style guide outlines the preferred style and coding for various editorial elements to promote clarity and consistency in all our writing. We kindly request that our writers adhere strictly to the guidelines and refrain from improvising.

Top asks

  • The very first paragraph must have a clear and explicit thematic statement
  • Do not write in the first person
  • Facts should back statements
  • Spell out small numbers –all those below the number ten
  • Do not use contractions in formal writing. Write words in full.

Examples of contractions

  • Don’t = do not
  • Can’t = cannot
  • Isn’t = is not



Try to use only abbreviations that are very familiar to most readers. The complete spelling of most abbreviated words should appear in the first mention—no need to put an acronym/abbreviation if it is used again in the article.

  • COUNTIES & STATES: In regular text, spell out the names of states in addresses. Do not use post office abbreviations unless giving a complete address with a postcode.
  • EXAMPLES: Avoid using ‘e.g.’, ‘etc.’ or, ‘i.e.’. Instead, use ‘for example, ‘and so on and ‘in other words.’
  • NAMES: Use a full stop after a middle initial, e.g., Taraji P. Henson. Do not break between initials or before a middle initial. Do set off “Jr.” or “Sr.” with commas. 
  • PLURALS: Most plurals use an “s” without an apostrophe, e.g. the 1990s. Exceptions are those with full stops: I.Q.’s, M.D.’s, and single numbers or letters: p’s and q’s.
  • SAINTS: In general abbreviate St.
  • TITLES: Generally, do not use titles such as Dr., Mr., etc.


  • COURTS: Capitalise proper names, e.g., The Royal Courts of Justice.
  • GOVERNMENTAL BODIES: In general, capitalise proper names for state offices: House Of Commons
  • SENTENCES, HEADLINES: When using capital/lowercase format, as for citing newspaper headlines or song titles (and writing subheads and department headlines), capitalise all nouns, adjectives, adverbs, interjections, and even the short subordinating conjunctions, pronouns, and verbs (including If, It, That, Be, Are, and Is). Also, cap prepositions of four or more letters and those appearing last in the title (For example, in the heading “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”)—lowercase “as” in any grammatical function. 
  • TITLES OF PERSONS: With some exceptions, the social or occupational titles of persons are generally lowercase when merely descriptive, such as the prime minister, the mayor, the U.S. senator, former governor, or director. 

Cap titles when used as part of the name (Mayor Sadiq Khan). Cap title with or without a name for Speaker of the House, Librarian of Congress (to separate from generic use) and academic honours such as Fellow.

False titles: Only official titles, not descriptions, should be affixed to names: NOT “singer Diana Ross” but “the singer Diana Ross” or “Diana Ross, the singer” (a good rule of thumb is to consider whether you would use the title in greeting the person). 

  • OTHER: With certain exceptions, nouns, adjectives, and verbs derived from personal or geographical names are lowercase when used with a specialised meaning.

Cap only the first word of slogans and mottoes: Less is more.

Cap the first word after the colon if it introduces a complete sentence or as the subtitle of a book.

Cap first word after locator word(s) in the caption: From left: A selection of stamps. 

Do not capitalise the word “state” before a state is named, e.g., the state of Washington (but Washington State).

The lowercase first word of run-in quotation if it is not used as the start of a sentence: Still, he said, “there are extenuating circumstances.”

Lowercase “the” unless part of a proper name (including art exhibitions), e.g., The Dalles (Oregon), The Adjutant General (prescribed by law), The New York Times, but the Netherlands, the Bronx. Omit the article if it is preceded in the sentence by the same article (e.g. “the New York Times’s theatre critic,” where “the” modifies “critic” BUT “the theatre critic for The New York Times”). 

In most cases, we “normalise” spelling by capping the initial letter even if a company/organisation does not (e.g., Space519, not space519). However, some are left lowercase, such as iPad and eBay (see CMS 8.68).

We do not use all caps for a company name unless it is an acronym (e.g. the Rand Corporation, not the RAND Corporation; but SPACE in Evanston, not Space, because it stands for “Society for the Preservation of Art and Culture in Evanston.”

Do not cap a title after “on”: She gave a talk on the history of Japanese design, or reword: Her address was entitled “The History of Japanese Design.”

Titles in foreign languages: Follow NYT/AP, title case, not sentence style.  


  • At most, four-word breaks in a row.
  • Do not break contractions.
  • Always check that words are broken at proper syllable breaks.
  • Never stand a single letter; two letters are OK.
  • Try to avoid double hyphens, especially if there’s potential for misreading as well: e.g. ever-in-creasing should be reflowed if possible. Just mark a query for production.
  • COMPOUND WORDS: Generally, hyphenate compound words are used as an adjective preceding a noun or pronoun if the combination could confuse readers, e.g. public-health officials.
  • PHRASES: Hyphenate phrase used as an adjective before a noun. But reword for clarity, if possible. Do not omit the final hyphen in the phrase: a six-foot-tall post, not a six-foot-tall post. Use en dashes if the compound contains an unhyphenated two-word noun.
  • PREFIXES: Use hyphens with most double vowels to avoid misreadings, such as co-op and anti-inflation. Otherwise, most prefixes are not hyphenated, e.g., coauthor, extrafine, ultraorganised. Some exceptions are listed in this style guide.
  • URLs: Break between elements/words; before full stop; after a slash. Do not use a hyphen at break. 
  • SINGLE LETTERS + WORD: Hyphenate (B-train, U-turn, I-beam, T-shirt, C-clamp).
  • NUMBERS: Do not mix hyphens with words: from 1989 to 1999 (not “from 1989-99”). 
  • DO NOT HYPHENATE between proper nouns used as adjectives (e.g., Old World values); between foreign words now accepted in English (per capita income, bona fide winner), or with –ly adverbs + participles or adjectives (highly paid, utterly useless).
  • DO HYPHENATE adverb not ending in -ly + adjective: an often-read story; a much-needed break. Note: Compounds with more, most, less, least, and very are usually open if the context clarifies the meaning.
  • WATCH FOR: incomplete hyphenation of the adjective phrase: (six-year-old child, not six-year-old child).


The house style is to set most punctuation (apostrophe, colon, comma, period, semicolon) in the style of the word that directly precedes it.

  • DINING TERMS: Do not italicise foreign food terms, but do italicise other foreign words or phrases in dining reviews if not yet accepted as American English. If the term is in Food Lover’s Companion or AHD, do not ital. (Because Dining stories use so many foreign food terms, this eliminates stories full of italics.)
  • FOREIGN WORDS: In general, italicise less familiar, isolated foreign words and expressions. Do italicise, e.g., et al., i.e., auteur (along with punctuation mark following them.
  • EXHIBITIONS: Use title case only (no ital) for large-scale exhibitions (e.g. the New York World’s Fair). Smaller gallery exhibits are in title case and italic (We saw the exhibition Ansel Adams at 100 at the Art Institute.)
  • MUSICAL WORKS: Capitalised but not ital (Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12). For a descriptive title given to musical composition: ital if referring to a complete work.
  • WEBSITES: Ital the name of websites that are electronic versions of newspapers or journals, whether or not there is a print copy. (e.g., Politico, The Huffington Post, Chicagomag.com). Otherwise, websites do not include “.com” unless it’s part of the actual website name—so Facebook, but Match.com.
  • OTHER: Even if the title of a work begins with an article that is typically italicised (The New York Times), omit that article if it would be preceded in the sentence by the same article (“the New York Times’s theatre critic,” where “the” modifies “critic”).

Do not italicise foreign money terms.

Italicise letters as letters. House style for words as words is rom/quotes.

Common mistakes

  • Acknowledgement – don’t forget the second ‘e’. It is not ‘acknowledgment’.
  • Adviser, Not ‘advisor’.
  • Affect or effect
  • Any more – this is always two words, except in the United States.
  • Appraise or apprise – ‘Appraise’ is to set a value on something. ‘Apprise’ is to inform.
  • “begs the question” does NOT mean it raises a question. It is stating something as accurate without any proof, e.g., “I think he is unattractive because he is ugly.”
  • “the best you can” or “as well as you can” NOT “as best [as] you can”
  • “between…and…” not “between…to…” (use “from” with “to”)
  • Biannual – this can mean twice a year or once every two years. ‘Biennial’ means once every two years. Best to spell out which one you mean.
  • both… and: first conjunction immediately before the first part of the parallelism
  • Bring/take, come/go: Assume you are writing from a specific location, such as Chicago, or no particular place (a “world” view), and write from that point. For example, you take your lunch and go to work unless you are writing from the viewpoint of the workplace (Did you bring your lunch when you came to work today?).
  • complimentary (flattering; also, free of charge); complementary (enhancing)
  • Comprise, compose or constitute – ‘Comprise’ means to contain or embrace (‘The University comprises four faculties and schools’); do not use ‘comprised of’. ‘Compose’ and ‘constitute’ are used oppositely for the parts that make up the whole (‘The University is composed of four faculties and schools’; ‘Four faculties and schools constitute the university’).
  • Continual or continuous – ‘Continual’ means over and over; ‘continuous’ means without interruption (‘We come to work continually every day’; ‘She spoke continuously for an hour)
  • Dependant or dependent – a dependant (noun) is a person who is dependent (adjective) on someone else.
  • Dilemma – a dilemma is a choice between undesirable alternatives. It is not a synonym for ‘problem’.
  • Disinterested or uninterested – A disinterested person is impartial; an uninterested person is indifferent.
  • Extract (pull out); exact (extort)
  • Fewer, less – fewer is used for numbers; less is used for quantity (‘Fewer men require less food’).
  • “fill the bill” not “fit the bill.”
  • Focused – Not ‘focussed.’
  • “hare-brained”, not “hair-brained.”
  • i.e. (id est) means “that is”; e.g. (exempli gratia) means “for example.”
  • Incident: avoid “incident of…”; say “a murder, robbery” (e.g. “Several kidnappings occurred, “ rather than “Several incidents of kidnapping occurred.”) Also, “incident” is a single occurrence; “incidence” means the rate or frequency of occurrence.
  • intense (firm); intensive (thorough)
  • Its or it’s – ‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun (‘Every dog will have its day’). ‘It’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ (‘It’s’ time to go home).
  • Jibe (agree, coincide): two things jibe (not jive)
  • “led” is the past tense of “lead.”
  • National Organisation for Women (not “of”)
  • None – when an idea is “none of them”, use “are”; when the idea is “none of it”, use “is” (None of the students was… None of the pie was… )
  • “only” – next to the phrase, it modifies.
  • “on the contrary” (means “the opposite is true”); “to the contrary” (“notwithstanding”)
  • “persuaded somebody to…” not “convinced somebody to…”
  • reigned (governed, ruled); reined (steered, drove)
  • “set foot”, not “step foot”
  • Tack: “take a different tack” (as in boating, not “tact”)
  • “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Not: “The proof is in the pudding.”
  • “toe the line”, not “tow.”
  • Who/whom: one tip is to replace with a pronoun: can you use he/she or him/her instead? If he/she use “who” if him/her use “whom.”
  • Wildly/widely (be sure to use the correct adverb for what you mean; most often, it’s “widely”)
  • That or which – ‘That’ defines and ‘which’ gives extra information, often in a clause with commas around it (‘This is the study that Miranda managed’; ‘This study, which Miranda managed, has suggested a link between drinking and heart attacks’).
  • Whose, who’s – ‘Who’s’ is the contracted form of ‘who is’. ‘Whose’ is the possessive form of ‘who’. If you’re unsure which to use, try the full-length version, ‘who is’, in the sentence. If this makes sense in the context, you can use ‘who’s’. If it doesn’t, then the correct spelling is ‘whose’.

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