Editorial Style Guide
Word List and Usage A–Z
Many entries in this appendix can be found in the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Stylebook.
about, approximately When idiomatically possible, use the adverb about instead of approximately. In the sciences, however, approximately is preferred: approximately 30 coding-sequence differences were identified. Avoid coupling either word with another word of approximation, such as guess or estimate.
accommodate Double c, double m.
accord, accordance Accord means agreement: We are in accord on the treaty’s meaning. Accordance means conformity: The book was printed in accordance with modern industry standards.
accumulation Double c, single m.
acknowledgment No e before –ment.
actor, actress Actor is the preferred use for both men and women.
adequate, sufficient, enough Adequate refers to the suitability of something in a particular circumstance: an adequate explanation. Sufficient refers to an amount of material (always with a mass noun): sufficient water, sufficient information. Enough modifies both count nouns (enough people) and mass nouns (enough oil).
adjunct, non-tenure-track [faculty] Avoid the word adjunct unless referring specifically to a short-term, temporary academic appointment (for example, a one-semester sabbatical replacement). Do not use interchangeably with part-time: a non-tenure-track appointment may be either part time or full time. When referring to members of the faculty whose appointments are not on the tenure track, the preferred adjective is non-tenure-track. See People and Titles under Academic Terms and Usage.
administration Lowercase in all uses.
admission, admittance Admission is figurative, suggesting particularly the rights and privileges granted upon entry: the student won admission to a first-rate university. Admittance is purely physical: no admittance beyond this point.
adopt, approve, enact, pass Amendments, ordinances, resolutions, and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.
adverse, averse Adverse means either strongly opposed or unfortunate and typically refers to things, not people: adverse relations between nations, an adverse wind blew the ship off course. Averse means “feeling negatively about” and refers to people: averse to asking for directions.
advising, advisement Use advising when referring to offering advice, informing, notifying, etc.: these support services supplement the academic advising; an advising session will be held next Tuesday. Advisement is a noun meaning “careful consideration” (first definition): he will take this under advisement.
advisor Preferred use; a common exception to AP style (adviser).
affect, effect Affect, almost always a verb, means “to influence, have an effect on”: the adverse publicity affected the election. The noun has a specialized meaning in psychology, “a feeling or emotion as distinguished from cognition, thought, or action”: the patient exhibited a flat affect, responding to no stimuli. Effect, usually a noun, means “an outcome, result”: the candidate’s attempted explanations had no effect. When used as a verb, effect means “to make happen, produce”: the goal is to effect a major change in the budget allocation process.
after- No hyphen is used after this prefix when it is used to form a noun. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.
afterward Not afterwards. See toward, towards.
African American (n., adj.) Hyphenation of proper nouns is hotly debated. Preferred use is without hyphens for both the noun and compound adjective (Chicago Manual; AP style is hyphenated): She is an African American. They are studying African American literature.
all (of) Delete the of whenever possible: all the houses, all my children. The only common exceptions occur when all of precedes a nonpossessive pronoun (all of us) or a possessive noun (all of the team’s players).
all right Two words. Do not use alright.
almost never Do not use this phrase. Use seldom or hardly ever instead.
alongside This term, meaning at the side of, should not be followed by of.
alternate (n. and adj.), alternative (n. and adj.). Alternate implies substituting for another (we took the alternate route) or one who takes turns with another (her alternate led the meeting). Alternative implies a choice between two or more things: I prefer the second alternative.
altogether, all together Altogether means wholly or entirely: that story is altogether false. All together refers to a unity of time or place: we were all together at the game.
American Indian See Native American.
and/or Avoid this awkward construction; try to recast the sentence instead. It can often be replaced by the word and or the word or with no loss in meaning. Where it seems needed, try or … or both (take a sleeping pill or a warm drink or both), or think of other possibilities (take a sleeping pill with a warm drink).
anniversary Avoid first anniversary, the redundant one-year anniversary, and terms such as six-month anniversary (or other time spans less than a year). Similarly, avoid first annual.
ante-, anti- See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.
anticipate Avoid this word as a loose synonym for expect. Strictly, it means “to foresee, take care of in advance, or forestall.”
anxious Do not confuse with “eager.” The word anxious involves anxiety.
arch- No hyphen after this prefix unless it precedes a capitalized word: archbishop, but arch-Republican. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.
Argentine The preferred term for the people and culture of Argentina.
army Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces: the U.S. Army, the Army, Army regulations. Lowercase for the forces of other nations: the French army.
arctic Lowercase for the adjective meaning frigid; capitalize for the region around the North Pole.
as per This phrase, though common in the commercial world, has long been considered nonstandard. Instead of as per your request, write as you requested or (less good) per your request.
as well as This phrase means in addition to. Avoid the redundant combination of both with as well as: both in theory and practice, not both in theory as well as practice. Also avoid using this phrase as a random substitute for “and.”
ATM Acceptable in all references for automated teller machine. Do not use the redundant ATM machine.
author Use only as a noun, not as a verb.
awhile (adv.), a while (n.) He plans to stay awhile (adv.). He plans to stay for a while (n.).