Editorial Style Guide
Word List and Usage A–Z
back up (v.), backup (n. and adj.) Be sure to back up your files (v.). One backup should be off-site (n.).
because, since The word since may relate either to time (since last winter) or to causation (they went to the game, since they has been given tickets). It is useful as a slightly milder way of expressing causation than because. But to avoid confusion with the temporal sense, use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: He failed the course because he did not come to classes.
benefit, benefited, benefiting
beside, besides Beside means at the side of. Besides means in addition to.
between, among, amid Between indicates one-to-one relationships: between you and me; a debate ensued between the student and her professor. Between has also long been recognized as being appropriate for more than two objects if multiple one-to-one relationships are understood from the context: trade between members of the European Union; between you and me and the lamppost. Among is more appropriate where the emphasis is on distribution rather than individual relationships: discontent among the peasants; honor among thieves. Amid is used with mass nouns (amid talk of war), among with plurals of count nouns (among the children). Do not use amidst or amongst.
bi- In general, no hyphen after this prefix, except to separate two i’s. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.
biannual, semiannual, biennial Biannual and semiannual both mean twice a year: the journal is published biannually. Biennial means once every two years or every other year: the state legislature meets biennially. To avoid confusion, write semiannual instead of biannual, and consider writing once every two years instead of biennial.
Bible, bible, biblical Capitalize Bible when referring to the Scriptures in the Old Testament or the New Testament, and capitalize related terms: the Gospels, the Holy Scriptures. Lowercase bible when use as a nonreligious term: My dictionary is my bible. Lowercase biblical in all uses. The word “Bible” should not be italicized (see the exceptions in Names: Titles of Works under General Style Preferences).
board of directors, board of trustees Lowercase in all instances, except in first reference to the SUNY Board of Trustees (AP style is lowercase in all instances).
board of study (singular n.), boards of study (plural n.), board-of-study (adj.) Lowercase except in first reference to a specific one: Three boards of study were created last year. The coordinator of the Philosophy Board of Study will organize the lecture series. Hyphenate when used as a compound adjective that precedes a noun: The board-of-study coordinator conducted the meeting. Do not use the initialism BOS in public communications.
box office (n.), box-office (adj.)
bring, take Use bring if the object is being moved toward the subject: Bring your draft to class tomorrow, and I will review it. Use take if the object is being moved away from the subject: Please take those wet clothes outside to dry.
break up (v.), breakup (n. and adj.)
broadcast The past tense is also broadcast (not broadcasted).
building Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the proper name: the Empire State Building. The word may be abbreviated (Bldg.) in course listings, tabular materials, and directories, but should be spelled out in running text.
bureau Capitalize when part of the formal name for an organization or agency: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Lowercase when used alone or to designate a corporate subdivision: The New York Times has named David Leonhardt as its next Washington bureau chief.
bus, buses Transportation vehicles. The verb forms are bus, bused, busing.
by- In general, no hyphen after this prefix. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.