Dos and Don’ts List #1


Abbreviation: United States

  • The abbreviation requires periods except in scientific text
  • Abbreviate when using it as an adjective, e.g., U.S. currency or U.S. involvement in international politics
  • Spell out when used as a noun, e.g., the United States was established in 1776, but it was not recognized as such until 1783

Clauses of attribution (e.g., Smith states, “…”)

  • Capitalize the first word of a quotation following such a clause
  • Do not use “that” with such clauses, e.g., use Smith states, “…” rather than Smith states that “…”

Word Choice

  • YES homemaker NO housewife
  • Yes inexpensive/less expensive NO cheap/cheaper
  • YES state, exclaim, assert, share, declare, and maintain NO say


  • Only capitalize president and other titles when they precede a name, e.g., President Lincoln
  • (when referring to the western part of the world or the United States) YES the West and Western NO the west and western
  • YES Internet NO internet


  • (before a noun) YES middle-class (acting as a noun) YES middle class
  • YES user-friendly (always, not just before a noun)
  • YES hardworking NO hard-working
  • (before a noun) YES problem-solving (acting as a noun) YES problem solving

One word or two?

  • YES data set NO dataset
  • YES Web site NO website or Website


  • Separate e.g. and i.e. from any sentence they are in using commas on both sides, for example, singers, e.g., Mariah Carey and Madonna
  • or put them in parentheses and use a comma on the right, for example, singers (e.g., Mariah Carey and Madonna)

British English

  • Verbs and nouns spelled with a z in American English are replaced with an s in British English, e.g., analyze (analyse), recognize (recognise), and organization (organisation). I usually use the Word find function to search for zs when working with British English because the spellchecker misses quite a few.
  • Use towards in British English and toward in American English