RCoA Style Guide: C

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C

Capitals

  • only capitalise where absolutely necessary
  • use capitals for titles written in conjunction with a name eg Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • all office-holders when referred to merely by their office are lower case: the president, director, chair
  • job titles should be lower case with capitals used only when an author is directly credited eg ‘Mary Stewart, the consultant anaesthetist at the trust’, is lower case but Mary Stewart, Consultant Anaesthetist at Imperial Healthcare Trust’ is upper case
  • use lower case when referring to government, department, university etc without using the organisation’s full name. Anaesthetic departments should be lower case but the trust/board should be capitalised eg the anaesthetic department at University College Hospital received ACSA from the College
  • government departments of state, such as the Department of Health, should have leading capitals. Parliament, Commons and Lords are upper case.

Colons
The colon and semicolon are not interchangeable.

The most common use of the colon is to inform the reader that what follows the colon explains or lists elements of what preceded it for example, “there many types of anaesthetic: general, local and regional”.

Commas

  • commas separate words, clauses, or ideas within a sentence
  • when commas are overused or under used, you run the risk of confusing and frustrating your readers because your sentences are chopped into too many pieces
  • be careful not to separate a verb from its subject ie “one of the smartest things a writer can do, is learn how to use commas correctly.” This is a grammatically incorrect and disjointed sentence with an unnecessary pause
  • avoid using commas before the word 'and' when writing a list unless one of the items includes another ‘and’. For example, the doctor suggested an aspirin, half a grapefruit and a cup of broth. But he ordered scrambled eggs, whisky and soda, and a selection from the trolley
  • note the correct use of the Oxford comma, which is the use of a comma before the final “and” in lists. Straightforward lists containing just three items do not require them, but sometimes the Oxford comma can help the reader eg he ate cereal, bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea
  • use a comma to separate two adjectives when the order of the adjectives is interchangeable eg he is a strong, healthy man. More often than not, a conjunction can be added to sentences with interchangeable adjectives eg he is a strong and healthy man.

Contractions
Generally, it is best to avoid contractions such as don’t or can’t in formal writing. You may occasionally find it helpful to use a contraction in less formal letters and in emails. Don’t use text-messaging abbreviations in any work correspondence.

Co-ordinator
Hyphenated, but coordinate is one word.

Council
Capitalise when referring to RCoA Council. When referring to any other council, such as a local authority, capitalise only when using the full name of the authority.
 


Intro | A B C D E F G H I J, K, L M N, O P Q, R S T U V, W, X, Y, Z 

Quick reference guide

Abbreviations and acronyms

Glossary