RCoA Style Guide: S

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S

 

Seasons
Always lower case eg summer, autumn, winter.

Semicolons
Semicolons should be used to mark a pause longer than a comma and shorter than a full stop. However, semicolons are often misused so please avoid using them.

It is better to use two sentences than to use a semicolon if you are unsure you have used it correctly. 

Sentences
Vary the length of your sentences to keep the reader’s attention.

The Plain English Campaign recommends a maximum of 15 to 20 words in a sentence and no more than 3 clauses or phrases in each one.

Sickbed, sicknote
But sick pay.

Singular/plural
Generally speaking this is an issue of choice, but one that you should apply consistently. Technically, 'none was', 'the board is' and the 'government is' are correct. The board consists of individuals. Similarly, a government is made up of individuals. Therefore, 'none was', 'the board is' and the 'government is' are correct.

'None' is a contraction of 'not one'. Majority and minority can be 'is' or 'are' depending on the sense. In certain contexts the 'public is' - but although correct, this can sound awkward.Try turning the construction around, for example, 'members of the public are'.

Social media
Are plural, a single social media network is Facebook.

Spaces

  • do not use double spaces to separate words, sentences or paragraphs
  • Try not to insert a space before or after carriage returns.

Specialist register
Lower case.

Specialty
Not 'speciality' when referring to medical specialties.

Split infinitives
An infinitive is the root form of a verb, for example 'to be' or 'to do' or 'to go'.
A split infinitive is created by placing an adverb or adverbial phrase between the ‘to’ and the verb eg to boldly go, to casually walk, to gently push.

When in doubt, avoiding the split can’t hurt, but don’t ruin a perfectly clear and natural-sounding sentence just to adhere to an arbitrary antisplitting rule. Infinitives should be split when the adverb either needs emphasis or wouldn’t work anywhere else in the sentence - for example: They are expected to gradually come down in price to about £50 to £75 each.

Square brackets [ ]
Used to enclose a section of writing or printing to separate it from the main text.

Stationary, stationery
Stationary: still. Stationery: writing paper and so on.

Subcommittee
One word, no hyphen.

Subspecialty
One word, no hyphen.


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