Often appears in stories about people leaving their jobs. Be careful. It carries overtones of walking out, or shirking responsibility which could be libellous. Unless you’re sure it’s the right word, you’re better off using leave, retire or exit.


Has become a lazy way of describing any village, especially in rural crime stories. Make sure it really is a quiet village before you use it.



Ranks (police and military)

See separate section


It's a mouthful of a word. Better to use revamp, restore or renovate.


God, Christ, His (referring to God’s), and Bible etc all take initial capital letters

Reported speech

Do not mix tenses: Many reporters do not understand the principle of tenses in reported speech. Reported or indirect speech is in the past tense whereas direct speech (in quotes) is in the present tense. Don’t be tempted to alter the tense if an event is still going on. It is wrong to write: He said that the festival is a success. The correct form is: He said that the festival was a success.

Residential accommodation

Jargon for homes, houses and flats.


Like public, it's a dehumanising word. Try to use people, families, or something more specific.


Results should be kept as simple as possible:

Flower shows, etc

Best onion: 1 John Roach (Maidstone); 2 Ted Carp (West Malling); 3 Dick Dace (Chatham).

If extra detail is required:

Amateur talent show: 1 John Brown (Mersham), singer 99 pts; 2 Doris Grey (Great Chart), comedian 98; 3 Ruby White (Chilham), exotic dancer 97.

See Local Government section for election results.

Retail units

Jargon for shops. Council agendas often separate these into categories with a letter and number. See Planning for a full list.




Only use if merited – not for stories that cause mild surprise.


Spring, summer, autumn and winter all in lower case.


Avoid in text, but is acceptable in direct quotes (with an explanation if necessary).


Stories should be attributed to sources - preferably named.

Always try to get both sides of a story. However, the failure of one party to respond to a reporter’s enquiry may not warrant holding the story. We may be able to add to the original later or do a follow up. Declined to comment or was not available for comment must be used where appropriate.

Refused to comment implies some hostility, so make sure that it fits the circumstances before using it.


Speed is important, but do not sacrifice accuracy simply to meet a deadline. If there are doubts they should be cleared before use. Remember: If in doubt - find out.

On-going stories must contain sufficient background information to make them comprehensible to a reader new to the subject. Never assume readers remember the history of a story.


Never use without consulting an editor. It can be justified in some court reports but never for gratuitous purposes.



Telephone numbers

Split numbers like this: 01634 000000, 07000 000000 or 0207 000 0000.


Give the figure in Celsius, followed by the equivalent in Fahrenheit in brackets e.g. 28C (82F). How to calculate Fahrenheit: Divide the Celsius figure by 5. Multiply the result by 9. Add 32.


You’ll commonly hear this referred to as a banned word in newspapers. This is not strictly true but it is often used when it need not be. “The minister said that the policy would come into force next year” is exactly the same as “The minister said the policy would come into force next year”. Never use unnecessary or redundant words in your sentences.


See dates and times


The first time you name someone use their full name without a title, e.g. "Jayne Smith".

The second time you refer to them you would use their title and their surname, e.g. Mrs Smith or Miss Smith.


See bosses and chiefs, above. "Top cops" has become a cliched way of referring to high ranking police officers. The word "top" is not banned, but make sure the people you are referring to really are at the top... it's easy to elevate a middle-manager to this status if you don't check.

Trade names

Be careful when using words like Jacuzzi, Portacabin and Tarmac. These are trade names, and newspapers regularly get letters of complaint from the companies if the words are wrongly used. This can sometimes be serious (e.g. a headline “Faulty Portacabin collapse injures children” could lead to a libel action, if the building in question was not a Portacabin). Others to be wary of: Ansafone (answering machine); Aspro (aspirin); Barbour (wax jacket); Biro (ballpoint pen); Coca-Cola and Coke (cola); Hoover (vacuum cleaner); Jeep (field car); Kleenex (tissues); Portakabin (temporary or portable building); Sellotape (transparent adhesive tape); Tarmac (road surface).


You try to do something, not try and do something.

Twins and triplets

Never say “She had two twins” or “three triplets”, it’s a tautology.

Q to T