BuzzFeed Style Guide

The BuzzFeed Style Guide aims to provide a prevailing, and evolving, set of standards for the internet and social media.

BuzzFeed publishes news and entertainment in the language of the web, and in our work we rely on a style guide to govern everything from hard-hitting journalism to fun quizzes. We value consistency and accuracy across those formats and categories. (For instance, knowing how to treat numbers is important, but so is correctly spelling “fangirl.”) Our perspective reflects that of the internet at large, which is why we hope other sites and organizations across the web will find these guidelines useful. This style guide will be updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and responds accordingly to changes in language and common, casual usage.

BuzzFeed’s preferred dictionary is Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (m-w.com). In Webster’s, the first spelling of a word should generally be used (unless it appears in the word list below or is preferred by The Associated Press Stylebook). The preferred style manual is the AP Stylebook. Please consult Chicago Manual of Style for issues not covered by AP Stylebook as well as for more detailed information and discussion, where applicable. Any style point mentioned in this guide overrules those publications.

This style guide provides a reference to common words and terms used on BuzzFeed (see: Word List) and information on style issues particular to the site. It is not intended to be a comprehensive manual of grammar and style.

Word List


?! (never !?)
@replies, @mentions (on Twitter)
1D (as an abbreviation for One Direction)
24/7
3D
4chan (use a lowercase C, and avoid using it to start a sentence when possible)
4th of July
7-Eleven
A-list, B-list (etc., when referring to an “A-list celeb”)
ABCs
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
AC (for air-conditioning)
administration (lowercase “a” in political terms, e.g., “It has been something the administration has avoided” or “the Obama administration”)
adviser
after-party
AIDS
airlift
aka (UNLESS it starts a sentence, in which case AKA is acceptable — Aka just looks weird)
alcohol: Drink names are usually lowercase (exception: Bloody Mary)
al-Qaeda
all-nighter
a.m., p.m.
Amex (for American Express)
amendments: First Amendment, 19th Amendment (cap “A” when referencing specific amendments)
the Apple Store
A side (n.); A-side (adj.)
autocorrect
autofill
Auto-Tune
awards season / awards show (preferable to “award”)
baby daddy, baby mama (two words)
backstory
bandana
bandmates
Bashar al-Assad
batshit
beatboxer, beatboxing
beatdown (n.)
best-seller, best-selling (New York Times best-seller list)
Beyoncé
BFF
binge-watch
bitchface
bitcoin (always lowercase)
BlackBerry, BlackBerrys
blond (adj., n.) when referring to men or when used in a genderless context
blonde (adj., n.) when referring to women
Bloody Mary, Bloody Marys
blow job
body slam (n.); body-slam (v.)
bougie (adj.), bougiest (from bourgeoisie)
bread crumbs
Britpop
bro-down
bro-ing
B side (n.); B-side (adj.)
bull dyke (n.); bull-dyke (adj.) — avoid, unless used in a direct quote
buzzer beater
BS, BS’d, BS’ing
Cabinet (cap when referring to the governmental advisers)
camel toe
Cap’n Crunch
catfight
catfished (as a verb, lowercase)
CBGB (not CBGB’s)
Cee Lo Green
celebricat (for a celebrity feline)
celebridog (for a celebrity canine)
cell phone (but smartphone)
chatroom (one word)
cheese: What’s capped and what’s not? Consult MW, but here’s a list of some commonly referenced cheeses: Brie, cheddar, Comté, Feta, Fontina, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano
child care (n.); child-care (adj.)
chocolaty (not “chocolatey”)
circle jerk
cisgender
civil rights movement
class-action lawsuit
click-through
Coca-Cola
cockblock
come (v.); cum (n.) — (omg yes, this is really here)
coming-out (n., adj.), come out (v.)
commenter
company names: Refer to a company as “it,” not “they.” Exception: Band names usually take a plural construction (“The band is on tour”; but “Arcade Fire are playing tonight.”). Omit “Co.,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” etc.
Con Edison; Con Ed is OK on second reference
congressional district (lowercase “c” and “d”)
court cases: Italicize and use “v.” instead of “vs.” (Roe v. Wade)
Craigslist
crop top
crow’s-feet (n.)
crowdfund (all forms)
crowdsource (all forms)
crowdsurf
d-bag
day care (two words)
deal breaker (two words)
decade-long
Deep South
Democratic Party (cap “P”)
die-hard (adj.), diehard (n.)
diss (meaning to disrespect)
DIY
DJ (n., v.); DJ’ed, DJ’ing
“don’t ask, don’t tell” (lowercase, in quotes, with a comma for the military policy; in subsequent references, no quotes or abbreviate as DADT)
dos and don’ts
douchebag
doughnut (but: Dunkin’ Donuts)
down-low
Down syndrome
downtime
doxx (not dox)
DREAMer (when referring to advocates of the DREAM Act)
drive-thru (as noun)
Dr.: Do not use the term “Dr.” to refer to non-medical doctors who hold a doctorate
drum-and-bass
duckface
dumpster
du-rag
Earth (capped only when referring explicitly to the planet; “The biggest on Earth” but “a down-to-earth guy”)
eBay
[ed.:] – for ed notes in running text, cap “Ed.:” if it starts a sentence or is its own sentence
Ecstasy (cap “E” for the drug)
Election Day (but lowercase “election night”)
Electoral College
e-book, e-commerce, e-cigarette
email
emoji, emojis (lowercase)
ever closer (no hyphen)
eyeing
F-you (as a noun)
Facebook (always capped, in any form)
facedown (adj.)
face-to-face (adj., adv.)
FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) in all other uses
faceup (adj.), face up (v.)
fanbase
fan fiction, fanfic
fanboy/fangirl
farmers market
fauxhawk
fav, fav’ed, fav’ing (as in, “I fav’ed his tweet”)
FBI
first lady / first family
first-timer
First World problem
fist-bump (v.); fist bump (n.)
flat iron (hair tool, n.); flat-iron (v.); Flatiron District
flatscreen (one word, both as n. and adj.)
foreign words and phrases: If you can find it in MW, no italics necessary; if you can’t, put in italics
Fox News (not FOX)
friend zone (n.); friend-zone (v.)
frontman / frontwoman
fundraiser, fundraising (contrary to AP and MW)
Froot Loops (not Fruit Loops)
froyo
fuckup (n.), fuck up (v.), fucked up (adj.)
Gchat
G.E.D.
Gehad el-Haddad
Generation X, Gen X’er
George R.R. Martin
Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie
GIF/GIF’d (as verb), GIFs, GIFable
Girl Scout Cookie
glowstick
god: Cap only if explicitly referring to or alluding to a deity; lowercase otherwise, especially in common phrases (“Thank god she was OK,” “Oh god, he thought,” “And god knows we needed all the help we could get”)
god-awful
goddamn (per Webster’s), goddamnit, goddamned
good-bye
Google+ (preferred over Google Plus)
google (v.); Google (n.)
Gov. (OK on first reference preceding governor’s name)
gray (not grey)
grown-up (for all forms)
G-spot
guest star (n.), guest-star (v.)
gun control, gun rights (do not hyphenate, even if it’s modifying a noun — consider noun phrases)
haha (interjection); ha-ha (n.)
hair care (n.), hair-care (adj.)
hair dryer (but blow-dryer)
hair spray
hairstylist
hand job
Hanukkah
hardcore (all uses)
hashtag (For clarity, cap separate words — i.e., #ThrowbackThursday — in running copy.)
hate-watching
HBIC
head count
headscarf
headshot
health care (all forms)
heartrending, gut-wrenching, nerve-racking: Via MW, heartrending denotes sadness, gut-wrenching is meant to describe something that causes “great mental or emotional pain,” and nerve-racking describes something causing someone to feel nervous.
higher-up (n.)
hip-hop
hippie as in Woodstock, peace and love, and all that
hippy as in big-hipped
hitmaker
HIV positive (no hyphen, unless it’s modifying a word: e.g., “Are you HIV positive?” vs. “The HIV-positive patients”)
hmmm
homeowner, homeownership
homepage (also: homescreen, etc.)
homestretch
hoodie
hook-up (n.), hook up (v.)
Hosni Mubarak
hotspot, Wi-Fi connection place; hot spot for other uses (i.e., “vacation hot spots”)
H. P. Lovecraft
H/T (for hat tips)
humblebrag
iced coffee (not “ice coffee”)
ID (for identification)
Ikea (not IKEA)
IMDb
indie pop, indie rock (but hyphenate as modifiers)
Instagram, Instagramming (capped in all forms)
internet (lowercase i)
iPad Mini
Iraq War
IRL
ISIS (not ISIL) for militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
It girl / It couple
Jay Z (no hyphen)
J.C. Penney
J.Crew
jeez (not “geez”)
jell (not “gel,” per AP when used as a verb)
Jell-O
J.J. Abrams
JK (just kidding)
J.K. Rowling
JLaw
J.Lo
JPMorgan
Juggalo / Juggalette
key chain (two words)
Kim Kardashian West (no hyphen)
Kimye
Kobe (as in Bryant — OK to reference by first name)
koozie (for beer/alcoholic drinks)
L.A.
ladies’ night
LARPer, LARPing (for Live-Action Role-Playing)
LeBron (as in James — OK to reference by first name)
Lego
less vs. fewer: Use less when referring to mass nouns, distance, or money; use fewer when referring to things that are quantifiable (e.g., “There was a less of a risk with that option,” “There were fewer people at Jane’s party than at Julie’s.”).
likable
like:
• Use commas on either side for an interjection: “If you have, like, a really bad day…”
• No quotation marks when used as a self-referential pseudo-quote: “I was like, I could never do that. And then I did.”
• likes (as in, Facebook) — lowercase, not set in quotes
• As a suffix: see Combining Forms section below
lip gloss / lip liner / lipstick
lip sync (n.); lip-synch (v.)
listicle: avoid, use “list” instead
listserv (no caps)
live stream (n.); live-stream (v.)
live-tweet
log in (v.); log-in (n.)
logline (brief summary of a TV program or film); log line (used on ships)
LOL-ing
longform
lower/upper Manhattan (lowercase L/U)
lunchbox
MAC (the cosmetics brand)
mac ‘n’ cheese
make do (not make due)
makeup (when referring to cosmetics)
mama
man-child
manila envelope
mansplain, mansplaining
mash-up
Mason jar
matzoh
M.D./M.D.s (plural)
mecca (lowercase)
megabank
MIA
middle-aged (not -age)
Midtown Manhattan/Midtown (capped)
millennials (generally avoid using this term when possible; use “twentysomethings,” “twenty- and thirtysomethings,” or “young adults,” depending on what’s most appropriate/accurate)
mind-set
mixtape
mmm hmm
M.O.
Muammar al-Qaddafi
Mohamed Morsi
mohawk (lowercase as the hairstyle)
Molly (capitalized when referring to the drug)
more than vs. over: OK to use interchangeably, but typically, use “more” with quantities and “over” with spatial relationships. (e.g., “There were more than 20 people packed into the apartment,” “The plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean.”)
mother-effing
Muay Thai
Muggle (capped, as in a non-magical person)
mugshot
mustache
nap time
NASCAR
Nasdaq
National Airport or Washington National Airport: preferred over Reagan National Airport
Native American (not American Indian)
Necco (not NECCO)
never mind
News Feed (when referring to Facebook’s News Feed; “newsfeed,” one word, in other references)
news gathering
New Wave (for film genre); new wave (for music genre)
Ne-Yo
nip slip
No. 1 but “number-one” when it appears in a quote
now: When referring to time, do not use a comma (“I used to be completely terrified of heights. Now I’m generally OK with heights”). When used colloquially, use a comma (“Now, I’d never say that all cats are awesome, but I’ve never met one who wasn’t”).
NSYNC
the n-word (style thusly); in lyrics, etc., write out as n***a
NYC
Obama administration
Obamacare
OB-GYN
O-face
“O Canada” (for both the national anthem and expressions)
offseason
OG (no periods)
“oh man”/ “oh my god” / “oh no” all OK without comma after “Oh”
OK (not okay or O.K.)
OkCupid
omega-3
omelet
on-again, off-again
onesie
Oprah (OK to use just “Oprah” on first reference)
Other, Otherness: Capitalize to indicate use of the term as a category, especially when discussing race (e.g., in this post, “I think people make a clear distinction that [Lupita Nyong’o] is this exotic, fetishized Other — and therefore not ‘black’ like the rest of us.”).
PA (for personal amplifier)
page view
Paleo diet
peekaboo
pet sitter, pet-sit, pet-sitting
Peyton Manning
Ph.D. / Ph.D.s (plural)
phone calling (as a verb, no hyphen)
photobomb, videobomb
photo op
Photoshop (n.), photoshopped (adj.), photoshop (v.)
the Pill: capitalize when referring to birth control, but only when used as a noun and after “the” (e.g., “She was on the Pill to regulate her period.” / “There’s a new pill on the market with a lower dose of estrogen.”)
pinecone
pins, pinners (on Pinterest) are always lowercase
playoff
plus-size
PJs
Pokémon
Pop art movement
pop star, rock star
primetime (one word, all forms)
protester
pro tip (don’t hyphenate)
pseudo words: don’t hyphenate (e.g., “He rose from Obama stand-in to a pseudo strategist”)
Psy
publicly (not publically)
punch line (two words)
Q&A
Quidditch (capped, as in the game on broomsticks)
quote-unquote (in speech)
Qur’an
“the reason” or “the reason that” preferred to “the reason why” in running text
Reddit (cap in running text), redditor (lowercase, for someone who uses Reddit)
refriend / retweet / repin
Republican National Convention but “Republican convention” if not spelling out entire name
Republican Party (cap “P”)
rideshare/ridesharing
right-click (hyphenate as both n. and v.)
RIP (no points)
rock ‘n’ roll
rock-paper-scissors
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
rom-com
royal baby
the royal family (lowercase)
RT’d, RTs, RT (on Twitter)
Run-D.M.C.
Satan, satanic, satanism
SBD (silent but deadly)
screen saver (two words)
screencap
screengrab
screenshot
selfie (refers to a photo taken only by someone in said photo)
semi-automatic
service member
set list
al-Shabaab
Shiite, Shiites (not Shia, for the branch of Islam, but Shia is acceptable in quotes)
ship names: capped and italicized (USS Awesome)
‘shippers (when referring to viewers who celebrate a fictional TV couple’s romantic arc)
shit list
shitfaced
shithole
shitshow
shitstorm
shit talk (n.), shit-talk (v.)
shoegazer
shoo-in
showrunner
shyest
sideboob
sidebutt
side-eye
smartphone (but cell phone)
snowblowed (for past tense of snowblow)
S.O. (for significant other)
softcore
Solo cup
soulmate
soundcheck
soy milk
spandex
spell-check (n. and v.)
SpongeBob SquarePants
spray paint (n.), spray-paint (v.)
Sriracha
Stanky Legg (for dance move — two g’s! )
state representative (lowercase “s” and “r,” unless it precedes politician’s name)
startup
the States (when referring to the United States)
Statehouse (always capped)
stepgrandmother/stepgrandfather (close up all “step” relationships unless next word starts with vowel)
stock-in-trade
stop-and-frisk (hyphenate in all uses)
storyline
streetwear
struggle bus
student-athlete (also, student-performer, and the like)
subreddit
super PAC
supervillain
surfbort
Sweet 16
synthpop
tae kwon do
takeout (n.), take out (v.), takeaway (n.)
TARDIS
tear gas (n.); teargas (v.)
teepee
teleprompter
The One (as in destined romantic interest)
think piece
Third World: avoid; use “developing world/country” instead
tick-tock
till (as abbreviation for “until”)
time-lapse (adj.), time lapse (n.)
timeline (one word, all uses)
Time (not TIME) magazine
the Today show (not Today Show)
touchscreen
Toys ‘R’ Us
tracklist
tractor-trailer
trans/transgender (not transgendered)
trendspotting
tristate (one word, lowercase)
“try to” (not “try and,” as in, “I’m going to try to call her later.”)
T. Swift
Twitter / tweeting / tweets
Twitterstorm
two-buck Chuck
type A, type B (as in personality)
U.N.
U.S., U.K. (but USA)
unfriend (not de-friend)
username
Vine-ing (post a Vine/use Vine is preferred; cap in all uses)
vinyasa yoga
Vitaminwater
V-Day is OK for Valentine’s Day, but use sparingly
V-neck
V-shaped
Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia (not French Vogue, Italian Vogue)
voicemail
vs. (with a period, lowercase in list-y posts), versus (spelled out in news articles, longform stories); but v. for court cases
wack (n.), not cool, effed up; whack (n., v.), a hard or resounding blow, to hit with a hard or resounding blow; also gangster (as in Godfather) slang, “to kill”
Wall Street (spell out, rather than “Wall St.,” in running text, unless talking about a specific address)
Wal-Mart Stores (when referring to the corporation); but “I went to Walmart” (when referring to the retail store)
Washington, D.C. / the D.C. area — but, in datelines, just “WASHINGTON”
website / web / webpage
Weird Al Yankovic
whistleblower (use instead of “leaker,” which tends to have a negative connotation)
windbreaker
whoa
wide-awake (hyphenated)
WikiLeaks
wineglass
Wi-Fi
workflow (one word)
World Wide Web
writers room
www: Never use in a URL unless it you can’t access the site without it (or if the URL requires the odd www1. or www2.) — all very rare instances!
Xacto
YA (for young adult)
yaaass
Yahoo (no !)
yeah
YouTube, YouTuber
zeitgeist (lowercase, even though MW “often” caps)
zip code (not ZIP code)
Ziploc
z’s (aka sleep)

Abbreviations & Acronyms


In most cases, spell out on first reference and follow with the acronym in parentheses (if there are subsequent references): e.g., “body mass index (BMI).” Lowercase acronyms with six letters or more (Nasdaq); exception is NASCAR. Possessive acronyms ending in “S” — like CBS or PBS — should take an ‘s, not just an apostrophe (CBS’s sitcoms, PBS’s programs, etc.). Well-known acronyms and abbreviations do not need to be spelled out, even on first reference. Use your judgment, but here are some that don’t need to be spelled out:

AIDS
ASPCA
CBS
CD
CEO
CIA
CNN
CPR
CT (scan)
DNA
DUI
ER
ESPN
FBI
FDA
HBO
HIV
HMO
HR
IQ
IRS
MIT
MRI
MTV
NAACP
NASA
NASCAR
Nasdaq
NBA
NBC
NFL
NHL
PBS
PC
PGA
PMS
SPF
SUV
UCLA
USDA
VCR
VH1
VHS
WNBA
WWF
YMCA

Formatting Guidelines


Anonymous sourcing policy (guidelines):
• Someone up the editorial chain at BuzzFeed should be told who your anonymous source is, except in the most extreme cases. That may be your vertical editor or someone in management.
• Avoid using anonymous sources for negative quotes.
• Think about how the reader will perceive the use of an anonymous source — if a reader were to ask you, “Hey, why didn’t you use that guy’s name?” is your answer something they would understand?
• The number of anonymous sources isn’t as important as the knowledge those sources have. Five randos isn’t as useful as one person who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Bylines:
• Bylines are used exclusively in entertainment/music list stories or other compilation pieces where there are two or more authors of different copy blurbs throughout. Do not include in any other stories unless they follow suit. Exception: At the end of first-person stories told to our editors. Use italics, full name, and period on a new line after last paragraph: As told to Jane Smith.
• On first reference, insert byline one space after body copy ends, formatted as follows (em dash, no space, full name, roman): —Jane Smith
• On second and subsequent references, format byline as follows (em dash, initials each followed by a period, no spaces): —J.S.

Corrections:
• See the end of this document for a more detailed guide to BuzzFeed’s correction policy, but all corrections should go at the end of a post in the following format when called for:
CORRECTION: The editor of BuzzFeed is Ben Smith. An earlier version of this item misstated his name. (3/6/13)
• DON’T add a correction without first running the proposed correction by your editor or team leader. Vertical editors can run corrections by management. And when you approve a correction, please cc management so we can keep track.

Headlines, deks, and sub-buzz/subheadings:
• Initial-cap every word in headlines (our CMS will do this automatically), with no end punctuation (unless it is a question mark, or, very rarely, exclamation).
• Treat deks as sentences with normal punctuation. Always bold the first sentence in a dek.
• Subheadings and lists: Use common sense re: capitalization. Err on the side of consistency. If most sentences are full sentences, capitalize the first word only, use end punctuation, and treat as a normal sentence for all subheds in list. If list reads more like titles of images/things (e.g., “Grumpy Cat,” “This Guy,” “Your Brother”), initial-cap each word (except for prepositions, articles, conjunctions that are three letters or fewer — and, at, but, for, of, etc.) and do not use end punctuation. REMINDER: In headlines/subheadings with initial-capped words, always cap “Is,” which, although a puny word, is indeed a verb!
• In lists, please retain the “The” in superlative headlines (e.g., “The 30 Most Inspiring Films,” “The 25 Best GIFs of 2012”).
• With the exception of quizzes, generally avoid questions as headlines, particularly news headlines posed as ones that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” (e.g., “Will Hillary Clinton…”).

Links:
• When manually adding hyperlinks, please double-check that the quotes in your links are “dumb,” or straight, quotes and not “smart,” or curly, quotes. Smart quotes will cause the links to be broken; especially double-check that your links work when you have copied and pasted your text from a Word or Google Docs document, which tend to retain all smart quotes, even in hyperlinks.

Q&As:
• When formatting, bold the question BuzzFeed asks (without identification of “BuzzFeed” or editor’s name as interviewer); answers by interviewee are not bolded, but the interviewee’s name is. Use a line space between every question and answer (and answer and answer, if more than one person is being interviewed).
• Name(s) of the interviewee(s) is/are bolded. On first reference, spell out entire name of interviewee; on second reference, use initials (capped, no periods). Exception: If there are more than two individuals being interviewed, we may consider identifying interviewees on second reference by either their first or last names, if that lends clarity (especially, for example, if there is dialogue amongst the interviewees where they refer to one another by their first names. Just use good judgment.
• Don’t italicize the intro; add an extra space between the intro and the first question if the Q&A section does not begin in a separate text box.
• Set off indication of laughing and such reactions as follows: (laughs)

Q&A example:
Why are you so cool?

Justin Bieber: Because I wear really fashion-forward pants.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

JB: Be fun and wear cool pants, I guess. (laughs)

What’s next for you?

JB: Finding even more fashion-forward pants to wear.

Quotes:
• If you’re using an em dash for attribution, one space before the dash, no space after. “Quote.” —Guy Who Said Quote

Timestamps and Updates:
• There are generally two types of stories that require a timestamp: updates (typically just one or two) to a breaking-news piece that was written through as one article, in one text box (e.g., here), and “live blog”-type breaking news pieces, which are expected to be continually updated as more info comes in. For the former, as shown in the link, add updates at the bottom of the story. For “live blog” pieces, add updates from the bottom up, as new info comes in.
• To indicate that a posted has been updated or is developing in the dek of a story, please do so in plain text. Do not italicize, bold, or place the “Update” or “Developing” in all caps. Example here.

• The updates should be indicated with a timestamp in this style:
Update — Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
• With multiple updates, no need to repeat the date, unless the updates happen over two or more days. In this case, just mention the new date once. Example:
Update — Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 2:45 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 6:14 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 10:53 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — Feb. 15, 1:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 3:25 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 7:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation Guidelines


Attribution:
• Generally, all quotes should have attribution, even if it is obvious who is speaking. A colon after the sentence that directly precedes a quote is fine; otherwise, aim for attribution within or after the first sentence of a quote. “Says” and “said” are preferred verbs for attribution; avoid “she notes,” “he laughs,” “they contend,” etc. “Explain” is also frequently misused; is the person quoted really explaining something?

Awards:
• Awards show names are set in roman: Academy Awards, MTV Movie Awards.
• Initial-cap the names of awards given at official awards shows in all instances (e.g., Best Documentary, Best Gut-Wrenching Performance).

Capitalization:
• Capitalize words that are “often” or “usually” capped per MW.
• Never begin a sentence with a lowercase letter, UNLESS it’s a very well-known brand (like iPad or eBay), though where possible, avoid the awkwardness of starting a sentence with a lowercase letter.
• Slashes are OK in specific contexts (like “and/or”), but use hyphens for basic compounds like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.” A double title or occupation would take a slash (“writer/editor”).
• With directions: the Northeast, but southeast Brooklyn. Lowercase north, south, east, west, unless using them to refer to particular regions (the South, the Western Hemisphere, etc.).
• Product and brand names should be initial-capped, unless that name is made of initials (e.g., Gap, Ikea, AT&T; exception: MAC).
• Product names in all lowercase letters should be capitalized (e.g., iPod Nano, not iPod nano).
• Intercaps that delineate new words are OK: BlackBerry, eBay, iPod, NyQuil, etc. Intercaps that are just graphic treatments are not: Prana, not prAna.

Combining forms:
• Closing up or hyphenating combining forms generally depends on readability and whether closing up a word changes its meaning. Follow the guidelines below, and consult MW in most cases:
-ass (crazy-ass party, but badass)
-bait (typically closed up: clickbait, linkbait, tweetbait)
butt- (typically closed up: buttcrack, buttface, butthead)
co- (hyphenate: co-facilitate, co-worker)
cyber- (closed up unless it affects readability: cyberwarfare, cyberbullying, cybersecurity, etc. but Cyber Monday)
-esque (closed up/hyphens depend on readability: yolo-esque, Kafkaesque)
-fest (most combining forms should be closed up: lovefest, puppyfest, etc.)
-fuck (usually closed up: clusterfuck, bumblefuck)
-goer (hyphenate only if readability is an issue: beachgoer, theatergoer, fairgoer, filmgoer)
-head (close up [metalhead, pothead] unless it interferes with readability [hip-hop-head, Phish-head])
hyper- (close up, per MW)
-ian (usually closed up — use your judgment re: readability)
-ish (again, usually closed up, but use your judgment: New Yorkish)
-less (hyphenate only if not found in MW: childless, witless, audience-less, pants-less)
-like (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable; use MW and good judgment)
-maker (look up: decision-maker, deal-maker, but policymaker, lawmaker)
-mate (close up combining form: tourmates, cellmates)
mega- (hyphenate, per MW)
mid- (close up most, check MW: mid-1950s, mid-Atlantic, but midterm, midday)
mini- (hyphenate: mini-cupcakes)
multi- (follow MW)
non- (close up, per MW)
-plus (preferable to +, as in “He was 20-plus years old.”)
re- (close up unless doing so makes a word unreadable or changes its meaning: re-create, reimagine)
-seeker (job seeker, asylum-seeker, thrill-seeker)
self- (hyphenate: self-absorbed)
-shaming (hyphenate: slut-shaming, fat-shaming, body-shaming)
-size (not “-sized”: plus-size, oversize)
super- (follow MW)
then- phrases (hyphenate: “her then-boyfriend,” “then-Senator Obama”)
-turned phrases (do not hyphenate, unless it comes before a person’s name: “the actor turned lawyer”; “Actor-turned-lawyer John Smith…”)
-ward (not -wards, no “s”: afterward, backward, toward, forward)
-worthy combining form (one word; use hyphen only if readability is an issue: newsworthy, Oscarworthy, lustworthy, law-worthy)

Colons:
• A full sentence should always precede a colon.
• Complete sentences following a colon are capped; incomplete sentences following a colon are not capped.

Commas:
• BuzzFeed uses the serial comma: e.g., “We picked up cyan, magenta, yellow, and black balloons for the party.”
• Don’t use a comma before “too.” Exception: Use commas with “too” only when you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought (e.g., “He didn’t know at first what hit him, but then, too, he hadn’t ever walked in a field strewn with garden rakes”). In most other cases, commas with this short adverb are unnecessary (an exception being sentences that begin with “too” — in the sense of also — though avoid this when possible, as it can look awkward).
• No commas before “Jr.” or “Sr.” in names.

Ellipses:
• For ellipses, use three dots in a row, no spaces between the dots (i.e., […] not […])
• If ellipses are used to indicate a trailing off in thought or a long pause, insert a space before the next sentence. (e.g., “I don’t know… Certainly, I don’t think it will be good.”)
• If ellipses are used after a full sentence to indicate omission of a full sentence or more (as in a quote), use a period followed by a space before inserting ellipses.
• If ellipses are used to indicate omission of words rather than a full sentence or are inserted mid-sentence, use a space on either side of the ellipses.
• More on ellipses here.

Em dash:
• Create the em dash with keystroke option + shift + hyphen (on Macs).
• Use spaces on either side of the em dash.
• Try to avoid use of the em dash when parentheses, commas, or a semicolon would work just as well.

En dash:
• Create the en dash with keystroke option + hyphen (on Macs).
• Use the en dash (not hyphen) in sports scores (e.g., 5–3), date ranges (e.g., 1999–2005), and compound noun constructions such as “the New York–New Jersey border.”
• Do not use spaces on either side of the en dash.

Fashion Credits:
• Use the following format for fashion/product credits (going from the top down, left to right; main apparel first, followed by accessories; combining item credits if they are made by the same brand/designer):
Guess blouse and sequin shorts, Falke leggings, Julie Voss cross necklaces, Gemma Simone chandelier necklace, Clara Kasavina oval motif necklace, Pluma cuff (left), Push by Pushmataaha earrings and cuff (right), Christian Siriano shoes.

Hyphens:
• NEVER use a hyphen after an adverb — aka most “-ly” words (e.g., “It was a poorly written book,” NOT “poorly-written”).
• Do use hyphens for clarity in the following situations (per Chicago Manual of Style):
When compound modifiers such as “open-mouthed” or “full-length” precede a noun, hyphenation usually lends clarity. With the exception of proper nouns (such as “United States”) and compounds formed by an adverb ending in “ly” plus an adjective, it is never incorrect to hyphenate adjectival compounds before a noun (e.g., “A First-Rate Movie,” “Five-Alarm Chili”).
• When such compounds follow the noun they modify, hyphenation is not always necessary, but can allow for more clarity (with “well-” combining forms, for instance: “well-read,” “well-known,” etc.)

“The Internet”: Avoid in headlines
• Avoid “The Internet Did ____” / “All Of The Internet” “Everyone On The Internet” as a frame/device in headlines.
• Also avoid using “…broke the internet” in both headlines and in running copy; instead opt for more descriptive, specific language.

Italics:
• Use italics for the names of movies, television shows, newspapers, magazines, books, art exhibitions/collections, web series, podcasts, radio programs, video games (only those played on a console — games that are apps should be roman, capped); use quotations for names of movie/play scenes, television episodes, articles, chapters, individual pieces of art.
• Titles of both individual films and names of franchises should be italicized. Try to maintain clarity between individual films (e.g., Star Wars) and larger franchises (e.g., the Star Wars franchise/movies/saga etc.), whenever it can be natural flowed into a story’s copy.
• Still unsure? Here’s a handy cheat sheet for when to italicize vs. use quotes.
• Normally, titles that should be italicized (movie names, TV shows, books, etc.) are set off with quotes in headlines (since they cannot be italicized in headlines/list subheds in our CMS). DO NOT, however, put newspaper or magazine titles in quotes in headlines — because it just looks weird! Treat with no special punctuation (e.g., Check Out What Vanity Fair Has To Say; Meet The New York Times Editor Who Rules).
• Keep all punctuation (including apostrophe + s) that follows italicized, bolded, or colored (via links) words in roman.

Job titles:
• Standard practice in entertainment coverage is never to capitalize a job title except when it starts a sentence. The same goes for every position on a movie set: “director Martin Scorcese,” “screenwriter Tina Fey,” etc. Executives within the studios, however, follow the standard AP rules for title capitalization.

Letters (of the alphabet):
• Individual letters and combinations of letters are not usually set in quotes. Exception: Instances relating to spelling, e.g., “Her name is JoAnne with a capital ‘A.’”
• Letters that are used to represent shape are capitalized and not set in quotes: an L-shaped couch.
• Letters used to denote grades are capitalized and roman: “If Yolo Studies were a class, I’d totally get an A.” / “I had straight A’s up until I started doing krokodil.”
• Simply add an “s” to pluralize all abbreviations DVDs, CDs, Ph.D.s

Names:
• In news stories, use surnames on second reference (except for very young people); if there is a compelling reason to refer to a subject on first-name basis, that may be acceptable. If two or more people in the same story have the same surname, generally refer to all by their first name on second reference.
• Per AP: Chinese names generally place surnames first and then given names: e.g., Deng Xiaoping. Second reference should be the family name, Deng in this case. For more, AP has an entry dedicated to Chinese naming conventions.

Periods:
• Use one space between a period and the next sentence. Never two.

Photo captions:
• Use parentheses to indicate directional: e.g., President Obama (center) meets with Gov. Chris Christie (right).
• Credits should read: Photographer’s Name / Agency
• Do not italicize photo captions or set in smaller text (sometimes we’ll make an exception to this, like in this post, where a normal-size caption font would blend in with the body copy and look distracting).
• For dates in photo captions (especially applicable to breaking news), only add the year if the photo was take in a year other than the present one. Use specific dates (“Feb. 26”) rather than days of the week (“on Wednesday”).

Possessive:
Use ‘s for all singular possessive nouns. Exceptions:
• Corporation or brand names that are pluralized (e.g., General Motors’)
• Singular proper names ending in “s”; use only an apostrophe. Per AP: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Ceres’ rites, Descartes’ theories, Dickens’ novels, Euripides’ dramas, Hercules’ labors, Jesus’ life, Jules’ seat, Kansas’ schools, Moses’ law, Socrates’ life, Tennessee Williams’ plays, Xerxes’ armies. (An exception is St. James’s Palace.)
• Personal pronouns never take apostrophes.
• Per AP: Words ending with an “ess” sound before “sake” take an apostrophe but no “s”: For goodness’ sake; for appearance’ sake; but for Pete’s sake.
• When a proper noun is already plural, the usual rule for possessives applies: The Smiths’, Rolling Stones’.

Semicolons:
• Use only between two complete sentences or in lists with internal commas (e.g., “We visited Buffalo, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Lima, Ohio”).

Thoughts:
• Thoughts are set off with a comma, initial capped, and italicized. (I thought, What if I were to move to Switzerland?)

Television shows:
• Style seasons/episodes as follows: In Season 1, Episode 1 of Homeland

Websites:
• Italicize names of news websites (Huffington Post, Jezebel, etc.) and blogs — basically any news-oriented site with daily dated entries (exception: BuzzFeed). Do not italicize names of news organizations, however, like Associated Press and Reuters.
• When writing out URLs, don’t adhere to vanity capping (e.g., salvationarmyusa.org, NOT SalvationArmyUSA.org).

Words as words:
• Use roman type in quotes. “He used the word ‘chillax’ way too often.”
• For profanity: “the c-word,” “the n-word,” etc.

Cities/States/Regions


• Spell out states names in copy when a city precedes it: e.g., “This happened in Boca Raton, Florida.”
• L.A. is acceptable for Los Angeles on first reference, but other city abbreviations (NYC, S.F., D.C.) should not be used on first reference in body copy.
• Descriptions of a Long Island background should include a specific town, e.g., “He’s from Manhasset, New York” (not “He’s from Long Island, New York”). As an adjective, “Long Island” can stand alone without “New York” — e.g., “The Long Island singer recorded her first album at the age of 18.”
• Please use datelines in all original reported news stories. Our style is as follows:
EL PASO, Texas — Running copy lorem ipsum etc etc etc
• See below for U.S. city names that are well-known enough to stand alone without a state, both in datelines and running text (supplementing the list in AP). (Note: Just use “Washington” for D.C. datelines.)

Atlanta
Atlantic City
Austin
Baltimore
Berkeley
Boston
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Dallas
Denver
Detroit
Honolulu
Houston
Indianapolis
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Memphis
Miami (and Miami Beach)
Milwaukee
Minneapolis
Nashville
New Orleans
New York
Oakland
Oklahoma City
Orlando
Philadelphia
Phoenix
Pittsburgh
Sacramento
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


• Other prominent smaller U.S. regions may not require a state to ID them, but the context must be considered. These include:

Albany
Aspen
Bel-Air
Beverly Hills
Big Sur
Buffalo
Cape Cod
Compton
Des Moines
Fort Lauderdale
The Hamptons
Harlem
Hollywood
Malibu
Martha’s Vineyard
Nantucket
New York’s five boroughs (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island)
Santa Fe
Santa Monica
Silicon Valley
Soho (NYC and London)
South Beach
Times Square


• Foreign cities and regions that can stand alone (for Canadian provinces, adding the province name after a city is sufficient — “Montreal, Quebec,” not “Montreal, Quebec, Canada”):

Acapulco
Amsterdam
Athens
Baghdad
Bangkok
Barcelona
Beijing
Belfast
Berlin
Budapest
Buenos Aires
Brussels
Cairo
Copenhagen
Dublin
Florence
Frankfurt
Geneva
Glasgow
Havana
Hong Kong
Istanbul
Jerusalem
Lisbon
Liverpool
London
Madrid
Manila
Mexico City
Milan
Monte Carlo
Montreal
Moscow
Mumbai
Munich
Oslo
Ottawa
Panama City
Paris
Prague
Quebec
Rio de Janeiro
Rome
Saigon
Sarajevo
Shanghai
Singapore
St. Petersburg
Stockholm
Sydney
Tehran
Tel Aviv
Tokyo
Toronto
Tuscany
Vancouver
Vatican City
Venice
Vienna
Warsaw
Zurich

Dates


• September 1961, spring 1955 are preferred over September of 1961, spring of 1955

• Format full dates as: Oct. 3, 1983 (not October 3rd, 1983)

• Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone.

• When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day, and year, set off the year with commas.

• Examples (these apply to headlines and deks as well):
March 1983 was a good month because that’s when I came into the world.
Feb. 4 was the coldest day of the month.
His birthday is April 17.
Feb. 14, 2009, was the worst Valentine’s Day ever.
Episode 3 airs Saturday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 p.m.

Disability & Disease


Disease:

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “Avoid such expressions as: He is battling cancer. She is a stroke victim. Use neutral, precise descriptions: He has stomach cancer. She is a stroke patient.”

• Avoid use of “mentally retarded”: mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or intellectually disabled are preferred.

• Avoid use of “bipolar” and “OCD” in a non-clinical sense.

Disability:

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “In general, do not describe an individual as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If a description must be used, try to be specific. An ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson’s disease drew nationwide attention. Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis. Rather, has multiple sclerosis.”

• Use people-first language (i.e., using a person’s name or the terms “person” or “people” before a condition) to avoid phrasing that could be seen as defining someone by their disability: e.g., “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people.”

• Use “wheelchair user” rather than “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-bound.” If known/when possible, say why a wheelchair is used.

• For further guidelines, refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide and the Research and Training Center on Independent Living’s “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities” here.

LGBT


Community:
• When referring to the broader community, “queer” (as in “queer people” or “LGBT” as in “LGBT people”) is appropriate. “Gay” is not. “LGBT” is only appropriate when referring to the broader community or groups of people, not when referring to individuals.

Identification:
• Unless you already know based on research, it should be standard to ask how people identify themselves: gay, bi, genderqueer, queer, trans, etc.
• A person can be trans WITHOUT also being gay or lesbian. Don’t assume.

Marriage:
• Our style is to use “marriage equality” and “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage.” Even then, “same-sex marriage” is a shorthand that should be used only when needed for clarity or for space purposes (i.e., in headlines). Generally, in text, it is more accurate to refer to “same-sex couples’ marriage rights” or something similar.

pride flag:
• Use instead of “rainbow flag” or “rainbow pride flag.”

“Out” vs. “openly”
• “Out gay” is preferred over “openly gay” as a modifying phrase (e.g., “The out gay senator…”)

Pronouns:
• Always defer to the pronouns a person chooses to use for himself / herself / themselves.
(It’s not rude to ask. In fact it’s encouraged to ask, “What pronouns do you prefer to use?”)
• If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression.

Transgender terms: Adapted from the GLAAD Transgender Glossary of Terms. See full document here.

• Transgender: An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

• Transsexual: An older term (NOT an umbrella term), which originated in the medical and psychological communities. While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Ask which term an indi­vidual prefers.

• Cross-dressing: To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future.

• Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.

• Please use the correct term or terms to describe gender identity. For example, a person who is born male and transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who is born female and transitions to become male is a transgender man.

• Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people’s stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past.

Transgender terms to avoid:
Avoid: “transgenders,” “a transgender”
Use: “transgender people,” “a transgender person”
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. NO: “Tony is a transgender.” YES: “Tony is a transgender man.”

Avoid: “transgendered” (adj.)
Use: “transgender” (adj.)

Avoid: “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” “shim,” “gender-bender”

Avoid: “sex change operation”
Use: Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

Avoid: “transvestite”
Use: “cross-dresser”

Avoid: “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative”
Use: “transition”

Avoid: “Gender Identity Disorder (GID)”
Offensive because it labels people as “disordered.”

Avoid: “bathroom bill”
Use: “non-discrimination law/ordinance” instead.

Music


Album nicknames:
• An album best known by another name instead of its formal title should be styled in roman with no quotes — e.g., the White Album (for The Beatles) and the Banana Album (for The Velvet Underground & Nico).

alt-, alterna-, avant-:
• Hyphenate all made-up constructions.

Ampersands:
• Avoid using unless it is officially part of the artist’s name (e.g., Mumford & Sons).

Band names:
• All band names, even those singular in form, take plural construction (e.g., “Soundgarden return to a world without chops,” “Limp Bizkit are the best band ever”). This also applies to names with the words “band,” “group,” “clan,” etc. (“Dave Matthews Band were on tour”).
• Capitalize “The” in band names that officially start with “the”: The Rolling Stones, The Strokes
• K-Pop artists: Don’t cap every letter in the artist’s or band’s name, even if it often appears as such (e.g., G-Dragon, not G-DRAGON; Psy, not PSY).

Genres:
• Genre names should always be lowercase (new wave, indie, hip-hop, etc.). Exceptions: K-pop, J-pop, R&B.

Lyrics:
• Set lyrics in quotes, use a slash between lines, and capitalize the first letter of each new line. (“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothing you can’t do.”)

Songs:
• Song listings should always read as: Artist Name, “Song Title”
• Artist Name feat. Other Artist Name, “Song Title” (but spell out “featuring” in running copy; abbreviate only in lists)

Tour names:
• If a tour is named after an album, the tour title is in italics and the word “tour” is roman and lowercase (e.g., the Bigger Bang tour).
• If the tour name doesn’t refer to an album, it should be set in roman, and all words should be initial-capped, including “tour” (e.g., the 777 Tour, the Korn Reunion Tour).

Miscellaneous:
• Do not adhere to vanity capitalization (e.g., if there’s an album named The BeSt tHiNg EveR, please just style as The Best Thing Ever). When in doubt, defer to the music editors.
• Avoid the word “problematic” at all costs.
• No. 14 on iTunes
• Record companies: Capitalize the word “records” for all labels (e.g., Atlantic Records).
• Side One, Side Two (in album references)

Numbers


• Spell out one through nine, use numerals for 10 and above (exception: OK to use numerals for numbers under 10 in lists of headlines, like in Celeb Gossip Roundup stories. Also OK to use numerals in news-y headlines like this “10 People Shot, 3 Killed At Detroit Barber Shop”).
• Be consistent when writing out numbers in succession (e.g., “9, 10, and 11” NOT “nine, 10, and 11”).
• Never start a sentence with a numeral — UNLESS a year starts a sentence (“2013 was a totally bodacious year”), but try to avoid this.
• Use 1 in 4 voters (figures) if it’s a large sampling. But spell six out of nine senators because these are finite numbers under 10.
• More than 1 in 4 children are obese (not “is”).

Ages:
• Use numerals for specific ages (“The 5-year-old had a party,” “She was turning 30”).
• Spell out decades (“in your thirties”) and variations (“The twentysomethings…”).

Decades:
• ’90s / 1990s (Not: 90’s, 1990’s, 90s, nineties, eighties, or any other combination!)

Demographics (e.g., in Entertainment stories):
• In 18 to 49, there was…
• 18- to 49-year-olds…
• In the 18-to-49 demographic…

Dimensions:
• Generally, use figures and spell out “inches,” “feet,” “yards,” etc., to indicate depth, height, length, and width in longform and news/journalistic stories. However, in the context of a list, for instance, it is also acceptable to use foot and inch marks (5’6”) to indicate a person’s height if spelling out “5 feet 6 inches” in context appears stilted/looks awkward. Use your judgment.
• Examples:
She is 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot-11-inch man; the 6-foot man; the basketball team signed a 7-footer; the orca whale is 26 feet long.
The ship is 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet high.
The room is 20 feet by 15 feet; the 20-by-15-foot room.
Forecasters are predicting 8 inches of snow tonight.
The 750-square-foot apartment.


Fractions:
• When spelling out fractions in running copy, hyphenate: “You’ll need one-third of a cup of sugar for that recipe,” “More than one-half of the student body voted for removing soda machines from campus.”
Here’s a link to HTML codes for fractions.
• When spelled out (i.e., at the start of a sentence), hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

Grades (as in school):
• He was in the first grade; she was a first-grader; they were both first-grade teachers. Use figures for grades 10–12.

In headlines:
• For lists, always use a numeral. “9 Adorable Photos Of Monkeys Riding Cats,” “54 Amazing GIFs Of Naked Presidents”
• If a number is not referencing the number of items in a list, then spell it out. “Eight-Minute Video Of Hillary Clinton,” “Five Out Of Nine Supreme Court Justices Prefer Cats Over Dogs,” etc.

Millions and billions:
• Always use numerals (6 million people).

Percentages:
• Use figure + percent sign —unless a percentage starts a sentence, in which case spell out the number and use the word “percent.” (“The survey showed that 88% of people would rather hang out with Lil Bub than Anne Hathaway,” “Eight-five percent of the staff voted for a pizza party.”)
• Exception: OWS terms “the 1 percent” and “the 99 percent.”

Prices:
• 99 cents, $25, $2 billion deficit
• In lists of items, generally round up prices to nearest full dollar or 50-cent amount. (e.g., $17.15 would be $17; $17.49 would be $17.50, $17.99 would be $18).
• Spell out foreign currency rather than using symbols (euros, yen, etc.).

Phone numbers:
• 917-000-0000; 800-BUZZFEED

Sports:
• Scores: 5–3 (with an en dash); not “5 to 3.” (Also, no comma necessary after “won” in a sentence such as “The Knicks won 110–98.”)
• Use digits for scores, statistics, and yard lines. Spell out everything else under 10 (e.g., ninth inning, first quarter, third base).

Temperature:
• Expressed as numeral + “degrees.” No need to repeat the word “degrees” if it’s implied. (e.g., “It was 5 degrees out, but it felt like -10.”)
• Use numerals to express ranges of temperature (“It’s going up to the 30s today”). No need to include “Fahrenheit” if it’s clear from the context.

Time:
• 4:00, 4 a.m., 8 p.m. EST, noon, midnight

Miscellaneous:
• 8mm film, 8-track tape, Hot 97, 55 mph, $150K

Race and Ethnicity


• Use good judgment when determining whether it is appropriate to mention a person’s race/ethnicity in a story. Per AP, appropriate situations include:
— In biographical and announcement stories that involve significant, groundbreaking or historic events, such as being elected U.S. president, being named to the U.S. Supreme Court or other notable occurrences. (e.g., Barack Obama is the first black U.S. president. Jeremy Lin is the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.)
— When reporting a demonstration or disturbance involving race or such issues as civil rights or slavery.

• When describing suspects sought by the police or missing person cases, race should be mentioned only if there is a detailed description to work with that includes attire and/or other identifying marks. Do not refer to the race of the person when apprehended or found.

• Per AP: Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc.

• Use “black” rather than “African-American,” unless it is relevant in the context of a story (e.g., a conflict between African immigrants and African-Americans) or if someone prefers to be identified as African-American.

• Avoid the use of “black” as a noun.

• When describing the ethnicity of people with origins in Caribbean countries, use Haitian, Haitian-American, Jamaican-American, etc., rather than African-American. In stories where race is a factor, when possible, ask people how they choose to self-identify. Do not use “African-American” to describe African people who live in America.

• Avoid clumsy euphemisms like “urban-targeted” or “race-themed” to describe films or television programs with majority black casts.

• “Latino” refers to those having Latin-American origin; “Hispanic” technically refers to descendants from Spain. Use more specific identification when possible (e.g., Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican-American), but generally use “Latino” rather than “Hispanic” when a broader term is necessary. (“Latin@” — a construction common on Tumblr and Twitter — is also an acceptable variation, making room for multiple genders despite the restrictions of language.)

• There is mostly overlap between those who identify as Latino and Hispanic, but not all: One example of Latinos who are not Hispanic are Brazilians. (A helpful resource can be found here.) Reserve “Spanish” only to describe the people who are from Spain.

Recipes


• Order: List ingredients in the order they appear in the instructions UNLESS the order otherwise defies logical, easy reading.
• Abbreviate measurements (do not use periods, except for Tbsp.) in lists of ingredients, but spell them out in instructions unless space is severely limited: tsp (teaspoon), Tbsp. (tablespoon), oz (ounce), lb (pound).
• Use numerals only throughout (in both ingredient lists and instructions): 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 servings, makes 12 servings, etc. Also: 2 to 3 Tbsp. (not 2–3 Tbsp.)
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• Include an “F” for “Fahrenheit” after the º sign: “Preheat oven to 375ºF” (note: no spaces).
• When republishing recipes from cookbooks or other previously published materials, print as they appeared in their original form.

Sample recipe copy:

SWEET POTATO BOURBON NOODLE KUGEL

Serves 10–12

INGREDIENTS

Casserole
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
4 tablespoons bourbon
one 1-lb package wide egg noodles
6 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 lb full-fat cottage cheese
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to salt water for noodles

Topping
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup whole shelled pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup brown sugar

Special Equipment
Food processor or blender
9×13-inch baking dish
Aluminum foil
Gallon-size Ziploc bag

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Casserole

Wrap sweet potatoes individually in foil and roast in the oven until soft and completely cooked through, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Peel skin off sweet potatoes using your hands (and a table knife, if it helps), then puree with the bourbon in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. This should yield about 3 cups of puree. If you yield more than 3 cups, set the excess aside for another use or discard. (If you want, you can do this ahead and refrigerate the puree for up to 2 days.)

Lower oven to 350°F.

In a pot of heavily salted water, cook the egg noodles al dente (about 5 minutes, or 2 minutes less than the package directions say). Pour into a colander to drain, running cold water over the noodles until they are cool to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly.

In a very large bowl, beat eggs, then add brown sugar and beat just until combined. Add cottage cheese, melted butter, and the sweet potato puree, then mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Finally, add salt and the cooked noodles, and mix with a spatula until combined.

Pour noodle mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes (if noodles start to brown during this time, cover your baking dish with foil).

Topping

While kugel is baking, prepare the pecan topping: First, put the cornflakes in a Ziploc bag and crush with your hands. The cornflakes should be in small pieces, but not dust. Next, brown butter in a medium saucepan. When butter is brown, turn off your head and add sugar, chopped pecans and crushed cornflakes and stir with a spatula until just combined.

After it has baked for the full 50 minutes, remove kugel from the oven and sprinkle pecan mixture on top in an even layer. Bake, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until set. If pecans start to brown before kugel is set, cover with foil. Serve immediately.

Social Media/Apps


Facebook
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• News Feed

Instagram
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• As ~quirky~ verb form: “to ‘gram” for short
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Pinterest
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• Pinterest board

Snapchat
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• Snapchatted/Snapchatting, snapped/snapping, or sent a snap — all terms are OK

Tinder
• Tindering/Tindered OK as a verb

Tumblr
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Twitter
• tweeted (never “tweeted out”), tweeting, tweet (as verb and noun), tweeter, Twitterstorm (preferred to tweetstorm), live-tweet
• hashtag
• For clarity, cap separate words in a hashtag name — e.g., #ThrowbackThursday — in running copy.
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• Weird Twitter (cap W)
• fav, fav’ed, fav’ing (e.g., “I fav’ed his tweet”)
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Vine
• Vine should be capped in all uses: Vine (n.), Vine-ing (v.), but “post a Vine/use Vine” is preferred

WhatsApp
• Use “send a WhatsApp message” rather than “send a WhatsApp”

Miscellaneous Style Guidelines


Abortion:
• Instead of “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” please use “pro-abortion rights”/”abortion rights advocate” or “anti-abortion” when writing about abortion.

Academic degrees:
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Immigration:
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• Young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children are referred to as DREAMers (retaining capitalization of the DREAM Act).

Rape and Sexual Assault:
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• Be wary of taking words verbatim from press releases and/or police reports. Keep language as neutral as possible. The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma at Columbia J-School has a helpful guide for reporting on and writing about sexual violence.
• Avoid the phrase “trigger warning” when writing about rape, sexual assault, mental illness, or any similarly sensitive subject matter. Run such posts by your manager before publishing to make sure that language in the hed and dek is clear about the content of the piece, rather than using a trigger warning. Ultimately, if you feel a particularly explicit image or depiction warrants a warning in the dek of story, please introduce with a phrase such as: “Warning: graphic images” or “Warning: detailed descriptions.” (Also avoid joke “trigger warnings.”)

Suicide:
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BuzzFeed Corrections Policy


Corrections are important for two reasons: First, because we need to be right. And second, because transparency is a core value for BuzzFeed. That’s why you don’t hear us saying things externally that you don’t hear internally or vice versa; that’s why we are so open to engaging critics on Twitter and elsewhere. We live in the social conversation, and we can’t hide from it. And while every error is a weakness, some errors are inevitable, and fully and openly correcting them is a strength.

This new policy has two goals. One is to have a better handle on any mistakes we make. But the other is to avoid the one thing worse than making an error — which is resisting correcting it. We all make mistakes sometimes; the fullness and speed of corrections is one of the delights of digital journalism, and we should embrace it in full.

How BuzzFeed Does Corrections:
• A correction should include the accurate information. It should explain the error, but should not restate it except in two cases: To debunk a claim that might be spreading; or when it wouldn’t be clear what the error was without doing so. (See sample corrections at the end of this doc.)

• Corrections should be made for errors of fact — not misspellings or typos or broken links. (The only time a correction would be made for a misspelling or typo would be if, for instance, there are two people with a similar name and a typo made it appear as though we were talking about one person instead of the other.)

• The correction’s tone should echo the tone of the item, in keeping with its gravity. For a factual error in, say, a funny list, the language can be fairly colloquial and even humorous as long as it contains the basic building blocks — “we got something wrong, and here is the correct information”; whereas for a news error, the language should be more sober and direct. A dumb mistake on a list of weird facts about Love Actually can begin: “GAH.” An error of fact in a news story should usually be labeled “CORRECTION.”

• Corrections should be in plain English, not in the somewhat formal corrections style traditional among news organizations.

• If noting the date/time of the correction is relevant, please add to the end of the correction in parentheses: (12/12/2013, 4:25 p.m.)

• Be very thorough and careful. The absolute worst thing is to have to correct your correction. If the correction is about a person, it’s often a good move to read the correction on the phone to its subject before printing it.

• Try to mention the correction on all channels the story went out on — if you tweeted it, tweet the correction, etc.

Hat Tips:
Be generous to the person on Twitter who pointed out the error — whether you are feeling generous or not, and no matter how obnoxious the tweet. That person did you a favor by improving your piece. If possible, end the correction with “(H/T: @twitterlunatic)” and a link to the tweet in question. If a hat tip appears in a dek or in the middle of running copy as a stand-alone sentence, use end punctuation.

Corrections vs. Updates:
Updates should be used to reflect important new information or clarifications; corrections are for mistakes.

Process:
• Writers should draft corrections, but run them by their editor, team leader, or the after-hours list for approval/editing before putting them in.
• The editor who approves it should cc: “corrections@buzzfeed.com” on the approval.

Sample Corrections:

Newsy, simple correction:
CORRECTION: Twitter increased the value of its IPO shares to between $23 and $25. An earlier version of this post misstated the value range.

Newsy, restating the error:
CORRECTION: Twitter’s CEO could not be reached for comment. An earlier version of this post said Twitter’s CFO could not be reached for comment.

(^ This is also an example of when what was maybe just a typo warrants a correction rather than just a quick fix.)

Humorous, simple correction:
GAH: Miley was first documented twerking in public on Jan. 20, 2013. An earlier version of this post had the wrong date.

Humorous, restating the error:
OOPS: Kim Kardashian’s favorite selfie pose is the smize. An earlier version of this post said her favorite selfie pose is duckface.

If noting the date/time of the correction is relevant, please add to the end of the correction in parentheses: (12/12/2013, 4:25 p.m.)

Other examples where restating the error is necessary:

CORRECTION: Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane. An earlier version of this post said he had stormed the beaches.

CORRECTION: On Kanye’s new album, a credit wasn’t listed for the producer on the first track. An earlier version of this post said that a credit wasn’t listed for the writer.

CORRECTION: Siberian tigers are the most endangered big-cat species. An earlier version of this post said pumas were the most endangered big-cat species.

You can find our BuzzFeed UK Style Guide here.

Questions and/or suggestions? Email styleguide@buzzfeed.com and talk to our copy editors.

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