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 ( 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)
4chan (use a lowercase C, and avoid using it to start a sentence when possible)
4th of July
A-list, B-list (etc., when referring to an “A-list celeb”)
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi
AC (for air-conditioning)
administration (lowercase “a” in political terms, e.g., “It has been something the administration has avoided” or “the Obama administration”)
AF (for “as fuck”)
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 Jazeera (not italicized)
a.m., p.m.
Amex (for American Express)
amendments: First Amendment, 19th Amendment (cap “A” when referencing specific amendments)
the Apple Store
Argentine (preferred to Argentinian as adjective meaning “of or relating to Argentina”)
A side (n.); A-side (adj.)
awards season / awards show (preferable to “award”)
baby daddy, baby mama (two words)
Bashar al-Assad
beatboxer, beatboxing
beatdown (n.)
best-seller, best-selling (New York Times best-seller list)
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 (for the food); breadcrumbs (for the computer-y term)
B side (n.); B-side (adj.)
bull dyke (n.); bull-dyke (adj.) — avoid, unless used in a direct quote
butt-dial (all forms)
buzzer beater
BS, BS’d, BS’ing
bytes (measure digital storage capacity) — abbreviate kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes terabytes, etc. when used with a figure, with no space between the abbreviation and the figure (e.g., my iPhone is 64GB, a 128GB storage capacity)
Cabinet (cap when referring to the governmental advisers)
camel toe
Cap’n Crunch
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
checkmark (one word in all forms)
Cherif Kouachi
child care (n.); child-care (adj.)
chocolaty (not “chocolatey”)
circle jerk
civil rights movement
class-action lawsuit
co. (as in “and company”)
come (v.); cum (n.) — (omg yes, this is really here)
coming-out (n., adj.), come out (v.)
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”)
copyedit (verb)
court cases: Italicize and use “v.” instead of “vs.” (Roe v. Wade)
cray-cray (as slang for “crazy”)
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, use Fernández on subsequent references
crop top
crow’s-feet (n.)
crowdfund (all forms)
crowdsource (all forms)
Dark Web
day care (two words)
Day-Glo (trademark, used for fluorescent materials or colors); dayglow (airglow seen during the day)
deal breaker (two words)
Deep South
Democratic Party (cap “P”)
die-hard (adj.), diehard (n.)
Disney Princess
diss (meaning to disrespect)
Division One, Two, etc. (for sports references)
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
doughnut (but: Dunkin’ Donuts)
Down syndrome
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 nonmedical doctors who hold a doctorate
drunk-text (hyphenate as a compound verb)
Earth (capped only when referring explicitly to the planet; “The biggest on Earth” but “a down-to-earth guy”)
[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
emoji, emojis (lowercase)
ever closer (no hyphen)
F-you (as a noun)
Facebook (always capped, in any form)
Facebook-stalk (verb)
facedown (adj.)
facepalm (one word, all forms)
face-to-face (adj., adv.)
FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) in all other uses
faceup (adj.), face up (v.)
fan fiction, fanfic
farmers market
fave, faved, faving (as in, “I faved his tweet”)
first lady / first family
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)
freshman 15
friend zone (n.); friend-zone (v.)
frontman / frontwoman
fundraiser, fundraising (contrary to AP and MW)
Froot Loops (not Fruit Loops)
fuckup (n.), fuck up (v.), fucked up (adj.)
Gehad el-Haddad
Generation X, Gen X’er
George R.R. Martin
Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie
GIF/GIF’d (as verb), GIFs, GIFable (pronounced “gif” with a hard G, NOT like the peanut butter, Jif)
Girl Scout Cookie
girly (as a synonym for girlish); girlie (featuring scantily clad women)
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”)
goddamn (per Webster’s), goddamnit, goddamned
gonna (not “gunna”)
Google+ (preferred over Google Plus)
google (v.); Google (n.), google-able
Gov. (OK on first reference preceding governor’s name)
gray (not grey)
grown-up (for all forms)
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
hand job
handover (noun)
hardcore (all uses)
hardline (adj.)
head count
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.)
hippie (as in Woodstock, peace and love, and all that)
hippy (as in big-hipped)
hi-top fade
HIV positive (no hyphen, unless it’s modifying a word: e.g., “Are you HIV positive?” vs. “The HIV-positive patients”)
ho (plural: hos), for the derogatory term
homeowner, homeownership
homepage (also: homescreen, etc.)
hookup (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)
humankind (preferred over “mankind”)
Huthi rebels
iced coffee (not “ice coffee”)
ID (for identification)
Ikea (not IKEA)
indie pop, indie rock (but hyphenate as modifiers)
Instagram, Instagramming (capped in all forms)
internet (lowercase i)
iPad Mini
Iraq War
ISIS (not ISIL) for militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
IT (OK on first reference for “information technology”)
It girl / It couple
Jay Z (no hyphen)
J.C. Penney
jeez (not “geez”)
jell (not “gel,” per AP when used as a verb)
J.J. Abrams
JK (just kidding)
J.K. Rowling
judgy (not an actual word, but preferred to “judgey” in casual prose)
Juggalo / Juggalette
key chain (two words)
Kim Jong Un
Kim K (no period)
Kim Kardashian West (no hyphen)
Kobe (as in Bryant — OK to reference by first name)
koozie (for beer/alcoholic drinks)
ladies’ night
LARPer, LARPing (for Live-Action Role-Playing)
LeBron (as in James — OK to reference by first name)
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.”).
life hack
• 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, we could never do that. And then we did.”
• likes (as in, Facebook) — lowercase, not set in quotes
• As a suffix: see Combining Forms section below
lil’ (for shorter form of “little”)
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.)
log in (v.); log-in (n.)
logline (brief summary of a TV program or film); log line (used on ships)
lower/upper Manhattan (lowercase L/U)
MAC (the cosmetics brand)
mac ‘n’ cheese
make do (not make due)
makeout (noun, the act of making out)
makeup (when referring to cosmetics)
manila envelope
mansplain, mansplaining
Mason jar
M.D./M.D.s (plural)
mecca (lowercase)
men’s rights activists (no caps)
mic’ed (as the verb meaning to attach a microphone)
middle-aged (not -age)
Midtown Manhattan/Midtown (capped)
mile-high club
millennials (generally avoid using this term when possible; use “twentysomethings,” “twenty- and thirtysomethings,” or “young adults,” depending on what’s most appropriate/accurate)
mmm hmm
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.”)
Muay Thai
Muggle (capped, as in a nonmagical person)
‘n’ (when using in place of “and”)
nap time
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)
nip slip
nonprofit (as noun and adjective)
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”).
the n-word (style thusly); in lyrics, etc., write out as n***a
Obama administration
“O Canada” (for both the national anthem and expressions)
OG (no periods)
“oh man”/ “oh my god” / “oh no” all OK without comma after “Oh”
OK (not okay or O.K.)
on-again, off-again
on demand (lowercase, unless part of a service’s official title)
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 1, page 2, etc. (for references to book pages)
page view
Paleo diet
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
photo shoot
Photoshop (n., the program), photoshop (n., generically, an image that has been altered), 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.”)
pins, pinners (on Pinterest) are always lowercase
Pop art movement
pop star, rock star
primetime (one word, all forms)
pro tip (don’t hyphenate)
Prophet Muhammad
pseudo words: don’t hyphenate (e.g., “He rose from Obama stand-in to a pseudo strategist”)
publicly (not publically)
punch line (two words)
Quidditch (capped, as in the game on broomsticks)
quote-unquote (in speech)
“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”)
rearview (adj.)
right-click (hyphenate as both n. and v.)
RIP (no points)
rock ‘n’ roll
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
royal baby
the royal family (lowercase)
RT’d, RTs, RT (on Twitter)
Satan, satanic, satanism
SBD (silent but deadly)
screen saver (two words)
screenshot (OK as noun and verb)
screenshort (a screenshot of text shared on social media)
selfie (refers to a photo taken only by someone in said photo)
service member
set list
Sharia (“Sharia” is defined as “Islamic law,” and therefore “Sharia law” is unnecessary/redundant when discussing the general framework of Islamic religious law; the term “Sharia law” should be used to refer to a code of government-implemented criminal and civil laws that are claimed to be derived from Islamic teachings or a provision of such a code.)
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
shit talk (n.), shit-talk (v.)
shit ton
sideview (adj.)
smartphone (but cell phone)
snowblowed (for past tense of snowblow)
S.O. (for significant other)
Solo cup
soy milk
spell-check (n. and v.)
SpongeBob SquarePants
spray paint (n.), spray-paint (v.)
stand-up (comedy)
Stanky Legg (for dance move — two g’s! )
state representative (lowercase “s” and “r,” unless it precedes politician’s name)
the States (when referring to the United States)
Statehouse (always capped)
stepgrandmother/stepgrandfather (close up all “step” relationships unless next word starts with vowel)
stop-and-frisk (hyphenate in all uses)
straight-up (hyphenate as an adjective before a noun, verb, etc.)
struggle bus
student-athlete (also, student-performer, and the like)
super PAC
Sweet 16
tae kwon do
takeout (n.), take out (v.), takeaway (n.)
tase; tased; tasing (OK to use as a verb, contrary to AP)
tear gas (n.); teargas (v.)
TED Talk
the Gambia (not Gambia or The Gambia)
The One (as in destined romantic interest)
think piece
Third World: avoid; use “developing world/country” instead
till (as abbreviation for “until”)
Time (not TIME) magazine
time-lapse (adj.), time lapse (n.)
timeline (one word, all uses)
timeshare (one word, all forms)
tl;dr (all lowercase, unless it starts a sentence, in which case, TL;DR)
the Today show (not Today Show)
Toys ‘R’ Us
trans/transgender (not transgendered)
tristate (one word, lowercase)
“try to” (not “try and,” as in, “I’m going to try to call her later.”)
T. rex
T. Swift
Twitter / tweeting / tweets
two-buck Chuck
type A, type B (as in personality)
U.S., U.K. (but USA)
unfriend (not de-friend)
up front (adv.); up-front (adj.); upfronts (n., refers to the meeting held by television executives)
updog (“Nothing, what’s up with you?”)
upvote/downvote (n. and v.)
Viner (i.e., someone who uses Vine)
Vine-ing (post a Vine/use Vine is preferred; cap in all uses)
vinyasa yoga
V-Day is OK for Valentine’s Day, but use sparingly
Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia (not French Vogue, Italian Vogue)
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)
“war on terror” on first reference, no quotation marks on subsequent references (same applies to similar phrases, e.g., “war on drugs”)
Washington, D.C. / the D.C. area — but, in datelines, just “WASHINGTON”
watch list
web / website / webpage
web comic
Weird Al Yankovic
whistleblower (use instead of “leaker,” which tends to have a negative connotation)
wide-awake (hyphenated)
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!
YA (for young adult)
Yahoo (no !)
YouTube, YouTuber
zeitgeist (lowercase, even though MW “often” caps)
zip code (not ZIP code)
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:

CT (scan)

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 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.

• 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,” recipe names), 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…”).

• 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.

• 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.

• If you’re using an em dash for attribution, one space before the dash, no space after. “Quote.” —Guy Who Said Quote
• Use [sic] after a word to indicate a misspelling in written quoted material.

• There are several instances that warrant adding an update to a post. If a story has not been published in the breaking news template and has been written through as one article, for example, an update may be added to alert the reader that new information — e.g., an additional comment from a source — has been added since the post was initially published. (Example here.) An update may also be added to alert the reader that an image has been removed or replaced since a post was initially published. (Example here.)
• Typically an update should be added to the bottom of a post, using the “update” option in the sub-buzz; this will auto-format and timestamp it. The exception to this is a post that is being regularly updated and requires several write-throughs; in this case, a timestamp should be manually added to a sub-buzz at the top of the page. (Example here.) If it seems unclear, ask a news editor which type of update is more appropriate.
• To indicate that a post 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.) If necessary, add “This post has been updated” in a dek when there’s been a full write-through of the original post with new information.
• Do not add an update to correct inaccurate information that may have been initially published; if something has been corrected, issue a correction. (See “Corrections” section.)

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation Guidelines

• Generally do not use spaces on either side of ampersands in constructions like Q&A, R&B, etc.

• 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?
• In crowdsourced posts or posts with anecdotes by several different editors/people, quotation marks around the blurb are not necessary. Just add a “—FirstName LastName” (or “—Anonymous”) after the anecdote.

• 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).

• 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 and double titles like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.”
• 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:
anti- (typically closed up, unless a proper noun or vowel follows or it interferes with readability: antiwrinkle, anti-imperialist; EXCEPTIONS: anti-gay, anti-labor, anti-war)
-ass (typically hyphenated: crazy-ass party, kick-ass; EXCEPTION: 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.”)
pre- (generally close up; follow MW)
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)

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

• 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.
• To create a list within a sentence, use numbers or lowercase letters and right-facing parenthesis and separate items with a comma (e.g., When I grow up, I want to own a farm that has a) acres and acres of land, b) goats of all shapes and sizes, and c) a pack of huskies for dogsledding).

• For ellipses, use three dots in a row, no spaces between each dot: …
• If ellipses are used to indicate a mid-sentence pause, don’t use a space on either side. (e.g., “We could go there…or not.”)
• If ellipses are used to indicate a trailing off in thought or a long pause before a full sentence, 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. (e.g., “We moved to New Orleans in 2010. … By 2012, we were back in New York.”)
• 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. (e.g., “I adopted a cat yesterday … and he’s already made himself right at home.”)
• If ellipses are used at the beginning of a sub-buzz/subheading, do not follow with a space, and generally lowercase the word following the ellipses.
• When inserting an ellipsis in a written quote, use brackets to indicate they were added by an editor and not part of the original text.
• 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.

• Put emojis outside end punctuation, not inside.

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.

• 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”).
• Hyphens are usually not used when a phrase is made up entirely of nouns (e.g., “video game console,” “crime scene cleanup,” “health care reform,” “toilet paper roll”), especially when the modifying compound noun can be found in the dictionary.
• When adding a prefix before a compound adjective, use hyphens between all components (e.g., “a non-habit-forming drug”) — but in extreme cases it’s better to reword the sentence to avoid awkward punctuation.
• In a list where an element of the modifying phrase is not repeated, use a suspended hyphen, like so: “a university-owned and -operated bookstore”; “second-, third-, and fourth-grade teachers.”
• When a modifying phrase is longer than a couple of words, quotation marks can sometimes be easier to read than a ton of hyphens (e.g., He heaved a “back to the drawing board” sigh).
• When a hyphenated compound noun is part of a modifying phrase, use an en dash after the hyphenated noun (e.g., “an editor-in-chief–approved plan”).
• Note that other adverbs besides ones ending in “-ly” don’t need hyphens (“the almost empty glass,” “an often misunderstood rule,” “a very strong beer,” etc.) unless their meaning is ambiguous (e.g., “a little-regarded athlete,” “a still-unknown number,” “a well-known presenter”).

“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.

• Use italics for the names of movies, television shows, newspapers, magazines, books, plays, 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 naturally 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.
• When using binomial nomenclature, italicize both genus (capitalized) and species (lowercase) names (e.g., Homo sapiens).

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.
• Be conscious of using gender-neutral job titles (e.g., “salesperson” or “sales rep” rather than “salesman,” “actor” rather than “actress,” “lawmaker” rather than “congressman/congresswoman,” “chair” rather than “chairman/chairwoman,” “spokesperson” or “representative,” if applicable, rather than “spokesman/spokeswoman”).

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.”
• Add an apostrophe + “s” to pluralize letters: “the four F’s (famous people, festivals, fashion, and food)”
• Add an “s” to pluralize all abbreviations: DVDs, CDs, Ph.D.s

• 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.

• 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”).

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’.
• Do not use an apostrophe when a word is primarily descriptive rather than possessive: e.g., homeowners association, kids department, teachers college, writers room.

• Non-offensive, “casual-use” profanity in cases where it’s warranted by the tone or subject matter of a post (e.g., “She shit-talked her ex,” “He royally fucked up,” etc.) should be spelled out in running copy. More sensitive words, like the c-word or n-word, should generally be styled thusly; if they appear in a quote, use asterisks in place of one or several letters.
• Avoid using profanity in the headline or dek of a post, unless you’re referencing a direct quote or official name. In those cases, use an asterisk in place of a letter (e.g., “f*ck,” “sh*t”).

• “They” is acceptable as a singular stand-in when it makes a sentence read more smoothly and the alternative is a construction like “s/he” or “she or he” (e.g., “If someone is knocking at your door and you don’t know who they are…”). It should also used be used when it is a person’s preferred pronoun. (See LGBT section.)

Publication titles:
• Generally, do not capitalize and italicize “the” in print/web publication names (e.g., New York Times, not The New York Times). Exceptions to this include The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter (which abbreviates its title as THR), and publications with only one word after “the”: The Sun, The Guardian, etc.

• 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 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

• When using tildes for ~whimsical~ emphasis, put punctuation on the outside of the ending tilde.

University names:
• Format university names with more than one location as follows: University of California, Berkeley, on first reference; UC Berkeley on subsequent references.

• 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.,, NOT

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.


• 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, spelling out both the city and state or country name in full. 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.)

Atlantic City
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Miami (and Miami Beach)
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
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:

Beverly Hills
Big Sur
Cape Cod
Des Moines
Fort Lauderdale
The Hamptons
Martha’s Vineyard
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 — “Montréal, Quebec,” not “Montréal, Quebec, Canada”):

Buenos Aires
Hong Kong
Mexico City
Monte Carlo
Panama City
Rio de Janeiro
St. Petersburg
Tel Aviv
Vatican City


• 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, Mental Health


• 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.

• The lowercase “deaf” refers to someone with no hearing. The capitalized “Deaf” is used by members of the Deaf community in relation to identity and culture. Avoid using “hearing-impaired”; use phrasing such as “hard of hearing” or “partially deaf.”

• Do not use the term “deaf-mute”; preferred phrasing is that an individual cannot hear or speak. (A mute person may or may not be deaf.)

• 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.


• 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.

Mental Health

• Avoid use of “bipolar” and “OCD” in a nonclinical sense.

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines on mental illness, which include not describing a person as mentally ill “unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.” “Mental illness” is OK to use as a general term, but specific conditions should be used when possible. Do not use the term “the mentally ill.”


• 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.

• Opt for “anti-gay” rather than “homophobic”; “anti-trans” rather than “transphobic.”

• 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.

• 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…”)

• 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: “nondiscrimination law/ordinance” instead.


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.

• 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).

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

• 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.”)

• 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).

• 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)


• 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”).

• 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…”).

• ’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…

• 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.

• 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.
• In “and a half” constructions (e.g., “In two and a half weeks…”), no hyphenation is necessary.
• 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).

• 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.”

• 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

• For clothing, format as size 8, size 10, etc., in all uses. For bra sizes, format as 34B, 36DD, etc.

• 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).

• 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.

• 4:00, 4 a.m., 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT, noon, midnight

• 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.


• 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.)
• Ingredients with nonspecific amounts or measures are initial-capped in lists: Freshly ground black pepper
• Include ingredients added “to taste” (also: cooking spray) in list of ingredients.
• 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:


Serves 10–12


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

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

Preheat oven to 400°F.


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).


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

• Never use as a verb (Facebooking, Facebooked) — instead, use language such as “posted to Facebook.”
• likes — lowercase, not set in quotes
• News Feed
• to friend someone — lowercase, not set in quotes

• Instagrammed, Instagramming
• As ~quirky~ verb form: “to ‘gram” for short
• Capitalize filter names: Amaro, Earlybird, Lo-Fi, etc.

• pin, pinned, pinning
• Pinterest board

• snap (n.) — lowercase “s”
• Snapchatted/Snapchatting, snapped/snapping, or sent a snap — all terms are OK

• Tindering/Tindered OK as a verb

• Individual Tumblr blog names capitalized, in roman (e.g., Hot Dog Legs, Reasons My Son Is Crying)

• tweeted (never “tweeted out”), tweeting, tweet (as verb and noun), Twitter user (preferred to “tweeter”), Twitterstorm (preferred to tweetstorm), live-tweet
• hashtag
• For clarity, cap separate words in a hashtag name — e.g., #ThrowbackThursday — in running copy.
• Treat Twitter handles like proper names: Retain same capitalization as actual handle, add just an apostrophe for the possessive of handle names ending in “s,” etc.
• Weird Twitter (cap W)
• fav, fav’ed, fav’ing (e.g., “I fav’ed his tweet”)
• “retweet” preferred over “RT” in running copy
• subtweet, subtweeted, subtweeting (but never “subtweeted about,” i.e., “He subtweeted me,” NOT “He subtweeted about me.”)

• Vine should be capped in all uses: Vine (n.), Vine-ing (v.), but “post a Vine/use Vine” is preferred

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

Miscellaneous Style Guidelines

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

Academic degrees:
• Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are possessive (when used with or without the word “degree”); associate degree is not. Capitalize in the following instances: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, etc.
• Style degrees like J.D. and M.D. thusly; certifications, medical or otherwise, abbreviated as three or more letters do not require periods (e.g., FACOG).
• “Dr.” is unnecessary before a person’s name if their degrees follow (e.g., Janie Smith, M.S., M.D., FACOG).
• If someone holds a Ph.D. in a nonmedical field, do not use “Dr.” before their name. If it’s necessary to say a person has a doctorate, express as “who has a Ph.D. in” or “who holds a doctorate in” after their name.

• Contrary to AP, “undocumented immigrant” is acceptable terminology, but avoid “illegal immigrant” unless we’re referencing quoted material.
• 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:
• Avoid using the word “accuser” (except in a direct quote) since it implies a blame placed on the victim; “alleged victim” (though not perfect) is a better choice.
• 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.”)

• When reporting on suicide, use language such as “killed oneself,” and, when possible, give specificity, e.g., “shot oneself”; do use good judgment in terms of the extent to which specifics are reported, however.

• “Died of an apparent suicide” is also acceptable phrasing if information has not yet been confirmed. Avoid “committed suicide,” “died by suicide,” and “took one’s life” unless in a direct quote; to some, “committed” may carry a criminal or negative moral connotation that we wish to avoid in reported stories, and the latter phrasings suggest passivity and veer into euphemism, respectively.

• Do not refer to an “unsuccessful suicide attempt”; use “attempted suicide” instead.

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, and it may restate the error when it’s necessary to clarify what it was or to debunk a claim. See sample corrections at the end of this doc.

• Corrections should be made for errors of fact — not misspellings or typos or broken links. Do issue a correction, however, if someone’s name is misspelled throughout a story.

• 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.

• 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: “” 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 and talk to our copy editors.

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