Updates to our style guide
We regularly update our style guide to reflect changes in language. On this page, we have listed all the changes and the month and year they were made.
If you have any questions about the guide, or on anything to do with language, style or grammar, please get in touch with our editorial team.
Updated our guidance on inclusive language
- We have updated our section on inclusive language.
Added “conducted” under “Words to use with care”
- We have updated our guidance to suggest the plain English alternative “carried out”.
Added guidance on date format for “Causes of concern”
- We have updated our guidance to make it clear that the date needs to be at the start of the sentence if the cause of concern has a time frame.
Added “abstraction” under “Words to use with care”
- The public might not understand that this means time spent by neighbourhood officers doing non-neighbourhood work. A plain English alternative should be used, such as ‘diverted away from their main duties’.
Updated “partner” under “Words to use with care”
- We have updated our guidance to make it clear that we should explain what sort of organisation we mean for all emergency services, not just the police.
Added guidance on “HM Chief Inspector”
- We have added guidance on how to refer to HM Chief Inspector.
Updated guidance on “Hyperlinking”
- We have added guidance to make it clear that hyperlinks shouldn’t be used in headings.
Added “drift” under “Words to use with care”
- Avoid using “drift” when describing how an investigation has taken longer than expected. Consider using ‘continue for extended periods’ instead.
Added guidance on areas for improvement, causes of concern and recommendations
- We have added separate sections on the style that should be followed for areas for improvement, causes of concern and recommendations.
Added guidance on “Infographics” under “Tables, graphs and charts”
- We have added guidance about the use of infographics in our reports to make it clear that no “Figure: X” captions or source are needed.
Removed “police officers and staff” under “Words to use with care” and replaced with “staff”
- We have updated our guidance to make it clear that, in the context of our policing reports, “staff” should only be used to describe civilian policing staff.
- “Police officers and staff” or “police personnel” should be used when referring to both police officers and staff.
Updated guidance on “Definitions and interpretations”
- We have removed guidance on when to include a hyperlink and added this to the “Hyperlinking” section to avoid duplication.
Updated guidance on “Hyperlinking”
- We have updated our guidance on what makes a good hyperlink. This includes when they should be used and how they should be embedded.
Updated guidance on “Data”
- We have added guidance on using time periods to help explain and quantify standards and targets.
Replaced “Definitions and interpretations” with “Glossary”
- We have amended all references to what was previously known as our “definitions and interpretations” to “glossary” as a result of updates to our website.
Updated guidance on “Tables, graphs and charts”
- We have updated the section on how to refer to a source in a table, graph or chat to align with the guidance set out by the Government Analysis Function.
Updated guidance on “Confusing words”
- We have added more information about the use of inquiry/enquiry.
- Use ‘inquiry’ to describe a formal investigation.
- Use ‘enquiry’ to discuss the process of asking people something to gather information (“lines of enquiry”).
Updated guidance on “Abbreviations”
- We have added “HR” to familiar abbreviations that don’t need to be defined.
Added guidance on “Innovative and promising practice”
- We have added guidance on how examples of innovative and promising practice should appear in our reports.
Updated “Words to use with care”
- ensure – use “make sure” where appropriate.
- police officers and police staff – if you need to refer to both officers and staff, use “police personnel”.
Updated guidance on “Capitalisation”
- We have added guidance on capitalisation for graded judgments in our reports.
Updated guidance on writing about ethnicity
- We have amended the wording to reflect updated Government guidance on writing about ethnicity. ‘People from ethnic minority groups’ and ‘people from ethnic minority backgrounds’ are both acceptable.
Updated guidance on abbreviations
- We have updated guidance on “Abbreviations in headings” to make it clear that they can be used if previously defined in the text.
- We have updated guidance to include case studies as standalone sections (“Abbreviations in areas for improvement, causes of concern, recommendations and case studies”).
Moved guidance on bullets
- We have moved guidance on bullets (originally under “B”) to be listed under ”L” (now found under “Lists”).
Added a section under “Inclusive language”
- We have added guidance on how to discuss suicide in our reports.
Updated spelling guidance under “Other conventions”
- We have added “counter-corruption” and “counter-terrorism”.
- We have moved guidance on the spelling of ‘judgment’ to this section.
Removed “Words to use with care”
- bottom up
- build the narrative
- engaging users
- funding stream
- structured around
- win-win situation.
Updated guidance on “Words to use with care”
- agree – this shouldn’t be used if it’s a matter of a person or organisation approving something.
- mechanisms – use ways, systems or processes instead.
- national – be explicit as to whether you mean England, Wales, England and Wales, another part of the UK, or the UK as a whole.