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a guide to writing




version 1

a guide to writing

scarlettabbott style What’s in here a consistent approach (introduction)


our golden rules


the words we use


A-Z of getting it right


guidelines for proofing


resource bank


client style guides


A guide to writing

scarlettabbott style

a consistent approach sing the scarlettabbott house style guide will help us all to work to a common, agreed set of writing style rules. Our writing could be anything from news and features for a client magazine to the scarlettabbott blog, web updates or new business pitch documents.


By ‘style’ we mean things like how to refer to

scarlettabbott and our job titles, whether we

punctuate abbreviations, that type of thing. Why do we need a house style? Because we’re professional and communicating is what we do – a house style will help improve the quality and consistency of all our communications – and help us to avoid common spelling mistakes. This house style also includes guidance on punctuation and grammar to help clear up any points that you might not be sure about, and tried and tested reference points for tackling those niggling queries.


our golden rules C

onsistency is key when writing for our clients and ourselves. If we can all follow a simple set of rules then there’s less room for error. Here’s a helpful list of how we do it at scarlettabbott (that’s lower case ‘s’, all one word!):

A guide to writing

scarlettabbott style


Bullet points

Lower case throughout with one full stop at the end. See more on page

Collective nouns

scarlettabbott is an organisation, not a person, therefore it is ‘scarlettabbott is’ not scarlettabbott are. The scarlettabbott team is, scarlettabbott’s

team of writers and designers are.


Written in full as day date month (Monday 8 August). Only add year if referring to a year we are not in at the moment

eful Other us gy lo o termin : in rk o to w g n poweri ations convers


A guide to writing scarlettabbott



No spaces before but one space after.


Not at the end of a line (keep hyphenated word together).

Internet/digital language

CD-ROM email Internet multimedia online programme the web website URL – full stop after only if at end of sentence with another sentence immediately after.

Latin abbreviations eg, ie, am, pm, etc.

We do not punctuate abbreviations, so they should be written as they appear here, no full stops, and lower case.

A guide to writing

scarlettabbott style

Media and events

Publications, films, books, events etc – italicised in print, bold online.


One to ten always spelt out, then numerical. Never start a sentence with a number (if necessary, spell it out). See more on page

Our name and who we are Written as scarlettabbott.


When a possessive word ends in s, we add the apostrophe before the s. For example, scarlettabbott’s team of communicators.


Introduce with a colon.

Sentence breaks

Single space after full stop (unless traditionally double space).



A guide to writing scarlettabbott


Sentence length

Make the average sentence 15-20 words.


Use scarlettabbott branded templates on all clientfacing communications, unless requested otherwise.


Always present tense when possible, ie says, not said.


Lower case. On client magazines, follow the style that is preferred by the relevant client. Written ‘Managing Director David Smith’ (title no comma name) or ‘David Smith, Managing Director’ (name comma title).


Use active over passive voice.


scarlettabbott prefers while.

the words we use


ere’s a list of words we use as first choice and words we should avoid using:

Do use

Our people/ colleagues/employees Internal communication (without an s) – lower case.

Don’t use

Staff Why – if you don’t know why, ask IC or IComms, unless abbreviation is commonly used in client’s business Comms for communication (unless we’re trying to be purposefully informal and yoof).

A-Z of getting it right

A guide to writing

scarlettabbott style

Abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations are formed by omitting the end of the word. For example, Lieutenant becomes Lieut. Contractions are formed by omitting the middle of the word. For example, Mister becomes Mr. Acronyms are formed by taking the initials of the words and creating a new word. For example, Department for Education becomes DfE. Acronyms are generally written as all capitals and should always be written out in full the first time they are mentioned, with the acronym given in brackets and then just the acronym thereafter. For example, Department for Education (DfE) thereafter just DfE. When you are writing/editing for an informed audience where technical terms are part of the language the audience uses everyday, you may simply use the acronym each time.

A or an?

Use an before a vowel or a silent H: an hour, an heir, an honourable man, an honest woman. Use a elsewhere: a hero, a hotel, a historian (but don’t change a direct quote if the speaker says, for example, “an historic”). With abbreviations, be guided by pronunciation: eg an LSE student.


at Like whead you’ve rr? so fa Great! It sounds like we’ve already got you interested in being great communicators. To receive the full version of the scarlettabbott guide to writing, click here. Or, if you’d like to talk to us directly about this guide or anything else scarlettabbott can help you with, give us a call on 01904 633399.

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Scarlettabbott Writing Guide  

A guide to writing scarlettabbott style

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