Abbreviation

Always write with full stop(s), unless the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the full term or phrase.

F.A.O., fig., tel., i.e., Ltd, cf., Mr, Dr, no (use a full stop if necessary to avoid confusion: no. 6 screwdriver). Please note that “no” is a contraction of “numero” rather than of the English word “number”.
Acronym

Write without full stops, even when in lowercase or when capitalised, unless you have been instructed to follow US English conventions.

BBC, NATO, ISDN, aka, USA, Benelux
Amount
Apostrophe

The apostrophe is used to indicate the possessive and to mark the plural of single letters. The plural of abbreviations or figures does not take an apostrophe. Please use the shortcut Alt + 0146 if the software you are using does not automatically provide you with a curly apostrophe.

Oscar’s bedroom, Jesus’ words, crossed t’s, MPs, two 747s, the 1960s
Blank
Brackets

Round brackets (also referred to as parentheses) can often be used to expand on or explain the preceding item in the text. You can also use En dashes if you wish. Insert a space before the opening bracket. A space is not required immediately after or before either bracket. Be consistent: do not combine with square brackets.

The new mayor (councillor for Greenham ward) said he was honoured to take on his new role.

Square brackets are used to make insertions in quotes and to indicate where deletions or options can be made etc. This is why they should not be replaced with round brackets. You can also use square brackets to insert translations or comment after names or titles left in the original language.

Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset [Karolinska University Hospital] is known for its research.

Bracketed sentences. The final full stop of a complete sentence in brackets must be inside the closing bracket. Make sure you put a full stop at the end of the preceding sentence too.

The postman maintained that the dog had bitten him. (Despite the fact the bite was clearly the result of an altercation with a snake.)
Bullet points/lists

Follow the bullet points in the source text where possible. Begin the list with a colon. Each item should start with lower case and end with a semicolon, unless the list contains only short terms or items. If you use uppercase and full stops instead, be consistent. End the list with a full stop. In some cases you can also insert “and” after the last semicolon.

This price includes:
  • delivery;
  • packaging;
  • installation.
Each person covered by the insurance policy must:
  • provide a declaration detailing their current state of health;
  • submit a copy of their birth certificate;
  • consent to an interview to discuss their state of health;
  • undertake to inform the insurer without delay of any changes.
Chapter numbering

Follow the source text. If the source text is inconsistent, ask the client for clarification or use the following format: 2. – 2.1 – 3.2.2.1 (i.e. no point after the last subdivision).

Colon

Colons should be closed up to the preceding word. Only use colons at the end of headings if they are in the source text and used appropriately, e.g. in discharge summaries. Colons do not generally require the next word to start with a capital letter, but it may be necessary.

There were two schools of thought: the pessimists and the optimists.
Comma

This is used to punctuate sentences and separate items in a series. When used for punctuation, a comma is always followed by a space. Use a comma before “etc.” in a series, but a comma is not necessary if there is no series.

Fruit, vegetables, bread, etc.
Tenants are expected to use dustbins etc. to store waste.
Currency

Use the official abbreviation for financial texts and amounts. In flowing text you can use the word if necessary. The currency abbreviation precedes the amount and is followed by a (hard) space. Do not leave a space after currency symbols. Like any currency name in English, the word “euro” is written in lower case with no initial capital.

All amounts in pounds or euros.
Revenue was EUR 30 million, while at the American parent company it was USD 5 billion.
£43.
(Not: US$, € 50, 5 million Euro.)
Dash

This should have a space either side and is used to punctuate a sentence instead of commas or round brackets; please use an En dash (–), not a hyphen (-) or Em dash (—) as these are too short and long respectively. Be consistent.

Main motors: 2 x 250 hp – 400 V – 3-phase – 520 Hz
Appendix – List of Shareholdings
(A hyphen for graph names etc. is also acceptable for a job with any legacy TM content, references, etc. which use this, but try to be consistent and if the reference material looks questionable, feel free to use the En dash.)
The aim of the proceedings is that the child shall not – under any circumstances – be subjected to the influence of a parent with addiction problems.
This contract is between the following two parties, Alkenan Ltd. – hereinafter referred to as “the Supplier” – and Consort – hereinafter referred to as “the Client”.
Dates

Where possible, write dates in full. Do not shorten the year to two digits. Avoid redundant zeros unless you are following legacy content etc. Otherwise use UK format (forward slashes or full stops), i.e. dd/mm/yyyy or dd/mm/yy. Note that 1990–91 is two years. Single marketing years, financial years, etc. that do not coincide with calendar years are denoted by a forward slash: e.g. 1990/91, which is 12 months or less.

7 March 2008 (Not: 07 Mar. ’08)
In US English: March 7, 2008
Decimal point
Dot
Ellipsis (dot dot dot)

Full stops indicating an omission such as in quotes or to indicate that something is to follow (aka ellipsis points). Always use three dots rather than the special character that is sometimes generated, preceded by a (hard) space. If a sentence ends with an ellipsis, there is no need for a fourth full stop, cf. sentences ending with an abbreviation. If it is followed by any other punctuation mark, there is no space before it.

The content of his speech … yet he declared his intentions …
And what did he think about this …?
Exclamation mark

Exclamation marks should be closed up to the preceding word. Do not use more than one at a time, unless replicating textspeak etc. in informal communications.

Warning! Danger of death!
(Not: How fantastic!!!!)
Full stop

A full stop (or point) at the end of a sentence immediately follows the last character and is followed by a single space. Make sure you check for redundant spaces at the end of segments. No further full stop is required if a sentence ends with an abbreviation that takes a full stop (e.g. etc.) or with a complete quotation that ends in a full stop, a question mark or an exclamation mark before the closing quotation marks. There is no full stop after a title or in acronyms.

Margaret Thatcher is quoted as saying: “There is no such thing as society.”
We need to buy a new carpet, washing machine, cooker, etc. Thankfully the insurance will cover most of it.
Hyphen

Hyphens (-) are used to link words and to hyphenate (where required). They should not be used to punctuate embedded sentences; that is what dashes are for. There is no space before/after a hyphen.

He wanted to be kept up-to-date
Group-wide functions
Non-deductible benefits
Section 8 – Servicing and after-sales support
Inverted comas
Numbers

Use a full stop as a decimal point and a comma as a thousand/million separator. Be consistent! Do not use a hard space to group thousands unless you have been instructed to do so, typically for EU texts. Occasionally it will be necessary to write measurements without a separator, e.g. 1200 mm. Be consistent, whichever approach you take. As a general rule, write low numbers (zero up to nine inclusive) in words and larger numbers (10 and above) in figures. On the other hand, try not to start a sentence with a figure or a symbol followed by a figure. Either write out in full or, if this does not work, make use of devices such as inversion: Altogether 92 cases were found …, Of the total, €55 million was spent on …

0.75% per GBP 1,000,000; USD 8,900; SEK 5 million; (Not: 4 000 000 pounds.)
Omission mark
Parentheses
Point
Preferred spellings

As stated, we generally use UK English in all our jobs. There are also a few words with alternative UK English spellings or which people tend to confuse with US spelling and we would prefer, unless the specific job instructions, TM, glossary, etc. stipulate otherwise, for translators to use the spellings and capitalisation shown below for these words. If in doubt about spelling, please send a query to the lead translator.

appendices (not: appendixes)
enquiry (not: inquiry, unless the context is an official investigation)
focusing
Internet
organisation
optimise, prioritise, realise, etc.
per cent (not: percent)
Question mark

Question marks should be closed up to the preceding word. Do not use more than one at a time, unless replicating textspeak etc. in informal communications.

How are you? When did he arrive?
(Not: Is there something wrong???)
Quotation marks

Use smart (“curly”) double or single quotation marks. Single quotes only inside double quotes, or vice versa. Do not use chevrons (‹‹…››), Nordic quotes (”…”) or German quotes („…“) in English. Xplanation prefers straight quotes. Make sure the use of quotation marks is consistent throughout the text. Please use the shortcuts Alt + 0145 and Alt + 0146 for single quotes and Alt + 0147 and Alt + 0148 for double quotes if the software you are using does not automatically provide you with “curly” quotation marks. For EU documents use single quotes, cf. the EU style guide.
You can also use this style guide as a general reference for English usage.

“His last words,” said John, “were ‘I wish I could sing’.”
Ranges

When writing out ranges, please repeat the symbols and multiples. For the abbreviated form, please use an En dash but do not repeat the symbol or multiple if they are the same. There should not be a space on either side of the dash. If the symbol or multiple does change, leave a space on either side of the dash.

An interest rate from 5 per cent to 7 per cent
Between DKK 3 million and DKK 10 million
30–40%
100–105°C
10 MW – 5 GW
Semicolon

Use a semicolon to join two sentences together where the content is closely related and a linking conjunction is not necessary. Semicolons should be closed up to the preceding word. If one sentence or two such sentences are split across more than one segment in memoQ, see if you can join the segments together. This is not always possible but if it is, it does improve the usability of the TM for you and other translators.

Some people work better in the mornings; others are more alert in the evenings.
Space

Avoid all unnecessary spaces, although in some documents they may have to do instead of tabs. It may be necessary to use hard spaces to keep specific parts of a word, number, name, sentence, etc., together, but this is generally a DTP issue.

Please contact our service engineer Graham Roberts at the office address 28 Montgomery
Court, Southampton, or by telephone on 02380 558 912.
The electricity network runs on 220 V.
Space after

No double spacing after full stop. You may find that American translators still do this. Punctuation at the end of a sentence (. ? ! : ;) is always followed by a single space.

Space before

Punctuation marks in English – apart from dashes and ellipsis points – are always closed up to the preceding word.

Symbol

Symbols are always written without full stops. As a general rule, mathematical symbols are separated from the preceding figure using a (hard) space. Exceptions: %, °, °C, °F … which are usually written closed up to the figure. Use only standardised units of measurements, either written in full or as symbols (e.g. kHz, kWh, dB, ha, g, etc.); in computer terminology: Kbps, MB, GB.

room temperature of 25°C, 4500 rpm, 25% of the pupils
900 Ω, 75 mm, 340 kg, 9.5 t (Not: 100 gr, 50 KHz.)
Tab

Avoid redundant tabs.

Telephone numbers

For international and national numbers use the standard shown below. Use hard spaces if necessary. Try to put numbers in units of two; if this is not possible, start from the end and take as many units of two as possible, then use a unit of three, or in the case of an 0800 number, a unit of four. Alternatively, follow the standard for the country of origin.

+45 87 39 29 51 or +45 8739 2951
+46 (0)8 585 800 00
020 28 57 99
0800 817 69 00
Time

Use the 12-hour system, i.e. 8.00 am and 2.00 pm, unless told not to or the context dictates otherwise. It is quite common in US English to use the format 08:00 am, but we do not want this used in UK English jobs. Do not mix the 24-hour clock and am/pm.

Between 10.30am and 9pm (or if you use a space, be consistent)
(Xplanation exception for ING: 10.30 a.m and 9 p.m.)
Titles/headings

As a general rule, titles are written in title case. No unnecessary punctuation (full stop, colon, etc.) after the title. If there is a table of contents, make sure this is consistent with the titles in the rest of the text. Only the first word of subheadings should have title case, but it may depend on the job and text concerned.

Scope and Objectives
Safety Data Sheet
Reference Material
New Features!
2.2.1 Requirements for suppliers
Useful links and other reference material

Microsoft Language Portal
IATE (InterActive Terminology for Europe)
EUR-Lex
You may also find the book “Practical English Usage” by Michael Swan published by OUP to be helpful. It was designed for learners of English and their teachers, but it is very useful for translators as well.
For US English, you may find the Chicago Manual of Style useful.