CPRS Style Guide

November 2013
This guide contains general style guidelines for CPRS publications and communicating to CPRS members.
TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................2
Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 3
1. CPRS REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 3
2. CPRS TERMS & STYLES ......................................................................................................... 3
3. INTERNET STYLE .................................................................................................................. 7
4. JOB TITLES ........................................................................................................................... 8
5. COMPOSITION AND PUBLICATION TITLES ............................................................................ 8
6. ACADEMIC DEGREES AND HONOURS .................................................................................. 9
7. ETHNIC GROUPS .................................................................................................................. 9
8. GEOGRAPHICAL ABBREVIATIONS ...................................................................................... 10
9. NUMBERS ......................................................................................................................... 12
10. DATES ............................................................................................................................. 13
11. TIME ............................................................................................................................... 14
12. PUNCTUATION ................................................................................................................ 15
13. SOCIAL MEDIA SITES AND TOOLS ..................................................................................... 21
14. PC CHARACTER CODES ..................................................................................................... 22
15. CORRECT SPELLING AND USE OF WORDS/PHRASES ......................................................... 23
16. OTHER.............................................................................................................................. 29
17. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................... 30
The CPRS Style Guide is a guide for individuals preparing documentation for internal and external purposes consistent with the CPRS corporate style.
This section specifies the external reference tools preferred by CPRS for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.
a. “The Canadian Press Stylebook” Latest Edition
CPRS’s first references for writing, editing and proof reading copy are The Canadian Press Stylebook and its companion Caps and Spelling. Refer first to these publications for questions on usage. The latest editions of these publications can be obtained from Canadian Press.
b. “Canadian Oxford Dictionary” Latest Edition
CPRS uses the Canadian Oxford Dictionary to resolve questions regarding spelling and definition. For more information on this dictionary, visit www.oupcanada.com.
This section outlines certain preferred terms and styles that are specific to CPRS. When these terms and styles are at odds with the preferred external reference tools of CPRS, these terms and styles take precedence.
a. CPRS Logo
CPRS has developed a distinctive brand that includes a recognizable logo and the use of specific colours for its online and offline publications.
To ensure the consistency and strength of the CPRS brand, there are rules about the use of the CPRS logo. Refer to the CPRS Graphic Standards for logo usage guidelines.
b. CPRS Proper Names and Abbreviations
The following are proper names for CPRS groups and programs, as well as the proper second reference and abbreviations for editorial copy.
  • CPRS National Board of Directors (“Board” on second reference)
  • CPRS Code of Professional Standards (“Code” on second reference)
  • CPRS College of Fellows, Fellow CPRS
  • CPRS Headquarters (“Headquarters” on second reference regarding office location)
  • CPRS Member Societies
  • CPRS [insert year] National Conference (“Conference” on second reference)
  • CPRS National (“National” on second reference in regard to the organization)
  • Communications + Public Relations Foundation
  • Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (“Global Alliance” on second reference)
  • Media Relations Rating Points (“MRP®” on second reference)
  • Pathways to the Profession™ (“Pathways” on second reference)
  • Professional Development (when referring directly to CPRS programming)
  • Public Relations Knowledge PRK® Exam (“PRK exam” on second reference)
National Councils and Committees
  • National Audit and Investment Committee
  • National Awards -Committee
  • National College of Fellows
  • National Council on Accreditation
  • National Council on Education
  • National Governance Committee
  • National Judicial and Ethics Committee
  • National Measurement Committee
  • National Membership Committee
  • National Nominating Committee
  • National Professional Development Committee
  • National Public Relations and Communications Committee
  • National Resource Library Committee
  • Presidents’ Council
c. CPRS Accreditation Program
It is the policy of the National Council on Accreditation to encourage standardization in the use of terminology and capitalization related to the examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, using the following guidelines.
National Council on Accreditation
The full name of the committee that oversees the CPRS Accreditation Program is the “National Council on Accreditation.” There is no short form for this committee.
Accreditation Examination
The CPRS accreditation examination consists of three components:
1. Work sample
2. Written exam
3. Oral exam
Do not refer to the Examination as an exam or test.
Always capitalize the following words and terms:
  • “National Council on Accreditation”
  • “Chief Examiner”
  • “Deputy Presiding Officer (Appeals)”
  • “Deputy Presiding Officer (Eligibility)”
  • “Regional Examiners”
  • “Accreditation Chair”
  • “Accredited Public Relations practitioner (APR)”
  • “APR” but not “designation”
  • “Accredited Member”
  • “Accreditation Program” as the official name of the program
  • “Accreditation” when it is used as a standalone for the official name of the program
  • “Accreditation Maintenance Program”
  • “Accredited Member”
  • “Accreditation Handbook”
  • “CPRS Accreditation Application Form”
  • “CPRS Examinations Date Change Form”
  • “CPRS Deferral Request Form”
  • “PR Knowledge and Practice,” “Professionalism,” and “Communications Planning” (sections of the written examination)
Do not capitalize the following words and terms:
  • work sample overview
  • work sample
  • written examination
  • oral examination
  • grader(s)
  • accreditation certificate and pin
d. CPRS Awards
The following are proper names of the awards given out by CPRS National throughout the year.
CPRS National Awards
  • Canadian External Communications Campaign of the Year
  • Canadian Internal Communications Campaign of the Year
CPRS Major Awards
  • Philip A. Novikoff Award
  • Don Rennie Memorial Award
  • Mentor of the Year Diamond Jubilee Award
  • Outstanding Achievement Award
  • Award of Attainment
  • Shield of Public Service
  • Local Society Recognition
  • President's Award
  • Lamp of Service
CPRS Student Awards
  • CPRS/CNW Student Award of Excellence
e. CPRS Resources
The following are resources available to members. Some resources also are available for non-members.
  • www.cprs.ca
  • National Resource Library (“library” on second reference)
  • Centre for PR Education
  • Career File
  • Speakers Network
  • CPRS Member News: [insert month and year] Communiqué
f. CPRS Conference/Professional Development Seminar Titles
Capitalize all principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
When using these titles in editorial copy, place quotation marks around the title: “Change the Conversation, CPRS 2012 National Conference”
For headlines, e-blasts or website listings, place secondary or subtitles in italics: CPRS 2012 National Conference Change the Conversation
g. CPRS Boilerplate
The latest boilerplate can be found on the CPRS website in the most recent news release. As of December 2012, the following boilerplate includes the most current information:
Founded in 1948, the Canadian Public Relations Society CPRS is a not-for-profit organization whose members are engaged in the practice, management or teaching of public relations and communications. Members work to maintain the highest standards and share a uniquely Canadian experience in public relations. CPRS is a federation of over 1,800 members across 14 Member Societies based in major cities or organized province-wide. For more information, visit our website: cprs.ca.
When the boilerplate is used in electronic documents, the web address should be a hyperlink.
h. “Public Relations”
Spell out “public relations,” even on the second reference. Do not use “PR”.
i. Capitalization
With the exception of the specific CPRS terms above, CPRS generally follows Canadian Press’ modified down style of capitalization. That is, where a reasonable choice exists, CPRS uses lowercase.
The Canadian Press’ basic rule is: “Capitalize all proper names, trade names, government departments and agencies of government, names of associations, companies, clubs, religions, languages, nations, races, places, addresses. Otherwise lowercase is favoured where a reasonable option exists.”
j. Gender Language
Use gender-neutral language: “chair”, not “chairman”. It is acceptable to use “they,” “them” or “their” as singular pronouns if necessary.
k. Headline Style
Bold headlines in editorial copy; do not bold/underline or bold/italicize headlines.
Capitalize only the first letter in the first word of the headline and follow normal Canadian Press style for capitalization in all other words in the headline.
However, the principal words of headlines are capped when they are quoted within the body of a story.
The usual rules for Canadian Press style on abbreviations apply, with some additions, as do the rules for using numerals.
Use single quotation marks in headlines.
l. Emphasis
Use bold formatting for titles, headlines, and web and email addresses only.
In editorial copy, CPRS style is to italicize for emphasis. Do not bold/underline or bold/italicize.
In marketing copy, there is flexibility in how to emphasize text in light of design elements.
m. The Use of Spaces
Use one space between sentences.
Do not include a space between headlines and subheads or between subheads and paragraphs.
a. Capitalization
Capitalize specific proper names: World Wide Web, Internet, Adobe Acrobat.
Lowercase descriptive or generic terms: email, home page, intranet, web, web browser, webcam, webcast, webmaster, website.
Use all-caps for such abbreviations and acronyms such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory) and URL (universal resource locator).
b. URLs
Web and email addresses must be written the way they appear, which is usually all lowercase: thecanadianpress.com. Do not put them in brackets or parentheses.
The “http://” or “www.” does not need to be included in web addresses. Some addresses begin with other expressions e.g., ftp:// and these should be included.
Bold web and email addresses.
c. Hyperlinks
Format URLs as hyperlinks in electronic publications whenever possible. The same is true for email addresses — hyperlink the name.
Capitalize formal titles directly preceding a name: Energy Minister Marcie Edmond. Generally speaking, formal titles include government, professional, military and religious titles that could be used with the surname alone.
Lowercase formal titles when standing alone or set off from the name with commas: the energy minister, Marcie Edmond; Marcie Edmond, the minister of energy.
Lowercase occupational titles and job descriptions: company president Andre Lefort, general manager Sally James, news editor Agathe Simard, school principal Paul Chambers.
Lowercase titles preceded by former, acting and so on.
Many organizations, including The Canadian Press, capitalize staff titles even when standing alone, department names and the like in internal documents. If this policy is used, be consistent.
Credentials should be placed between the name and the title: Debbie Mason, APR, FCPRS, president, Strategists, Inc.
When listing names, credentials and titles in copy, use a semicolon in the series to avoid confusion. Example: Jane Smith, education director, CPRS; Tom Jones, APR, FCPRS, professor, Mount Royal University; and Jeffrey Julin, APR, CPRS executive director.
Compositions and publications include articles, blogs, books, broadcast programs, computer games, conference titles, films, lectures, magazines, newspapers, operas, plays, podcasts, poems, seminars and teleseminars, songs, speeches, television programs, websites, webinars and webcasts, works of art and other compositions and publications.
The following capitalization and formatting guidelines apply to compositions and publications.
Capitalize the principal words. The term principal words is defined by Canadian Press as “nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, the first and last word of the title, as well as prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more.”
Do not capitalize “the” at the start of names of almanacs, the Bible, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, handbooks and the like.
Lowercase “the” in names of newspapers.
Follow Canadian Press style to include qualifiers like daily, evening and Sunday if the paper prefers them: New York Daily News.
Capitalize “magazine” only when it is part of the title: New York Times Magazine, Maclean’s magazine
Where location is needed but not part of the official name of a newspaper, use parentheses: Moose Jaw (Sask.) Times-Herald.
Volume, chapter, section, act, scene, etc., are capitalized when they precede a number. But page, paragraph, verse and line are lowercase in keeping with widespread practice.
Composition titles, except for the Bible, can be written in italics to differentiate them in regular copy, when technically possible, or enclosed in quotation marks when italics are not an option. If they are already set off as a list or differentiated in some other way such as font style, as above, there is usually no need for quotation marks or italics.
In general, avoid abbreviations for academic degrees. Use a phrase instead: Paula Sipek, who has a doctorate in biology. If it would be cumbersome otherwise, or if the degree is well-known, use the abbreviation.
Follow Canadian Press style for abbreviations: BA, MA. Compound abbreviations are written without spaces: M.Sc., P.Eng. Mixed abbreviations that begin and end with a capital letter do not take periods: PhD.
Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc. There is no apostrophe “s” in bachelor of arts or master of science.
Canadian Press style dictates that people should only be identified by race, colour, or nationality when it is truly pertinent.
Capitalize the proper names of all nationalities, peoples, races and tribes: Aboriginal Peoples, Arab, Caucasian, French-Canadian, Inuit, Jew, Latin, Asian, Cree, etc. The terms black and white do not name races and are therefore lowercase.
There is usually no need to use hyphenated descriptions such as Polish-Canadian or Jamaican-Canadian, unless the individual prefers it and it is relevant.
a. Preferred Terms
For CPRS purposes, the following are the preferred terms for describing people of various ethnicities.
Aboriginal Peoples The term Aboriginal Peoples is a collective name for three
distinct groups: First Nations (sometimes called Indians), Inuit
and Métis. The terms original peoples, aboriginals, indigenous
peoples and other variations can also be used. Use the terms
Indian and native with discretion to describe Aboriginal Peoples.
Where possible, be specific and use the name of the actual
community: Cree, Ojibwa, etc.
Arab The preferred term for Arabic-speaking peoples who are native to
the Middle East and North Africa is Arab. Arab is not
synonymous with Muslim, which designates a follower of the
Islamic faith.
Asian The preferred term for those whose ethnic origin is Asia is Asian.
Do not use Oriental.
Black/African Canadian The term black (not capitalized) is acceptable in all references in
Canada and the United States. In Canada, African-Canadian is
used by some people but not by others. In the United States, the
term African-American is also used.
Hispanic Hispanic is a broad term designating Spanish-speaking peoples,
especially those from Central and South America. Hispanic
should not be used to refer to those with non-Spanish language
backgrounds, such as Portuguese speakers in Brazil.
Indian The preferred term for people from India or of Indian descent is
Indian. If the term might be confused with First Nations, use
"people from India" or "Indian Canadian.
Latino/a Latino/a Latino/a is a broad term for peoples from non-Spanish speaking. Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Nicaragua and
Guatemala. Where possible, be specific and use the name of a
person's specific heritage: Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, etc.
White/Caucasian The preferred term is white not capitalized
All-capital abbreviations that are geographical include periods: B.C., P.E.I., N.W.T., U.S., T.O., L.A.
Generally do not abbreviate the names of countries, provinces or states when standing alone or used adjectivally. However, the abbreviations U.K., U.S., B.C. and P.E.I. may be used adjectivally to reflect spoken usage.
a. Canadian Provinces and Territories
For editorial copy, spell out the names of Canadian provinces and territories when they appear alone. Use the following abbreviations after the name of a community:
Alta N.B N.S Que.
B.C N.L Ont. Sask.
Man. N.W P.E.I.  
Do not abbreviate Yukon. An abbreviation has not yet been established for Nunavut, so it should also be written out in all references.
Place one comma between the city and the province or territory name, and another after the province or territory name, unless at the end of a sentence or in a dateline.
In headlines, it is acceptable to use B.C., P.E.I., N.B., N.L., N.S. and N.W.T. in all references nouns and adjectives. Sask., Alta., Ont., Man. and Que. can also be used. Use these abbreviations only if space constraints require it.
For marketing copy, the following Canada Post abbreviations can be used.
b. American States
For editorial copy, spell out the names of American states when they appear alone. Use the following abbreviations after the name of a community.
Ala. Md. N.D
Ariz. Mass. Okla.
Ark. Mich. Ore.
Calif. Minn P.A
Colo. Miss. R.I
Conn. Mo. S.C.
Del. Mont. S.D
Fla. Neb. Tenn
Ga. Nev. Vt.
Ill. N.H. Va.
Ind. N.J. Wash.
Kan. N.M W.Va.
Ky. N.Y Wis
La. N.C Wyo
Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah; or Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands.
Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another after the state name, unless at the end of a sentence or in a dateline. For marketing copy, the following U.S. Postal Service abbreviations can be used.
In general, spell out whole numbers below 10 and use figures for 10 and above. This means that there may be a mixture of words and figures in a series.
For numbers in official names, follow the organization’s spelling style even when it is at odds with Canadian Press practice.
Use a hyphen to connect a word ending in “y” to another word: twenty-one, one hundred forty-three, seventy-six thousand five hundred eighty-seven
Use commas to set off numbers of four or more figures except house, telephone, page, year and other serial numbers.
Do not use commas
  • between other separate words that are part of one number: two thousand two hundred sixty-seven.
  • with dimensions, measurements and weights consisting of two or more elements: four feet 11 inches tall, eight pounds two ounces
Use arabic numerals in most cases. Only use roman numerals to indicate sequence for people and animals and in proper names where that is the widely accepted style: World War II, Pope John XXII, Superman III.
a. Large numbers
Round numbers in the thousands are usually given in figures: 2,000 people. Spell out for casual usage: There were thousands of people.
Except for monetary units preceded by a symbol, round numbers in the millions and billions generally follow the rule of spelling out below 10.
Express large numbers in millions and billions instead of the less familiar trillion, quadrillion and the like. Spell out for casual usage.
Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns: a 20-million-dollar project
When you are expressing a range, repeat million or billion: 10 million to 15 million. The adjectival form may be written as “a $2- to $3-million loss,” but saying “a loss of $2 million to $3 million” is preferred.
b. Ages
For ages under 10, write out except when age stands alone after a name: Samara, 3, has two brothers, seven and eight.
Hyphenate ages as adjectives and nouns: 10-year-old boy; nine-year-old.
c. Sequences
Use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., when the sequence has been assigned in forming names. Examples include geography, military and political designations: 1st Ward, 7th Fleet and 1st Sgt.
d. Percentages
Per cent is two words. Percentage is one word. There is no hyphen when used like “six per cent increase.”
Avoid ambiguity when writing about percentages. It is more clear to write “increased to 20 per cent from 10” than “increased from 10 to 20 per cent.”
When writing about a percentage loss or gain, it is more meaningful to include a dollar or some other amount.
e. Phone Numbers
Include the area code in parentheses: (416) 239-7034.
Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd or th.
Capitalize months. Lowercase the seasons.
For months used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out standing alone or with a year alone.
In tabular matter, use these forms without periods: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Days of the week are abbreviated only in tabular matter and without periods: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate the month and the year with commas: It snowed a lot in February 1980.
When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas: It snowed a lot on Jan. 27, 1978.
If the year appears in the title of an event, there is no need to use the year again when stating the month and day of the event: the CPRS 2013 International Conference will take place June 9-11.
Do not use shorthand for dates: 6/9/13.
a. Datelines
In datelines at the beginning of news releases, put the city name in capital letters, followed by the province/territory or country. Domestic and international large cities can stand alone in datelines, without a province or country. Next, add the date, offset by commas. Follow the date with a space, an “n” dash and another space. The lead sentence then follows.
Here is an example:
TORONTO, Feb. 2, 2012 - The Canadian Public Relations Society Inc. (CPRS) is pleased to announce that seven public relations professionals from across Canada successfully completed the requirements for becoming accredited Members of CPRS in 2011.
Do not abbreviate provinces, territories or states in datelines. In most cases, use the conventionally accepted short form of a nation’s official name e.g., Argentina rather than Republic of Argentina.
For official spellings of place names, consult The Canadian Press Stylebook and Caps and Spelling. The style authority for Canadian place names is the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, with some exceptions listed in these two guides. National Geographic Society spellings are the Canadian Press authority for place names outside Canada with exceptions listed in these guides.
Within stories, when a city name is mentioned that is not in the same province, territory, state or nation as the dateline city, follow the city name with further identification.
11. TIME
Use “a.m.” and “p.m.” after the time: 3:30 p.m. Eliminate the double zero in times: 2 p.m. instead of 2:00 p.m.
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Do not use the figure 12 with noon or midnight.
Use a colon to separate hours, minutes and seconds when figures are used: 2:30 a.m. A period separates seconds from tenths of seconds: her time was 3:45:20.6.
Avoid redundancies, such as 10 p.m. tonight. Writing 10 p.m. is sufficient.
Use an “en” dash no space on either side when using time figures:2–3 p.m.
When times fall within the same time of day, there is no need to repeat: 9-10 a.m. If in different times of day, use a.m. and p.m.: 11a.m.–2 p.m.
a. Time Zones
Specify the time zone in undated stories. Also specify the time zone in stories involving the time of live radio and TV programs broadcast nationally. In cases of recorded or delayed broadcasts, Canadian Press style is to provide the eastern time.
Use abbreviations for time zones with a clock reading: 11 a.m. MST or midnight Sunday night PST.
Spell out time zones when they are not accompanied by a clock reading: Newfoundland daylight time.
Capitalize Newfoundland, Atlantic and Pacific time zones when spelled out: Atlantic daylight time. Other time zones – eastern, mountain and central – are lowercase.
a. Ampersand (&)
Use the word “and” instead of an ampersand symbol in written material. Do not use an ampersand unless it is part an organization’s or an event’s official name.
b. Acronyms
Acronyms — abbreviations pronounced as words — formed from only the first letter of each principal word are all capitals: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
In most cases, acronyms formed from initial and other letters are upper and lowercase: Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command). However, some exceptions have become common: BMO (Bank of Montreal). Check The Canadian Press Stylebook for individual listings.
c. Apostrophe (‘)
Use an apostrophe to denote possession. Note the following specifications:
  • For plural nouns ending in s, add only an apostrophe: provinces’ rights.
  • For singular common nouns ending in s, add an apostrophe and the letter s: the witness’s answer.
  • For singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe: Descartes’ theories.
  • For singular proper names ending in s sounds, such as x, ce and z, add an apostrophe and the letter s: Marx’s theories, the prince’s life.
Use an apostrophe to indicate the omission of letters or figures: it’s (for it is), she’d, couldn’t, rock ’n’ roll, the early ’30s.
Use an apostrophe with verbs formed from capitals: OK’ing, MC’ing.
For plurals of a single letter, add an apostrophe and the letter s: q’s and a’s
Do not use an apostrophe to form the plurals in expressions like “dos, and don’ts” or “yeses or noes.”
In general, do not use an apostrophe with plurals of capital letters or numbers: RESPs, the 1990s. Only use an apostrophe with plurals of capital letters if it is necessary to avoid ambiguity.
Use an apostrophe to form the plurals of words being discussed as words: too many is’s, not enough the’s.
Use “smart” or curved apostrophes rather than straight apostrophes when working with a document that will be printed. Note: This feature is generally turned on in Word. If you need to turn it on, go to the Tools menu and click AutoCorrect. Next click the “Auto Format as You Type” tab and select “Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes.”
d. Bullets
Canadian Press style dictates that punctuation and capitalization in short bullets of a few words can be eliminated without hampering readability.
However, if the material is longer than a few words or would stand on its own as a sentence, uppercase the first letter of the first word in each bullet and use periods at the end of each one.
For CPRS materials, use the following bullet style:
  • first level
    • second level
      • third level
e. Citation
Use the APA (American Psychological Association) Referencing System. APA Style® requires references both in-text and in a list of references. The rules of APA Style® are detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (current edition).
f. Colon (:)
Use a colon:
  • In lines introducing lists, texts and tables.
  • To introduce an example or a formal question (to take the place of for example).
  • To introduce a direct quotation longer than a short sentence.
  • In question-and-answer formats and for interviews (quotation marks are not used).
  • To mark a strong contrast.
  • To separate hours, minutes and seconds in clock and elapsed times.
  • After a formal salutation (informal salutations may take a comma).
  • To indicate chapter and verse, act and scene and other citations.
  • To separate titles and subtitles unless the author’s or publisher’s form differs.
Generally do not capitalize the first letter of a sentence that follows a colon, unless it is it is a proper noun or a quoted sentence. A capital may also be used for emphasis.
Put colons outside closing quotation marks.
g. Comma (,)
Use commas:
  • Between the elements of a series, but not before the final “and” or “or” unless that avoids confusion.
  • To set off an introductory clause or long phrase that precedes the main clause (even if the introductory clause or phrase is short, a comma may be used for emphasis).
  • After the main clause only if the clause that follows is parenthetical.
  • Before clauses introduced by the conjunctions “and,” “but,” “for,” “or” or “yet” if the clause is long and/or if the subject changes.
  • To separate adjectives before a noun when the commas represent “and” (omit commas if the adjectives could not be separated by “and” and still make sense).
  • To set off a paraphrased question or statement.
  • To set off parenthetical expressions, direct address and the like.
  • To separate words and numbers when confusion might otherwise result.
  • To separate geographical elements.
  • To set off the year from the month plus day.
  • To set off thousands but not in years, street addresses or page or phone numbers.
  • To set off a person’s age, degrees, awards and affiliations.
It is acceptable to use commas with transition words such as besides, meanwhile, indeed, in fact and as a result if the sentence reads better with a pause.
When words readily understood are omitted for brevity, use commas to mark theomission, unless the sentence reads smoothly without them.
Do not use commas:
  • Around an identifying word, phrase or clause if it is essential to the meaning of the sentence.
  • With Sr. or Jr., or with numerals that are an integral part of a name.
  • With multi-unit dimensions, measures, weights or times.
Generally, commas go inside closing quotation marks.
A comma follows a bracket if sentence structure requires it.
h. Ellipsis ( … )
Use an ellipsis (three periods) to indicate an omission from a text or quotation. Also use an ellipsis when a quotation trails away. Put spaces before and after the periods.
In condensing a text, use an ellipsis at the beginning, inside or at the end of a sentence. If it is at the end, put the punctuation before the ellipsis.
In news stories, use an ellipsis only inside a sentence, not at the beginning or end.
i. “Em” Dash (—)
Use an em dash:
  • To set off mid-sentence lists punctuated by commas.
  • When commas (generally preferable) would create confusion.
  • To mark a sharp break in a word or sentence.
  • To mark off interpolations.
  • To introduce a phrase or clause that summarizes, emphasizes or contrasts what has gone before.
  • To attribute a quotation.
Do not use dashes with colons, semicolons and commas.
Write the em dash with spaces before and after.
j. “En” Dash (–)
Use an en dash is to express a range of values or a distance: 1857–1900, May 15–June 11, 2–3 a.m.
Do not use an en dash to connect words that are preceded by “from” or “between”: from January to May (not from January-May), between 1970 and 1976 (not between 1970- 76).
There is no space before and after the en dash.
k. Hyphen (-)
Use a hyphen to create compound words. Compound words can be written solid (sweatshirt), open (oil rig) or hyphenated (white-haired). Write words as compounds to ease reading, to avoid ambiguity and to join words that when used together form a separate concept.
Generally use a hyphen:
  • In compound modifiers preceding a noun (but not if the meaning is instantly clear because of common usage of the term: two-dollar coffee, multimillion-dollar projects, a sales tax increase, the task force decision).
  • To indicate joint titles and to join conflicting or repetitive elements.
  • With most well-known compounds of three or more words.
  • With certain compounds containing an apostrophe: bull’s-eye.
  • To avoid doubling a vowel, tripling a consonant or duplicating a prefix.
  • To join prefixes to proper names: anti-Trudeau.
  • To join an initial capital with a word: X-ray
  • With fractions standing alone and with the written numbers 21 to 99.
  • With a successive compound adjective: 10-, 20- and 30-second intervals.
  • To differentiate between words of different meanings but the same spellings: resign (quit), re-sign (sign again); recover (regain health), re-cover (cover again).
  • To avoid awkward letter combinations: de-ice, not deice; non-native, not nonnative.
  • For the minus sign in temperatures, with bracketed political affiliations and in the names of compound ridings.
Certain word combinations are often hyphenated even when standing alone:
  • Noun plus adjective: fire-resistant, fancy-free
  • Noun plus participle: blood-stained, thought-provoking
  • Adjective plus participle: sweet-smelling, hard-earned
  • Adjective plus noun plus “–ed”: open-handed, red-faced
Hyphens are commonly used in broadcast copy to connect numbers and ease readability.
Generally do not use a hyphen:
  • Following adverbs ending in -ly
  • With proper nouns (a United Kingdom custom), established foreign terms (a 10 per cent drop) or established compound nouns (a high school principal).
l. Parentheses
The Canadian Press advocates avoiding the use of parentheses by rewriting the sentence, putting the incidental information in commas, dashes or in another sentence. Use parentheses only when other punctuation won’t do the job.
If you do use parentheses, follow these guidelines.
Use parentheses to:
  • Insert fuller identification in proper names, direct quotation and such: the Moose Jaw (Sask.) Times-Herald (use commas when no proper name is involved).
  • To enclose a nickname within a name.
  • In numbering or lettering a series within a sentence.
  • To enclose political affiliations.
  • To enclose equivalents and translations.
If a punctuation mark applies to the whole sentence, put the mark after the closing bracket. If a punctuation mark applies only to the words inside the parenthetical section, put the mark inside the closing bracket.
In general, a parenthetical sentence takes a capital only if it is a direct quotation.
Do not put email addresses in parentheses.
m. Period (.)
Use a period:
  • To end a declarative or a mildly imperative sentence (for greater emphasis, use an exclamation mark, advisedly).
  • To end an indirect question, a request phrased as a question, or a rhetorical question.
  • With people’s initials (do not put a space between initials: C.S. Lewis).
  • With decimals, including decimal currencies.
  • After certain abbreviations.
Omit periods after:
  • Headings
  • Figures
  • roman numerals
  • single letters (except initials)
  • scientific and metric symbols
  • letters used as names without specific designation
However, you can use periods, as an alternative to brackets, after a letter or number denoting a series.
Put periods inside quotation marks.
Use a single space after the period at the end of a sentence.
n. Quotation marks (“ ”)
Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations. In partial quotes, do not put quotation marks around words the speaker could not have used.
In general, always use double quotation marks. However, use single quotation marks in headlines and quotes within a quote.
Capitalize the first word of any mid-sentence quote that constitutes a sentence. Only capitalize the first word of the second part of an interrupted quotation if it begins a new sentence.
To make it clear that the speaker has changed, put each speaker’s words in a separate paragraph.
When a quote by a single speaker extends more than one paragraph, put quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph but at the end of only the last.
Use quotation marks around
  • Pungent or significant words or phrases.
  • Unfamiliar terms on first reference.
  • Words used ironically.
Do not use quotation marks
  • To enclose slogans and headlines.
  • In question-and-answer formats.
  • On texts, transcripts or editorial excerpts in symposiums.
  • Around single letters.
Periods and commas always go inside closing quote marks; colons and semicolons outside. The question mark and exclamation mark go inside the quote marks when they apply to the quoted matter only; outside when they apply to the entire sentence.
When a sentence ends with single and double quotation marks, separate them by a space.
Use “smart” or curved quotes rather than straight quotes.
o. Semicolon (;)
Use a semicolon to:
  • Separate statements too closely related to stand as separate sentences.
  • Separate phrases that contain commas.
  • Precede explanatory phrases introduced by “for example,” “namely,” “that is” and the like when a comma seems too weak.
Put semicolons outside quotation marks.
Listed below are some of the most popular social media sites and tools, with proper spelling and definition. For sites or tools not listed here, refer to official websites for proper spelling and definition.
Social Media Site/Tool Definition
Del.cio.us A social bookmarking Web service used for storing, sharing and discovering Web bookmarks.
Digg A social news Website made for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet by submitting links and stories, and voting and commenting on submitted links and stories.
Facebook A free-access social networking website where users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region to connect and interact with other people.
Flickr An image-and video-hosting website, Web services suite and online community platform where users share personal photographs and bloggers store photos.
FriendFreed A real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites, social bookmarking websites, blogs and micro-blogging updates, as well as any other type of RSS/Atom feed.
Google Analytics A free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website.
Google Blogger A free Google’ tool for creating blogs.
Google+ An invitation-only service whose features include "Posts" for posting status updates, "Circles" for sharing information with different groups of people, "Sparks" for offering videos and articles users might like, and "Hangouts" and "Huddles" for video chatting with a friend or group of friends.
LinkedIn A business-oriented social networking site that is mainly used for professional networking.
Ma.gnolia A social bookmarking website where users can rate bookmarks and mark bookmarks as private, and store snapshots of boomarked Web pages.
MySpace A social networking website with an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos for teenagers and adults internationally.
Ning An online platform where users can create their own social networks.
Pinterest A pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events,
Updated November 201322interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or 'like' photos.
Reddit A social news website on which users can post links to content on the Internet; other users may then vote the posted links up or down, causing them to become more or less prominent on the reddit homepage.
Second Life A virtual world that enables users, called residents, to interact with each other through avatars.
Squidoo A community website that allows users to create pages, called lenses, for subjects of interest.
Technorati An Internet search engine for searching blogs.
Twitter A free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets, which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.
Tweet A post or status update with a limit of 140 characters.
Twitterati The most read and most influential users on Twitter.
Tweetup An organized or impromptu gathering of people that use Twitter.
Tumblr A microblogging site that lets you effortlessly shareanything. You can post text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be. Tumblr lets you “reblog” your content across other platforms.
TypePad The largest paid blogging service in the world that is marketed to non-technical users and includes additional features like multiple author support, photo albums and microblogging.
Widget An element of a graphical user interface that displays an information arrangement changeable by the user, suchas a window or a text box.
Wikipedia A free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
WordPress A free and open source blog publishing application.
Youtube A video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos.
Commonly used special characters for PC are listed here. Use the number pad on the right side of keyboard to enter the numerical code.
Em Dash Alt + 0151  –
En Dash Alt +1050  –
Hyphen Hyphen key -
Tilde Alt +0241 or Ctrl+Shift+tilde~, letter for any letter Ñ
Trademark symbol Alt +0153
Copyright symbol Alt +0169 ©
Register symbol Alt +0174 ®
Degree symbol Alt +0176 °
Refer to The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling guide for clarity about the correct spelling and use of words and phrases that are likely to cause problems for those handling copy in Canadian newsrooms.
a. General Spelling Guidelines
The authority for Canadian Press spelling is The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, with specific exceptions noted in The Canadian Press Stylebook and this guide. Where optional forms are given — moustache, mustache — the first listed is Canadian Press style.
When the spelling of a proper name differs from Canadian Press style – Center Harbor, N.H., Lincoln Center, Canadian Paediatric Society – use the spelling favoured by the subject. One exception is names of government departments and agencies. Use U.S. Defence (not Defense), for example, to avoid inconsistency with other words likely to be found in the story, such as defence secretary.
Ignore symbols and unnecessary punctuation in corporate or other names or translate them into accepted punctuation if necessary: ’N Sync, not *NSYNC; the Bravo TV channel, not Bravo!.
The construction -our, not -or, is used for labour, honour and other such words of more than one syllable in which the “u” is not pronounced:
Arbour                ardour               armour
Behaviour          candour             clamour
clangour              colour               demeanour
discolour             dishonour        enamour
endeavour          favour               fervour
flavour                glamour            harbour
honour                humour            labour
neighbour          odour                parlour
rancour              rigour                rumour
saviour               savour              splendour
tumour               valour              vapour
In some forms of these words, however, the “u” is dropped, especially when an -ous ending is added: laborious, rancorous, odorous, honorary.
Canadian Press style also reflects “Canadian” spellings that are different from American spellings. Some examples (American form in brackets):
axe (ax)                                                 catalogue (catalog)
centre (center)                                     cheque (check)
defence (defense)                                enrol (enroll)
grey (gray)                                             ketchup (catsup)
licence (n.) (license)                              litre (liter)
manoeuvre (maneuver)                       meagre (meager)
metre (meter)                                       mould (mold)
moustache (mustache)                     offence (offense)
pedlar (peddler)                                skilful (skillful)
sombre (somber)                              spectre (specter)
syrup (sirup)                                      theatre (theater)
pyjamas (pajamas)
As well, Canadian Press style is usually to double the “l” when adding endings to words such as label and signal.
For words in common use, Canadian Press style is simple “e” rather than the diphthongs “ae” and “oe”: archeologist, ecumenical, encyclopedia, esthetic, fetus, gynecologist, hemorrhage, medieval, paleontologist, pedagogy and pediatrician. Generally, proper names retain the diphthong: Caesar, Oedipus, Phoebe. Also hors d’oeuvre, manoeuvre and subpoena.
b. Commonly Misused/Misspelled Phrases
In addition, here are some commonly misused/misspelled phrases.
accept (to receive), except (to exclude)
ad nauseam (not -eum)
adverse (unfavourable), averse (reluctant)
advertise (not -ize)
affect (v: to have effect on), effect (v: to cause, n: result)
afterward (not afterwards)
all ready (set to go), already (beforehand)
all right (two words; not alright)
allusion (indirect reference), illusion (false impression)
alternate (one after the other), alternative (one or the other)
amiable (of people), amicable (of things)
analyze (not -se)
anymore (any longer), any more (as in “I don’t want any more candy”)
any time (two words)
app (short for computer application), mobile app, iPad app
awhile (adv.), but a while (n.)
bachelor’s degree, bachelor of arts
backup (n. and adj.)
bicultural, bilingual (no hyphen)
biennial, bimonthly, biweekly (prefer every two years, twice a month, twice a week)
BlackBerry (capitalize the second b, plural is BlackBerrys)
black out (v.), blackout (n. and adj.)
blog, blogger, blogging
board (uppercase when using the formal name of a board only)
business-to-business (B2B on second reference is acceptable)
catalogue (not catalog)
cellphone (cellular phone)
Celsius, -30 C (hyphen, no period; specify Celsius only to avoid confusion)
Updated November 2013 25
centimetre (cm – sing. and pl. metric symbol, no period)
centre, centred, centring, centre on (not around)
century, 20th century, second-century Rome
CEO (acceptable in first reference after chief executive officer)
chairperson (use chair on second reference)
check (restaurant bill), cheque (bank)
check up (v.), checkup (n.)
complementary (serving to complete), complimentary (expressing compliment; free)
criticize (not -ise)
data (plural in scientific writing but usually singular in other uses)
defence (not defense), but defensive
dependant (n.), dependent (adj.), dependence (not -ance)
deprecate (disapprove), depreciate (belittle, lose value)
descendant (offspring), descendent (descending)
diffuse (spread), defuse (remove fuse)
discreet (circumspect), discrete (separate, abstract)
disinterested (impartial), uninterested (not interested)
dissension (not -tion)
dissociate (not disassociate)
doctor (Dr., but avoid unless health-care professional)
dos and don’ts
dot-com (company, millionaire, etc.)
drop-down (adj.)
ebook but e-reader
effect (n. – result); (v. – bring about)
e.g. (exempli gratia; avoid)
email (no hyphen)
enormity (wickedness), enormousness (size)
enquiry (use inquiry)
ensure (guarantee), insure (for references to insurance)
entitled (means a right to do or have something, does not mean titled)
en route (always two words)
everyday (adj., one word)
e-zine (Internet magazine)
Fahrenheit, -20 F (hyphen, space before F, no period)
FAQ(s) (frequently asked question(s))
favour, favourite, favourable
fax (n. and v.)
faze (disconcert), phase (stage)
feedback (no hyphen)
flammable (prefer to inflammable)
Updated November 2013 26
followup (n. and adj.)
forego (precede), foregone; forgo (go without), forgone
fulfil (not fulfill), fulfilled, fulfillment
fulsome (pejorative term, meaning excessive)
generation X, generation Xers, generation Y –but gen-Xer
goodbye (no hyphen)
goodwill (n. and adj.)
Google, Googled, Googling (uppercase)
Grade 7 (use numerals) but seventh grade
grassroots (one word)
headquarters (usually takes a plural verb)
health care (n.) health-care (adj.)
high definition (n.), high-definition (adj.)
highlight (no hyphen)
historic (important or outstanding in history), historical (about history)
home page (two words)
honour, honourable but honorary
ID (identification, no periods)
i.e. (prefer that is)
illusion (false impression), allusion (indirect reference)
inbox (mail)
in depth, in-depth (adj.)
inflammable (use flammable)
ingenious (clever), ingenuous (frank, innocent)
inscribe (not enscribe)
insure (for references to insurance), ensure (guarantee)
instant message, messaging (IM, but avoid)
Interac (banking)
Internet (always capitalized)
interracial (no hyphen)
intranet (lowercase)
iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, iTunes (capitalize at the beginning of a sentence)
ironic, ironically (use advisedly; it does not mean coincidentally)
it’s (it is, it has; similar to he’s, she’s), its (possessive; similar to his, hers)
judgment (not judgement)
keynote (no hyphen)
kilometre (km – sing. and pl. metric symbol, no period) –km/h
labour but laborious
laptop (computer)
lay off (v.), layoff (n.)
licence (n.), license (v.)
loath (unwilling), loathe (despise)
log in (v.), login (n. and adj.)
long-term (adj.)
MA, master of arts, a master’s degree
medium, media (pl. – except mediums in spiritualism)
metre (m – sing. and pl. metric symbol, no period); but diameter
minuscule (not miniscule)
moral (n. –inner meaning; adj. –just), morale (n. – mental condition)
more than (referring to numerals), over (referring to spatial relationships)
nationwide (no hyphen, but prefer countrywide)
neighbour, neighbourhood
news, newsdesk, newsprint, newsroom, newsstand, newswire
non-profit (n. and adj.)
no one (two words)
northeast, northwest
offence, offensive
OK (not okay), OK’d, OK’ing
online (all uses)
over (referring to spatial relationships), more than (referring to numerals),
page 2, pages 1-3; p. 2, pp. 1-3 (abbvn. for tabulation)
part time, part-time (adj.)
per cent, percentage, six per cent increase (no hyphens)
perimeter (not -re)
phase (stage), faze (disconcert)
podcast, podcasting
practice (n. or adj.), practise (v.)
precedence (priority), precedent (earlier instance)
prevent, preventable, preventer (not -or), preventive (not preventative)
principal (main, most important), principle (fundamental belief)
program (not -mme)
question-and-answer, Q-and-A, Q-and-A’s
rational (sensible), rationale (statement of reasons)
Updated November 2013 28
rebut, refute (prove wrong; use with care)
regardless (not irregardless, which is a double negative)
research and development, R&D (no periods)
ringtone (one word)
set up (v.), setup (n.)
skeptic, skeptical, skepticism (not sc-)
smartphone (one word)
southeast, southwest
stand off (v.), standoff (n.)
startup (n and adj.)
stationary (not moving), stationery (writing materials)
subcommittee (no hyphen)
take over (v.), takeover (n.)
teammate (no hyphen)
tendency (not -ancy)
text message, messaging
that (use for essential clauses, without commas), which (use for nonessential clauses,
with commas)
till, until (not ’til)
timeline (one word)
ton (2,000 pounds), tonne (1,000 kilograms) (use ton in colloquial references)
toward, not towards
transatlantic, transpacific, transcontinental
Twitter, Twittered, Twittering (uppercase), tweet (lowercase)
uninterested (not interested), disinterested (impartial)
usable (not useable)
usage (not useage)
verbatim (not -um)
vice versa (two words)
video game (two words)
vie, but vying
VIP (for very important person), VIPs
voice mail (two words)
walk out (v.), walkout (n.)
web, web browser, webcam, webcast, web-enabled, webinar, web page, website
weekday, weekend, weeklong (one word)
whereabouts (usually takes a singular verb)
Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity; prefer description such as wireless network in first reference)
withdraw, withdrawal
World Wide Web, but the web
workforce (one word)
workload (one word)
For all other matters of style or usage that are not specified in earlier portions of this section, the authority is the current edition of The Canadian Press Stylebook.
Public Relations Society of America
CPRS wishes to thank its U.S. counterpart, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for its assistance creating this Stylebook. With a mission to “advance the profession and the professional,” PRSA provides news, information and thought leadership; post-graduate training and accreditation; advocacy for the profession; awards for professional excellence; and local and national networking communities for its 32,000 professional and student members. For more information, please visit www.prsa.org.

The Canadian Press
Thank you to Canadian Press for providing access to their fully searchable online version of The Canadian Press Style book and Caps and Spelling, which offers real-time updates and alerts to style changes or new rules, and the flexibility to add your own notes and commonly misspelled words.
As the trusted resource consulted by journalism and communications professionals for practical answers on writing cleanly, accurately and concisely, the Stylebook includes a chapter dedicated to public relations and the media, sharing advice on planning and writing press releases, holding news conferences and working with the media.thecanadianpress.com/books