PNL Style Sheet

July 2004

Publishers use style sheets to codify their conventions and usage preferences. Each periodical's style sheet embodies its own idiosyncrasies and format design. It’s not making a statement about universally correct usage or format.

We use a style sheet to make the PNL clearer and more consistent -- which means more reader-friendly. Consistency facilitates copy-editing and proofreading. Consistency adds to our credibility. This style sheet is intended primarily for Peace Newsletter copy editors and proofers (not authors).

We also strive to be concise. Concision saves us precious space; wordiness turns off discerning readers.





  1. General
  2. -- ending sentences

    -- lists

    -- dates & numbers

  3. Specific words


Word usage

Bylines, footnotes, sources & credits

Layout & format

Monthly calendar



  1. Type face & point size
  2. "Working on the PNL Calendar"
  3. "Politics and the US Language"

Tools (besides a fine-point red-ink pen....)

A recent collegiate-style dictionary is invaluable for reference, especially for spelling. Every editor and author would do well to read Strunk & White's pithy classic, The Elements of Style. Also: George Orwell’s 1946 essay, "Politics and the English Language" (
To deal with the vast realm of finer points not covered in this style sheet, the PNL may want to acquire one of the standard style sheet reference books. I’m loaning SPC a copy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage. If used judiciously, it can be very helpful in sorting out usage questions. (Its editors, however, are sometimes over zealous in their iconoclasm.)



A HYPHEN separates a compound word (e.g. anti-war); use a DASH (a double hyphen with a space on either side) to separate phrases.


Don't add 's to words already ending in s: Jess' not Jess's.

Italicize BOOK AND MAGAZINE TITLES and put quotation marks around ARTICLE TITLES. Italicize PNL.

Use ITALICS for obscure foreign words; no need to italicize familiar foreign words (e.g. companero). But be attentive to providing accents and other diacritical marks for such foreign words.

For explanatory notes (like translations) an editor inserts into a text, use BRACKETS [...] not parentheses. Brackets convey that the inserted material isn't the author's.

When a QUOTATION is embedded in a sentence, precede it with a comma: She said, "Pray for Bush; vote for anyone else."

Ending sentences

A single not a double space follows colons and semicolons, and separates sentences.

At the end of a sentence, the period, etc. goes outside the parentheses (unless the entire sentence is enclosed by parentheses).

EXCLAMATION POINTS should be used sparingly. Their frequent use can seem juvenile. Two or more exclamation points in a 24-page PNL is probably excessive.

Commas and periods go inside closing quotation marks; colons, semicolons and question marks go outside: "Support our troops. Bring them home."


For ELLIPSES, use three dots [...] within a sentence and four [....] at the end of a sentence...or three dots and a question mark at the end of a question. There's no space between the last dot and the following words or sentence.


Try to keep each item of a list parallel; keep verb tenses consistent and use the same verb form for each item. Often items can pivot on the verb: 1) Step up to the plate, 2) swing bat, 3) hit ball.

Use commas to separate items in a simple list or series. However, if items have commas within them or are more like full sentences, use semicolons to separate them. When items in a bulleted list are made up of one or more sentences, use a period at the end of each item.

Use bullets not dashes to set off items in a vertical list. Check that the ends of items in a list are punctuated consistently. Put a period at the end of the last item.


When a BULLETED LIST is framed as part of a single sentence, don't begin each item with a capital letter. Avoid using capital letters unnecessarily.

Dates & numbers

Don't put spaces on either side of a SLASH: July/August.

Don't use an apostrophe to pluralize numbers or acronyms: 1980s or SAPs not 1980's or SAP's.

Use hyphens not slashes within SPECIFIC DATES: 6-15-04 not 6/15/04. Better yet, to avoid confusion, spell out the month: June 15 (without the -th). When it's obvious that the current year is being referred to, you may not need to include the year in the date.

Within PHONE NUMBERS don’t use periods; enclose area codes in parentheses: (315) 472-5478 not 315.472.5478. Usually there's no point in using our 315 area code (except at the top of page 3 and in the SPC return address on the last page).

For easy reference, put PHONE NUMBERS AND DATES OF UPCOMING EVENTS in bold…except on our monthly calendar.


African American not African-American. (Likewise for other formerly hyphenated ethnic groups.)


am & pm not a.m. or p.m. A space goes between the number and the abbreviation: 5 am.

email not e-mail.

It's is a contraction of it is. Don't use an apostrophe when its is being used in the possessive and there's no missing letter: The dog wagged its tail.

nonviolence not non-violence.

T-shirt not t-shirt or tee shirt. (This garment is shaped like a T.)

US not U.S. (Because we use the phrase so often, dispensing with the periods save us space.)

Viet Nam not Vietnam.



Word usage

When abbreviating Avenue, to save space use Av. not Ave.


Use through not thru; though not tho.

In some phrases, one word reads better than three. Use:

besides not in addition to;

despite not in spite of;

many not a lot of;

numerous not a number of;

most not the majority of (unless specifically referring to votes).

Use now or currently not at the present time.

Presently means soon; it doesn't mean at present or now or currently.


Often VERB PHRASES can be reduced to a single verb: for example, clarifies not helps to make clear.

Chair not chairman, chairwoman or chairperson. (What's gender got to do with it?)

George W. Bush or Mr. Bush not President Bush. (He was never elected.)

Re-election: use only for politicians actually elected.

US or United States not America. (For some reason, this hegemonic expression annoys Latin Americans.)

On analogy with Latin American, South American and Central American, use US American not American. If that seems awkward or self-conscious, find some other way to avoid using American by itself when referring to a US citizen.

Update phrases like yesterday or last week (which were true when the author wrote them) to fit the coming month of publication.


Consider sometimes using "to learn more..." instead of "for more information...." (The latter is overused in the PNL and becomes monotonous.)

Except for a few standard usages (e.g. UN, US, SPC, PNL, NAACP), spell out an ORGANIZATIONAL NAME before using its acronym. Put the acronym in parenthesis right after the first mention unless the acronym is going to appear in the next sentence or two.

Unless it's a fraction or in a list, etc., spell out NUMBERS from one to ten; write numbers 11 and over as numerals. Spell out any number that begins a sentence.

Except where CENTS need to be specified, don't add them: $10,000 not $10,000.00.

PRONOUNS are tricky. Use them with care. Be sure there’s no ambiguity about whom or what they represent. Often it’s better to avoid the pronoun and spell out the word(s) the pronoun would have represented.

Use ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES sparingly. Well-chosen nouns and verbs often don't need adjectives and adverbs to help convey their meaning. Adverbs too often express the obvious: He was angry not Clearly, he was angry.

INTENSIFIERS can often be deleted: She was angry not She was very angry.



Bylines, footnotes, sources & credits

Check with your authors to be sure their BYLINES reflect their preference: Andy Mager not Andrew Mager. For bylines we use just the author’s name without the by.

Except for pieces a half page or shorter, the BYLINE appears right under the article title. For pieces a half page or shorter, we typically put the byline one line below the end of the piece and justified right:

-- Carol Baum [dash is an n-dash]

For these shorter pieces, we usually omit the writer’s ID.



For FOOTNOTES use a smaller font (usually 9' sans serif). When there are only one or two footnotes, use an asterisk or double asterisk respectively, and put the notes at the bottom of the column. When there are more than two footnotes use superscripts and put the notes at the end of the article.

When there are many SOURCE FOOTNOTES, instead of printing them in the PNL, consider referring the reader to the version of the article on the SPC website, <>. The notes appear on the website in their entirety. Then be sure the notes get on the website. For readers without access to a computer, we can include language suggesting they come by the office so SPC staff can show them the website.

Since we seldom use SOURCE FOOTNOTES, we haven't standardized the format. (This is where one of those published style guidebooks would come in handy.) Check for consistency: inconsistencies often abound where there are numerous bibliographic citations.

Where possible, all PHOTOS AND GRAPHICS should be credited. Our format is: photo: name or cartoon: name, etc. in 9' Ottawa right under the graphic...or at the end of the caption.



Layout & format

Typically we use one GRAPHIC for each 3/4 to one page. Sometimes a small graphic works well with a half page item.

As a graphic element, consider using a PULL QUOTE -- i.e. highlighting with bold and larger point size a short quotation from the text. Flag your suggested pull quotes for the layout folks.

Don't INDENT the first paragraph of an article or article section.

Don't skip lines between paragraphs (except to separate sections or to indicate the other speaker in an interview).

For readability, breakup...

long, run-on sentences into two or more shorter sentences. To avoid losing readers at the git-go, break up the quite long sentences authors often use for beginning their articles.

a long paragraph into two or more shorter paragraphs.

an article into sections -- especially articles of a page or longer. Provide each section with a brief heading.


[See how this item would benefit by being bulleted.]

Consider BOXING certain elements or kinds of information accompanying an article (like recommended reading, the specifics of an upcoming event, or action steps).

For PNL INTERVIEWS, provide -- or have the interviewer provide -- an initial note to introduce and put in context the interviewee. To provide contrast to the interview itself, print that note in Ottawa typeface.

Italicize the interviewer's words. If the interviewer’s comments or questions are long, consider condensing them. Space permitting, leave a blank line between the interviewer's and the interviewee's words. Use the usual writer's ID format for the interviewer.

The WRITER’S ID typically appears in italics at the bottom of the first column of the article. Unless the author is a reprinted notable (e.g. Jonathan Schell) or someone we don't know, use only the first name in the ID.

The ID, among other things, often indicates whether the author is or isn’t local. Generally no ID is needed for pieces a half page or shorter.

If a QUOTATION is going to run four or more lines, indent and center the entire quotation. It doesn't then need quotation marks. Often such a quote is followed by a brief source note in parentheses.

Continued on page ___ and from page ___ notes are used at the bottom and top of the appropriate pages as needed. Such notes are unnecessary for articles, which span facing pages. The from page ____ note is preceded by a word or two (followed by a slash) indicating the article topic: Iraq/from page 5


End each article with the PNL PEACE SIGN the far right of the column.

Monthly calendar



To feature them, all SPC EVENTS get boxed in bold.

If an upcoming local event -- or an event SPC is organizing a bus for -- is mentioned in a PNL article, be sure it's cited on the calendar. If there are more details inside, note on the calendar: (see p. ___).

Space permitting:

  • put weekly events on the appropriate day earlier in the month;

  • leave the top two lines of a date square for only the date numeral;


  • avoid abbreviations -- except for such standards as St. and Av. (not Ave).

Where appropriate, use CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS at the end of items, but without the word contact or for more info.

When noting the site of an event, give the street address.

No need to mention Syracuse when giving an event's location. All events are assumed to be in Syracuse unless otherwise indicated.

If an event is FREE, say so in caps (unless it’s the sort of event that obviously would be free).





Typeface & point size

PNL articles: Times New Roman 10.5’/11.5. This plays out to about 800 words for a one-page or about 1600 words for a two-page article.

One- and two-page article headlines: Clearface Gothic Bold 30’, and for subtitles: Clearface Gothic Bold 18’.


Breakers or section headings: Ottawa Bold 12’.

Footnotes: sans serif 9’.

Photo and graphic credits: Ottawa 9’.

Note introducing our interviews: Ottawa ___’.


Bylines, epigraphs, certain editorial notes, book and magazine titles, writer's IDs, unfamiliar foreign words, reprint notes, continued on & continued from notes: italics.

For monthly calendar text: Arial narrow 6.5’.