PDC Style Guide

This PDC Style Guide is here to provide clarity about common writing issues. In general, PDC follows The AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style. The exceptions are detailed in this guide. Questions, comments or additions should be directed to communications@pdc.org

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  • a.m.: Lower case, with periods, no space between.
  • Acronyms: Upper case, no periods. Spell out the meaning on first reference with the acronym in parenthesis: Pacific Disaster Center (PDC). Some very common acronymns do not need to be written out (e.g., CIA, FBI, NATO). With the many acronyms used at PDC, remember not ever reader will know all the disaster terminology (e.g., HA/DR).
  • AD: Upper case, no spaces or punctuation, placed after the date. Generally not needed.
  • aka: Also Known As, lower case, no spaces or punctuation.
  • Alphabetizing: See sorting.
  • Ambassador: Capitalize only when used as a title.
  • American Samoa: is a U.S. territory that comprises multiple islands and atolls. So, never write “the island of American Samoa.” Do not confuse American Samoa with its neighbor, the Independent State of Samoa, aka simply Samoa.
  • Ampersand (&): Do not use as a substitute for “and.” Only use when part of a company’s title.
  • Analytic: not analytical, but analytically.
  • APEC: APEC has its own stylings for many words and phrases, especially place names. When handling a document meant for APEC, 100% of APEC styling must be consistently applied. APEC guidance may be found online.
  • Asia Pacific: No hyphen or slash (e.g., the Asia Pacific region). Not Asian Pacific.


  • BC: Upper case, no punctuation, after the year. Indicates a date before the common era. BCE also acceptable.(Some non-Christian nations use BCE to indicate “Before Common Era.”)
  • Burma: While much of the world still refers the country as Burma, the government of the country is the “Union of Myanmar.”


  • Capitalization: Less capitalization, not more. For titles and headlines, use sentence case. Do not use all caps. Due to its international audience and different formalities in Europe and Southeast Asia, PDC has adopted the policy of capitalizing titles even when they do not appear before the titleholder’s name. Citation of publication titles within text should follow AP capitalization conventions.  With words like iTunes or eLearning, do not capitalize the first letter, so avoid beginning a sentence with those words.
  • CFE-DM: Current styling (2017) for Center For excellence in Disaster Managemnt and Humanitarian Assistance. Do not use earlier versions.
  • China: is the common name for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The “Republic of China” refers to Taiwan.
  • CIA: No antecedent required. Use the acronym.
  • COCOM, COCOMs: represent the Unified Combatant Commands of the United States, six of which are geographic and three of which are functional. The styling of their individual acronyms as used by PDC is below:
Formal Name of Command PDC Styled Acronym Headquarters
U.S. Africa Command AFRICOM Stuttgart, Germany
U.S. Central Command CENTCOM MacDill AFB, Florida
U.S. European Command EUCOM Stuttgart, Germany
U.S. Northern Command NORTHCOM* Peterson AFB, Colorado
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command INDOPACOM** Camp Smith, Hawaii
U.S. Southern Command SOUTHCOM Doral, Florida
U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM*** MacDill AFB, Florida
U.S. Strategic Command USSTRATCOM Offutt AFB, Nebraska
U.S. Transportation Command USTRANSCOM Scott AFB, Illinois
  • *Sometimes, but rarely, it is appropriate to use NORAD-NORTHCOM, or (even without antecedent) N-NC.
    **The Special Operations Command uses SOCOM in writing at times, PDC will do so only when a direct quotation includes the styling.
    ***U.S. PACCOM was changed to emphasize the Indian Ocean and demphasize China in 2018.
  • Collective plural: no apostrophes are required for such constructions as “officers club,” “Presidents Day” or “employees cafeteria.”
  • Conjunctons: In PDC documents—as in business writing in general—there is no objection to starting a sentence with a conjunction, so long as the conjunction is not “and.”
  • Copyright: Outward facing files, whether electronic-only, presented-projected, or printed should be marked as copyrighted in the format “© YYYY–YYYY Pacific Disaster Center,” where 1) the symbol is used interchangeably with the word “Copyright,” 2) the first YYYY is replaced with a defensible estimate of the origin of the earliest PDC-produced content (never earlier than 1996, of course), and 3) the second YYYY is the year in which the file at hand is completed. As for the “Pacific Disaster Center” in the copyright notice, that may be replaced by “PDC” or “PDC | Global” at the discretion of PDC management. See the PDC Brand Guidelines. (Note that the past tense of “copyright” is “copyrighted,” not “copy-written.”)
  • Crowdsource: One word, no hypen.
  • Curricula: or curriculums, but be consistent within a document, project, or program.


  • Dalat: One word.
  • Danang: One word.
  • Dashes: The en-dash or n-dash connects two elements, often numbers or dates, to indicate an extent. It can be typed several ways, the most durable of which is by depressing the ALT key and typing 0150 on the number pad (–). The em-dash or m-dash can set apart two elements, often phrases, indicating that either can be understood separately from the other, regardless of the relationship between them. It can be typed several ways, the most durable of which is by depressing the ALT key and typing 0151 on the number pad (—). There are no empty spaces before or after either dash under any normal circumstances in running text. An n-dash may also be used to represent a minus sign when not using a math font or mat-auto-correct. An m-dash may be used to mark the beginning of the name or title from which a quotation is taken, usually on a separate line from the end of the quote, but not necessarily.
  • Data: While both plural and singular verbs and pronouns are acceptable by AP standards, PDC prefers singular verbs and pronouns when writing for general audiences and in journalism contexts.
  • Dates: PDC has many readerships with varying styles of dates, and many are inconsistent in enforcing their own choices. Therefore, dates that include the name of a month (or corresponding abbreviation) in letters may be in whatever format seems appropriate for the reader, but once a choice is established, the rule for PDC is unwavering consistency within a document and even throughout a family of documents. The numbers in dates are never styled as ordinals (e.g., 1st, 2nd, 6th). Additionally, it cannot be acceptable for dates in PDC outbound or outward-facing documents to be expressed entirely in numbers and punctuation. 12/10/17 will be read by some as October 12, 2017, and by others as December 10, 2017.
  • Disaster Terminology: PDC usage follows the glossary published by UNISDR (differing at times from both AP and Webster’s).
  • Disaster Alert™: Capitalize D and A. Alert is not an acronym, so isn’t in all caps. Always with the ™.
  • DisasterAWARE®System and Features: This term should be represented with a combination of lowercase letters and capitals. It should appear with the ® register mark on the first reference only. The mark is superscript (many fonts automatically superscript the register mark, but with some, superscript has to be done manually). The letters AWARE represent All-hazards Warning, Analysis, and Risk Evaluation and should appear in all capitals.

    System Features:
    When making reference to DisasterAWARE system features in instructional materials, please bold the feature name. For example: Click on the Positions and Segments layer for the forecasted, current, and previous segments of current tropical cyclones.Panel vs. Pallet: DisasterAWARE has several expanding and contracting panels. When an icon is clicked from the left toolbar, a panel expands containing additional options. Panels are permanently docked to the left toolbar when opened. In contrast, pallets are floating menus or windows that can be repositioned by the user. There are no real pallets in DisasterAWARE so please avoid using this terminology to describe panels.

    Tab: This term is used to describe the sections within a panel that are displayed in the menu across the top of the panel.

    Toolbar: This term refers to a fixed collection of tools. DisasterAWARE, for example, has a main toolbar on the left and a navigation toolbar on the right.

    Hazard Tooltip: Hazard tooltips are pop-ups that display when you click a hazard icon and include additional information and/or quick links. Tooltips also can be referred to as information that is displayed when hovering over an element on screen.

  • DisasterAWARE Enterprise™: The commercial version of DisasterAWARE.
  • DisasterAWARE Regional/Country versions: DMRSstrong> (ASEAN); InAWARE (Indonesia); PhilAWARE (Philippines); ThaiAWARE (Thailand).
  • Domain names: are spelled and styled as they appear on the site named (not as they appear within the URL).


  • Earthquake: See magnatude.
  • Email: no hyphen and capitalized only as any common noun would be.
  • Embassy: U.S. Embassys are named for the city in which they reside, not the country. The U.S. embassy in France is the “U.S. Embassy Paris.”
  • EMOPS: Always capitalize this acronym. This term is gradually being deprecated and is an acronym for the professional version of DisasterAWARE. It stands for Emergency Operations. As a specialized version of DisasterAWARE, it is not mentioned in public outreach. It is not trademarked.
  • Ethnicity: Many words that might seem to refer to nationalities regional residencies are actually the names of ethnic groups. People in Hawaii, for example, are not necessarily Hawaiian; only about half of people in or from Laos are actually Lao; and Taiwanese people are a small minority on the island of Taiwan. If in doubt, check carefully or make a habit of referring to “the people of…” a named place. Similarly, when writing of things found or used in a country or associated with it, a good deal of misunderstanding will be avoided by not imputing ethnicity to them (such as “the Indonesian government” or “Malaysian Buddhism”). Instead, use the country name and a prepositional phrase, like “the government of Indonesia” or “a form of Buddhism encountered in Malaysia.”


  • FBI: No antecedent required. Use the acronym.
  • FEMA: Use the acronym without antecedent unless writing for foreign readers or translation.
  • Figurative language: such as “a tsunami of orders” should be avoided because it can be impossible to translate and confusing to people with less-than-perfect English-reading skills, which occasionally may include coworkers and American stakeholders as well as foreign clients and partners. So, do not write “tsunami of orders” or “drowning in paperwork.”
  • fka: Formerly Known As. lower case, no punctuation. Consider whether it is better not to refer to the earlier name at all.
  • Foreign language names of organizations: and entities often must be made understandable to readers not familiar with the language, the entity, or the project. Clarity is the aim. One acceptable format is: “Indonesia’s national disaster management organization (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, BNPB).” Of late, with the long-time familiarity of BNPB, the words in Indonesian, and sometimes the generic in English are omitted. Managers may sometimes ask for a different solution. When this happens, be sure that everyone authoring in connection with the subject knows and that everyone is then consistent.
  • Foreign language names of people: See names.
  • Foreign language phrases: are supposed to be italicized if not yet adopted as English words, but not if they have been adopted. The italics are meant to signal to the reader that the writer knows the word(s) may be unfamiliar. If a PDC author suspects words be unfamiliar to the intended reader, the answer is do not use those words. Therefore, PDC style is to avoid foreign terms that are not sufficiently familiar in English to be typed without italics. (It may be a judgement call sometimes, but anyone who hesitates should just choose a different word or phrase.)
  • Forum: The PDC plural of forum is “forums.” For APEC, however, it is “fora.”


  • G-BSP Map: Global BioSurveillance Portal version of DisasterAWARE.
  • Gender: Whether the subjects are singular or plural; masculine, feminine, or neuter; living or inanimate; real or fantastic/imagined, PDC will use pronouns in the traditional way. Use “he” and “she,” for instance, when the sex of the subject is known; “it” when the subject is sexless or it is non-human and sex-unknown. The word “they” is always plural. Despite several stylebooks accepting a singular “they” and countless invented terms to avoid the appearance of politically incorrect sexism or sexual bias, we must think of our readers, listeners, and translators, and at the same time, accept that the stylings of USG and especially DoD may never be exactly “cutting edge.” Finally, where possible, when referring to people, choose terms that do not identify by gender: letter carrier, committee chair, attendant, etc. See also, entry under sex.
  • Geocoded vs. Geolocation: Products that include user-defined coordinates are Geocoded. Geolocation refers to the coordinates (longitude and latitude) of a place.
  • Geographic: not geographical, but geographically.
  • GIS: In outward-facing document spell out as geographic information system(s) on first reference unless sure this is unnecessary.


  • Haiphong: One word.
  • Hanoi: One word.
  • Hawaii: When referring to Hawaii, the most easterly and largest island in the State of Hawaii, be sure your reference to it is unambiguous. In various contexts, you may be able to use Hawaii County, island of Hawaii or, the Big Island—although, to a non-local readership “the Big Island of Hawaii” will be more readily understandable. When using a quotation that refers to this island/county/government, add any necessary disambiguation in your text, not as a footnote. Readers will generally only refer to footnotes if they are aware that they need the information.
  • Hawaii or Hawai‘i: The word is the name of the state, the name of the Big Island, and the county government. Disambiguate as needed. Use ‘okina when refering to the University of Hawai‘i otherwise, only if demanded by a style requirement other than PDC’s own. The okina can be added by holding alt and typing 0145.
  • Hawaiian diacritical marks: Typically, PDC uses neither the macron (line over a vowel indicating that it is to be held or lengthened, called kahakō in Hawaiian) nor the ‘okina (a mark identical to an opening single quotation mark that indicates a glottal stop). However, UH styling demands these diacritical marks in all Hawaiian words and place names. To accomplish this purpose (when we must), the standard reference works are Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert and, by the same authors, Place Names of Hawaii. These books will standardize spelling and accommodate any rare need to translate a Hawaiian word or place name. The marks can be typed in a number of ways, but most easily by depressing the ALT key and typing the three or four digits indicated in the table below:
Type For Type For Type For
ALT + 0257 ā ALT + 0363 ū ALT + 0332 Ō
ALT + 0275 ē ALT + 0256 Ā ALT + 0362 Ū
ALT + 0275 ē ALT + 0274 Ē ALT + 0145
ALT + 0333 ō ALT + 0298 Ī ALT + 0862 ͞
  • Hawaiian people: Because there are people who are ethnically Hawaiian, the word “Hawaiian” is not applied to others who happen to be living in the state. Instead, use a phrase such as “Hawaii residents” or “people of Hawaii.”
  • Hazard terminology: PDC usage follows the glossary published by UNISDR (differing at times from both AP and Webster’s).
  • Holland: is not synonymous with the Netherlands. North and South Holland are two regions (formerly provinces) of the Netherlands. This incorrect usage is pervasive, but it still rankles some of the Dutch and is an error that must be avoided in PDC documents.
  • Honorifics: Relatively recently, AP formalized its “rules” on honorifics (titles of special respect), courtesy titles (such as Mr. and Ms.), and titles representing academic achievement (including Dr. and PhD.), which had become extremely complex in our globalized world with conflicting reasoning and both self-conferred and honorary titles everywhere. The new policy adopted by PDC in 2018 is simple: These titles are not used unless expressing them (on first reference) is required for understanding what is being written. No exception is made for the sake of “respect,” as in the case of Senior Executive Staff (SES) of the U.S. This goal can be adequately achieved by using the job title. Honorifics are not used except in letters and on envelopes/packages and in order to disambiguate. If a name sounds male but belongs to a woman, or if individuals of the same family-name are referred to in short order, it may be helpful to 1) recast to insert a gender-specific or otherwise clarifying pronoun, or 2) resort to the introduction of an honorific.
  • HST: Hawaii Standard Time. Even though the time zone is supposed to include an A for “Aleutian,” PDC follows common practice by choosing HST over HAST.
  • Hyphen: The standards governing when to hyphenate terms such as check-up/checkup, break in/break-in, crackdown, etc. can be complex, and they require the author to recognize the part of speech being hyphenated (or not) and the special circumstance that might change the grammatical usage. However, by styling as two words for use as a verb (follow up), and hyphenating the elements (follow-up) or combining into one word for use as a noun or adjective (breakdown), the usage will always be understandable. For word-by-word clarity use Webster’s. If the joined-together form does not appear in the dictionary, it cannot be used, meaning that the two-word verb and the hyphenated adjective (also possibly noun) are your only options.
  • Also, always hyphenate strings of words that are connected to form an adjective or adverb. Examples: six-year-old, time-tested. However, it is not necessary to hyphen-connect modifiers ending in “-ly” to other words: “well-polished finish” but “highly polished finish.”


  • Internet, Intranet: capitalized.



  • Kick off: Two words (leave kickoff for football references), hyphenated when modifying. For example: “kick-off meeting.”


  • Lists: When creating a list that can (and should) be read as a complete sentence, provide punctuation at the end of each item (usually a semicolon), and end the penultimate item with the word “and” after the punctuation. If the items are independent phrases (not to be read as a sentence), end each with no punctuation. If the items are complete sentences, punctuate normally, ending with a period.


  • Macau: Not Macao.
  • Magnatude: (of an earthquake) is spoken of in terms of moment magnitude, never “Richter Scale,” which was replaced in the U.S. in the 1970s by the moment magnitude scale, indicated by M. The following stylings are acceptable and, when other factors do not urge a specific choice, these options are listed in order of preference, best first. Note that the number representing the magnitude comes after all but one of the stylings. Use what is appropriate to your document and audience:
  • M 5.3
  • Mw 5.3
  • 5.3 moment magnitude
  • MMS 5.3
  • Mainland China: is not acceptable PDC styling. However, in a purely non-political, i.e., a geographic sense, it may sometimes be useful to refer to the mainland of China (as distinct from, say, the island province of Hainan). See China.
  • Military ranks: in PDC documents do not follow AP, but rather conform to DoD style as appended to the PDC “Acronyms” file. Note that ranks that are identical in words, are almost always abbreviated (or styled as acronyms) differently by the different branches of service. Additionally, PDC has elected to break with standard style guides by capitalizing titles and ranks when they refer to a specific person, even when they do not appear immediately before the person’s name.
  • More than: See over
  • Multi: Multi-hazard is aways hyphenated. Multidisciplinary, multidimensional are not.
  • Myanmar: Use this instead of Burma unless special circumstances apply that cannot be relieved. See notes in the Gazetteer, below, and alphabetic reference to Burma, above.


  • Names: The names of foreign people can be difficult for a number of reasons. Some Asian names will be given last name first sometimes, others not. Some Latin American names include the mother’s maiden name, and the person expects this to be used or not depending on circumstances too arcane for PDC and PAR. In some countries, titles of accomplishment (such as Dr.) are reduced to simple indications of respect, and then attached to the first name (Vietnam and Indonesia) or last name as in the West. In the PAR, the steps are clear: 1) the reporter will give a name and the editor will retain that format if 2) it can be confirmed online or 3) it cannot be disproven online. (Note: News in English from the country in question or publications on ReliefWeb, PreventionWeb, or UN sites can be taken for “proof,” in most cases.
  • Naypyitaw: for the capital city of Myanmar regardless of the many other transliterated and otherwise different versions.
  • Netherlands: See Holland
  • NGA: In most documents and for most readers, write out on first reference: “National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.”
  • Nongovernmental: Not hyphenated
  • NSA: No antecedent required. Use the acronym.
  • Numbers: Use Arabic numerals (not Roman) except in outlining, page numbering, or replicating a number in an existing name. For ordinals, words are best when not cumbersome in length: first, fifth, one-hundredth, but 367th. The numbers in dates are never styled as ordinals. Reserve dates like June 21st and the 4th of August for wedding invitations and love notes. Ordinals have no place in business writing except where history has accepted their use in the names of, for instance, military units and commemorations.


  • Over: is a positional preposition describing a place physically higher than the base it is compared with. Despite common use of “over” to mean “a greater number,” this use could be challenging for foreign speakers, readers, and translators. So, PDC cannot follow, at least not for documents that may be read by foreign stakeholders or offered for translation. Over is reserved for providing positional, not quantitative comparison.
  • Oxford comma: Also called a serial comma, this refers to the comma between the last two items in a series, where the comma—if used—commonly appears before the word “and” (e.g., red, white, and blue). The considered preference of PDC is to use this comma. There are times when without the Oxford comma, the last two elements will read as an appositive to the preceding element. In other cases, without the comma, the last elements seem to be a combination rather than two separate things. There still other ways that confusion can result from not using the Oxford comma, but no confusion is caused by inserting the (arguably not-always-required) punctuation.


  • p.m.: Lower case with periods, no space between.
  • Panama Canal Zone: is an obsolete term for the portion of Panama formerly held by the U.S. which surrounds the Panama Canal. The term must be used only in historical context.
  • PDC Logo: The use of the PDC logo in its various forms is a matter to be determined by 1) awareness of current management-approved usage requirements or 2) reference to guidance provided in the PDC Brand Guidelines. In other words, do not “get creative” or guess.
  • Percent: Use the single word, not the % symbol in text. In tables, captions, footnotes and other adjunct text, judge usage based on appearance, space, and clarity. In technical documents with many percentages (and/or other symbol-designated numbers), the symbol is acceptable and should be used. Of course, when handling code snippets and other code-related text, carefully preserve all symbols, including %.
  • Place names: It is a nicety (not a requirement) to use the formal name of a country on first reference—such as Lao People’s Democratic Republic before Laos or Lao PDR. However, when writing for the U.S. government (esp. State), UN, APEC, or ASEAN, refer to appropriate resources—those in this document are usually sufficient—for the spelling and styling of country names in order to avoid political missteps or the appearance of insensitivity.
  • PNG: is an acceptable acronym for Papua New Guinea after first reference.
  • PRC: is an acceptable acronym for the People’s Republic of China after first reference. See China in the PDC Gazetteer.
  • Preposition: There is no reason not to end a sentence with a preposition, but there is a need to ensure prepositions found at the end of the sentence are contributing to understanding rather than reducing it. Good: “I didn’t know what the object was for.” Confusing: “I saw the place in the broken ice where the boys fell in at.” (The final “at” adds nothing and is, therefore, ungrammatical.)
  • Punctuation: Punctuation It is PDC policy that less punctuation is better so long as meaning is not negatively impacted. The major exception to this is that PDC does use the Oxford comma, the comma before “and” in a narrative list.



  • Rapanui: PDC uses the English name, “Easter Island,” absent a compelling reason to do otherwise.
  • RAPIDS: Always capitalize this acronym. It stands for Risk Assessment, Planning, & Incident Decision Support and is the version of DisasterAWARE used by the U.S. Government.
  • Registered Trademark: Only used on names that have been federally registered. DisasterAWARE® should be styled by adding the ® by typing alt+0174, or typing (r) or by inserting from the symbol library. Then, if not automatically superscripted, superscript the symbol: highlight it, hit cntrl+shift and the + key.
  • The mark is not used in press releases, as it will be removed to conform to AP Style. For trademark names outside of PDC, we follow AP style and use an initial cap (e.g. Tobasco sauce). For brand names trademarked all in caps, determine whether it is a “word” mark or a “graphic” trademark. If it is a “word” mark, do not use all caps.
  • Republic of China: See China in the PDC Gazetteer. It is recommended that this name (rejected by the CIA and no longer used by DOS for the government on the island of Taiwan) be used only when there is a compelling reason to do so.
  • Richter Scale: is not used at PDC
  • ROC: is the Republic of China. See China.


  • Sea of Cortez: is used only in direct quotations or when referring to the content of a specific map or document. The preferred term for the arm of the Pacific Ocean separating Baja California from the Mexican mainland is Gulf of California.
  • Sex/Sexism: Obviously, PDC will not tolerate and PDC documents must never imply sexism or suggest that a man or a woman is more or less able to do or be anything in the sphere of the Center’s activity. At the same time, PDC must not be so shy about the word “sex” that we write ourselves into error: gender is a grammatical term; sex is an anatomical and physiological one. So, while words have gender, the corresponding characteristic in people, animals, and plants is “sex.” The words below help avoid unintentional male or female designations:
    Letter carrier not mailman; Chair not chairman;
    (Flight) Attendant not stewardess; Server not waitress;
    Firefighter not fireman; Homemaker not housewife;
    Member of Congress not Congressman; Nurse not male nurse;
  • Nonetheless, notice that when speaking of acts or roles of animals or the distinct capabilities of plants or parts of plants, sex difference may actually be highlighted, which is to be expected and accepted. The same is true of humans under specific circumstances such as pregnancy or coping with paternal responsibilities. Finally, if you find that the “normal” expression of what you need to say or write has a potentially sexist tone or definition, change it. Perhaps you will recast the sentence, turn the generalization into a specific example, or just change pronouns.
  • Here are some examples. Once you have the idea in mind, you will probably need no help executing non-sexist language in the future:
    • Sexist: Because man dominates earth, he can either preserve or destroy it.
    • Not sexist: Because the human species dominates earth, we can either preserve or destroy it.
    • Sexist: Each of you is to make his own poster.
    • Not sexist, but ungrammatical: Each of you is to make their own poster.
    • Not sexist, but grammatical: All of you are to make your own posters.
  • Very frequently, the easy fix for sexism is to simply leave out the offensive language:
    • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal…”
    • “Each wife was given a week’s provisions…” [or use “household” or “family”]
  • Sexist language or words potentially perceived as such are especially important in PDC documents because we sign agreements with funding agencies not only to avoid sexism, but to actively promote parity and equality.
  • SmartAlert™: Capitalize S and A, no space. Alert is not an acronym, so isn’t in all caps. Always include the ™ on the first reference. Use SmartAlert and not DAS (DisasterAWARE Alerting Service or Data Acquisition System).
  • Sorting: and alphabetizing in PDC documents follows the sequence established in Microsoft Office, meaning that if you use the “Sort” tool, you are probably fine. Note that this sorting sequence is 1) blank or nothing; 2) the following characters in this order: – , . / [ \ ] ^ & * ( ) _ + ` { | } ~ ! @ # $ % < > ? =; then 3) all numbers starting with 0; and finally, 4) all letters in alphabetical order (with some foreign alphabet letters mixing in and others falling after Z). You may need to remove blank spaces and special characters to get the sort you want.
  • Spelling: For PDC business writing, use neither informal abbreviations like “info” or “telecon” nor simplified spellings like “gage” and “thru” and “tho.” Refer to any recent U.S. desk dictionary (Webster’s New World preferred), and use the first spelling. Do not use spellings noted as “Brit.” or “UK Primarily.”


  • Taiwan: See China in the PDC Gazetteer. See also the APEC Style Guide. According to the U.S. government, beginning in July 2017, Taiwan is neither “Republic of China” nor “ROC.” While Taiwan may be China in some senses, it is neither to be referred to as China nor as not-China. Try to avoid references that demand a country designation. Usually, Taiwan is not a country. Do not refer to it as a country. Use “Taiwan representatives,” not “government officials.” Use “current conditions” not “diplomatic relations,” and simply “meeting” not “official meeting.” Use “American Institute Taipei (AIT)” not “embassy” or “post.” Thus “AIT Director” not “U.S. Ambassador.” Note: Some people mistakenly use “mission” or “Mission” as though it were a generic term for a post or embassy of one country in another. It is not, and the word “mission” cannot be used to describe the AIT. Do not use Taiwanese as an adjective. Just as “Hawaiian” refers only to persons whose blood ties them to pre-contact island life, “Taiwanese” refers only to the descendants of certain pre-1949 inhabitants of that island. Use the word only in that context.
  • Temperature: AP and other guides disagree with one another and with PDC on the styling of temperatures. The two scales we might use are Fahrenheit and Celsius (not “centigrade”) both of which are capitalized because they are formed from personal names. The temperature can be styled in three ways depending the author’s sense of what is appropriate for context and the intended readers: as words naming the number, measure, and scale; or as a number followed a space and one letter (or one word if context does not give the letter a clear meaning); or as a number followed by a degree symbol, a space, and a letter (or word):
  • 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius
  • 95 F or 35 C
  • 32° F or 0° C

Kelvin and Rankine scales should be used only in highly technical documents where they are demanded by a style sheet or consistency with other authors.

  • They: see gender.
  • Titles: PDC has elected to capitalize all major words in titles of respect, rank, nobility, and job whether before or after a personal name and even, when referring to a specific individual, in the absence of a personal name.
  • Trademark ™: This symbol should never be typed in as two upper case letters and then styled as superscript. Instead, it should be selected from the Insert/Symbol offerings in MS Office, by holding ALT and typing 0153 or by typing ™.The mark is not used in press releases, as it will be removed to conform to AP Style. For trademark names outside of PDC, we follow AP style and use an initial cap (e.g. Tobasco sauce). For brand names trademarked all in caps, determine whether it is a “word” mark or a “graphic” trademark. If it is a “word” mark, do not use all caps.


  • U.S.: In stand-alone applications, use U.S. rather than U.S.A. or US or USA. Both U.S.A. and USA, in many appearances, refer to the U.S. Army. US (no periods) is used when the letters are appended to or within a longer acronym.
  • URL: Unless there is special reason to do otherwise, represent a url in normal text by omitting all precursors to the actual domain name, but including the domain name and everything that follows it. Examples: http://www.acronymfinder.com becomes acronymfinder.com (and a hyperlink can be embedded if it will be useful) and https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock becomes timeanddate.com/worldclock.The styling for the initialism “URL” (universal resource locator) in normal text is three capital letters with no punctuation, although it is recognized that in technical documents where capital letters tend to be much less common, url is also acceptable.


  • Viet Nam: not Vietnam. Formal: the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.


  • WWW: Do not use www or WWW as a word or acronym in text. Instead, type “the Web” or “the World Wide Web.”




Other Resources

For questions outside this guide, please refer to the following:

  • Guidelines we follow outside of the Style Guide:
  • Writing style: The Associated Press Stylebook
  • Writing style: Chicago Manual of Style
  • Spelling and word usage: Webster’s New World Dictionary
  • Hazard and disaster terms and definitions: UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
  • Hawaiian-language words and place names: Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert and, by the same authors, Place Names of Hawaii