Writing Standards


Write numbers up to ten in full. Use digits from 11 upward. However, be consistent, so write ‘…7, 18 and 21‘ where these appear together.

If a number appears at the start of the sentence, write it out in full.

Always use digits when talking about pages or measurements (4 kilometers, on page 2).

In general, use commas as the thousand separator for figures exceeding 999 (e.g. 2,657 and 12,340) unless this causes significant formatting problems (e.g. Excel). In this case, leave as in the source text. (NB: 2’152’458 is NOT correct!)

Use million, billion and trillion if there is space, otherwise mn, bn and trn.


Hyphenate fractions in texts, e.g. two-thirds, four-fifths, ten-and-a-half years old.


Write dates out in full wherever possible using the following format, which is used consistently in Europe and is easily recognizable worldwide:

Friday, 1 December 2007

You may abbreviate the month to three letters if space is limited, e.g. 1 Jan 2008.

Numeric dates should be used only in tables, i.e. where the full form is inappropriate for reasons of limited space: 01.12.07

The use of the numeric US date format can be misleading for European audiences, and vice versa, which is why we prefer to limit its use: 12/1/2007 is December 1, 2007, NOT 12 January 2007.

Recently, the format yy/mm/dd has become widespread: 2007-12-01, meaning 01 December 2007.


Use the 24-hour clock in business texts, e.g. 13:50. Separate the hours and minutes with a colon as in the example, and add a leading zero where necessary, e.g. 09:05

Add CET, EST, etc. if the time zone needs to be specified.

In more personal texts, such as client invitations to events, use ‘a.m.’ (morning) and ‘p.m.’ (afternoon) for reasons of style.


+41 (41) 444 5555.

Acceptable abbreviations: tel, t, fax, f, work, home, cell, mobile (NOT ‘mob’)


£50,000 €243 $24.35 CHF 345.—


i.e. to explain He needed more time to fulfill the task (i.e.- he had no chance)

e.g. to provide examples: What’s required is an academic qualification (e.g. B.A., M.Ed.) This is NOT the same as the German z.B.:

We have several sports facilities at our disposal (e.g. tennis courts, golf course, etc)

NOT * We offer e.g. several methods of payment to our customers.

We offer, for example, several methods of payment to our customers.

etc DO NOT use too often (see ellipsis); DO NOT write &c NOR ect.

et al use for people: Smith et al provided conclusive evidence showing that…


For professional documents, we recommend lowercase letters:

Confirmation of your registration for our course

Your inquiry concerning laboratory use

Strategy outline for Upstart AG

A few instances require uppercase letters:

(1) Organizational units

Capitalize the names of sectors, subdepartments, departments, etc. throughout if they are official or well-known designations

e.g. Human Resources, Accounting

However, do not capitalize accompanying designations such as business unit, segment, division, unit

e.g. Institutional Securities unit

(2) Geography

Do not capitalize points of the compass unless they are part of a generally accepted proper name:

Northwest Territories, North America, Southeast Asia (but: southern Europe).

Nonetheless, it is common to capitalize Western Europe and Eastern Europe when referring to the political rather than simply geographical divisions of the Continent for the years following World War II.

Note also:

the Continent, the West

but the continent of Europe, and continental Europe

(3) Always capitalized:

  1. Names
  2. Months (January, February, etc)
  3. I
  4. Countries, Nationalities and Languages (France, the French, the French language)

(4) Headline Style for Titles of Articles

In regular title capitalization, also known as headline style, the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.) in titles are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions, regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are the first and last word of a heading or subheading. The ‘to’ in infinitives is also lowercased.

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