AM Online

AM style guide




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a whole range

Use “a range” if you must, or perhaps just “many”.


AA, The

The AA, not "... the AA ..."



Do not use full points in abbreviations, or spaces between initials: ACFO, BVRLA, SMMT, BIK, mph, 4am, No 10, etc. Spell out less well-known abbreviations on first mention; it is not necessary to spell out well-known ones, such as EU, PCP. Use all caps only if the abbreviation is pronounced as the individual letters; otherwise spell the word out: the BBC, ICI, VAT, but Isa, Nato. There are always going to be exceptions to this.



Use on foreign words (Citroën, Škoda), but use common sense – an accent is not needed on cafe, but its lack would make an exposé meaningless.



Upper case when using full name, eg Criminal Justice Act 1998, Official Secrets Act; but lower case on second reference, eg ‘the act’, and when speaking in more general terms, eg “we need a radical freedom of information act". Bills remain lower case until passed into law.



Strictly speaking, it can be used as a verb. Please don't.


actively encouraged  

“Actively” is redundant. How do you passively encourage someone?



One word, upper case B. Generically known as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), AdBlue is fine in copy. Not all Euro 6 engines use AdBlue.


added bonus  

The “added” is redundant.



AM, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough, PE2 6EA.



This suggests that something has been concealed. Use acknowledged, or just said.



Do not use hyphens after adverbs ending in -ly, eg a hotly disputed penalty, a constantly evolving newspaper, genetically modified food, etc; but hyphens are needed with short and common adverbs, eg ill-prepared report, hard-bitten hack.



Not advisor.



Affect is probably the verb you are looking for. It can have an effect (noun) or you can effect change (verb).



Spell out – "alternative fuel vehicles (AFV)" – at first mention.



With the e. But whining, pasting, shuffling etc.



Is singular. The plural is agendas.



"Benoit Dilly, 49,"; "...the director has a son, Thomas, four, and a daughter, Thomasina, 16..."; "he has worked in automotive retail since his 20s".



Not agm.


air conditioning

Two words. No hyphen.





all right

Is correct.


alternative fuel vehicles (AFV)

Not "alternatively fuelled vehicles" or "alternative fuelled vehicles".


AM Awards    

No italics.



No italics.



No Italics.



Use amid.



Not amongst. Similarly, while, not whilst.



Use in company names when the company does: Marks & Spencer, P&O



No full points.



Use an only if the h is silent: an hour, an heir; but a hero, a hotel, a historian.


an increasing number of       

Or "more".


another (when talking about numbers)

Another' refers to a quantity already stated. Use 'further'.



Not the same as expect – it means to take action in expectation of something.


any more

Two words



Some plural nouns have no ‘s’, eg children. These take an apostrophe and ‘s’ in the possessive, eg children's games, gentlemen's outfitter, old folk's home. The possessive in words and names ending in s normally takes an apostrophe followed by a second s (Jones's, James's). Use apostrophes in phrases such as in two days’ time, 12 years' imprisonment and six weeks’ holiday, where the time period (two days) modifies a noun (time), but not in nine months pregnant or three weeks old, where the time period is adverbial (modifying an adjective such as pregnant or old) — if in doubt, test with a singular such as one day’s time, one month pregnant.

Its does not take an apostrophe.


Apple CarPlay

Not CarPlay.



Use 'about' when you are talking about figures.


armed forces

Lower case, but the Army, the Navy, the RAF.



Use 'about' when you are talking about figures.


At the end of the day…



Auto Trader    

Two words.


autumn statement

Lower case.


awards, prizes, medals

Lower case, eg Fleet News manager of the year award.






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B segment, C segment

Cap B, small s. Hyphenate when used adjectivally: "a C-segment leader" but "a leader in the C segment"


begs the question

Probably does not mean what you think it does. Use "raises the question" instead.


benefit-in-kind tax

Spell out at first instance, then BIK.



BANNED. It is usually meaningless, but never more so than in "Company X tailors bespoke solutions to fit the needs of each of its clients."



Unless it is referring to an auction, use attempt.



Usually preferable to major, massive, giant, huge, monster, mammoth, brobdingnagian, etc, particularly in news copy.



Spell out benefit-in-kind tax in the first instance, then BIK afterwards.



Lower case, as in private member's bill; criminal justice reform bill. Usually capped should they become acts of parliament: The Criminal Justice Reform Act.



Spell out billion at first reference on numerals; bn thereafter. It means one thousand million, not one million million. People are always billion. Use bn in headlines.


blind-spot monitoring

Note the hyphen. However, it is used for monitoring blind spots.


boasts, boasting

Banned where you mean "has", as in: "The car boasts four doors."


book titles


Italicise. Lower case for a, an, and, of, on, the (unless they are the first word of the title): A Tale of Two Cities, The Pride and the Passion, etc


boot volume / cargo volume

Boot volume in litres, cargo volume in cubic metres.



Unnecessary in most sentences that contain “and”; “both men and women” says no more than “men and women”, and takes longer.


brace, a

Means two of something, not many.



If the sentence is logically and grammatically complete without the information contained within the parentheses (round brackets), the punctuation stays outside the brackets. (A complete sentence that stands alone in parentheses starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.)



Refers to Britain's exit from the EU, which hasn't happened yet, so avoid attributing changes in the economy to Brexit. The only thing we can attribute those changes to so is "the EU referendum" or, at a push, "the vote for Brexit". Either way, never refer to "a Brexit" or "the Brexit".


Britain, UK

These terms are synonymous: Britain is the official short form of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Used as adjectives, therefore, British and UK mean the same. Great Britain, however, refers only to England, Wales and Scotland.


Budget, the

Upper case when referring to the annual spending plan presented to parliament by the Chancellor, or in "Budget 2016". However, "an austerity budget". No longer autumn or winter. Specify "last November's Budget" or "the 2017 Budget" if you wish.



Apostrophe and hyphen.



Not Myanmar.


business minister      

A junior minister with a business portfolio. Use "business secretary" for the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.


business secretary     

Not synonymous with "business minister".






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cabinet, shadow cabinet

Lower case



No full point.


cardinal points

Lower case – north, south, east, west, north-east, etc.


cargo volume / boot volume

Cargo volume in cubic metres; boot volume in litres.



One word.


car measurements

In metres please, not mm.


car names      

DS 3 (note space), but Citroën C4 (no space); Mercedes-Benz C-Class (hyphen) but BMW 3 Series (no hyphen); Mazda3 (no space), but Mazda MX-5 (space); MG3 (no space) but MG ZS (space); Toyota Rav4 (not RAV4); Smart, not smart; Mini, not MINI.


car tax

Specify the type of tax to avoid any confusion – cars can be subject to vehicle excise duty (VED), benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax and VAT.



Use Apple CarPlay.


cash flow

Two words.



Mercedes-Benz model names take a hyphen, unlike BMW (3 Series, 5 Series).



Prefer to fahrenheit; 23C. Take care when converting temperature changes – it is easy to mistake a 2C change (about 4F) with 2C (about 36F).



Not chairman/chairwoman.



Upper case for the specific role: "...the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, ...".


Chancellor of the Exchequer

Prefer the Chancellor.


Channel 4

Not Channel Four.



Singular and plural.


chief constable

A job, not a title — John Smith, chief constable of Greater Manchester; Smith at second mention.



The London auction house takes an apostrophe.



Means lasting for a long time or constantly recurring, too often misused to mean acute (short but severe).



With the umlaut. Citroën model names do not take a space - Citroën C3.



Overused words and phrases to be avoided include: back burner, boost (massive or otherwise), major, massive, raft of measures, surge, soar, going forward, bottom line, heads up, will be rolled out to, ongoing, prioritise, pushing the envelope, singing from the same hymn sheet, thinking outside the box, close of play and many many more.






Strictly speaking, two objects have to be in motion to collide. Prefer crash or spell out the exact nature of the accident.



In general, avoid using commas following an 'and' in lists (the Oxford comma), but use your judgement to avoid sentences such as – ""This style guide is dedicated to my parents, Beyoncé and Jeremy Corbyn.”

Use commas when listing, not semicolons. Unless listing items that require a comma – e.g. "I travelled to Bristol, England; Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France". Or: "I’d most like to have dinner with Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player; Ferenc Puskas, the great (but dead) Hungarian footballer; and Lou Reed, the lead singer of The Velvet Underground."



Use said. Same for remarked, exclaimed, whispered, opined, screamed, uttered, shared, held forth. Use said every time.


Commons committees   

They are lower case. Most are select, but some (legislative, general) are not. Full list at:


common sense          

Two words in normal use, but hyphenated adjectivally: "a common-sense approach to driver safety checks".


company names

In general, use the names that the companies use themselves, but use your judgement. Emac is preferable to EMaC. Companies are singular – it, not they.


compared to

Compared with. 'Compare to' means 'liken to' as in "nothing compares to you".



All caps, no subscript 2, even though it breaks the general rule.



To complement is to make complete: the cigars and brandy complemented each other; to compliment is to praise; a complimentary copy is free.



Use 'free'.



No 'of'.



Unless it's to a priest or a policeman, use said.


congestion charge zone

CCZ at second mention. lower case. Specify city.



Not 'consult with'.



Means 'of the same period'. If you mean modern, write modern.


Continent, the

Use 'mainland Europe'.



Refers to things that happen repeatedly, but not constantly.



Refers to things happening in an unbroken sequence.



Avoid contractions – aren't, can't, couldn't, hasn't, don't, I'm, it's, there's and what's – we produce business publications that deserve to be taken seriously; we are not chatting informally.



Where to begin? Metric for some – Nm (not lb-ft), PS (not hp); car and truck weights and lengths in kg and metres, CO2 emissions in g/km,etc; imperial for others – mpg; both for some – pence per mile (ppm). Dealership areas in acres or square feet. It is inconsistent, but most people get it.



Convince involves only a change of mind or opinion, if the change involves taking action it should be persuade: "She convinced him it was a mistake. She persuaded him to stay."



No hyphen.



Like companies, are singular: "The US is ...".



Note the accent.


crescendo or climax?

A crescendo is a gradual increase in loudness or intensity; musically or figuratively, it is the build-up to a climax, not the climax itself. It is never reached.



Singular. Plural is criteria.



Use symbols for £, $ and €. 1p, 99p, $1, €1.33. Spell out all other currencies, lower case. Convert all currency amounts to sterling unless in a direct quote. Give sterling equivalents in brackets after references to foreign currencies.



Means now. 'Presently' means soon. Neither is usually necessary.



Just use cuts.



One word.



One word.






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Not DAF.


dangling modifiers

Avoid modifiers that do not refer clearly and logically to some word in the sentence.

"Running for a bus, the pavement tripped her up."

"After being beaten, his doctor said Tom was lucky to be alive."

In these examples, the meaning is that the pavement was running and the doctor was beaten up, which is presumably not what happened. Take care that the modifier, the phrase that seeks to describe a person or thing, and what it modifies are clearly associated.



One word.



Day, month, numeral, year – Wednesday, January 13, 1999. No 'th'.



Write in full - 1960s, 1990s, 2000s.



Diesel exhaust fluid. Prefer AdBlue (even though it is a trademark) in copy.



No hyphen.



Not interchangeable – "I’m depending on an answer from you. What I do in future is dependent on it.


different from

Or to, not different than.



Is not a noun. It can describe marketing, sales, data, examination, etc. On its own it is meaningless, e.g.: "Dealers need to get better at digital"



Means careful in your choice of words.



Means separate.



Means free from bias. Uninterested means bored.



Not the same as separate - it means not able to be compared.



With an 'e' when referring to people who, for example, disrupt 'tech'.


dos and don'ts

Note the apostrophes.



Hyphenate. Also drink-driving and drug-driving.



Prefers to be called "DriveTech, part of The AA", not AA DriveTech.


driving licence

Not driver's licence.



Model names take a space - DS 3. Confusingly, when writing about historic DS models, they did not take a space - Citroën DS3.



Spell out at first mention: "... Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)...".



Spell out at first mention: "... the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)...".





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But email.






Use the full points.



Effectively means that an intended effect was achieved. If you mean "in effect", write that.



To make something last. Not eek.



Note the hyphen.



Means to evoke or draw out (e.g. a response). See illicit.



But e-commerce.


en masse       

Not "on mass". If you're a Francophobe, write "in bulk".



Prefer enquire/enquiry unless you are writing about an investigation.



Means to make certain. Insure means to indemnify against risk.



With the full point.



No need to spell it out.



Use the symbol (€) for amounts. In describing the currency it is lower case currency; plural is euros (and cents).



Whether or not Britain remains in the EU, Britain is part of Europe, so try to avoid referring to "vehicles launching in Europe" if they are not also launching in the UK. Prefer "mainland Europe" if you need to make the distinction.


European Commission

Use 'the commission' after first mention.


Euro 6

And "Euro 6-compliant"



One word. Lower case.


every day

Means something happens once each time the earth completes a revolution on its axis.



Means commonplace.



Spell out at first mention: "electronic vehicle health check (eVHC)". Lower case e


Exchequer, the

Cap E.


exclamation point




Use said.






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Use celsius.


far east

But Middle East.


far, farther, farthest

Only for distances; otherwise further, furthest.



Not facia.



Financial Conduct Authority. Spell out at first mention, then FCA.



Fewer means smaller in number, eg fewer coins; less means smaller in quantity, eg less money.



Spell out from one to nine; integers from 10 to 999,999; thereafter 1m, 3.2bn (except for people and animals, eg 2 million viewers, 8 billion cattle)


Financial Ombudsman

Note the caps.


financial years

2004/2005, not 2004-2005.



Try to avoid because it has a strict legal meaning. Usually you mean company. It is sometimes unavoidable in headlines.



Then second, third etc; spell out up to ninth, then 10th, 21st, millionth.


first ever

The 'ever' is redundant.



Slang for a PR person.



Anti-aircraft fire or criticism – "taking flak".


Fleet 200        

One word. No italics.


Fleet News

Italicise. Likewise AM, Commercial Fleet, Driving Business.


Fleet News Awards   

No italics.


flip side

Two words.



No italics.



To flounder is to perform a task badly or uncertainly. To founder is to fail, or in the case of a boat, to sink.


focus, focused, focusing

One 's'.



Has a specific meaning relating to crime and the law. If somebody has analysed something in great detail, write that.



Means continually – I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles. 'For ever' means always.



Two thirds, three quarters, etc., but two-and-a-half when used adjectivally – "two-and-a-half times faster". No need to hyphenate when just a noun – "one half of the population drive cars".


free fall

As a noun – "in free fall" – it is two words.



Note hyphens.


fuel card

Two words.






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GAP insurance

At first instance. GAP thereafter. Stands for guaranteed asset protection, but no need to spell it out.



It is best to avoid constructions that assume all of our audiences are male: "Dealers who value their customers" rather than " A dealer who values his customers".


general election

Lower case.



Distinct areas are capped up: Black Country, East Anglia, Lake District, Midlands, Peak District, West Country. Areas defined by compass points are lower case: the north of England, the south-east, the south-west, etc


going forward/moving forward

BANNED. It is utterly meaningless and what is the alternative? Leave it out.



"The Government" when referring to the current entity that governs Britain, but lowercase for other countries – "the Swiss government" – or in general language – "government departments", "local government", "previous governments", "the government of the time".


Government departments

"Attorney General's Office

Cabinet Office (but the cabinet).

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Department for Communities and Local Government

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Department for Education (DfE)

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Department for Exiting the European Union

Department for International Development

Department for International Trade

Department for Transport (DfT)

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Department of Health

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Her Majesty's Treasury (the Treasury)

Home Office

Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

Northern Ireland Office (not Northern Irish Office)

Office of the Advocate General for Scotland

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

Scotland Office (not Scottish Office)

UK Export Finance

Wales Office (not Welsh Office)


Lower case when departments are abbreviated, eg environment department, transport department.






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Do not use to refer to people with disabilities or learning difficulties. Similarly, disabled parking spaces, not handicapped parking.






Not hairbrained.


has made the decision to

Just write "decided to".


has plans to

Just write "plans to", or even better, "will".


has seen

Inanimate objects or business organisations cannot "see" anything. Often used in the construction: "Company X has seen growth of 25% in its profits". Just write: "Company X's profits grew 25%"





head-up display

Not heads. Note the hyphen.



Headlines, more than any other element of what we write, need to be active.

In print editions, avoid overusing headlines that follow the same construction – questions (Does the FCA mean the end of dealer finance?); colons (Dealer finance: FCA rules may kill F&I industry); How to-s, ‘How I …' or ‘Why I...’.

Also beware headline cliches – one recent issue of AM almost went to print with four headlines that referred to something being the key to something else. 

There should be a comma before ‘says’.

Headlines used in body copy, such as when referring to past issues, should be encased in single quote marks.


heads up (as in leads)

Just write heads (or leads).



Not high-tech. Similarly, hi-fi.


High Court

Upper case.


Highways Agency

Highways England since April 2015.



A nice country walk OR hackneyed journalistic shorthand for an increase. Do not use.



No need to spell out.



The Netherlands.


home counties

Lower case.



One word.



Full name at first mention. Subsequently, surname only – no 'Mr'. Exceptions include barons, knights and dames, or where a person has requested we include their title, such as Dr or Prof.



Use PS. No need to convert.



Use PS. No need to convert.



Use hyphens to form compound adjectives, eg two-tonne vessel, three-year deal, 19th-century artist. Do not use hyphens after adverbs ending in -ly, eg a hotly disputed penalty, a constantly evolving newspaper, genetically modified food, etc; but hyphens are needed with short and common adverbs, eg ill-prepared report, hard-bitten hack; a little-used car.






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I was stood

Unless you want the next words to be "...up against a wall and shot" this is banned, banned, banned. Substitute almost any other verb and you will see how awful this sounds ("I was ran"; "I was wrote"). Same applies for "I was sat".



No need to spell out - the Institute of Car Fleet Management has formally renamed itself.



No italics.



Use the full points.



Means illegal. See elicit.



Prefer enquire/enquiry unless you are writing about an investigation.



For asteroids and bowels only. Use affected.



Means impossible, undoable.



Means possible, but difficult.


in a bid to

Just write 'to'.


in close proximity to

Or as humans say it: "Near".


in excess of

More than.


in the firing line

The people in the firing line are the ones doing the shoooting. If you are being shot at, you are in the line of fire.


in the pipeline

Cliche. Avoid.



One word.


income tax

Lower case, as is national insurance (NI).



To infer is to deduce something from evidence; to imply is to hint at something (and wait for someone to infer it).



No spaces or points, whether businesses or individuals, eg TCH Harrison, ALD Automotive.


Inland Revenue




Just use said.



To indemnify against risk. To make certain something happens is to ensure.



Lower case – not synonymous with the worldwide web.



But on to.


introduce a new… / build a new…



is at the helm of        

Cliché (banned). Use any of: leads, heads, runs, controls, manages etc.


is currently in the process of ...

Just write "is ..."


is located on

No need for located – 'is on'.



Means it is. Its (possessive) takes no apostrophe.


It is this that has....    

This has ...






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Best avoided – while we can safely assume the bulk of our print readers understand the meaning of NOx, PCP, gearing, true fleet, overhead absorption, etc, we also have to consider online audiences, who may be coming to a topic cold. Try not to insult anyone's intelligence, but make the meaning understandable to a layman.


job titles

Lower case – editor of Fleet News, governor of the Bank of England, chief executive of Renault, prime minister, etc. But Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister are capped when referring to the person – ""... the Prime Minister, Theresa May"", rather than a general prime minister.

When introducing people in copy, do not use constructions such as ""..., said Fleet News editor-in-chief Stephen Briers yesterday."". It should be ""... said Stephen Briers, the editor-in-chief of Fleet News, yesterday."". Note the commas surrounding the job title.



Not job need.






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Do not use in copy to mean 'thousand'. 60,000, not 60k. It is excusable in headlines.


kerb appeal

Not curb appeal.



Spell out at first mention: "…kinetic energy recovery system (Kers)…".



Totally overused word in copy – especially in the hated passive construction "Key to this were ..." Banned


key ring          

Two words.













Upper case W, no need to spell out. The kilowatt (kW) is the unit of measurement of engine power. It is not interchangeable with kilowatt-hour (kWh).




Upper case W, no need to spell out. Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measurement of battery capacity. It is not interchangeable with kilowatt (kW).



There is no such country. If referring to the home of Hyundai, SsangYong and Kia, you mean South Korea.





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Note hyphen and spelling.


lane-keep assist        

Use "lane keeping assist".



Avoid using last as a synonym for latest as it also means final.

Use past rather than last for periods of time: she has worked there for the past 12 months.



Ridiculous Borat-esque buzzword for "things learned". Use any of: lessons, discoveries, findings or insights instead.



Less means smaller in quantity, eg less money; fewer means smaller in number, eg fewer coins.


Level 4, Level 3

For levels of vehicle autonomy. Cap L plus numeral (follows the same style as Euro 6).



Has a specific financial meaning. Do not use in place of "using".



Noun. The verb is to license.


life cycle

Two words.



One word. No hyphen.


like/such as

Some pedantry here. 'Like' excludes; 'such as' includes' – when you write "cars like the Seat Ibiza...", it suggests you are thinking of the Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa or other rivals. If you just intend to provide an example, use "cars such as the Seat Ibiza..."



Noun; the verb is lend.



Means detest. If you mean unwilling or reluctant, it's loth.


low-emission zone

LEZ at second mention lower case. Specify city if known.






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Spell out at first instance: ..."introducing 'mobility as a service' (MaaS) .....



Overused to mean significant.



No hyphen.



One word.


making the switch

Just write switching.



All caps – it is pronounced M-A-N, rather than man.


managing director

Never MD in copy. MD is acceptable in headlines and standfirsts.





may or might?

Nobody but a grammarian will care about the difference between may and might. However, 'may have' and might have' do differ in a very important way.

'May have' implies that a possibility remains: "The emissions scandal may have killed off Volkswagen's diesel ambitions" means that the matter is not yet settled – VW's diesel ambitions could yet be scuppered. 'Might have' implies that the possibility is closed: "The emissions scandal might have killed off Volkswagen's diesel ambitions" means that it almost happened, but did not.

Consider also the difference between "He drank poison and may have died" (the writer does not know whether the person is alive or dead) and "He drank poison and might have died" (he has not died, but it was a possibility).

Also bear in mind that may means "has permission to" so beware ambiguity in headlines.


mayor of London

Lower case. "The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ..." at first mention. Khan thereafter.



No space – same for Mazda2 and Mazda6, but Mazda CX-5 and Mazda Mx-5.



Spell out managing director in copy.



Don't use to mean "In other news...". It means "While this has been going on..." or "on the other hand".


meet with, met with

Just use meet or met, unless you want the next words to be "a sticky end".






Spell out metres.


Metropolitan Police

The Met at second mention.



No space, but MG GS.



NOT Middlesborough, NOR Middlesboro.


mid-90s, mid-60s

Not mid-1990s.



Note the 'e'.



In copy, use 'm' at second mention for sums of money, units or inanimate objects: £10m, 45m tonnes of coal, 30m doses of vaccine; but million for people or animals: 1 million people, 23 million rabbits, etc. Use m in headlines.





minutes and seconds 

Use mins and secs: 12 minutes 10 seconds.



No space. Note the caps.



Unless it is a court case, use reduce or alleviate. Never used with 'against' (that's militate).


mobility as a service

Spell out at first instance: ..."introducing 'mobility as a service' (MaaS) ..... Maas thereafter.


more value-driven     

Or perhaps just "cheaper".



All caps.


motor show

Two words.


motorcar, motorcycle

One word.



Write M1, not M1 motorway.


moving forwards/going forwards/looking forwards




No points.


Mr / Ms / Mrs

None of these should appear in any of our titles.



Use Burma.


myriad of

No 'of'. Many is a better word anyway.






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national insurance contributions

Spell out and lower case at first mention, but abbreviated to NIC afterwards.


new, now

Almost always redundant.


newspaper titles




No need to spell out.



Spell out and lower case – "national insurance contributions" at first mention, but abbreviate to NIC afterwards.


nitrogen oxides (NOx)

NOx at second reference.


no one

No hyphen.



A contraction of "not one", none used to take a singular verb, but can take a plural if it makes the sentence sound better: "none of the Renault 5's issues have been resolved".


none the less

But nevertheless.



One word.



Spell out at first instance: nitrogen oxides (NOx). There are more than one. The more damaging of the two is NO2






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People are "made an OBE", they do not receive them. It stands for Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.



Prefer "manufacturer".


offering (as a noun)

BANNED, especially if it is "a bespoke offering".


Office for National Statistics, the

"the ONS" at second mention.


Office of Fair Trading

OFT on second mention.



Do not write "okay".



One word.


on to

Not onto. Unlike into.



One word.



Place it next to the word being modified to avoid ambiguity:

    I only eat fish when I'm sick.

    I eat fish only when I'm sick.

    I eat only fish when I'm sick.


operator's licence      

Lower case. Spell out at first instance. O-licence thereafter.



Avoid. Prefer more than.






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Not p11d.



Use part-exchange at first instance. Note the hyphen.


passed away

Banned. Just say dead or died. Same goes for: demised; passed on; is no more; ceased to be; expired; gone to meet 'is maker; bereft of life; rests in peace; pushing up the daisies; off the twig; kicked the bucket; shuffled off 'is mortal coil; run down the curtain; or joined the choir invisible.  


pay-per-click (PPC)    

Hyphenate and spell out for the type of advertising. PPC at second mention.


per cent

Means "of 100". Use % in headlines and copy. Beware of confusing percentages with percentage points. Journalists are notoriously poor at working out percentages – here is a handy website that will do it for you –


percentage rises

An increase from 3% to 5% is a two-percentage point increase or a two-point increase, not a 2% increase; any sentence saying “such and such rose or fell by X%” should be considered and checked carefully.




What you do on a bike.


Selling something.


per annum

Prefer "a year".



One word.



Spell out at first instance: "pre-delivery inspection (PDI)".


pick-up truck




A pilot flies a plane. Either write 'pilot scheme' or 'trial'.



Upper case.



No full points.


Pod Point        

Not POD point.



One word.



Means soon, not at present.



For a tyre, fine. If it is a person or a company, the word is pressured.



Means to lie, not to put off (procrastinate).



Not preventative.



one word


Prime Minister

Upper case for the specific UK role, lower case for the head of foreign governments or in general references: "Clement Attlee was voted Britain's greatest prime minister".



Of most importance.



A standard of conduct or belief



One word.


proceeded to...

Usually redundant.



To delay or defer; often confused with prevaricate.



For a computer; otherwise programme.



Not protestor.






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raft of measures



ragged copy

Avoid words breaking in ragged copy. If a word must be hyphenated, make sure it sits in one line. Pay attention to brand names such as Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce.


Range Rover

No hyphen.



Not RAV4.



Use re- (with hyphen) when followed by the vowels e or u (not pronounced as “yu”): eg re-entry, re-examine, re-urge. Use re (no hyphen) when followed by the vowels a, i, o or u (pronounced as “yu”), or any consonant: eg rearm, rearrange, reassemble, reiterate, reorder, reuse, rebuild, reconsider. Exceptions: re-read; or where confusion with another word would arise: re-cover/recover, re-form/reform, re-creation/recreation, re-sign/resign.



No hyphen.


rear-view camera

Note the hyphen.



Avoid: if the date is relevant, use it.



Has a strict meaning: to disprove. Do not confuse with deny, rebut.


road tax         

Specify vehicle excise duty (VED) in copy to avoid any confusion with benefit-in-kind (BIK).



One word.


rolling out the use of

BANNED. Write 'introducing'.









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One word. Similarly, salesperson.






Lower case – spring, summer, autumn, winter.



Lower case.



B segment, C segment, etc. Cap B, small s. Hyphenate when used adjectivally: "a C-segment leader" but "a leader in the C segment"



Use seldom, even if you know how to. One exception is in lists "I travelled to Bristol, England; Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France"". Or: ""I’d most like to have dinner with Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player; Ferenc Puskas, the great (but dead) Hungarian footballer; and Lou Reed, the lead singer of The Velvet Underground".


set to

Usually redundant – just write 'to'. In the sense of a plan or an uncertain intention, write 'plans to' or 'may'.



One word.


skill set          

Two words.



Note the accent.



For doors, drawers and tequila. In every other instance, use criticised.



Not smart.


SMART repair

SMART is upper case. It means Small to Medium Area Repair Technique, but there is no need to spell it out. It is upper case to distinguish it from the car manufacturer.






Massively overused and utterly vague. Specify what these things are: technologies, finance offers, what?


South Korea

For the home of Hyundai, SsangYong and Kia, not "Korea".


split infinitives

Are fine.



Not spokesman/spokeswoman.


spokesman, spokeswoman

No space.


sports car

Two words.



Double s, cap Y. It is a South Korean manufacturer, not a Korean one.






No full point.



Hyphenate when used adjectivally.



Not moving.



Writing materials.



One word. No hyphen.



Note the spelling.



Not supercede.


Supreme Court

Upper case.



Spell out at first instance (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). All caps, even though it breaks the general rule.



Not 'synch' for synchronisation.





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talk to

Not talk with.


tax avoidance

Is legal; tax evasion is illegal.



Short for 'toxicity charge'. 'Emissions surcharge' at first mention. Upper case T on T-charge.



Use celsius; 23C; -25C. Take care when converting temperature changes – it is easy to mistake a 2C change (about 4F) with 2C (about 36F).



You can cut almost every 'that' from your copy and not affect its meaning, especially when used after 'said'.


that or which?

Not interchangeable. That defines, which informs: 'this is the house that Jack built', but 'this house, which Jack built, is now falling down'.


The Bank of England

"the Bank" at second mention. Its committees are lower case: "the Bank's monetary policy committee (MPC) ...".


the last year/decade

The past year is the 12 months to date. The last year was 2015. The last decade was the 2000s. The past decade was 1996-2006.



No apostrophe.



1am, 6.30pm, etc.



Italicise titles of books, magazines, films, TV programmes etc.



Not ton: the metric tonne is 1,000kg (2,204.62lb), the British ton is 2,240lb, and the US ton is 2,000lb; usually there is no need to convert.



Measured in Nm (newton-metres) not lb-ft (foot-pounds).



Winding or twisty, as in a road.



An experience that involves pain or suffering.


total cost of ownership (TCO)

Spell out at first instance, TCO thereafter.



One word.



One word.



One word.



Take caps, but trademarks should be avoided where possible – ballpoint pen over Biro, vacuum cleaner over Hoover, wireless internet over Wi-Fi.


Transport for London

TfL on second mention


Treasury, the

Cap T.



Lower case, eg Geneva convention, Lisbon treaty.


treating customers fairly'

Lower case and in single quotes when referring to the Financial Conduct Authority's principle.


try to

Never “try and”.


turbocharged, turbocharger

One word.


turbo diesel

Two words.



Means swollen or congested. Often confused with turbid (cloudy or opaque), torpid (apathetic or sluggish) or torrid (hot or difficult).






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ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV)

Lower case. ULEV at second mention.


ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ)

Lower case. ULEZ at second mention.



Avoid. Prefer less than / fewer than.


under way

Not underway and definitely not under weigh.



Means not taking an interest; not synonymous with disinterested, which means unbiased, objective.


units of measurement

Prefer metric units: PS (not hp or bhp); Nm (not lb-ft); kg; g/km; metres (spell out); cm; mm; litres (spell out); pence per litre (ppl after first mention);

However: mpg; mph.

Measurement units do not follow the one-nine rule: 5kg, not five kg.

No space between the number and the abbreviations: 12kg, but 15 litres.

Do not abbreviate acres, miles, pints, gallons.

Use tonne – no need to convert unless the difference is important (comparing truck weights for example).



For United States, not USA; no need to spell out, even at first mention; America is also acceptable.






Stands for unique selling proposition. Therefore, there can be only one. Also please refrain from referring to a company's USP being something that, in fact, every company offers. e.g. "Our customer service is our USP."



Not interchangeable with use. It means "to make effective use of" and has a specific meaning in fleet management.






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Value-added tax; no need to spell it out.



Spell out and lower case at first mention: "vehicle excise duty (VED)".



Spell out in copy. 'vs' is acceptable in headlines.



Usually very redundant.


vice-chairman, vice-president

Note the hyphen.






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Spell out: "54-watt speakers".


website, webpage

One word, but world wide web.



Not whilst. Similarly, among, not amongst.


who or whom?

Usually it's who. If you want the grammar, who should be used in the subject position in a sentence, while whom should be used in the object position, and also after a preposition. If in doubt, ask yourself which personal pronoun would make sense. If it's 'he' (or she or they), then the correct usage is 'who'. if it's 'him' (or her or them), then it is 'whom'. For example: "Tom attacked Tim, whom he hated". Tom hated him (not he), therefore whom is correct. But in the sentence "Tom attacked Tim, who he thought was rude" who is correct, because he was rude (not him was rude).  If in any doubt, or if it makes a sentence sound unbearably pompous, use who.


whole-life costs

Hyphenate where you have to use it (quotes, etc.), but prefer "total cost of ownership (TCO)”.



It is a trademark. Caps and hyphen.


World War I

And World War II. Not First and Second World War.


worst-case scenario  

Note the hyphen.






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No apostrophe.