The purpose of this document is to provide MUNPlanet members with a solid ground for their written communication on the platform (writing articles, posting questions and comments). This is a work in progress, and the Style Guide will be updated accordingly.
1. General Style Guidelines
5. Citing sources
6. Language usage at the United Nations
GENERAL STYLE GUIDELINES
MUNPlanet Style Guide is based on the following resources, which represent the best reference books and examples of UN writing style.
The Internet Marketing Written Style Guide is an open-source manual which engages with the practices of online marketing and Internet-based language usage.
United Nations Editorial Manual Online is the official UN guide which deals with the matters of capitalization and UN-related style matter.
The Economist Style Guide is one of the most authoritative sources on style, grammar and writing around.
Merriam-Webster Online is our preferred reference for spelling. Please note that both British and American English spelling can be used.
The present Style Guide shall help you have a smooth writing experience at MUNPlanet and to keep up the quality standards of the community-based content. By no means this style guide covers everything about language and style, but is a document which develops according to the needs of the community.
TITLES OF PEOPLE AND TERMS WITHIN TEXT
-Person’s title shall be capitalized, and the key principle is to treat people with respect – but treat them with a title only if otherwise would seem insulting (The Economist). We do not recommend using titles as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms on the first mention. However, the names of living people may be preceded by Mr, Ms or other title – e.g. Mr Johnson.
-Those titles serving as names shall have initial capital letters: The Sultan of Brunei, the Emir of Kuwait. However, the titles such as archbishop, the emir, the sultan are written lowercase.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, or Mr Ban
-Organisations, ministries, departments, treaties, acts, etc, generally take uppercase when their full name (or something pretty close to it, eg, State Department) is used. But organisations, committees, commissions, special groups, etc, that are either impermanent, ad hoc, local or relatively insignificant should be lowercase. Use lowercase for rough descriptions (the safety act, the American health department, the French parliament, as distinct from its National Assembly), see the Economist Style Guide.
TITLES OF PUBLISHED WORKS
Always use title case.
-Capitalize the first and last words
-Capitalize all nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns regardless of their length
-Capitalize prepositions of four or more letters (i.e. over, from, with)
Do not capitalize:
-articles (a, an, the – unless at the beginning of the sentence)
-prepositions of three or fewer letters (i.e. as of, in, for)
-most conjunctions of three or fewer letters (i.e. as, and, or, but)
Social Theory of International Politics
Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace
BRANDED LOWERCASE PROPER NOUNS
If the word in a title is a proper noun that begins with a lowercase letter (iPhone), try to reorder the title so that you can capitalize the name as the company or person usually does.
“The Age of the iPod is over”
HYPHENATED COMPOUNDS IN TITLES
If a hyphenated compound appears in title-style capitalization, capitalize the first word, and capitalize all subsequent words in the compound except for articles (a, an, and the), prepositions of three or fewer letters (like to and of), and coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so).
India to Seek Re-election to UN Human Rights Council
The Big Spender’s Budget How-To (Capitalize any word, even “to”, at the beginning or end of a title.)
Verbs (even short ones like is, be and do) should always be capitalized, as well as the pronouns such as he, she, it, me and you.
COMPANY AND PRODUCT NAMES
It is advised to follow an organization’s conventions as to how it capitalizes and punctuated its names. However, in the cases of product or brand names which include exclamation marks (Yahoo!), the name shall be written by omitting the latter as long the meaning is kept. For company, product, and website that use all-lowercase, us an initial capital letter in order for the names to be distinguished in the text. When in doubt, look at some of the organization’s press documents for reference.
iPod, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, MUNPlanet
For plural nouns not ending in S, add an apostrophe and an s (‘s). The same may apply to the nouns ending in S, while it is also accepted to add an ‘s.
Arkansas’ legislature, the witness’ testimony, Diplomats’ perks
In a sentence, capitalize the first word after the colon if what follows the colon could function as a complete sentence. Use single space following the colon. Place colons outside quotation marks when used together.
Here are the instructions: Follow the man in black suit.
This is it: the chance we have been waiting for!
The Economist Style Guide instructs us to “use commas as an aid to understanding. Too many in one sentence can be confusing”. As a general rule, in a series consisting of three or more elements, separate the elements with commas. When a conjunction (like, and, or or) joins the last two elements in a series, include a comma before the conjunction.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited India, Malaysia and Indonesia on his Asia tour.
It is used to mean a to, up to and including in a range of instances. Even though there is no firm rule when two words are written together, some unfamiliar combinations of words can benefit from a hyphen.
Examples: over-governed, under-secretary, but overeducated, neoliberal, antidisestablishmentarianism
An EM dash is used to separating entire phrases from the main part of the sentence, while leaving a space between the dash and the words preceding and following it. Also, when a date range has no ending date, an EM dash is used.
The United Nations – an international organization that embodies the family of nations – was established in 1945.
Kofi Annan (1938– ) served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006.
NUMBERS IN TITLES
We use numerals for cardinal and ordinal numbers in headlines, while in the text body this rule may vary. Cardinal numbers 1-9 are spelled out in the text.
5 books every MUNer should read
3rd round of UN sponsored talks in Geneva begun this morning
When expressing percentages, we use numerals and ‘percent’ spelled out.
Example: “The 1 percent needs better defenders”
NUMERALS IN CATEGORIES
If a passage contains two or more numbers that refer to the same category of information and one is 10 or higher, use numerals for all numbers referring to that category. When numbers are treated consistently, readers can recognize the relationship between them more easily.
Numbers bigger than 10 express in numerals. In case of the numbers bigger than 999 use a comma. When it comes to numbers using million or billion, use the following example:
A $10 million worth of goods
- Also, for space constraints, it is acceptable to use abbreviations such as “mln” (million), “bln” (billion)
- At the beginning of a sentence avoid using a numeral. If not possible, you can spell out the number.
Example: Three hundred delegates participated in the Belgrade International Model United Nations this year.
*Avoid expressing ordinal numbers with superscript letters. Do not use “th” endings or their equivalent when stating dates (May 1, not May 1st)
Use abbreviations independently only if they are used more than the long form (BBC, NATO, UNESCO, CIA). Otherwise, write the full form on first appearance with an acronym in the brackets, and then you may use the abbreviation herewith in the text.
Example: When marking the category Model UN, the abbreviation (MUN) would appear in the brackets.
4. CITING SOURCES
It is obligatory to attribute the source of an idea, text or any other online or printed matter that you used for creating your content. That is done by link attribution (including hyperlinks), image attribution (i.e. Cover photo: linked source). If there is no hyperlink to the source you used, then use parenthetical citation (i.e. for books, Wendt 1999, 99), or in the end of your blogpost use endnotes if necessary.
5. LANGUAGE USAGE AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Here, we provide some examples of language usage at the United Nations which require further consideration. For more details, see: United Nations Editorial Manual Online
in specific references, when used in the sense of “Government”
also in reference to senior management within the United Nations Secretariat
but East Timor under United Nations administration
agenda, agenda item, agenda item 24
but Agenda 21, United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s
in reference to a specific representative
also United Nations Goodwill Ambassador(s)
but a seminar for ambassadors and other diplomats
Chair of the Third Committee, Chairs of the Main Committees of the General Assembly
Note: The terms "Chairman" and "Chairperson" may be used at the request of an authorized body or officer or when quoting previously issued material, such as terms of reference or rules of procedure.
in specific references, and when used as a short title
but the regional commissions, the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council
in specific references, and when used as a short title
but the committees of the General Assembly (other than the Main Committees), Security Council committees, the sanctions committees
Head(s) of State, Head(s) of Government, and in specific titles: Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic
but head of a delegation or mission
in reference to a State Member of the United Nations:
States Members of the United Nations, a State not a Member of the United Nations, a non-Member State
also Member of Parliament
but an individual member of a committee, a State member of a United Nations organ: members of the Security Council; a member of a specialized agency or any other organization
Note: “States Members of the United Nations or members of specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency…” and "States Members of the United Nations or members of organizations of the United Nations system"
in reference to a geographical direction or an area within a country
but North, Northern in reference to a major region or in a political context: North America, North-South dialogue
in a formal text such as the text of a treaty: the Parties to the present Convention
but the States parties to the Treaty (in other texts)
also when referring to a specific political party: the Conservative Party, the Socialist Party
permanent member of the Security Council
the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nationsthe Permanent Observer for the University of Peace
the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations
in reference to a State: a great Power, a super-Power, the administering Power of a Non-Self-Governing Territory
also when used adjectivally in that sense: a three-Power agreement
but Preamble in reference to the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations
a representative, the representative of France, a personal representative of the Secretary-General
but the Special/Personal Representative of the Secretary-General (as a title), the Permanent Representative of Algeria
rules of procedure
rule 15 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly
but the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (of the Tribunals)
but Subcommission, Subcommittee when used as a short title
during the world wars, the cold war, the threat of a third world war, the Iran-Iraq war
but the First World War, the Second World War
when referring to a specific group with an established title; otherwise working group
(Version date: 28 January 2014)