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BuzzFeed Style Guide

BuzzFeed publishes news and entertainment in the language of the web, and in our work we rely on a style guide to govern everything from hard-hitting journalism to fun quizzes. We value consistency and accuracy across those formats and categories. (For instance, knowing how to treat numbers is important, but so is correctly spelling “fangirl.”) Our perspective reflects that of the internet at large, which is why we hope other sites and organizations across the web will find these guidelines useful. This style guide will be updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and responds accordingly to changes in language and common, casual usage.

BuzzFeed’s preferred dictionary is Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition ( In Webster’s, the first spelling of a word should generally be used (unless it appears in the word list below or is preferred by The Associated Press Stylebook). The preferred style manual is the AP Stylebook. Please consult Chicago Manual of Style for issues not covered by AP Stylebook as well as for more detailed information and discussion, where applicable. Any style point mentioned in this guide overrules those publications.

This style guide provides a reference to common words and terms used on BuzzFeed (see: Word List) and information on style issues particular to the site. It is not intended to be a comprehensive manual of grammar and style.

Word List

?! (never !?)
@replies, @mentions (on Twitter)
1D (as an abbreviation for One Direction)
4chan (use a lowercase C, and avoid using it to start a sentence when possible)
4th of July
A-list, B-list (etc., when referring to an “A-list celeb”)
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
AC (for air-conditioning)
administration (lowercase “a” in political terms, e.g., “It has been something the administration has avoided” or “the Obama administration”)
aka (UNLESS it starts a sentence, in which case AKA is acceptable — Aka just looks weird)
alcohol: Drink names are usually lowercase (exception: Bloody Mary)
a.m., p.m.
Amex (for American Express)
amendments: First Amendment, 19th Amendment (cap “A” when referencing specific amendments)
the Apple Store
A side (n.); A-side (adj.)
awards season / awards show (preferable to “award”)
baby daddy, baby mama (two words)
Bashar al-Assad
beatboxer, beatboxing
beatdown (n.)
best-seller, best-selling (New York Times best-seller list)
bitcoin (always lowercase)
BlackBerry, BlackBerrys
blond (adj., n.) when referring to men or when used in a genderless context
blonde (adj., n.) when referring to women
Bloody Mary, Bloody Marys
blow job
body slam (n.); body-slam (v.)
bougie (adj.), bougiest (from bourgeoisie)
bread crumbs
B side (n.); B-side (adj.)
bull dyke (n.); bull-dyke (adj.) — avoid, unless used in a direct quote
buzzer beater
BS, BS’d, BS’ing
Cabinet (cap when referring to the governmental advisers)
camel toe
Cap’n Crunch
catfished (as a verb, lowercase)
CBGB (not CBGB’s)
Cee Lo Green
celebricat (for a celebrity feline)
celebridog (for a celebrity canine)
cell phone (but smartphone)
chatroom (one word)
cheese: What’s capped and what’s not? Consult MW, but here’s a list of some commonly referenced cheeses: Brie, cheddar, Comté, Feta, Fontina, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano
child care (n.); child-care (adj.)
chocolaty (not “chocolatey”)
circle jerk
civil rights movement
class-action lawsuit
come (v.); cum (n.) — (omg yes, this is really here)
coming-out (n., adj.), come out (v.)
company names: Refer to a company as “it,” not “they.” Exception: Band names usually take a plural construction (“The band is on tour”; but “Arcade Fire are playing tonight.”). Omit “Co.,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” etc.
Con Edison; Con Ed is OK on second reference
congressional district (lowercase “c” and “d”)
court cases: Italicize and use “v.” instead of “vs.” (Roe v. Wade)
crop top
crow’s-feet (n.)
crowdfund (all forms)
crowdsource (all forms)
day care (two words)
deal breaker (two words)
Deep South
Democratic Party (cap “P”)
die-hard (adj.), diehard (n.)
diss (meaning to disrespect)
Division One, Two, etc. (for sports references)
DJ (n., v.); DJ’ed, DJ’ing
“don’t ask, don’t tell” (lowercase, in quotes, with a comma for the military policy; in subsequent references, no quotes or abbreviate as DADT)
dos and don’ts
doughnut (but: Dunkin’ Donuts)
Down syndrome
doxx (not dox)
DREAMer (when referring to advocates of the DREAM Act)
drive-thru (as noun)
Dr.: Do not use the term “Dr.” to refer to non-medical doctors who hold a doctorate
Earth (capped only when referring explicitly to the planet; “The biggest on Earth” but “a down-to-earth guy”)
[ed.:] – for ed notes in running text, cap “Ed.:” if it starts a sentence or is its own sentence
Ecstasy (cap “E” for the drug)
Election Day (but lowercase “election night”)
Electoral College
e-book, e-commerce, e-cigarette
emoji, emojis (lowercase)
ever closer (no hyphen)
F-you (as a noun)
Facebook (always capped, in any form)
facedown (adj.)
face-to-face (adj., adv.)
FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) in all other uses
faceup (adj.), face up (v.)
fan fiction, fanfic
farmers market
fav, fav’ed, fav’ing (as in, “I fav’ed his tweet”)
first lady / first family
First World problem
fist-bump (v.); fist bump (n.)
flat iron (hair tool, n.); flat-iron (v.); Flatiron District
flatscreen (one word, both as n. and adj.)
foreign words and phrases: If you can find it in MW, no italics necessary; if you can’t, put in italics
Fox News (not FOX)
freshman 15
friend zone (n.); friend-zone (v.)
frontman / frontwoman
fundraiser, fundraising (contrary to AP and MW)
Froot Loops (not Fruit Loops)
fuckup (n.), fuck up (v.), fucked up (adj.)
Gehad el-Haddad
Generation X, Gen X’er
George R.R. Martin
Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie
GIF/GIF’d (as verb), GIFs, GIFable
Girl Scout Cookie
god: Cap only if explicitly referring to or alluding to a deity; lowercase otherwise, especially in common phrases (“Thank god she was OK,” “Oh god, he thought,” “And god knows we needed all the help we could get”)
goddamn (per Webster’s), goddamnit, goddamned
Google+ (preferred over Google Plus)
google (v.); Google (n.), google-able
Gov. (OK on first reference preceding governor’s name)
gray (not grey)
grown-up (for all forms)
guest star (n.), guest-star (v.)
gun control, gun rights (do not hyphenate, even if it’s modifying a noun — consider noun phrases)
haha (interjection); ha-ha (n.)
hair care (n.), hair-care (adj.)
hair dryer (but blow-dryer)
hair spray
hand job
hardcore (all uses)
hashtag (For clarity, cap separate words — i.e., #ThrowbackThursday — in running copy.)
head count
health care (all forms)
heartrending, gut-wrenching, nerve-racking: Via MW, heartrending denotes sadness, gut-wrenching is meant to describe something that causes “great mental or emotional pain,” and nerve-racking describes something causing someone to feel nervous.
higher-up (n.)
hippie (as in Woodstock, peace and love, and all that)
hippy (as in big-hipped)
hi-top fade
HIV positive (no hyphen, unless it’s modifying a word: e.g., “Are you HIV positive?” vs. “The HIV-positive patients”)
homeowner, homeownership
homepage (also: homescreen, etc.)
hook-up (n.), hook up (v.)
Hosni Mubarak
hotspot, Wi-Fi connection place; hot spot for other uses (i.e., “vacation hot spots”)
H.P. Lovecraft
H/T (for hat tips)
iced coffee (not “ice coffee”)
ID (for identification)
Ikea (not IKEA)
indie pop, indie rock (but hyphenate as modifiers)
Instagram, Instagramming (capped in all forms)
internet (lowercase i)
iPad Mini
Iraq War
ISIS (not ISIL) for militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
It girl / It couple
Jay Z (no hyphen)
J.C. Penney
jeez (not “geez”)
jell (not “gel,” per AP when used as a verb)
J.J. Abrams
JK (just kidding)
J.K. Rowling
Juggalo / Juggalette
key chain (two words)
Kim Kardashian West (no hyphen)
Kobe (as in Bryant — OK to reference by first name)
koozie (for beer/alcoholic drinks)
ladies’ night
LARPer, LARPing (for Live-Action Role-Playing)
LeBron (as in James — OK to reference by first name)
less vs. fewer: Use less when referring to mass nouns, distance, or money; use fewer when referring to things that are quantifiable (e.g., “There was a less of a risk with that option,” “There were fewer people at Jane’s party than at Julie’s.”).
• Use commas on either side for an interjection: “If you have, like, a really bad day…”
• No quotation marks when used as a self-referential pseudo-quote: “I was like, I could never do that. And then I did.”
• likes (as in, Facebook) — lowercase, not set in quotes
• As a suffix: see Combining Forms section below
lil’ (for shorter form of “little”)
lip gloss / lip liner / lipstick
lip sync (n.); lip-synch (v.)
listicle: avoid, use “list” instead
listserv (no caps)
live stream (n.); live-stream (v.)
log in (v.); log-in (n.)
logline (brief summary of a TV program or film); log line (used on ships)
lower/upper Manhattan (lowercase L/U)
MAC (the cosmetics brand)
mac ‘n’ cheese
make do (not make due)
makeup (when referring to cosmetics)
manila envelope
mansplain, mansplaining
Mason jar
M.D./M.D.s (plural)
mecca (lowercase)
middle-aged (not -age)
Midtown Manhattan/Midtown (capped)
millennials (generally avoid using this term when possible; use “twentysomethings,” “twenty- and thirtysomethings,” or “young adults,” depending on what’s most appropriate/accurate)
mmm hmm
Muammar al-Qaddafi
Mohamed Morsi
mohawk (lowercase as the hairstyle)
Molly (capitalized when referring to the drug)
more than vs. over: OK to use interchangeably, but typically, use “more” with quantities and “over” with spatial relationships. (e.g., “There were more than 20 people packed into the apartment,” “The plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean.”)
Muay Thai
Muggle (capped, as in a non-magical person)
‘n’ (when using in place of “and”)
nap time
National Airport or Washington National Airport: preferred over Reagan National Airport
Native American (not American Indian)
Necco (not NECCO)
never mind
News Feed (when referring to Facebook’s News Feed; “newsfeed,” one word, in other references)
news gathering
New Wave (for film genre); new wave (for music genre)
nip slip
No. 1 but “number-one” when it appears in a quote
now: When referring to time, do not use a comma (“I used to be completely terrified of heights. Now I’m generally OK with heights”). When used colloquially, use a comma (“Now, I’d never say that all cats are awesome, but I’ve never met one who wasn’t”).
the n-word (style thusly); in lyrics, etc., write out as n***a
Obama administration
“O Canada” (for both the national anthem and expressions)
OG (no periods)
“oh man”/ “oh my god” / “oh no” all OK without comma after “Oh”
OK (not okay or O.K.)
on-again, off-again
Oprah (OK to use just “Oprah” on first reference)
Other, Otherness: Capitalize to indicate use of the term as a category, especially when discussing race (e.g., in this post, “I think people make a clear distinction that [Lupita Nyong’o] is this exotic, fetishized Other — and therefore not ‘black’ like the rest of us.”).
PA (for personal amplifier)
page view
Paleo diet
pet sitter, pet-sit, pet-sitting
Peyton Manning
Ph.D. / Ph.D.s (plural)
phone calling (as a verb, no hyphen)
photobomb, videobomb
photo op
Photoshop (n.), photoshopped (adj.), photoshop (v.)
the Pill: capitalize when referring to birth control, but only when used as a noun and after “the” (e.g., “She was on the Pill to regulate her period.” / “There’s a new pill on the market with a lower dose of estrogen.”)
pins, pinners (on Pinterest) are always lowercase
Pop art movement
pop star, rock star
primetime (one word, all forms)
pro tip (don’t hyphenate)
pseudo words: don’t hyphenate (e.g., “He rose from Obama stand-in to a pseudo strategist”)
publicly (not publically)
punch line (two words)
Quidditch (capped, as in the game on broomsticks)
quote-unquote (in speech)
“the reason” or “the reason that” preferred to “the reason why” in running text
Reddit (cap in running text), redditor (lowercase, for someone who uses Reddit)
refriend / retweet / repin
Republican National Convention but “Republican convention” if not spelling out entire name
Republican Party (cap “P”)
right-click (hyphenate as both n. and v.)
RIP (no points)
rock ‘n’ roll
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
royal baby
the royal family (lowercase)
RT’d, RTs, RT (on Twitter)
Satan, satanic, satanism
SBD (silent but deadly)
screen saver (two words)
selfie (refers to a photo taken only by someone in said photo)
service member
set list
Shiite, Shiites (not Shia, for the branch of Islam, but Shia is acceptable in quotes)
ship names: capped and italicized (USS Awesome)
‘shippers (when referring to viewers who celebrate a fictional TV couple’s romantic arc)
shit list
shit talk (n.), shit-talk (v.)
smartphone (but cell phone)
snowblowed (for past tense of snowblow)
S.O. (for significant other)
Solo cup
soy milk
spell-check (n. and v.)
SpongeBob SquarePants
spray paint (n.), spray-paint (v.)
Stanky Legg (for dance move — two g’s! )
state representative (lowercase “s” and “r,” unless it precedes politician’s name)
the States (when referring to the United States)
Statehouse (always capped)
stepgrandmother/stepgrandfather (close up all “step” relationships unless next word starts with vowel)
stop-and-frisk (hyphenate in all uses)
struggle bus
student-athlete (also, student-performer, and the like)
super PAC
Sweet 16
tae kwon do
takeout (n.), take out (v.), takeaway (n.)
tear gas (n.); teargas (v.)
The One (as in destined romantic interest)
think piece
Third World: avoid; use “developing world/country” instead
till (as abbreviation for “until”)
time-lapse (adj.), time lapse (n.)
timeline (one word, all uses)
Time (not TIME) magazine
the Today show (not Today Show)
Toys ‘R’ Us
trans/transgender (not transgendered)
tristate (one word, lowercase)
“try to” (not “try and,” as in, “I’m going to try to call her later.”)
T. Swift
Twitter / tweeting / tweets
two-buck Chuck
type A, type B (as in personality)
U.S., U.K. (but USA)
unfriend (not de-friend)
Vine-ing (post a Vine/use Vine is preferred; cap in all uses)
vinyasa yoga
V-Day is OK for Valentine’s Day, but use sparingly
Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia (not French Vogue, Italian Vogue)
vs. (with a period, lowercase in list-y posts), versus (spelled out in news articles, longform stories); but v. for court cases
wack (n.), not cool, effed up; whack (n., v.), a hard or resounding blow, to hit with a hard or resounding blow; also gangster (as in Godfather) slang, “to kill”
Wall Street (spell out, rather than “Wall St.,” in running text, unless talking about a specific address)
Wal-Mart Stores (when referring to the corporation); but “I went to Walmart” (when referring to the retail store)
Washington, D.C. / the D.C. area — but, in datelines, just “WASHINGTON”
watch list
website / web / webpage
Weird Al Yankovic
whistleblower (use instead of “leaker,” which tends to have a negative connotation)
wide-awake (hyphenated)
World Wide Web
writers room
www: Never use in a URL unless it you can’t access the site without it (or if the URL requires the odd www1. or www2.) — all very rare instances!
YA (for young adult)
Yahoo (no !)
YouTube, YouTuber
zeitgeist (lowercase, even though MW “often” caps)
zip code (not ZIP code)
z’s (aka sleep)

Abbreviations & Acronyms

In most cases, spell out on first reference and follow with the acronym in parentheses (if there are subsequent references): e.g., “body mass index (BMI).” Lowercase acronyms with six letters or more (Nasdaq); exception is NASCAR. Possessive acronyms ending in “S” — like CBS or PBS — should take an ‘s, not just an apostrophe (CBS’s sitcoms, PBS’s programs, etc.). Well-known acronyms and abbreviations do not need to be spelled out, even on first reference. Use your judgment, but here are some that don’t need to be spelled out:

CT (scan)

Formatting Guidelines

Anonymous sourcing policy (guidelines):
• Someone up the editorial chain at BuzzFeed should be told who your anonymous source is, except in the most extreme cases. That may be your vertical editor or someone in management.
• Avoid using anonymous sources for negative quotes.
• Think about how the reader will perceive the use of an anonymous source — if a reader were to ask you, “Hey, why didn’t you use that guy’s name?” is your answer something they would understand?
• The number of anonymous sources isn’t as important as the knowledge those sources have. Five randos isn’t as useful as one person who actually knows what they’re talking about.

• Bylines are used exclusively in entertainment/music list stories or other compilation pieces where there are two or more authors of different copy blurbs throughout. Do not include in any other stories unless they follow suit. Exception: At the end of first-person stories told to our editors. Use italics, full name, and period on a new line after last paragraph: As told to Jane Smith.
• On first reference, insert byline one space after body copy ends, formatted as follows (em dash, no space, full name, roman): —Jane Smith
• On second and subsequent references, format byline as follows (em dash, initials each followed by a period, no spaces): —J.S.

• See the end of this document for a more detailed guide to BuzzFeed’s correction policy, but all corrections should go at the end of a post in the following format when called for:
CORRECTION: The editor of BuzzFeed is Ben Smith. An earlier version of this item misstated his name. (3/6/13)
• DON’T add a correction without first running the proposed correction by your editor or team leader. Vertical editors can run corrections by management. And when you approve a correction, please cc management so we can keep track.

Headlines, deks, and sub-buzz/subheadings:
• Initial-cap every word in headlines (our CMS will do this automatically), with no end punctuation (unless it is a question mark, or, very rarely, exclamation).
• Treat deks as sentences with normal punctuation. Always bold the first sentence in a dek.
• Subheadings and lists: Use common sense re: capitalization. Err on the side of consistency. If most sentences are full sentences, capitalize the first word only, use end punctuation, and treat as a normal sentence for all subheds in list. If list reads more like titles of images/things (e.g., “Grumpy Cat,” “This Guy,” “Your Brother”), initial-cap each word (except for prepositions, articles, conjunctions that are three letters or fewer — and, at, but, for, of, etc.) and do not use end punctuation. REMINDER: In headlines/subheadings with initial-capped words, always cap “Is,” which, although a puny word, is indeed a verb!
• In lists, please retain the “The” in superlative headlines (e.g., “The 30 Most Inspiring Films,” “The 25 Best GIFs of 2012”).
• With the exception of quizzes, generally avoid questions as headlines, particularly news headlines posed as ones that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” (e.g., “Will Hillary Clinton…”).

• When manually adding hyperlinks, please double-check that the quotes in your links are “dumb,” or straight, quotes and not “smart,” or curly, quotes. Smart quotes will cause the links to be broken; especially double-check that your links work when you have copied and pasted your text from a Word or Google Docs document, which tend to retain all smart quotes, even in hyperlinks.

• When formatting, bold the question BuzzFeed asks (without identification of “BuzzFeed” or editor’s name as interviewer); answers by interviewee are not bolded, but the interviewee’s name is. Use a line space between every question and answer (and answer and answer, if more than one person is being interviewed).
• Name(s) of the interviewee(s) is/are bolded. On first reference, spell out entire name of interviewee; on second reference, use initials (capped, no periods). Exception: If there are more than two individuals being interviewed, we may consider identifying interviewees on second reference by either their first or last names, if that lends clarity (especially, for example, if there is dialogue amongst the interviewees where they refer to one another by their first names. Just use good judgment.
• Don’t italicize the intro; add an extra space between the intro and the first question if the Q&A section does not begin in a separate text box.
• Set off indication of laughing and such reactions as follows: (laughs)

Q&A example:
Why are you so cool?

Justin Bieber: Because I wear really fashion-forward pants.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

JB: Be fun and wear cool pants, I guess. (laughs)

What’s next for you?

JB: Finding even more fashion-forward pants to wear.

• If you’re using an em dash for attribution, one space before the dash, no space after. “Quote.” —Guy Who Said Quote

Timestamps and Updates:
• There are generally two types of stories that require a timestamp: updates (typically just one or two) to a breaking-news piece that was written through as one article, in one text box (e.g., here), and “live blog”-type breaking news pieces, which are expected to be continually updated as more info comes in. For the former, as shown in the link, add updates at the bottom of the story. For “live blog” pieces, add updates from the bottom up, as new info comes in.
• To indicate that a posted has been updated or is developing in the dek of a story, please do so in plain text. Do not italicize, bold, or place the “Update” or “Developing” in all caps. Example here.

• The updates should be indicated with a timestamp in this style:
Update — Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
• With multiple updates, no need to repeat the date, unless the updates happen over two or more days. In this case, just mention the new date once. Example:
Update — Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 2:45 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 6:14 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 10:53 p.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — Feb. 15, 1:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 3:25 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.
Update — 7:30 a.m. ET: This update happened tktktktk.

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation Guidelines

• Generally do not use spaces on either side of ampersands in constructions like Q&A, R&B, etc.

• Generally, all quotes should have attribution, even if it is obvious who is speaking. A colon after the sentence that directly precedes a quote is fine; otherwise, aim for attribution within or after the first sentence of a quote. “Says” and “said” are preferred verbs for attribution; avoid “she notes,” “he laughs,” “they contend,” etc. “Explain” is also frequently misused; is the person quoted really explaining something?
• In crowdsourced posts or posts with anecdotes by several different editors/people, quotation marks around the blurb are not necessary. Just add a “—FirstName LastName” (or “—Anonymous”) after the anecdote.

• Awards show names are set in roman: Academy Awards, MTV Movie Awards.
• Initial-cap the names of awards given at official awards shows in all instances (e.g., Best Documentary, Best Gut-Wrenching Performance).

• Capitalize words that are “often” or “usually” capped per MW.
• Never begin a sentence with a lowercase letter, UNLESS it’s a very well-known brand (like iPad or eBay), though where possible, avoid the awkwardness of starting a sentence with a lowercase letter.
• Slashes are OK in specific contexts (like “and/or”), but use hyphens for basic compounds and double titles like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.”
• With directions: the Northeast, but southeast Brooklyn. Lowercase north, south, east, west, unless using them to refer to particular regions (the South, the Western Hemisphere, etc.).
• Product and brand names should be initial-capped, unless that name is made of initials (e.g., Gap, Ikea, AT&T; exception: MAC).
• Product names in all lowercase letters should be capitalized (e.g., iPod Nano, not iPod nano).
• Intercaps that delineate new words are OK: BlackBerry, eBay, iPod, NyQuil, etc. Intercaps that are just graphic treatments are not: Prana, not prAna.

Combining forms:
• Closing up or hyphenating combining forms generally depends on readability and whether closing up a word changes its meaning. Follow the guidelines below, and consult MW in most cases:
-ass (crazy-ass party, but badass)
-bait (typically closed up: clickbait, linkbait, tweetbait)
butt- (typically closed up: buttcrack, buttface, butthead)
co- (hyphenate: co-facilitate, co-worker)
cyber- (closed up unless it affects readability: cyberwarfare, cyberbullying, cybersecurity, etc. but Cyber Monday)
-esque (closed up/hyphens depend on readability: yolo-esque, Kafkaesque)
-fest (most combining forms should be closed up: lovefest, puppyfest, etc.)
-fuck (usually closed up: clusterfuck, bumblefuck)
-goer (hyphenate only if readability is an issue: beachgoer, theatergoer, fairgoer, filmgoer)
-head (close up [metalhead, pothead] unless it interferes with readability [hip-hop-head, Phish-head])
hyper- (close up, per MW)
-ian (usually closed up — use your judgment re: readability)
-ish (again, usually closed up, but use your judgment: New Yorkish)
-less (hyphenate only if not found in MW: childless, witless, audience-less, pants-less)
-like (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable; use MW and good judgment)
-maker (look up: decision-maker, deal-maker, but policymaker, lawmaker)
-mate (close up combining form: tourmates, cellmates)
mega- (hyphenate, per MW)
mid- (close up most, check MW: mid-1950s, mid-Atlantic, but midterm, midday)
mini- (hyphenate: mini-cupcakes)
multi- (follow MW)
non- (close up, per MW)
-plus (preferable to +, as in “He was 20-plus years old.”)
pre- (generally close up; follow MW)
re- (close up unless doing so makes a word unreadable or changes its meaning: re-create, reimagine)
-seeker (job seeker, asylum-seeker, thrill-seeker)
self- (hyphenate: self-absorbed)
-shaming (hyphenate: slut-shaming, fat-shaming, body-shaming)
-size (not “-sized”: plus-size, oversize)
super- (follow MW)
then- phrases (hyphenate: “her then-boyfriend,” “then-Senator Obama”)
-turned phrases (do not hyphenate, unless it comes before a person’s name: “the actor turned lawyer”; “Actor-turned-lawyer John Smith…”)
-ward (not -wards, no “s”: afterward, backward, toward, forward)
-worthy combining form (one word; use hyphen only if readability is an issue: newsworthy, Oscarworthy, lustworthy, law-worthy)

• A full sentence should always precede a colon.
• Complete sentences following a colon are capped; incomplete sentences following a colon are not capped.

• BuzzFeed uses the serial comma: e.g., “We picked up cyan, magenta, yellow, and black balloons for the party.”
• Don’t use a comma before “too.” Exception: Use commas with “too” only when you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought (e.g., “He didn’t know at first what hit him, but then, too, he hadn’t ever walked in a field strewn with garden rakes”). In most other cases, commas with this short adverb are unnecessary (an exception being sentences that begin with “too” — in the sense of also — though avoid this when possible, as it can look awkward).
• No commas before “Jr.” or “Sr.” in names.

• For ellipses, use three dots in a row, no spaces between the dots — i.e., … (not …).
• If ellipses are used to indicate a trailing off in thought or a long pause, insert a space before the next sentence. (e.g., “I don’t know… Certainly, I don’t think it will be good.”)
• If ellipses are used after a full sentence to indicate omission of a full sentence or more (as in a quote), use a period followed by a space before inserting ellipses. (e.g., “We moved to New Orleans in 2010. … By 2012, we were back in New York.”)
• If ellipses are used to indicate omission of words rather than a full sentence or are inserted mid-sentence, use a space on either side of the ellipses. (e.g., “I adopted a cat yesterday … and he’s already made himself right at home.”)
• More on ellipses here.

Em dash:
• Create the em dash with keystroke option + shift + hyphen (on Macs).
• Use spaces on either side of the em dash.
• Try to avoid use of the em dash when parentheses, commas, or a semicolon would work just as well.

En dash:
• Create the en dash with keystroke option + hyphen (on Macs).
• Use the en dash (not hyphen) in sports scores (e.g., 5–3), date ranges (e.g., 1999–2005), and compound noun constructions such as “the New York–New Jersey border.”
• Do not use spaces on either side of the en dash.

Fashion Credits:
• Use the following format for fashion/product credits (going from the top down, left to right; main apparel first, followed by accessories; combining item credits if they are made by the same brand/designer):
Guess blouse and sequin shorts, Falke leggings, Julie Voss cross necklaces, Gemma Simone chandelier necklace, Clara Kasavina oval motif necklace, Pluma cuff (left), Push by Pushmataaha earrings and cuff (right), Christian Siriano shoes.

• NEVER use a hyphen after an adverb — aka most “-ly” words (e.g., “It was a poorly written book,” NOT “poorly-written”).
• Do use hyphens for clarity in the following situations (per Chicago Manual of Style):
When compound modifiers such as “open-mouthed” or “full-length” precede a noun, hyphenation usually lends clarity. With the exception of proper nouns (such as “United States”) and compounds formed by an adverb ending in “ly” plus an adjective, it is never incorrect to hyphenate adjectival compounds before a noun (e.g., “A First-Rate Movie,” “Five-Alarm Chili”).
• When such compounds follow the noun they modify, hyphenation is not always necessary, but can allow for more clarity (with “well-” combining forms, for instance: “well-read,” “well-known,” etc.)

“The Internet”: Avoid in headlines
• Avoid “The Internet Did ____” / “All Of The Internet” “Everyone On The Internet” as a frame/device in headlines.
• Also avoid using “…broke the internet” in both headlines and in running copy; instead opt for more descriptive, specific language.

• Use italics for the names of movies, television shows, newspapers, magazines, books, art exhibitions/collections, web series, podcasts, radio programs, video games (only those played on a console — games that are apps should be roman, capped); use quotations for names of movie/play scenes, television episodes, articles, chapters, individual pieces of art.
• Titles of both individual films and names of franchises should be italicized. Try to maintain clarity between individual films (e.g., Star Wars) and larger franchises (e.g., the Star Wars franchise/movies/saga etc.), whenever it can be natural flowed into a story’s copy.
• Still unsure? Here’s a handy cheat sheet for when to italicize vs. use quotes.
• Normally, titles that should be italicized (movie names, TV shows, books, etc.) are set off with quotes in headlines (since they cannot be italicized in headlines/list subheds in our CMS). DO NOT, however, put newspaper or magazine titles in quotes in headlines — because it just looks weird! Treat with no special punctuation (e.g., Check Out What Vanity Fair Has To Say; Meet The New York Times Editor Who Rules).
• Keep all punctuation (including apostrophe + s) that follows italicized, bolded, or colored (via links) words in roman.

Job titles:
• Standard practice in entertainment coverage is never to capitalize a job title except when it starts a sentence. The same goes for every position on a movie set: “director Martin Scorcese,” “screenwriter Tina Fey,” etc. Executives within the studios, however, follow the standard AP rules for title capitalization.
• Be conscious of using gender-neutral job titles (e.g., “salesperson” or “sales rep” rather than “salesman,” “actor” rather than “actress,” “lawmaker” rather than “congressman/congresswoman,” etc.).

Letters (of the alphabet):
• Individual letters and combinations of letters are not usually set in quotes. Exception: Instances relating to spelling, e.g., “Her name is JoAnne with a capital ‘A.’”
• Letters that are used to represent shape are capitalized and not set in quotes: an L-shaped couch.
• Letters used to denote grades are capitalized and roman: “If Yolo Studies were a class, I’d totally get an A.” / “I had straight A’s up until I started doing krokodil.”
• Simply add an “s” to pluralize all abbreviations DVDs, CDs, Ph.D.s

• In news stories, use surnames on second reference (except for very young people); if there is a compelling reason to refer to a subject on first-name basis, that may be acceptable. If two or more people in the same story have the same surname, generally refer to all by their first name on second reference.
• Per AP: Chinese names generally place surnames first and then given names: e.g., Deng Xiaoping. Second reference should be the family name, Deng in this case. For more, AP has an entry dedicated to Chinese naming conventions.

• Use one space between a period and the next sentence. Never two.

Photo captions:
• Use parentheses to indicate directional: e.g., President Obama (center) meets with Gov. Chris Christie (right).
• Credits should read: Photographer’s Name / Agency
• Do not italicize photo captions or set in smaller text (sometimes we’ll make an exception to this, like in this post, where a normal-size caption font would blend in with the body copy and look distracting).
• For dates in photo captions (especially applicable to breaking news), only add the year if the photo was take in a year other than the present one. Use specific dates (“Feb. 26”) rather than days of the week (“on Wednesday”).

Use ‘s for all singular possessive nouns. Exceptions:
• Corporation or brand names that are pluralized (e.g., General Motors’)
• Singular proper names ending in “s”; use only an apostrophe. Per AP: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Ceres’ rites, Descartes’ theories, Dickens’ novels, Euripides’ dramas, Hercules’ labors, Jesus’ life, Jules’ seat, Kansas’ schools, Moses’ law, Socrates’ life, Tennessee Williams’ plays, Xerxes’ armies. (An exception is St. James’s Palace.)
• Personal pronouns never take apostrophes.
• Per AP: Words ending with an “ess” sound before “sake” take an apostrophe but no “s”: For goodness’ sake; for appearance’ sake; but for Pete’s sake.
• When a proper noun is already plural, the usual rule for possessives applies: The Smiths’, Rolling Stones’.

• Non-offensive, “casual-use” profanity in cases where it’s warranted by the tone or subject matter of a post (e.g., “She shit-talked her ex,” “He royally fucked up,” etc.) should be spelled out in running copy. More sensitive words, like the c-word or n-word, should generally be styled thusly; if they appear in a quote, use asterisks in place of one or several letters.
• Avoid using profanity in the headline or dek of a post, unless you’re referencing a direct quote or official name. In those cases, use an asterisk in place of a letter (e.g., “f*ck,” “sh*t”).

• “They” is acceptable as a singular stand-in when it makes a sentence read more smoothly and the alternative is a construction like “s/he” or “she or he” (e.g., “If someone is knocking at your door and you don’t know who they are…”). It should also used be used when it is a person’s preferred pronoun. (See LGBT section.)

Publication titles
• Generally, do not capitalize and italicize “the” in print/web publication names (e.g., New York Times, not The New York Times). Exceptions to this include The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter (which abbreviates its title as THR), and publications with only one word after “the”: The Sun, The Guardian, etc.

• Use only between two complete sentences or in lists with internal commas (e.g., “We visited Buffalo, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Lima, Ohio”).

• Thoughts are set off with a comma, initial capped, and italicized. (I thought, What if I were to move to Switzerland?)

Television shows:
• Style seasons/episodes as follows: In Season 1, Episode 1 of Homeland

• When using tildes for ~whimsical~ emphasis, put punctuation on the outside of the ending tilde.

• Italicize names of news websites (Huffington Post, Jezebel, etc.) and blogs — basically any news-oriented site with daily dated entries (exception: BuzzFeed). Do not italicize names of news organizations, however, like Associated Press and Reuters.
• When writing out URLs, don’t adhere to vanity capping (e.g.,, NOT

Words as words:
• Use roman type in quotes. “He used the word ‘chillax’ way too often.”
• For profanity: “the c-word,” “the n-word,” etc.


• Spell out states names in copy when a city precedes it: e.g., “This happened in Boca Raton, Florida.”
• L.A. is acceptable for Los Angeles on first reference, but other city abbreviations (NYC, S.F., D.C.) should not be used on first reference in body copy.
• Descriptions of a Long Island background should include a specific town, e.g., “He’s from Manhasset, New York” (not “He’s from Long Island, New York”). As an adjective, “Long Island” can stand alone without “New York” — e.g., “The Long Island singer recorded her first album at the age of 18.”
• Please use datelines in all original reported news stories, spelling out both the city and state or country name in full. Our style is as follows:
EL PASO, Texas — Running copy lorem ipsum etc etc etc
• See below for U.S. city names that are well-known enough to stand alone without a state, both in datelines and running text (supplementing the list in AP). (Note: Just use “Washington” for D.C. datelines.)

Atlantic City
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Miami (and Miami Beach)
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.

• Other prominent smaller U.S. regions may not require a state to ID them, but the context must be considered. These include:

Beverly Hills
Big Sur
Cape Cod
Des Moines
Fort Lauderdale
The Hamptons
Martha’s Vineyard
New York’s five boroughs (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island)
Santa Fe
Santa Monica
Silicon Valley
Soho (NYC and London)
South Beach
Times Square

• Foreign cities and regions that can stand alone (for Canadian provinces, adding the province name after a city is sufficient — “Montreal, Quebec,” not “Montreal, Quebec, Canada”):

Buenos Aires
Hong Kong
Mexico City
Monte Carlo
Panama City
Rio de Janeiro
St. Petersburg
Tel Aviv
Vatican City


• September 1961, spring 1955 are preferred over September of 1961, spring of 1955

• Format full dates as: Oct. 3, 1983 (not October 3rd, 1983)

• Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone.

• When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day, and year, set off the year with commas.

• Examples (these apply to headlines and deks as well):
March 1983 was a good month because that’s when I came into the world.
Feb. 4 was the coldest day of the month.
His birthday is April 17.
Feb. 14, 2009, was the worst Valentine’s Day ever.
Episode 3 airs Saturday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 p.m.

Disability, Disease, Mental Health


• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “Avoid such expressions as: He is battling cancer. She is a stroke victim. Use neutral, precise descriptions: He has stomach cancer. She is a stroke patient.”

• Avoid use of “mentally retarded”: mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or intellectually disabled are preferred.


• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “In general, do not describe an individual as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If a description must be used, try to be specific. An ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson’s disease drew nationwide attention. Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis. Rather, has multiple sclerosis.”

• Use people-first language (i.e., using a person’s name or the terms “person” or “people” before a condition) to avoid phrasing that could be seen as defining someone by their disability: e.g., “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people.”

• Use “wheelchair user” rather than “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-bound.” If known/when possible, say why a wheelchair is used.

• For further guidelines, refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide and the Research and Training Center on Independent Living’s “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities” here.

Mental Health

• Avoid use of “bipolar” and “OCD” in a non-clinical sense.

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines on mental illness, which include not describing a person as mentally ill “unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.” “Mental illness” is OK to use as a general term, but specific conditions should be used when possible. Do not use the term “the mentally ill.”


• When referring to the broader community, “queer” (as in “queer people” or “LGBT” as in “LGBT people”) is appropriate. “Gay” is not. “LGBT” is only appropriate when referring to the broader community or groups of people, not when referring to individuals.

• Opt for “anti-gay” rather than “homophobic.”

• Unless you already know based on research, it should be standard to ask how people identify themselves: gay, bi, genderqueer, queer, trans, etc.
• A person can be trans WITHOUT also being gay or lesbian. Don’t assume.

• Our style is to use “marriage equality” and “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage.” Even then, “same-sex marriage” is a shorthand that should be used only when needed for clarity or for space purposes (i.e., in headlines). Generally, in text, it is more accurate to refer to “same-sex couples’ marriage rights” or something similar.

pride flag:
• Use instead of “rainbow flag” or “rainbow pride flag.”

“Out” vs. “openly”
• “Out gay” is preferred over “openly gay” as a modifying phrase (e.g., “The out gay senator…”)

• Always defer to the pronouns a person chooses to use for himself / herself / themselves.
(It’s not rude to ask. In fact it’s encouraged to ask, “What pronouns do you prefer to use?”)
• If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression.

Transgender terms: Adapted from the GLAAD Transgender Glossary of Terms. See full document here.

• Transgender: An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

• Transsexual: An older term (NOT an umbrella term), which originated in the medical and psychological communities. While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Ask which term an indi­vidual prefers.

• Cross-dressing: To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future.

• Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.

• Please use the correct term or terms to describe gender identity. For example, a person who is born male and transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who is born female and transitions to become male is a transgender man.

• Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people’s stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past.

Transgender terms to avoid:
Avoid: “transgenders,” “a transgender”
Use: “transgender people,” “a transgender person”
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. NO: “Tony is a transgender.” YES: “Tony is a transgender man.”

Avoid: “transgendered” (adj.)
Use: “transgender” (adj.)

Avoid: “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” “shim,” “gender-bender”

Avoid: “sex change operation”
Use: Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

Avoid: “transvestite”
Use: “cross-dresser”

Avoid: “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative”
Use: “transition”

Avoid: “Gender Identity Disorder (GID)”
Offensive because it labels people as “disordered.”

Avoid: “bathroom bill”
Use: “non-discrimination law/ordinance” instead.


Album nicknames:
• An album best known by another name instead of its formal title should be styled in roman with no quotes — e.g., the White Album (for The Beatles) and the Banana Album (for The Velvet Underground & Nico).

alt-, alterna-, avant-:
• Hyphenate all made-up constructions.

• Avoid using unless it is officially part of the artist’s name (e.g., Mumford & Sons).

Band names:
• All band names, even those singular in form, take plural construction (e.g., “Soundgarden return to a world without chops,” “Limp Bizkit are the best band ever”). This also applies to names with the words “band,” “group,” “clan,” etc. (“Dave Matthews Band were on tour”).
• Capitalize “The” in band names that officially start with “the”: The Rolling Stones, The Strokes
• K-Pop artists: Don’t cap every letter in the artist’s or band’s name, even if it often appears as such (e.g., G-Dragon, not G-DRAGON; Psy, not PSY).

• Genre names should always be lowercase (new wave, indie, hip-hop, etc.). Exceptions: K-pop, J-pop, R&B.

• Set lyrics in quotes, use a slash between lines, and capitalize the first letter of each new line. (“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothing you can’t do.”)

• Song listings should always read as: Artist Name, “Song Title”
• Artist Name feat. Other Artist Name, “Song Title” (but spell out “featuring” in running copy; abbreviate only in lists)

Tour names:
• If a tour is named after an album, the tour title is in italics and the word “tour” is roman and lowercase (e.g., the Bigger Bang tour).
• If the tour name doesn’t refer to an album, it should be set in roman, and all words should be initial-capped, including “tour” (e.g., the 777 Tour, the Korn Reunion Tour).

• Do not adhere to vanity capitalization (e.g., if there’s an album named The BeSt tHiNg EveR, please just style as The Best Thing Ever). When in doubt, defer to the music editors.
• Avoid the word “problematic” at all costs.
• No. 14 on iTunes
• Record companies: Capitalize the word “records” for all labels (e.g., Atlantic Records).
• Side One, Side Two (in album references)


• Spell out one through nine, use numerals for 10 and above (exception: OK to use numerals for numbers under 10 in lists of headlines, like in Celeb Gossip Roundup stories. Also OK to use numerals in news-y headlines like this “10 People Shot, 3 Killed At Detroit Barber Shop”).
• Be consistent when writing out numbers in succession (e.g., “9, 10, and 11” NOT “nine, 10, and 11”).
• Never start a sentence with a numeral — UNLESS a year starts a sentence (“2013 was a totally bodacious year”), but try to avoid this.
• Use 1 in 4 voters (figures) if it’s a large sampling. But spell six out of nine senators because these are finite numbers under 10.
• More than 1 in 4 children are obese (not “is”).

• Use numerals for specific ages (“The 5-year-old had a party,” “She was turning 30”).
• Spell out decades (“in your thirties”) and variations (“The twentysomethings…”).

• ’90s / 1990s (Not: 90’s, 1990’s, 90s, nineties, eighties, or any other combination!)

Demographics (e.g., in Entertainment stories):
• In 18 to 49, there was…
• 18- to 49-year-olds…
• In the 18-to-49 demographic…

• Generally, use figures and spell out “inches,” “feet,” “yards,” etc., to indicate depth, height, length, and width in longform and news/journalistic stories. However, in the context of a list, for instance, it is also acceptable to use foot and inch marks (5’6”) to indicate a person’s height if spelling out “5 feet 6 inches” in context appears stilted/looks awkward. Use your judgment.
• Examples:
She is 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot-11-inch man; the 6-foot man; the basketball team signed a 7-footer; the orca whale is 26 feet long.
The ship is 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet high.
The room is 20 feet by 15 feet; the 20-by-15-foot room.
Forecasters are predicting 8 inches of snow tonight.
The 750-square-foot apartment.

• When spelling out fractions in running copy, hyphenate: “You’ll need one-third of a cup of sugar for that recipe,” “More than one-half of the student body voted for removing soda machines from campus.”
Here’s a link to HTML codes for fractions.
• When spelled out (i.e., at the start of a sentence), hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

Grades (as in school):
• He was in the first grade; she was a first-grader; they were both first-grade teachers. Use figures for grades 10–12.

In headlines:
• For lists, always use a numeral. “9 Adorable Photos Of Monkeys Riding Cats,” “54 Amazing GIFs Of Naked Presidents”
• If a number is not referencing the number of items in a list, then spell it out. “Eight-Minute Video Of Hillary Clinton,” “Five Out Of Nine Supreme Court Justices Prefer Cats Over Dogs,” etc.

Millions and billions:
• Always use numerals (6 million people).

• Use figure + percent sign —unless a percentage starts a sentence, in which case spell out the number and use the word “percent.” (“The survey showed that 88% of people would rather hang out with Lil Bub than Anne Hathaway,” “Eight-five percent of the staff voted for a pizza party.”)
• Exception: OWS terms “the 1 percent” and “the 99 percent.”

• 99 cents, $25, $2 billion deficit
• In lists of items, generally round up prices to nearest full dollar or 50-cent amount. (e.g., $17.15 would be $17; $17.49 would be $17.50, $17.99 would be $18).
• Spell out foreign currency rather than using symbols (euros, yen, etc.).

Phone numbers:
• 917-000-0000; 800-BUZZFEED

• Scores: 5–3 (with an en dash); not “5 to 3.” (Also, no comma necessary after “won” in a sentence such as “The Knicks won 110–98.”)
• Use digits for scores, statistics, and yard lines. Spell out everything else under 10 (e.g., ninth inning, first quarter, third base).

• Expressed as numeral + “degrees.” No need to repeat the word “degrees” if it’s implied. (e.g., “It was 5 degrees out, but it fel

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