Sin style sheet

Capital Letters:

Use a capital for…

Someone’s name/title, i.e., President Michael D. Higgins.

The name of a committee.

A religion/religious label.


Days of the week, months and holidays.

Countries, landmarks and languages.


Don’t use a capital for…

A title that is preceded by “the”, i.e., the president, Mary McAleese, or a title that follows a name.

Impermanent committees/groups or rough descriptions/

Non-specific use of the word “god”.

Seasons. “This spring…”

Headlines should not feature a capital letter in every word, i.e., Late grants cause student hardship.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns should always be singular, e.g. The Government has…, The staff is…, The Students’ Union is… If you are referring to a collective’s constituents, use the plural, e.g. The council are at sixes and sevens, The staff are at each other’s throats.


Colons should be used after a statement which precedes a list, e.g. His basket is full of fruit: apples, pears, bananas and plums.

Common Problems

The word none is derived from not one. Thus it is always followed by the singular, e.g. None of the workers was pleased with the outcome. Not one of the workers were pleased with the outcome.

A couple is two. A few is ‘a small number of’, usually three or four. Several means more than five. A dozen is 12.

Prefer their to his or her. Where the sex is not stipulated, use “their”.


Avoid using too many conjunctions. Too many conjunctions can result in a long, rambling sentence. “And” and “but” are examples of conjunctions.


Dates must be written as Monday, 5 January 2009.


Use italics for:

Titles of books, newspapers, films, albums etc but use single inverted commas for minor titles within a larger body of work (articles, poems, stories, tracks etc.), e.g. “Sin’s recent article ‘The Style Sheet,’ caused great confusion among writers…”

The names of ships and aircraft, e.g. The Titanic.

Foreign phrases. e.g. “We found ourselves in a cul de sac.”

Emphasis. Capital letters should never be used for emphasis.


Avoid using jargon or slang. It is generally used to express a simple term in a more complicated way. Simple and normal language is always best.


Numbers from one to one ten must be written as words, except when used statistically. Numbers from 10 and upwards must be expressed as figures.

In the case of a set use digits for all. e.g. He asked for 9 soldiers and received 99.

Use figures for volume, part, chapter, and page numbers.

Figures are also used for years, including those below one hundred.

Numbers at the beginning of sentences and approximate numbers should be expressed in words, as should ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’, etc., if they appear as whole numbers:


Do not add an line of return between paragraphs.


Percent should be expressed written as ‘eight percent’, ’10 percent’, etc.

Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks(“”) must always be used for speech. She said; “Double quotation marks should always be used…”

When quoting someone, always take their words verbatim: write exactly what they said. If a lengthy quote veers off the subject you may use an ellipses […] to remove irrelevant information.

It is very poor form to quote someone out of context.

Single quotation marks can be used for a quotation within a quotation, e.g., “She told the writers that ‘single quotations should be used when quoting within a quote’…”

Single quotations marks can be used for terminology, e.g.  Though referred to as a ‘professor’, Mr Smith never in fact completed his PhD.


In Sin, we use semi-colons when introducing a quote or statement, e.g., She stated; “This style guide provides some essential information.”

A semicolon is used to connect two independent clauses which are related.

Do not use a semicolon to connect two sentences when there is already a conjunction (and, but, etc.) between them, e.g. Twelve workers started the project; only five remain, not Twelve workers started the project; but only five remain.


Times must be expressed numerically and followed by “am” or “pm”.


A person’s title should come before their name, e.g. President Barack Obama not  Barack Obama, President

The first mention of a person in an article must include their title. They can then be referred to as Mr, Mrs, Ms, etc., on each subsequent mention, e.g. Mr Obama.