Write Away Magazine Style Guide

Write Away Magazine like all media outlets should have a style guide that is used to standardise what is put out in their name in electronic, print, visual and audio channels. This allows for consistency.

Write Away Magazine will attempt to abide by the editorial style set out in this guide.


At the first instance in the text the name is written in full, as in the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, with the abbreviation in brackets behind the term, as in (UNESCO). Thereafter, just the abbreviation is used, as in: “UNESCO provides ideas.” Readers, viewers and listeners may not know what is meant if just the abbreviation is used, as in PGCE.

Accuracy of the written word

Writers carry responsibility for the accuracy, correctness and truthfulness of what they have created and or written, not Write Away Magazine. Any legal fees that might be incurred from publication are carried by the writers, not Write Away Magazine.


The age of people will be written in full up to nine years of age. After that, ages will be written as 15-year-old or placed in brackets, as in the Editor was young (58).

Artificial Intelligence

Articles or parts of articles cannot be taken off a website or created by artificial intelligence. Using articles generated by artificial intelligence is copying.

Bad English

Often the speaking people who are interviewed or written about use bad English, with slang words. Writers must not quote their bad English nor slang. Rather, re-write their words more sensibly into indirect speech.


Each article will feature a photograph of the writer and a two sentence by-line. The same photograph and by-line can be used for each submission. Writers are to include contact details in the form of an email address, or other social media links, that will be published at the end of the article.


Brackets should not become part of a writer’s writing style. In fact, writers should actively stay away from brackets (even if they feel the need to clarify a point).

Capital letters

The use of capitals should be minimised. Academic subjects are not capitalized nor sports. Employment positions are not capitalised. The head of a company, for example, will thus be called the chief executive officer or the managing director. Writers would not say the Doorman greeted them. The general secretary of a trade union will be reported as the general secretary. One exception is the Press and the Editor. These words are always capitalized.

The most senior of public offices will be capitalised, as in Mayor, Minister, President.

The names of airports, dams, lakes, mountains ranges, rivers and roads will be capitalised, as in the Vaal River is not far from OR Tambo Airport. Please note, if a place is named after a person, the word burger is used, to mean citizen, as in Johannesburg. The word berg is used for a mountain range, as in the Drakensberg.


The words however and so always have commas immediately after them so, use the comma. However, commas are not used at the end of a list, as in: “Media people should be professional, brave, honest and persevere.” Please note that there is no comma between honest and persevere. So, please abide by this guide, for the sake of consistency.


A date will be written May 12 2023, and not 10 May 2018, nor May 10th or May 2nd or May 3rd.

Exclamation marks

Writers should not use exclamation marks. There is seldom a need to acclaim a point.


The words boy/girl can be used only for people attending school. After that, they become young women and young men. The words boy and girl can be offensive for some people.

Guessing words

Writers best be wary of using all words ending in est. Writers are guessing when they use the words best, biggest, fastest, finest, heaviest, largest, smallest or tallest. There is seldom a way of proving or knowing if something is est. In particular if a writer calls somebody they are writing about the greatest, they are lying. Thus, the expression means nothing. The only time the word best can be used is when saying: “This style guide offered me the best advice I have ever received on how to improve my writing.”


This is the use of Prof, Dr, Mr, Mrs, Miss, President. The honorific is used in the first reference to the person. Thereafter just their surname is used. Every person mentioned must have a first name and a surname. For example, Dr Makatshwa Similane will hereafter be referred to as Similane.

Hyphens and dashes

The use of hyphens and dashes will be minimised.


Words must not be written in italics for emphasis. The name of cultural item such as books, films, musical bands, plays, poems and songs will appear in italics.  The Rolling Stones band will always be in italics, for example.

Terms, themes, phrases and words can appear in italics, if the need for clarity so demands.

Length of submissions

Writers should submit no more than 1 000 words in an article, unless there is a very good reason for a longer article.


Numbers will be written as 13 453. There is a space between the numbers but no comma nor full stop between the numbers. The numbers one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine will always be given in words as shown in this sentence. All numbers 10 and above will be given in figures, as in there were 38 contributors on the contributor’s list.


These words have no plural form: clothes; knowledge; research, vocabulary, if writers mean the number of words they know in a language, as opposed to the words in several languages they may know. If reference is made to two or more languages, the word vocabularies can be used.


Be careful of the words I, me, our, they, us, we (personal pronouns). Readers, viewers and listeners seldom know who I, me, our, us and we are. Nobody in the world knows who they are. 

Quotation marks

The Editor said: “We will use this form of grammar for quotation marks. We will always use double quotation marks. We will use single quotation marks only when conveying a quotation within a quotation, as in the sub-editor said she ‘is thrilled to be guided’ by this style guide.” Quotation marks, single or double, will not be used to highlight a word nor an idea.


British spelling will be used.


Please do not use swear words, even if the person you are interviewing uses swear words. Do not use the form s*&t to indicate a swear word.


Writers would be advised to write in the past tense. This is different to academic literature reviews which are presented in the present tense. If an activity is ongoing, it can be presented in the present continuous tense, as in: “This style guide is updated from time to time.” The future tense is always an expectation or a hope. Writers should be consistent in the use of tenses within a sentence.

Third person

Writers would be wise to use third person pronouns. Third person pronouns refer to people or things other than the speaker or writer. Examples of third person pronouns are he, she, it, they, him, her, them, his, hers, theirs, himself, herself, itself, oneself and themselves.


A time will be written as 9.15 am or 10.12 pm.


If non-English words are used in an article, they will be translated into English by the writer. The translation will be put in brackets after the foreign words.


Writers must not submit items or articles that are part of a personal vendetta against a person, nor a business, nor an entity. This is not a site for personal battles.

Weekend, the

The proper English is to refer to at the weekend, as in I went to the beach at the weekend. The phrase on the weekend is not proper English.

Write Away Magazine

Be slow to speak on behalf of Write Away Magazine. As in: “Write Away Magazine likes this school.” Writers must not commit Write Away Magazine to a public position unless they have been told to do so by the Editor. In fact, media people should be slow to speak for or on behalf of anybody or anything. Public relations official speak for something. Media people should speak about people, events and organisations.

Writers, the

Writers should avoid writing about themselves as much as possible. If writers find themselves writing their name in an article; they must not do so. The news agency Reuters has a rule that is apt: Reuters reports the news, it does not make the news.

Words of which to be wary

actually:          the word can only be used to introduce the opposite of what could be expected. An example would be: “The style guide Editor thought writers would be thrilled by reading the style guide, but actually they were rather bored.” The word actually should not be used to highlight a point. There is thus seldom a need to use the word

admit:              if a person denies doing something, and then says they did do it, they have admitted it. The word always means first a denial then an acknowledgement. However, the word is also used when people are taken into a university or hospital. Students are admitted to a university and patients are admitted to hospital

every:              writers need to be careful of the word every and also the words everyone, everything, every time. Writers simply have no idea of knowing if what they are saying is true. Writers must not assume. There is seldom a way of proving these claims, thus the words should be used sparingly

famous:           be slow to use this word. The word means known by many people. There is no way of proving such a claim. Writers would be unable to name a person who was not famous.

important:        everything in the world is important to somebody/something. Writers must never repeat the obvious and say something or someone is important

interesting:      everything is interesting to somebody somewhere, so there is no need to point out what is obvious

license and licence: use licence to mean official papers and license to mean to allow

past and last:   know the difference between past and last. The word last means the last meal the writer will ever have. There are no more meals. If the writers means the meals they had in the previous few days/weeks/months, they must please refer to the meals of the past day/week/month. An example would be: “How many times did you eat out in the past week?” A writer said: “This is the last editorial style guide I will need.”

really:              the word really means as opposed to what is said or imagined to be true or possible. An example would be: “The Editor thought writers would be delighted with the style guide but really they were rather bored.” Do not use the word really to emphasise a point

since and from: the word since means the reason for something. The word from means a starting point; the date 

sir/lady:           this is a title from when some people in England thought they were more important than other people because they owned land and or inherited a title from their parents. Do not these words to mean anything else

some and most: the word some means a few, which is mostly a guess. Most means a majority

of, which could be a guess. The word much means a lot, which could be a guess. Do not say: some people, many people …. Writers have absolutely no idea if that is true or not and are just guessing. The word many is too vague, so never use

whether and if: whether is a doubt, as in: “I wonder whether I should do this?” There is a

choice and alternatives. If means in the event that, is mostly a question, as in: “I wonder if I should do this; and what could the consequences be?”

Words that are prohibited

These words can seldom, if ever, be used.

culture:            the word culture has no shared meaning and means different things to different people. The word has too many varied meanings to be useful. Writers should rather say exactly what activities are being done, or were done, and why. At best, culture is a choice people make, at worst culture can be a point of exclusion and separation. The phrase the way people live can be used instead of the word culture

etc:                  do not use etc. No one has any idea of what the writer wanted to continue to say. Etc indicates nothing to anyone, etc.

gonna:             there is no such English word as gonna. The correct words are going to

like:                 the use of the word like has become a bad habit for English-speaking people. Avoid using the word like, even if the person written about uses the word. As the style guide says, like, do not use the word like, unless it is to say: “I like the style guide.”

love:                the word love has too many varied meanings to be useful. Rather say exactly what emotions are involved

solution:          the word solution is prohibited outside of arithmetic, chemistry, and mathematics. Only if people agree on what the problem is, can they have a solution When dealing with people there are never solutions. There is only ever a way forward that might work. If writers are writing about people seeking a way forward on a problem, then say that. No problem involving people has a solution. Hopefully, all problems have a way forward

wanna:             there is no such English word as wanna. The correct words are want to.

Final word

The Write Away Magazine Editor has the final say on what is published. The Editor will attempt to find common ground with writers on points that separate. However, the Editor will decide. Let us all hope that another rule does not come through, namely that the indecision of the Editor is final.

Editor:                         Nyameko Ismail Bottoman

Chief subeditor:          Martin Challenor

This is the second version of the Write Away Magazine style guide.  

The first version was published on September 29 2023.

This the second version was published on April 24 2024