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Editorial Standards and Guidelines


Our Standards

Leicester City Council requires that any application supplied must include communications that are clear and accessible to everyone we deal with. This includes people with reading difficulties and also those who do not use English as their first language


Follow the guidelines set out below





Writing Style 

Abbreviations and acronyms

It’s best to avoid acronyms. But where you have to use one, give the name in full first, then the abbreviation in brackets. After that you can use the abbreviation on its own.

  • The Local Government Association (LGA)


Don’t use LCC as an abbreviation for Leicester City Council. Either spell out the words fully or refer to ‘the city council’.

Some abbreviations are so common that you do not have to spell them out in full: Ofsted, the BBC.


When you write addresses on separate lines, don’t use commas:

Leicester City Council

New Walk Centre

Welford Place




When the address is in body text, use commas to separate the different parts, EXCEPT the city or county, and the postcode:

Leicester City Council, New Walk Centre, Welford Place, Leicester LE1 6ZG


Use bold for headings and emphasis. Don’t underline or use lots of words in capital words.

Bullet points

Use square bullet points not round.

Don’t use bullets within the body text of articles in magazines or newsletters.


The punctuation of bulleted lists varies depending on whether it’s a list of short points, or writing in complete sentences.


Short lists:

  • can be just a word or two
  • don’t start with a capital letter
  • don’t have a comma after each line
  • finish in a full stop.


When you write a list of full sentences:

  • Make sure that every point is a full sentence.
  • Start each one with a capital letter.
  • End each point with a full stop.


Capital letters

Using too many capital letters makes text harder to read – especially for people with visual impairments. Never use a capital letter just because you want to emphasise the importance of something (such as the Council, or the Project).


Use capital letters for the full titles of organisations and specific places:

  • Leicester City Council
  • Belgrave Children’s Centre


But lower case for shortened forms, job titles and general services:

  • the council, the city council
  • Rory Palmer is councillor for Eyres Monsell ward
  • City mayor Peter Soulsby
  • Mark Bentley, head of communications and digital media, said: …
  • There are many children’s centres in Leicester.


Don’t use capitals for:

  • every word in a heading
  • benefits or taxes (council tax, housing benefit)
  • the government
  • the county
  • the cabinet
  • committees



Put dates in the following order: day, date, month, year. You don’t always need the day or the year.


  • Thursday 15 July 2011



Grammar and spelling: common mistakes

  • affect and effect. Lots of people confuse these two. ‘Affect’ is generally used as a verb, while ‘effect’ is usually a noun. For example:
    • The project affected me greatly.

    • The project had a very positive effect on me.


  • councillor and counsellor
    • councillor = elected official             

    • counsellor = somebody who gives advice or help with personal or professional problems


  • principle and principal

    • principle = ethical standard or the basic way something works. “We are committed to the principle of conservation.”

    • principal = most important,or head of a school/college. “Our principal aim is to…”

  • compliment and complement
    • compliment = to praise (She complimented me on my work.)

    • complement = to make complete (The projects complement each other well.)


  • it's and its


    • it’s = short for ‘it is’ (It’s hot today.)

    • its = belonging to it (The council published its accounts.)


  • license and licence


    • license = to give permission to do something (The council licenses street trading.)

    • licence = a permit to own or do something (I have a driving licence.)



We don’t use italics because they make text hard to read. Use bold if you want to highlight something.


  • Align text to the left.

  • Don’t justify text.

  • Use a single space between sentences, not double.



Only use the decimal point if there are pennies, not for round numbers.

  • £2
  • £2.30
  • 50p


Write numbers in full from one to nine. Then use figures from 10 to 999,999. Similarly, spell out one million to nine million, but 10 million, 50 million and so on.



If you start a sentence with a number, spell it out.

  • Thirty tenants came to the meeting.



Figures for school years

  • Pupils in Year 9



Write ‘per cent’ in full in copy. Use % symbol in tables or bulleted lists.


Apostrophes: use these for three reasons.

To show where letters are missing
You’re in Leicester. I’m cold.

To show possession or belonging
The teacher’s idea. The organisation’s structure.
But in the plural, the apostrophe goes after the s: the teachers’ idea (shows that more than one teacher shared the idea).

In some expressions of time.
She have us one week’s notice.
We will do that in two weeks’ time. (plural again)


Note that the possessive ‘its’ does NOT have an apostrophe:
The council and its staff.


Colon: use immediately before a quote, or a list, or before explaining an idea in more detail.

He said: “When will it be ready?”


Comma: use commas where there would normally be a pause in speech.

He had a great many interests, such as golf and table tennis.


Also to separate items in a list: The centre offers dancing, aerobics and basketball.


You can also use them instead of brackets, to break up parts of a sentence.

(The school, which was 40 years old, needed repairs.)


Quote marks: use “double quote” marks for speech. Use ‘single’ for quotes within quotes. Always put the full stop or question mark in a quote within the quote marks.


Semi colon: use when you want a bigger break than a comma gives you, but not as big a break as a full stop. We often use them to separate sentences that are linked but contradictory.

His one ambition was to go skiing; unfortunately it was too expensive.


Don’t use the symbol ‘&’. Write ‘and’ in full, unless it is part of a recognised name B&Q, where is would appear odd to write and in full. If a sentence is long and has too many ands in it then consider breaking it up into a list or separate sentences.


Telephone numbers

Write Leicester landline numbers like this:

  • 0116 454 1000



London landlines:

  • 020 7528 6363



Other landlines with five digit area codes:

  • 01306 881627



Mobile numbers should have a space after the first five digits:

  • 07754 754822




We use the 12 hour clock, not 24 hr. Write numbers as follows, with no space between the figures and ‘am’ or ‘pm’. DO use a space before 12 and ‘noon’ and ‘midnight’. Don’t write ‘o’clock’.

  • 5pm
  • 5.30pm (use a full stop between hours and minutes, not a colon)
  • 12 noon
  • 12 midnight


UK/US spelling

Always use UK spellings, not US. Some common mistakes below:

  • ‘adviser’ not ‘advisor’

  • ‘organise’ not ‘organize’

  • ‘centre’ not ‘center’

  • ‘colour’ not ‘color’

  • ‘analyse’ not ‘analyze’


Weights and measures

Use figures for units of measurement, except at the beginning of a sentence.

  • 5kg

  • 12m

  • Five square miles of parkland has been turned into a conservation zone.



Version History

Version: 1.0

Date: 11/11/11

Change: First draft

Author: Yasin Jassat