Editorial Style Guide

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(Laurie Smith-Frailey)

[ N ]


One word, not hyphenated.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Institutes is plural.


Native American




Do not use! Always use brain and cognitive sciences instead. This is because the brain and cognitive sciences program here is one of MIT’s many distinctive assets—i.e., the program includes but is not limited to neuroscience, and in fact takes this discipline to the next level, the cognitive level (unlike other institutions).


An ongoing discussion on Usenet among Internet users with a common interest.

Nobel laureate

Note lowercase l.

Nobel Prize; Nobel Prize winner; Nobel Prize-winning physicist

non–science major

An en dash is used to join non to a two-word, unhyphenated phrase.

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nonacademic, nondegree, nonfiction, nontraditional, nonviolent, etc.

Usually there is no hyphen or en dash after non, however.


Do not capitalize if referring only to a compass direction. See east.

northeast, northwest

numbers and numerals

The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage provides an excellent Quick-Reference Guide to style for numbers and numerals; see page 426. The general guideline is to spell out zero through nine, and to use numerals (digits) for numbers 10 and up, in running text. The same rule applies for ordinals (e.g., first, second, 10th, 101st).

  • It took Patience six years to earn her M.B.A. at night.
  • What will the Institute look like in 25 years?
  • It was Adrian’s third attempt at passing the Massachusetts bar exam.
  • Joshua place 12th in the National Junior Spelling Bee.

The Quick-Reference Guide helps sort out the exceptions. See percent for one example.

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