abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms

An acronym is a name or word made up of the initial letters of a group of words, and which can itself be pronounced as a word, e.g. Nato, Unicef. Here, just use an initial capital.

Do not u se full stops, e.g. mph, km, Mrs, HIV, RSVP. group of words, where each letter is pronounced as a series of individual letters, e.g. BBC, NGO, HIV, MEP, WFP. An abbreviation is the shortening of a single word, e.g. ltd for limited or Rev for reverend.

Do not use full stops for acronyms or initialisms, e.g. mph, km, Mrs, HIV, RSVP.

Lower case initialisms that indicate speed, weight, length, time etc should follow figures immediately with no space, e.g. 11am, 15kg, 35mm, 100mph, 5km.

Some initialisms and acronyms are so well known that you don’t need to explain what the letters stand for, e.g. BBC, EU, UN, US, Unicef. But spell out less well-known ones on first mention, e.g. the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). After the first mention, you can shorten.

Use all capitals forAIDS, as this is the internationally recognised way of writing it.


No dots and space: 50AD


The standard Leprosy Mission address is The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, Goldhay Way, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, PE2 5GZ.


Use a capital ‘A’ for the pre-Christmas season, e.g. Advent calendar. In other cases, use lower case.


As with all numbers, write one to ten in words; 11+ in numerals. Use hyphens as follows: a two-year-old girl; three ten-year-olds; four- to six-year-olds; a 50-year-old war but a girl who was 12 years old. 

Other ways of stating ages include: Sita, 38; 20-somethings; 11- to 14-year-olds;11 to 14s; the under-fives.

Avoid starting a sentence with a numeral:
Yes: Sixteen-year-old Shakti…
16-year-old Shakti…
Exception: where age is written in news style, preceded by a comma, after a name, numbers 1-10 can be written numerically, e.g. The teacher said that Rani, 9, should…


No dots or spaces - e.g. 6:00am.


Always use English spellings for words (e.g. centre not center), terms (shop not store) and verb/noun endings (mobilise and mobilisation not mobilize or mobilization.) 
Exception: the World Health Organization.


Not ‘amidst’ (old-fashioned).


not ‘amongst’ (old-fashioned).


Use and rather than '&' unless it is part of a heading or title.


It is acceptable to start sentences with these. Don’t overuse. Also avoid starting successive sentences with the same word.

any more

Two words.


Use full name on first mention, e.g. The Archbishop of Tanzania, Donald Mtetemela. Thereafter Archbishop Mtetemela.

For senior Anglican clergy the names of bishops and archbishops always follow the title of their office e.g. the Archbishop of Barchester, the Most Rev John Smith.

Exception: where the specific Bishop referred to likes to be known by their first name. After first mention, according to above guidelines, all subsequent references can adopt a first-name policy e.g. Bishop James is known for his interest in poverty.

For senior Roman Catholic clergy, on first mention, use full title: The Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Rev Christopher Budd,thereafter Bishop Budd.


Use it to mean ‘while’, not ‘because’: I saw him as I walked home.


banned phrases

Christian clichés, e.g. God’s heart for the poor or God laid on my heart the burden of… can be used within certain communications. They are appropriate for partnerships and church audiences, but should be avoided within social media, website copy, and leaflets. See clichés.

Don’t use ‘seeking to…’ or ‘aiming to do’, where it slows the reader down and questions our capability.

Yes: The Leprosy Mission provides vital treatment.
No: The Leprosy Mission is seeking to provide vital treatment.

Yes: We’re providing education for….
No: We’re running an education project.


Never use this in any communications, either internally or externally. Instead, use the communities/people we serve/work with.


Be consistent.  E.g. between three and five or from three to five.

Bible references/verses/quotes

The default is to use the New International Version (NIV UK) when quoting from the Bible. If using this, you don’t need to include the version in your reference. An online version of the NIV can be found at Bible Gateway.

If you have a reason to use another version, make it clear by adding the reference at the end of the quote.

The usual approach for stand-alone verses is:

  • ‘So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.’ (Genesis 13:1-2)
  • ‘Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”’ (Mark 5:36)
  • ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3)

Book names are written out in full. Single quote marks are used (double quote marks are only used around direct speech). The full stop should go inside the quote mark. Bible references are in brackets without any full point either inside or outside the brackets.

When Bible quotations are introduced by text, presentation will typically follow these styles:

  • As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1: ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.’
  • In Isaiah 65:17 it says: ‘“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”’

Partial quotes have no punctuation inside the closing quote. The punctuation comes at the end of the sentence. The reference is in brackets and has no full point, e.g. Jesus was God’s ‘only begotten son’. (John 3:16)

When quoting part of a verse, you don’t need to use ‘a’ or ‘b’ to indicate that it’s from the start or end of a verse, even if it’s an incomplete verse.


Lower case b

Black Majority Church

Use initial capitals as shown here.

book titles

Use italics. Capitalise words apart from transition words. Credit and year in are brackets but not italics, e.g. The Gift of Pain (Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, 1997).


The board of trustees

Jane Smith, who is a board member

Jane Smith, a trustee of The Leprosy Mission


Use a single space before opening and after closing a bracket, or after any punctuation following a closed bracket.

If the copy in the brackets is a full and complete sentence, include the full point within the bracket. If not, include it after, or just continue with your sentence. E.g. Brackets are great (and this is why). Don’t overuse them, though. Or, Brackets are great. (Although don’t overuse them.)

bullet points

If your bullet points introduce words or short phrases (i.e. not complete sentences), then introduce with a colon. Start each point in lower case and do not end with a full stop – even after the last point. E.g.:

We want to recruit:

  • consultants
  • finance officers
  • experts in charity accounting

If your bullet points introduce complete sentences, then start each point with a capital letter and end each point with a full stop. E.g.:

Here are our goals:

  • We want to see 1,000 children cured of leprosy.
  • We want to support 350 communities to set up self-help groups.
  • We want to train 200 church leaders to reach out to their local communities.

If your bullet points are a mixture of the above, or if you’re in doubt, then punctuate them as per whole sentences.


Use Myanmar unless referring to the history of the country.


capacity building

Avoid using, especially in supporter communications.

Instead, use sharing learning and knowledge, community organising and movement building, community-led change as appropriate.


Seasons (summer, winter) stay lower case.

For headlines with more than one word, capitalise the first word only e.g. Caring for hands and feet.

For song titles, products, book names and so on, capitalise all but transition words. Use italics. See italics.

Exception: if we are part of a larger campaign, we will write its name according to what has been decided by the group.


Should tell a story, not just the content of the picture. Captions should inspire or inform the reader, or encourage them to think further. E.g. instead of Laxmi sewing a dress, say Laxmi is learning tailoring to earn an income and be independent.


Use centred on not ‘centred around’.

children/young people/babies

Refer to children, not kids.

Refer to babies or young children rather than infants, where possible.

Refer to young people, not youth/s or teen/s (‘youth group’ is fine).

Teenager can be ok if it doesn’t sound patronising or disrespectful in context.

Avoid terms such as ‘young man’ and ‘young lady’, as it can sound patronising and old-fashioned.

Christian festivals

Capitalise Christian festivals such as Easter, Lent, Advent and so on.


Always capitalise when referring to a religion or a person’s religion e.g. Christian/Christianity, Jew/Jewish/Judaism, Muslim/Islam, Sikh/Sikhism, Hindu/Hinduism.


Use a lower-case c when referring to the worldwide/national network of congregations. E.g. the church is the body of Christ, a group of church leaders, the church’s attitude towards justice.

Use a capital C when referring to

  • a specific group of Christians who meet together, consider themselves to be a unit and define themselves by a collective church name. E.g. St John’s Church, Peterborough; Grace Community Church.
  • a particular denomination. E.g. the Church of England, the Catholic Church.

Wherever possible define churches by the people who make them up. Remember this when describing the church as a corporate body and avoid personifying the church:

Yes: The congregation in one church in Peterborough has been inspired…
No:A church in Peterborough that has been inspired…

Clichés and Christian-ese

Avoid at all cost – Christian clichés are still clichés. Try to think up a new expression. Phrases that are common in your denomination, or among Christians from a similar background to you, may not resonate with other Christians.

‘God’s heart for the poor’ and similar clichés do not convey the required message in readers’ minds. For someone unfamiliar with the phrase, they may not know what it means at all. Even Christians who understand this phrase might not understand what it means in the context of our work. It is better to give an example of what the Bible says about the poor and explain what this mean for us today.

climate change

Not ‘global warming’.

collective nouns

In general, when an organisation is the subject of a sentence, use a singular verb. E.g. The Leprosy Mission is pioneering… or St John’s Church has decided…You’d then go on with We are launching… or They are going to…


Use a single space after the colon, e.g. He saw the bus speed past: he knew he would have a tiring walk home.

compare with/to

Compare withemphasises similarities, compare toemphasises differences.


Where compounds can be written with or without a hyphen, we write without the hyphen. E.g. no hyphen in rebuild, ongoing, online, peacebuilding, microcredit, cooperative etc.


Needs no ‘of’. So: The alliance comprises ten groups or The alliance consists of ten groups.

cooperate, cooperation, cooperative

No hyphen.

coordinate, coordinator, coordination

No hyphen.


Use a capital C when referring to salvation generally, e.g. for all of us, the Cross means that…

Use a lower-case c when referring to a specific cross, e.g. Then they nailed Jesus to a cross.


£34 million, £2 billion, $10 (US$10 on first mention), €6 

If space is tight, use £10m, £6bn.

Convert US$ and other currencies to pounds. Use the currency exchange rate agreed by the TLM Global Fellowship where possible, available on Glasscubes.



Use a singular verb with data. So: the data was collected over a five-year period, not the data were…


May 2005 (no commas) and Monday 5 September, 2005.

Exception: September 11, 2001 or 9/11.

Formally: the 21st century (lower case c), the 1980s (not ’80s or 1980’s), 1987–8 (not 1987-88), 1867–1903,3–5 July.

Informally:an eighties theme night.


Do not use. Instead use visibly affected by leprosy, physically affected by leprosy, disabled by leprosy.

developing countries

Avoid using. Instead, use low-income countries, middle-income countries, the countries/regions we work in.


Use different from or different than, not different to.

Direct Debit

Capitalise as above. 

direct speech

It’s okay to tidy up wordiness or confusion or awkward translation, preserving the character, nationality and, above all, the views of the speaker.

Only use direct quotes as recorded in the case study on ResourceSpace.

Be especially careful never to misrepresent what someone has said.


In the UK, the accepted usage is disabled people, as per the social model of disability. In many of the countries where we work, people with disabilities is more commonly used. Please check with Programmes if unsure.

Never group people together as ‘the disabled’. Likewise, don’t refer to ‘the deaf’ or ‘the blind’, rather use deaf people/people who are deaf or blind people/people who are blind.

The above refers to learning disabilities as well as physical.

Never use the following words or phrases: handicapped, crippled, slow, retarded, deformed, invalid, physically/mentally challenged, differently abled, special needs, disfigured.

Don’t describe someone as confined to a wheelchair or wheelchair-bound. They imply limitation while wheelchairs give people freedom. Say that they use a wheelchair.

Do not use language that emphasizes the person’s “abilities”. For example, don't say Aloka's hands are physically affected by leprosy so she cannot pick tea leaves, but she is amazing and has many abilities like running her business and being a great grandmother.

Do not use the term ‘differently abled’. Disability is not about the person’s abilities (or lack thereof). It is about environmental and social structures creating barriers (and therefore disabling the impaired person).


Diseases are only capitalised if they are named after a person or a place e.g. Ebola (named after a river in Zaire) and Alzheimer’s (named after Alois Alzheimer).

Most diseases are not capitalised including leprosy. The exceptions are when used at the start of a sentence, or when used as part of a campaign name (e.g. World Leprosy Day). Check online if in doubt.


Do not use. Instead use visibly affected by leprosy, physically affected by leprosy, disabled by leprosy.

dots, aka ellipsis

Three dots, one space after, no space before. E.g. I don’t know what to do… I’ve tried everything.

Avoid using at the beginning of a sentence. If used at the end of a sentence, no full stop is needed as the ellipsis is in place of it. An ellipsis can be followed by a question mark or exclamation mark.



Use a hyphen after the e when referring to things that are done on or that involve the internet, e.g. e-cards, e-commerce. Please never refer to our 'e-newsletter' as we don’t send one and haven’t done since 2013.

The exceptions are email and eBay.


Use earth, world, or creation when it works. E.g. The Leprosy Mission family around the world or care for creation.

Avoid planet and globe as they can sound dated.


Note hyphen.

east/East, eastern/Eastern etc

Names of areas are capitalised if they part of the title of a recognised geographical area or political division, e.g. East Africa, Eastern Europe, East Anglia.

They are not capitalised if they are descriptions in general terms, e.g. east London, eastern France.

e.g./for example

Write with dots but no comma after. Do introduce it with a comma and a space. Use italics for unfamiliar foreign words, e.g. barrios.


Is followed by or. Neither is followed by nor. Both refer to two options – and two options only.

Yes:either x or y, neither x nor y
x, y or z
either x, y or z

elder/older, eldest/oldest

Use elder/eldest, e.g. his elder sister, the elder of her two sons, their eldest child was a girl of 12, the two eldest attend the same school.


Use empowerment carefully and only in the context of transformation and enabling, particularly re.g.arding individuals’ lives and rights. Ensure the implication is not that the empowerer is somehow more powerful.

Yes: Through the work of the project 10 families felt empowered and equipped to stand up for their rights.
The project empowered and equipped 10 families to stand up for their rights.

en dashes (long dashes)

This is an en dash – it’s as long as an n and therefore longer than a hyphen.

En dashes are used to add information or explain something as an aside. Where you include a fact – whether it’s an aside or something crucial – make sure you separate it off at both ends with the same kind of punctuation. Use a maximum of two per sentence.

There should be a space before and after the dash. Brackets or commas would do the same job – vary which you use so that the text is not over-heavy with one type of punctuation.

En dashes are used to add emphasis to the end of sentences, e.g. Locals have be.g.un rebuilding the city walls – against all odds. 

En dashes are used to mean to: during the period 1837–1850, 7–9am, or 3–4,000.They are used without a space. Only use in this way with figures.

Do not use an en dash to replace to if the word from is used. So: I worked in India from 2005 to 2007not I worked in India from 2005–2007.

En dashes should not be used to mean and if the word between is used. So: the period between 1925 and 1960 not the period between 1925–1960.


No need for a comma before it, so: List your key interests, skills etc.


Lower case ‘e’.


Also sharing the gospel, sharing faith, sharing God’s love.

Use with care as they are loaded words/phrases. The Leprosy Mission is not an evangelistic organisation.

We do not use the following words to talk about our work due to the way they can be perceived in many of the countries we support: ministry, minister to, convert/conversion, saving.

Words that are ok in this context: love, serve, compassion, healed (but not supernatural healing). In Christian circles these terms are in everyday use and do not cause a problem.

Outside of Christian circles they can be misunderstood. Using these terms in some countries can be dangerous for our staff. 

Generally only use it in specific communication with churches/mission organisations.

Never use evangelistic language online, in reports, annual reviews or marketing materials.

every day (adverb)

Two words, e.g. he did it every day.

everyday (adjective)

One day, e.g. it was an everyday activity.

exclamation marks

Use very sparingly.



Fewer is used before a plural noun. Less is used before a singular (uncount) noun.

Yes:fewer people, fewer countries, less money, less time.
Yes: Fewer than one-fifth of the staff were involved, less than one-fifth of the cake was eaten.


  • He weighed less than 40kg (where fewer would sound silly). 
  • Fewer than half the people voted in favour(people only come in whole numbers). 
  • Less than 50 per cent of people voted in favour(because it could be 48.5 per cent, not just 48 or 49 per cent).


Do not use. Instead, use project, country, or programme.

first-hand (adjective)

Hyphen, e.g. first-hand knowledge.

first hand (adverb)

No hyphen, e.g. at first hand.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Spell out at first mention. Thereafter use abbreviation.

forever/for ever (adverb)

Not simply interchangeable. Forever means continually; for ever means for always.

If you can swap the word you want with for years, use for ever.

Yes: We’re forever discussing this.
Yes: We could discuss this for ever.

Forward slashes

No spaces either side i.e. either/or not either / or.


Best in words. Say half a million, two-thirds of people affected by leprosy, cases increased by one-fifth. 

Avoid ½, unless in a recipe.

fulfil, fulfils, fulfilled, fulfilling

In British English we use fulfil, fulfils, fulfilling, fulfilled (and fulfilment).

Do not use the American English double l in the present tense.

full stops (full points)

Insert a single space (not double) after a full stop: I’d like to. But I’m not sure I can.



Use gender inclusive language e.g. firefighter (not fireman), chairperson or chair (not chairman), police officer (not policeman or policewoman), host (not hostess), and so on.

Never use his/he or her/she if you’re guessing or assuming gender. E.g. useIf students want to get good marks, they must study hard, but not ‘If the student wants to get good marks, he must study hard.’

Refer to women and men, not ladies and gentlemen.

Don’t use ‘to man’ when it comes to a role. Use something else e.g. to operate or to staff. Avoid gender stereotypes.

geographical labels

Use capitals for recognised regions, e.g. the West Country or South-East Asia. But: north London, south-east England.

Gift Aid (noun)

Capitals, no hyphen e.g. Gift Aid enables us to…

Gift Aid declaration

Capitals and lower case as above. Avoid the word ‘form’.

Global Britain

Do not use language that suggests colonialism when talking about Britain (such as Global Britain, global leader, global superpower, force for global good, etc)

Instead, where possible, use collaborative expressions such as UK playing its part, UK working in solidarity with, UK playing a positive role in the world, UK working in partnership.

Global north/south

Avoid using.

gospel (noun or adjective)

Use a lower case g when referring to the gospel in general, e.g. The gospel tells us... Capitalise when referring to the specific books of the bible, e.g. It says in the Gospel of Luke...


Lower case g unless at the beginning of a sentence



Do not use (see disabled)

Hansen’s disease

Alternative name for leprosy, used more often in the USA. We use leprosy.


Do not use to describe any country office.

health work, health worker, health centre

Separate words.


One word.


Rather than telling readers to ‘go here’ or ‘click here’, hyperlink the copy that describes the action or signpost itself.

It is best practice to hyperlink a whole statement or line (rather than one or two words), e.g.:

  • Yes: Read more stories about India
  • Yes: Don’t forget to sign up today as places are limited
  • No: Click here to read more stories about India
  • No: Don’t forget to visit this page and sign up today as places are limited

Hyperlinks should be bold and underlined.


A hyphen should not be confused with a dash and should never be used with a space.

Hyphens may be used to break up names e.g. John Twistleton-Jones.

Use hyphens for compound phrases that imply measurement, e.g. a three-minute talk, a six-mile run,a 32-page document.

Use hyphens to clarify modifying phrases made up of two or more words that come before a noun: a little-used car (compare with a little used car),right-wing groups etc.

Don’t use hyphens to break up sentences – use en dashes.

Some commonly used hyphenated words: community-based rehabilitation, door-to-door, earthquake-resistant, hospital-based, leprosy-related, self-care, self-help, self-help groups, world-class, life-changing.

The following words do not have hyphens: cooperative, outpatient, inpatient, footwear, Vice President, inner wellbeing, field worker, health worker, cowshed.



Don’t follow it with punctuation. Do introduce it with a comma and a space, so: underage customers, i.e. under 18s.


No full stops after initials (e.g. CS Lewis) or initialisms (e.g. RSPCA).


Some common initialisms you may encounter:

  • APPG - All-Party Parliamentary Group
  • CBR - community-based rehabilitation
  • CSO - civil society organisation
  • DPO - disabled people’s organisation
  • GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation
  • GPZL - Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy
  • GOADC - Guernsey Overseas Aid Development Commission
  • ILEP - International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations
  • JOA - Jersey Overseas Aid
  • NGO - non-governmental organisation
  • NTD - neglected tropical disease
  • OPD - outpatients’ department
  • SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals
  • SHG - self-help group
  • VTC - vocational training centre
  • WHO - World Health Organization

integral mission

God’s mission to redeem and restore the whole of creation, bringing life in all its fullness (spiritually as well as emotionally and physically), is known as integral mission. We are called to participate in this mission.

internally displaced person (IDP)

Someone who has fled their home, but remains within their country of residence.

See also refugee.


For publication names, use italics and capitalise words apart from transition words (The Guardian, Church in Focus).

Names of organisations (e.g. The Leprosy Mission, Oxfam etc) are not italicised. Likewise, church packs (e.g. Big Quiz, Big Tea Party), campaign names (Greater Heights, Unconditional), and events (New Wine) are not italicised.

If individual words are italicised, check punctuation (even full stops) is not in italics, even if the previous words are – it’ll show. So: I bought The Times, The Observer and The Independent.

If a whole sentence is in italics, its punctuation should be too.

Headlines and sub-headings are not in italics.



Avoid jargon unless you’re sure it’s needed and is explained to the reader. Always use plain English.


Use Jesus’ to refer to people or things belonging or relating to Jesus, e.g. Jesus’ teachings (not Jesus’s teachings).

job titles

Avoid incomprehensible ones.

Yes: The Leprosy Mission’s Sian Arulanantham says…
Sian Arulanantham, who heads up Programmes at The Leprosy Mission, says…
No: The Leprosy Mission’s Head of Programmes Coordination, Sian Arulanantham says…

Use lower case when referring generally to people who play a particular role, e.g. Three of our programmes officers…, a newly appointed policy researcher…

Use upper case in a labelling phrase when stating someone’s job title, e.g. Head of Fundraising, Louise Timmins…

Titles of politicians follow the same rule: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak but the prime minister said… and Rishi Sunak has served as prime minister for…



Not kilogramme.


Not kilometer.

kingdom of God

Lower case k.



Say in the past two years. Only use last if saying you mean final e.g. in the last two years of her life…


Not ‘learned’. So: He had certainly learnt his lesson…, A learnt behaviour.

leprosy community

The preferred term for a community made up primarily of people affected by leprosy. Leprosy colony may be acceptable in India where the word colony does not have a negative connotation. Check with the relevant Programmes Officer if unsure.


Fewer is used before a plural noun. Less is used before a singular (uncount) noun.

Yes: fewer people, fewer countries, less money, less time.
Yes: Fewer than one-fifth of the staff were involved, less than one-fifth of the cake was eaten.
No: less people or less countries.


  • He weighed less than 40kg (where fewer would sound silly).
  • Fewer than half the people voted in favour (people only come in whole numbers).
  • Less than 50 per cent of people voted in favour (because it could be 48.5 per cent, not just 48 or 49 per cent).

like/such as

Like means similar to and is general. Such as is specific.

We discussed issues like climate change implies you discussed those that were similar to it, but not climate change itself.

If you discussed climate change plus stigma and sanitation, say: We discussed issues such as climate change....


When writing about people we support, never reveal exactly where they live. It’s ok to name the province/re.g.ion/state, but not the town or village.

Yes: Antonio, a farmer living in Cabo Delgado
No: Antonio, a farmer living in Katapua village

Yes: Priya, who lives in northern Sri Lanka
No: Priya, who lives in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka

long-term (adjective)

Hyphen, e.g. the long-term effects.

long term (adverb)

No hyphen, e.g. in the long term.


The caps are not needed, even if a Bible passage you are quoting uses them. Use a capital L, but keep the rest of the word lower case.



If generalising, say people, women and men, or men and women rather than 'man'. Say humanity or humankind rather than ‘mankind’.

For Bible verses, the default is to use the New International Version (NIV UK). Where quoting from the NIV, or from different versions, ensure the language is gender inclusive.

Yes: ‘He has shown all you people what is good’ (TNIV)
No: ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good’ (NIV)


Use a singular verb with media when it means newspapers, television, radio, magazines etc. So: The media was quick to pick up on the story, not The media were…


Be careful not to mix them.

mid-January/mid-February etc

Note hyphen.


Note hyphen.


No hyphen.


The standard is to use miles rather than kilometres. Write as: One to ten miles but 2.5 miles, 11 miles. However, use kilometres if it makes more sense in context.

Be consistent with distances throughout the same piece of writing.


In running copy: a million or 1 million, 2.5 million, a quarter of a million, half a million. In headlines or if short of space: 2.5m.


Use church leader unless minister is their actual title


Do not use.

more than

Use more than not over with numbers of a particular thing. So: More than 50 new churches have signed up… or More than 3,000 people attended the event.

Compare over.


Note hyphens.


Write as above if talking in general terms.

When referring to a named individual, check how they like to be referred to by searching for them at

For someone who’s an MP only, use e.g. Diane Abbott MP (or whatever their preference is as detailed above). If they’re a minister or secretary of state, just use their title.

Mr, Mrs, Ms, Rev, Dr

No full stops.

In Myanmar, people are often addressed as Naw or Daw (women) or U (men). Note that these are not first names.

Multidrug therapy (MDT)

Note the capital m, no hyphen


Use Myanmar unless referring to the history of the country.

Mycobacterium leprae

Must be italicised: Mycobacterium leprae or M. leprae. Note no capital on leprae.


Do not use myself when you mean me.

Yes: I felt pleased with myself etc.
No: If you have any questions, please call Helen or myself.



In news copy, refer to people by their full name e.g. Benaba Youma. Thereafter by their first name (Benaba).

If referring to politicians (or others when appropriate) use a title on second mention e.g. Mr/Mrs/Ms.

Do not use someone’s surname on its own.

Yes: Mr Sunak has refused to ask for international assistance.
No: Sunak has refused…

For the people we support, use their first name only, or their pseudonym if they have been given one as per ResourceSpace.

There should be no spaces or full stops between initials.


Capital N when referring to Jesus’ birth. So: Luke’s version of the Nativity, the Nativity story, a Nativity play.

no one

Two words, no hyphen.


Hyphen but no capitals, e.g. the north-east coast…, three miles north-east of the city.

north/North, northern/Northern etc

Names of areas are capitalised if they are part of the title of a recognised geographical area or political division (e.g. North Dakota, Northern Ireland)

They are not capitalised if they are descriptions in general terms (e.g. northern India, north London).

north/North, the

Lower case for the northern part of a country. So: schools in the north of England...


Write one to ten in words and 11+ in numerals. So: She has three children…, There were 40 students in the class. This applies to headlines too.

Exception: when writing e.g. 1 in 40, write both numbers as numerals.

1,000 and 2,000 have a comma.

2,500,000 is more easily expressed as 2.5 million or 2.5m. Likewise 2,500,000,000 is better written as 2.5 billion or 2.5bn. See million.

Fractions are best written in words, e.g. three-quarters of the world, a quarter of the church.

If you must use decimals, give them to one decimal place, e.g. £14.8 million. Within the same document, always use the same number of decimal places.

Exception: a piece of collateral where it is felt that a giving handle or stat is more clearly communicated using numerals.



Spell out. Do not use ‘OK’.


No hyphen.

online (adjective, adverb)

No hyphen, e.g. an online tool…, Go online.

Opt out statement

Where opt out wording is used (most commonly on the bottom of a response form), please use the following approved version:

We love keeping in touch with you, but if you would like to change how you hear from us, or would like a copy of our privacy policy simply call us on 01733 370505 or email

Organisations of People Affected by Leprosy (OPALs)

Please note this term has changed from Leprosy People’s Organisations. The language used is more respectful.

Over/more than

Use over not ‘more than’ with measurements and ages. So: over 20m long, over 50 years old.

Compare more than.



Do not use. Also do not use ‘heathen’, ‘the lost’, the unreached.’

partner names

Use a singular verb with partner names. So: The Leprosy Mission’s partner partner Kaveri Kala Manram is working… and KKM is… You would then continue with They are… or Staff have…

Use capitals for partner initials when they can’t be pronounced as a word. If it can be pronounced as a word, use just an initial capital. See acronyms.

Where the partner organisation has an established and recognised house style for its name, follow that and disregard above guidance.


Avoid the passive where at all possible. Experts have discovered… is better than It has been discovered that…


Use church leader unless referring to a specific person whose job title is pastor.

peacekeeper, peacekeeping, peacebuilding

No hyphen.

People affected by leprosy

The recognised way to refer to someone who has the disease or has been successfully treated for leprosy. Where someone is receiving treatment in hospital or at a clinic, leprosy patient can be used. Never use ‘PAL’.

We never use the word ‘leper’. This is an extremely offensive term. The only acceptable usage is when referring to the history of the charity e.g. The Mission to Lepers was renamed as The Leprosy Mission in 1965.

photo credits

Credits for photos taken by external photographers should be as follows: Photo © Stuart Towell. Photos taken by TLM staff do not need to be credited.

Credits for photos on Facebook and Twitter can be added to the image itself. For Instagram, use the style as above. If the photographer has an Instagram profile, tag the account as part of the credits, e.g. Photo © [instagram handle].

For external publications or press releases, the style should be: Photo: Stuart Towell/The Leprosy Mission.

For films done by external filmmaker, the credits should be:

  • Filmed by Stuart Towell, when the footage and editing were done by the same person
  • Footage by Stuart Towell - when an external filmmaker took the footage, but the film was edited in house


No dots or spaces, e.g. 6:00pm.

poor, the

Don’t talk about ‘the poor’ unless you’re quoting the Bible.

Use people living in poverty or people in need wherever possible.

Don’t label countries as poor unless you are basing your copy on a stat. Use low-income countries/communities.


Use a singular verb.

Yes: The local population has fled the area.
No: The local population have fled the area.
Yes: Half the population is under 30 years old.
Half the population are under 30 years old.

possessives/names ending in an ‘s’

If a word ends with an ‘s’ sound, add an ‘s’. If it ends with a ‘z’ sound, don’t.

Exceptions: Jesus’ name or St James’s (the park/area in London). Let spoken English be your guide.


Use capitals if you’re including the surname or if you’re referring to a specific politician. So: President Biden, the President is due to arrive later this afternoon.

Only use lower-case if you’re talking about more than one president or the role of the president. E.g. She was elected president in 2005.


A prosthetic limb or prosthesis, not a fake/artificial limb.


Avoid saying the equivalent of Whittlesey Town. Say Sindh Province or the Province of Sindh if it’s known as that. Say the province of Sindh (lower case p) if it’s just known as Sindh and you want to inform the reader that Sindh is a province.

Check on Google or with the country representative.


Capitalised with full stops. One space before the main copy, and start the sentence with a capital as usual e.g. P.S. Don’t forget, places are limited so RSVP today if you can.


The people we support are asked at the time of interview whether they would like to use their real name. If not, they choose their own pseudonym and this will be recorded on ResourceSpace.

Never give someone a pseudonym if they have not asked for one.

If they have asked for one, make sure you always use it.

publication names

In running copy, use italics and capitalise first letters apart from on transition words, e.g. readers of The Guardian…, The Daily Mail is one of the most popular newspapers.

See italics.



Use single quote marks, and then double quote marks for quotes within quotes. This rule applies to Bible quotes as well as speech, even if this is different to NIV style.

Partial quotes with no punctuation and contain no punctuation. E.g. He said it was ‘amazing and unforgettable’. But it’s not great style and can be a lazy substitute for clear writing.

Full quotes can with a comma and contain punctuation e.g. He said, ‘It was amazing, truly amazing.’ Or you can start a sentence with the quote if it works e.g. ‘It was amazing, truly amazing,’ said James.

Don’t end a paragraph with a quote mark if the quote continues on to the next paragraph. the next paragraph with another quote mark.

Quotes should add colour, not carry facts. First choice, quote someone affected by leprosy; second a partner; and third a staff member.


race and ethnicity

The following are acceptable terms to use to describe a person’s race or ethnicity:

  • white
  • Black. Note capital B. Never used ‘coloured’ or anything else with racist or out-dated connotations. Use Black people rather than ‘Blacks’
  • Asian (ie people from the Asian subcontinent)
  • mixed race or dual heritage
  • indigenous groups (ie to refer to minority groups whose land and lifestyles are often under threat)
  • African British, African American, African Caribbean, British Chinese, British Asian, Black British, African, Latin American, Caribbean and so on
  • Communities, people and groups not ‘tribes’

Remember to be inclusive and respectful at all times and ask for advice if you need it.


Someone who flees their own country of residence, to another country, for safety.

This is different to an internally displaced person (IDP) who has fled their home but remains within their country of residence.


At first mention, Rev John/Maria Smith. Thereafter John/Maria or Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs Smith. Never ‘Rev Smith’ or ‘Reverend Smith’, which is American usage.


This means ‘please reply’ in French, so we don’t need to add the word ‘please’ at any point.

Yes: RSVP to
No: Please RSVP to



One word.


One word.

scripture, the scriptures, scriptural

Lower case e.g. Namatua Self-help Group.


Semicolons are not interchangeable with commas or full stops.

Semicolons can be used to join two related, but independent, clauses. Both clauses before and after the semi-colon should form a complete sentence. Don't use a conjunction (e.g. and or but) after the semicolon. Don't capitalise the word after the semicolon, unless it is a proper noun. E.g. Leprosy is a disease of poverty; it thrives in areas where there is poor sanitation, and overcrowding.

Semicolons are also used in lists if the items contain internal punctuation. For the final item in the list, you should use 'and' after the semicolon.

Yes: the project took place in Chanchaga, Nigeria; Cabo Delgado, Mozambique; and Salur, India.
No: the project took place in Chanchaga, Nigeria, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and Salur, India.
Yes: the project was a collaboration between TLM Northern Ireland, TLM England and Wales, and TLM Netherlands
No: the project was a collaboration between TLM Northern Ireland; TLM England and Wales; and TLM Netherlands

South Asia

Note capitals.

South-East Asia

Note capitals and hyphen.

south/South, southern/Southern etc

Names of areas are capitalised if they are part of the title of a recognised geographical area or political division (e.g. South Korea). They are not capitalised if are descriptions in general terms (e.g. southern Scotland, south Birmingham).


Provide sources only when stats are considered doubtful/likely to prompt inquiry. Sourcing all stats is unnecessary and requires clumsy footnotes. An exception is more academic copy, or where a particular audience would expect full references.



When listing teams or in running copy, use upper case for specific teams: Fundraising Team, Programmes Team.

Use lower case when referring to the team or when you are being non-specific e.g. The team is meeting to pray about the matter or Every team at The Leprosy Mission is passionate about ending the disease.

The Leprosy Mission

Use a singular verb for The Leprosy Mission. So: The Leprosy Mission is/has not The Leprosy Mission are/have.

Third World

Don’t use this term. Use low-income countries, middle-income countries, the countries/regions we work in.

No: two-thirds world, southern or third world, poor countries.


In running copy: 10:30am, 5:15pm, five o’clock, midnight, midday. E.g. It ran from 11am to 12:15pm, and 2pm to 4:30.

For listings: 5pm, 5:15am.

For timeframes: 11am–12:15pm, 2–4:30pm.

try to

Use try to never try and.


With capitals, no dots.


When referring to posting a message/update on Twitter, a capital T is used.



Don’t spell out: The UN are monitoring the situation, a UN convoy.

For UN sub-agencies, write out the first time, and thereafter use initials. See initialisms. Note that the UNHCR is referred to as the UN Refugee Agency (as The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is wordy).

Exception: Unicef and WHO are commonly known agencies, and don't need spelling out.

until, till, ’til

Use until. Use till only for soil or a shop till. Do not use ‘til.

up-to-date/up to date

Use up-to-date when it precedes a noun and up to date when it follows a noun. E.g. Which is the most up-to-date version?, The manual is completely up to date.



Is normally superfluous. Cut it out.


Use church leader unless referring to a person who is an ordained (e.g. Anglican) vicar, or when quoting direct speech.


Avoid this word, and never refer to a person as a victim unless quoting their direct speech.


Warning/content warning/trigger warning

If your story of piece of comms contains content that some readers may find upsetting, please include something like this at the top of the page. The first one is the standard/general:

Warning: some readers may find this story upsetting.
Warning: contains mentions of violence that some readers may find upsetting.
Warning: contains mentions of sexual and gender-based violence that some readers may find upsetting.
Warning: contains mentions of suicide that some readers may find upsetting.


Water, sanitation and hygiene (try not to use in communications with supporters as it’s jargon)


Note hyphen.


One word.


One word.

website addresses

When referring to website addresses in copy, you do not need to prefix the URL with ‘www’. Web addresses should also appear in bold. They do not need to be introduced with a colon or preceded by a comma. Don’t put a full stop after a URL, and only follow a URL with a comma when you really have to. So: See for further information.


No hyphen.


Not whilst (old-fashioned).


In prayers, say will not would, e.g. Pray God will protect those in danger.

word of God, the Word

Lower case w, unless when when referring to Jesus as the Word.