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.