style guide

i write, which means i make decisions about writing. i'm going to try and list some of those decisions here. sections are ordered alphabetically as i wasn't sure whether any other order would be more beneficial.




Hyphens should only be used to connect two words together to form a compound. Other dashes are covered later. In most cases, hyphens should not be used, because the meaning is usually clear.

Hyphens are also often used in double vowel combinations such as co-operative or pre-eminent. In these situations, the hyphen should be dropped and a diaeresis added: coöperative, preëminent.

foreign words

When writing in english, Or any language that uses the latin script use a romanisation system, to be sure that anyone able to read the rest of your writing can also read whatever you choose to drop in. If the original text is necessary, add it as an aside. In longer quotations where the original text is necessary, write the original above the romanisation. Don't use ruby formatting.

acronyms and initialisms



hedge words

we use hedge words to make ourselves sound less authoritative. hedge words are qualifiers like "somewhat", "fairly", "it seems".


adjectives as nouns

People commonly use adjectives as nouns when referring to people they disagree with. For example saying someone is a racist, rather than simply racist, or a queer, rather than simply queer. I prefer to avoid this, as abstracting people down to a single characteristic does not lead to high quality discussion.

Sometimes people do this for nationalities, for example a chinese, a jew, or a black. In these situations i will also use the adjective forms: a chinese person, a jewish person, and a black person.


i go back and forth on apostrophe rules. i tend to use them for possession, but omit them for contraction. there are a few situations that this may cause confusion, most commonly ill. personally i prefer the look of such words without apostrophes other than in that case. i have not settled on how to deal with that case.

for possessives ending -s, i will add 's if i would pronounce an extra syllable. for example, i would talk about Dickens's desk, but the babies' mouths.


i generally avoid capitalisation. i can't remember exactly why i started. the key things that i do not capitalise are sentences, the pronoun i, acronyms, and names of companies or products. i tend to capitalise names of individuals if they have not expressed an alternative preference. according to hacker news, this is a controversial decision.


i prefer to use mla-style citations. instead of having them in place, i postition them as margin notes, using the possessive form of the author's surname, the title, and a page, paragraph, or line reference as appropriate. if i only use one source by an author, it is fine to omit the title in the margin reference. at the end of the article, references are expanded in alphabetical order: Surname's Like This (24-26) Surname, First Names. The Name of the Article. Journal, vol 10, no 4, 2020: pp. 321-345.
Surname, First Names. The Name of the Book. Publisher, 2022.