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NIH Record Style Guidelines
(Arranged alphabetically)

Bylines are offered in two styles: Beneath the headline, for stories showing significant enterprise on the part of the writer and apt research including gathering of quotes; and tag lines (author’s name appears at story’s end) for stories that are less labor-intensive. Please remember to include author’s name on all submissions, and indicate those instances when you would prefer that no attribution be used.

Record deadlines are 2 weeks before publication date. Material submitted past deadline cannot usually be accommodated. In general, however, past-due submissions stand a greater chance of appearing if they are very brief.

All stories submitted to the Record should include headlines. They should be brief, catchy and should summarize the story. Often, a “kicker” or companion headline that runs atop the main headline, can offer a one-two punch that grabs the reader.

We use italic typeface for words in foreign languages (e.g., summa cum laude, or ad hoc) and for the titles of books, publications, television shows, movies, plays, song titles and other forms of entertainment. We also use italics occasionally for emphasis within a sentence.

Parts of Speech/Verb Tense
If you begin a story using past tense expressions such as said, added, noted, or explained, please be consistent throughout the story. Present tense often works, too, but the tense should not shift within the story.

The article “the” is rarely necessary when preceding the name of an institution. We would write, “Jones is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and now works at NIH,” not “Jones is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and now works at the NIH.” We almost never add the location of an academic institution to the title, because most people know that Hopkins is in Baltimore, Harvard is in Boston, Penn is in Philly, etc.

Our convention is to name the people in photographs from left to right, which we abbreviate “(from l).” We prefer not to include within captions people who are not shown, but sometimes it is necessary.

We prefer color digital images in jpg or tif form, and in high-resolution (minimum of 300 dots per inch).

Photo Credit:
We are happy to credit photos if you supply us with the name of the photographer. Note that we cannot offer copyright protection on any photos, since all our published work is in the public domain. If there are copyright restrictions on an image, we cannot use it.

We don’t hyphenate the words email or online.

We always refer to NIH buildings as Bldg. rather than the full word.

We do not use trademark or copyright symbols.

When referring to academic degrees, we use periods, so that it is B.A., M.D. and Ph.D. rather than BA, MD or PhD.

We use postal code abbreviations for states in addresses only (as in an obituary when a memorial gift is directed to a specific street address); otherwise we use AP abbreviations — Massachusetts is Mass., California is Calif., etc.

We do not use the serial comma and remove it when it precedes the last item in a series. For example, “He was a scientist, writer, and musician” is more properly “He was a scientist, writer and musician.” Semi-colons should replace commas in a series of unrelated items.

Story Length
Please consider 400 words the upper limit; shorter articles, and especially photos/captions, are welcome. On some occasions (such as an institute anniversary) longer submissions are acceptable — please consult the editors beforehand.

When a story is long, it is a favor to the reader to break up copy by using subheads, which are brief but catchy phrases signaling a shift in topic. Please insert them when your stories are long; we add them, too, when necessary.

We use cardinal numbers, not ordinal (for example, we use May 21, not May 21st). We also often add the day of the week, if we think it helps the reader, i.e., it is more useful to know that May 21 is a Monday, for planning purposes, than simply to know the date.

We economize all hour references, so that it’s 3 p.m., not 3:00 p.m. The p.m. and a.m. are always lower case, separated by periods.

It is rarely necessary to add the year when mentioning a date.

We use the words one, two, three, etc. through nine when referring to people and places, but use numbers 1, 2, 3, etc., when referring to quantities. For 10 and more, we generally use the number only. A numeral is always used if numbers appear in a series.

We repeat the order of magnitude in stories involving large numbers. For example, “Disease X affects between 3 and 4 million people” is more properly “Disease X affects between 3 million and 4 million people.”

When we publish phone numbers, the area code or any 3-digit code preceding the 7-digit number is put in parentheses. For example, we use (301) 496-2125 rather than 301-496-2125.

For numbers higher than 999, we use the comma (1,000, not 1000).

Upper and Lower Case
The Record tries to avoid upper case “alphabet soup.” Paragraphs filled with acronyms and initials impede readers; so does excessive capitalization. In general, for NIH, caps are appropriate at branch level and above (but not for sections, units, groups, task forces, interest groups or committees). Outside of NIH, for universities, medical centers and colleges, we don’t use caps for divisions, departments or other subgroups — same with state offices and departments. We use acronyms to economize, instead of spelling out IC titles. In other cases, we avoid them if there is no second reference within the story.

The Record refers to both M.D.s and Ph.D.s as “Dr.” on first reference, and thereafter uses the last name only. The title “Dr.” also means that any accompanying title that precedes it is lower-case, for example: NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, or NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. Norka Ruiz Bravo.

For non-doctors, if the job title precedes the person’s name, upper case is used (e.g., NIH Deputy Director for Management Colleen Barros). However if the title comes after the name, lower case is indicated (Colleen Barros, NIH deputy director for management).

Web Addresses
These are often helpful to guide readers to more information, but can be unwieldy if the address is long. We tend to omit them if they are excessively bulky.

It is not necessary to include the http:// prefix when giving web addresses. Also, web site should be two words, not one.