How to... proofread your work Part: 4∂=4

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How to... proofread your work

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Keeping to conventions


If you are using UK spelling conventions, use the Oxford English Dictionary.

If you are using US spelling conventions, use Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

When a word has more than one correct spelling, make sure you use it  consistently throughout the article, for example focusing or focussing

Do not change spelling in quotations and references.


Do not use these unnecessarily, but use in the following circumstances:

  • Principal words in book titles, newspapers, magazines, journals, TV programmes
  • The initial letter of the first word only in article titles and unpublished works
  • Proper names
  • German nouns
  • Titles and office holders when used specifically, e.g. Prime Minister Tony Blair, but a British prime minister
  • Registered trade marks
  • Proper names of buildings and institutions, e.g. Library of Congress
  • Geographical names, including those denoting specific regions and areas used in a political context, e.g. the Midlands, Eastern Europe
  • Titles of jobs when used in affiliations.


The most usual style is to have numbers from one to ten written as words; 11 and above are written as figures. However, use numbers when:

  • Dealing with unmanageable fractions, e.g. 3/14 cm.
  • Joining to an abbreviated form of measurement, e.g. 2 cm.
  • For percentages, except when starting a sentence, in which case the sentence should be revised (Of the respondents, 93 per cent stated ...)
  • For pages and chapters, e.g. pp. 6-8, Chapter 3
  • For values in a Likert scale
  • Numbers and figures would have to be mixed, e.g. nine to 11-year-olds should be written as 9-11 year olds.

Use words when making generalizations, e.g. "hundreds of people", or with manageable fractions, e.g. one-and-a-half.

With decimals of below zero, use 0., etc., i.e. a 0 before the full point.

Use 1,000, 780,000, except when referring to computer memory, in which case use 640K RAM.

Millions: 7 million.


Elide page numbers, with the exception of 11-19, i.e. 21-5, 211-25.


Use either UK style: 22 December 1997

or US style: December 22, 1997

1980s, the twentieth century