Style, 4-H and A-B
4-H, 4-H’er — The correct name for the department is 4-H Youth Development. Members are sometimes called 4-H'ers (not 4-H'er's unless possessive). Agents are 4-H Youth Development agents. Avoid using 4-H (or any number) to start a sentence. If writing about what a 4-H'er owns, you can avoid using two apostrophes in one word by saying 4-H member's.
a, an — Use the article a before a word that begins with a consonant sound; use the article an before a word that begins with a vowel sound. If uncertain, remember to base your choice on the sound made by the first letter of the word after the article. Examples: He ate an apple for a snack. She read a historical novel. The organization was the subject of an FBI investigation. Her research was funded by a USDA grant.
abbreviations — (See state names entry.) Use periods after abbreviations in most instances. For example, Dr., Ph.D., Mr.
For tables or scientific notation, it is acceptable to omit the period unless lack of a period would cause confusion: lb not lbs, mL not mLs, but in., no., a.m. Some terms of measurement do not use periods after the abbreviation, such as g and mg. Abbreviations may need to be redefined in each table and figure. In lengthy or technical publications, a list of abbreviations may be useful.
For nonstandard abbreviations, write out a term in first use (abstract or summary and the main text) and put the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Use the abbreviation throughout the manuscript, except at the beginning of a sentence.
The Latin abbreviations i.e. and e.g. are always followed by a comma.
|et al.||and others|
|etc.||and so forth, and so on|
|i.e.||that is, in other words|
|N. B.||note well|
Avoid using Latin terms such as etc., i.e., e.g. in text. Instead use the appropriate English phrase. Latin abbreviations are acceptable in parenthetical text, footnotes or endnotes. The table above shows the Latin term (with correct punctuation) and its English equivalent. A Latin abbreviation preceded by only one item does not need to be separated from the item by a comma. Danny Rogers et al.
adviser — Both adviser and advisor are acceptable.
advisory — The one who advises serves in an advisory capacity.
affect, effect — Affect (verb) To influence. Rain affects crop growth. Effect — (verb) To accomplish or bring about. Those who wish to effect change must first make changes in themselves. Effect — (noun) Result. The effect of the medication was lower blood pressure.
afterward — No “s” at the end.
agreement of pronoun and antecedent — A pronoun must agree with the noun or pronoun it refers to in person, number, and gender. I can’t find my keys. Students must review their notes. Bill lost his phone. Problems often arise when dealing with a singular noun that is not gender specific. Modern usage avoids using he as a generic pronoun but he or she is awkward. Do not use they or their when referring to a singular person. Instead, rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem. Wrong: Ask the 4-H member to turn in their entry at the fair. Correct: Ask 4-H members to turn in their entries at the fair. See also they or their entry in the Misused Terms section.
Agricultural Experiment Station — The Hatch Act of 1887 provided federal support for agricultural research in states and territories, establishing an Agricultural Experiment Station at each land-grant institution. The Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station is the research arm of K-State Research and Extension.
agriculture — Spell out instead of using ag.
AI — artificial insemination
ai — active ingredient
all right — The correct spelling is two words. Alright is not all right.
among, between — Among refers to three or more things. He is among the top 10 students in the class. Between shows the relationship of two things. The only difference between the twin sisters is the length of theirhair.
and/or — Avoid. Choose the more appropriate word or use x or y or both.
annual — An event that occurs every year. Never use first annual.
are, our — The verb are is the 2nd person singular present and 1st, 2nd, 3rd person plural present of be. You are my sister. They are cowboys. The adjective our is a 1st person plural possessive form. Tim and I visited our parents. We returned and found our cars had been destroyed by the tornado.
assure, ensure, insure — A person assures (promises, reassures) others about something. He assured me the room was reserved in my name. When a person ensures something, he is making certain something will happen or securing an outcome. I made a deposit on the room to ensure it would be available when I arrived. A person insures something against damage or loss. The hotel insures its building and contents against damage from fire or other catastrophes.
a while, awhile — A while is a noun phrase meaning "a period of time," and usually preceded by a preposition. I'll be at your house in a while. Awhile is an adverb meaning "for a short time." They paused awhile at the inn.
backward — No “s” at the end.
bacteria — The plural of bacterium. These organisms are usually referred to in the plural sense. The plural is not bacterias.
based on, on the basis of — Using based on at the beginning of a sentence can be problematic because the phrase is often a dangling modifier. For example, Based on the results, we decided to . . . means that “we” are “based on the results,” which is not correct. For simplicity, use based on as a verb. On the basis of my experience . . . . Our conclusions were based on . . . .
because of, due to — Because of means as a result of. Becauseof our experiences in the workshop, we learned to develop a household budget. Due to means attributable to. The participants’ increased knowledge is due to their workshop experiences.
bi — The prefix indicates “two” or intervals of two units. Biweekly could mean twice a week or every two weeks, and bimonthly could mean twice a month or every two months. To avoid confusion, avoid using bi- in this sense.
biannually, biennially — Note the difference in spelling and meaning: biannually (twice a year) and biennially (every two years).
bio- (prefix) — words are formed without hyphenation: biofuel, bioenergy, biomaterial, bioethics, biomass, biobased.
brand names, trade names — Use generic names when possible, but capitalize brand names or trademarks if they must be used. For example, use self-sealing plastic bags instead of Ziploc. In general, do not use ™ or ® symbols in publications, but they may be required in some types of communication, such as press releases or advertisements.
burndown — Plant reaction to chemical applied for weed control. One word.
byproduct — One word.