Use of English

a lot

Two words.

Note: See this enlightening cartoon on the subject.

grammar, spelling

a or an before H?

Use an before a silent H: an heir, an hour, an honest politician, an honorary consul; use a before an aspirated H: a hero, a hotel, a historian (but don't change a direct quote if the speaker says, for example, "an historic"). With abbreviations, be guided by pronunciation: an LSE student, a CERN student

grammar

abbreviations and acronyms

Do not use full points in abbreviations, or spaces between initials, including those in proper names:

US, eg, 4am, M&S, WE Weber, WH Smith, etc.

style

absolute zero

Not "the absolute zero".

-273.15°C or 0 K.

The apparatus was cooled to near absolute zero to ensure the electronics were in a superconducting state

grammar

accelerators

Spell out the name at first mention, then abbreviate in brackets. Only use capital letters if it is the only machine with that name in the world.

This synchrocyclotron (SC) was built in 1957, whereas the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was completed in 2009. The SC accelerates ions…

style

accents

Include all accents in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Irish Gaelic words. But for words that have been assimilated into English (café, résumé) follow OED.

Note that capital letters in French also take an accent so état membre becomes État membre. 

style

actor

For both sexes, never actress.

style

Administrative Circular

Follow the style dictated by the HR website, as this is where people will find the documents. 

Capital letters, No. then a space followed by a digit, open bracket, "Rev", stop, space, digit, close brackets. See below: 

Administrative Circular No. 25 (Rev. 3)

style

adverbs

No hyphen is normally needed between an adverb and the adjective it modifies:

a hotly contested result

a constantly evolving theory

To avoid ambiguity, a hyphen is needed after adverbs such as “ill” and “well” that have the same spelling as the corresponding adjective, as in

a well-dressed man

an ill-considered reply

No hyphen is needed if the adverbial phrase comes after the noun, as in

the man was well dressed

grammar

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

Not Alphamagnetic Spectrometer.

physics, spelling, style

am and pm

See time

style

ampersand (&)

Don't use them, even in headlines. 

Exceptions:

  • certain company names – Smith & Jones Consulting
  • when artistic considerations dictate – on a logo, for example 
  • academic references – (Grant & Smith, 1998)
punctuation, style

analyse

An important exception to the ize rule

spelling, style

antiatom

Not anti-atom. Likewise antiparticle, antihydrogen, antineutrino, etc.

See antimatter

spelling, style

antimatter

Not anti-matter. Likewise antiparticle, antihydrogen, antineutrino, etc.

See particles

spelling, style

approximately

Use the full word. Preferable to "about".

Don't abbreviate to "approx.", or worse, the symbol  "~".

The luminosity of the LHC has increased by approximately 16% over the last two months.

style

barn

Symbol b.

A unit of area. A barn is 10−28 m2 (100 fm2), about the cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus.

A barn expresses the cross section of any scattering process, which relates to the probability of interaction between small particles.

Sample size at CERN is often expressed in femtobarns and luminosity is expressed in inverse femtobarns.

physics, style

baryon

Adjective: baryonic

A subatomic particle, such as a nucleon or hyperon, that has a mass equal to or greater than that of a proton.

physics

beamline

One word.

Note that the competition at CERN for high-school students is called Beamline for Schools – capital "B" and capital "S".

grammar, spelling

beampipe

One word. See beamline

style

Big Bang

Upper case

physics, style

billion

Means a thousand million, 109

See trillion

physics, style

bio

The prefix bio takes no hyphen. So,

bioethics

biomedicine

biomedical

 

style

boilerplate

See footnotes

style

boson

A subatomic particle, such as a photon, which has zero or integral spin and follows a statistical description given by SN Bose and Einstein.

physics

brackets ( ) [ ]

Follow ODE's advice on brackets, copied here below:

There are two main types of brackets.

Round brackets

Round brackets (also called parentheses) are mainly used to separate off information that isn’t essential to the meaning of the rest of the sentence. If you removed the bracketed material the sentence would still make perfectly good sense. For example: 

Mount Everest (8848 metres) is the highest mountain in the world.

grammar, punctuation

Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism

Not "Higgs mechanism" or "Higgs-Brout-Englert" mechanism. 

See Higgs boson

style

capital letters

Use minimal capitalization. A heading starts with a capital, but other words should not be capped up, unless they are proper nouns. If in doubt, choose lower case.

Exceptions include: our Sun, Earth (the planet), and our Solar System, but not universe, moon, earthquake, earth (the soil).

Use a capital letter when you are writing the names of people, languages, places, and words relating to them:

Africa, African
Buddha, Buddhism
Shakespeare, Shakespearean

punctuation, style

captions

General

Use normal punctuation in captions, except at the end - No full stop at the end of the caption.

Image captions are a maximum of 200 characters (including spaces), and must include a credit in the format "(Image: Name/Organization)" Note there is no full stop after the parentheses at the end of the caption.

Text

The image caption should be directly linked to the body text. So instead of:

The Antiproton Decelerator (Image: CERN)

Write

style

CDS

The CERN Document Server.

See video.

style

centimetre

Not centimeter. See units.

spelling

centre or center?

Only use the American spelling for American organizations and place names:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rockefeller Center

Otherwise, stick to centre:

The Sun is at the centre of our Solar System.

spelling

CERN

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the organization that operates the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. Lots of experiments take place at this laboratory.

Stick to the official title "European Organization for Nuclear Research" for CERN websites. 

Use the acronym CERN in the singular: 

CERN offers student work placements (not "CERN offer student work-placements")

style

CERN Council

Upper case for CERN Council.

 

style

CERN Data Centre

Formerly the CERN Computer Centre, the CERN Data Centre (CDC) forms Tier-0 of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid. 

The change is to avoid confusion with the CERN Control Centre (CCC). 

style

Chemical compounds

Chemical compounds and alloys should be hyphenated, but the elements should not be capitalised:

The current in the dipole magnets is carried by cables made of niobium-titanium (NbTi).

grammar

Cherenkov radiation

Not Cerenkov. Though Cherenkov is a somewhat clumsy anglicization of the original Russian, the "Ch" ensures unambiguous pronunciation.

spelling, style

co-author

Note the hyphen.

style

collective nouns

Do they take a singular or plural verb? It depends on the sense, but use singular where possible.

grammar

Collide @ CERN

Capital C. The "At sign" in the name can sometimes cause problems with Drupal text formats. To get around this, whenever Collide @ CERN appears in text, separate the @ from the text with spaces.

Collide @ CERN is a 3-year artist’s residency programme at CERN.

spelling, style

collision

The forceful striking together of two or more particles in the accelerator.

Define the type of collision using hyphens:

Lead-ion collisions are more complex and take longer to analyze than proton-proton collisions.

style

collision or event?

Use "collision" to refer to the exact point in time and space at which particles collide.

An "event" is a snapshot of what happens after a collision; an event is picked up by the detector: particles decay and their decay products form tracks or deposit energy in the detector.

Event displays from the detectors show the collision point in the middle - everything around it makes up the event.

style

collision point

The point in space within a particle detector at which two or more particles collide to form an event.

colloquium

Don't use it. Use seminar instead.

See forbidden words

commas

No Oxford comma: The good, the bad and the ugly

NOT the good, the bad, and the ugly

But make sure to add a comma after place names:

The computing school will take place in Uppsala, Sweden, on 16 March.

style

contractions

Contractions such as “there’s” “they’re”, “didn’t”, “he’ll”, “she’d” do not automatically make a story more accessible. Contractions can appear annoyingly chatty, and can be imprecise too (“it’s” can stand for “it is” or “it has”) and so detract from clarity. If anything, contractions make a story harder to understand, especially if there are several of them in the same sentence.

grammar, style

cooperation

No hyphen.

style

currencies

Give figures in Swiss francs, then euros in brackets. 

"Five grams of enriched lead for the accelerator costs 12,000 CHF (9700)," says Kuchler. 

Use symbols and numerals when quoting specific amounts of common currencies:

£5 million (not 5 million pounds, or five million pounds)

€5 (not 5 euros or five euros)
about $3.5 billion (not about 3.5 billion dollars)

style

currency conversions

Amounts quoted in sterling, US dollars and euros do not normally need to be converted. The only exception might be if you want readers to be able to make direct comparisons between countries: if that applies you should choose one as the standard.

Any other currency should be converted the first time it is mentioned to the equivalent in US dollars. There are a number of currency converters on the net: xe.com covers any currency you are likely to encounter.

style

cyclotron

A cyclotron is an apparatus in which charged atomic and subatomic particles are accelerated by an alternating electric field while following an outward spiral or circular path in a magnetic field.

Perhaps the most important improvement has been the replacement of an electrical magnet with a series of permanent magnets to generate the cyclotron's magnetic field.

physics

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