Use of English

dark matter

Lower case. 

physics, style

data

"Data" can mean two rather different things, and this poses a style problem.

dates

Dates should be written 24 April 2010 (not 24th).

Do not add the day of the week.

Use the following construction for spans of time:

Willibald Karl Jentschke was delegate to council for the Federal Republic of Germany from 1964-67.

Though this often reads better if reworded:

style

decades

Use digits:

the 1950s, 1960s etc.

the roaring 20s

a man in his 60s

style

decay

Most often used in the context of particle decay.

The kaon decayed into a pion and a neutrino-antineutrino pair.

physics

decimals

Decimals and percentages use the number, not the word: 2% and 50% and 2.6 kilometres.

style

degrees

When referring to angles, spell out “degrees” (as for any other unit):

The tower at Pisa has a tilt of more than 5 degrees

For temperature, use °C

Ethanol boils at 79 °C

For latitude and longitude use ° (closed up to the numeral)

Switzerland lies at latitude 47° north

(note the lower case for north – or south, east or west)

To make a degree (°) symbol on a Mac or a PC, use the key combination Alt-Shift-8

style

department

Lower case d. Likewise for group, section, etc.

Use capital letters on the name of a department, but not on the word "department". 

CERN has many departments. While Physics is the largest, the Technology department is also substantial. 

style

detectors

All caps for ATLAS, ALICE, CMS, TOTEM. But LHCb, LHCf.

style

Director-General

One of few titles that should be capitalized. Avoid abbreviating to DG.

The hyphen is important. Here's an example from a photo caption which shows why: 

Stephen Hawking (left) with CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. 

The sentence above could be (incorrectly) interpreted to mean that Rolf Heuer is a (military) General, and he is also Director of CERN. 

The hyphen renders the compound adjective unambiguous - Heuer is a Director-General.

The plural of Director-General is Directors-General.

style

disc or disk?

Use disc with a "c" when you are referring to optical media such as a CD or DVD. All discs are removable, meaning when you eject the disc from your desktop, it physically comes out of your computer. 

Use disk with a "k" for magnetic media, such as a floppy disk, the disk in your computer's hard drive, an external hard drive.

spelling, style

discrimination

See non-discriminatory language

style

dosimeter

A device used to measure an absorbed dose of ionizing radiation.

Do not confuse with Geiger counter.

physics

double-check

Note the hyphen.

grammar

Downloads

On Drupal websites at CERN, whenever you add a file field to a page, call it "Downloads". Keep this consistent across CERN websites.

 

 

style

duoplasmatron

Another great physics word.

A duoplasmatron is a type of ion source. It operates as follows: a cathode filament emits electrons into a vacuum chamber. A gas such as argon is introduced in very small quantities into the chamber, where it becomes charged or ionized through interactions with the free electrons from the cathode, forming a plasma. The plasma is then accelerated through a series of at least two highly charged grids, and becomes an ion beam, moving at fairly high speed from the aperture of the device.

physics

ed or -t?

The following always end in -ed:

learned, dreamed, spelled, smelled

The following always ends in -t 

leapt

The following end in -ed for the simple past, and past participle

burned, spoiled, spilled

but in -t when used as an adjective  

burnt, spoilt, spilt

grammar

electromagnet

No hyphen.

spelling, style

electron

A stable subatomic particle with a charge of negative electricity, found in all atoms and acting as the primary carrier of electricity in solids.

Electrons belong to a class of particles called leptons.

physics

electronvolt

One word. Or shorten to eV.

style

elementary particle

Another term for fundamental particle. "Fundamental particle" is preferable – there is nothing elementary about the complex interactions of subatomic particles.

physics

elements

Lower case

ALICE detected lead-proton collisions. 

Milk contains lots of calcium.

Where appropriate, give the chemical symbol in brackets. 

Superconducting dipole magnets on the Large Hadron Collider are made from niobium-titanium (NbTi) coils.

style

ellipsis

Use the ellipsis character (… ) in quoted material if you need to show that words have been omitted from the middle of the original quote. In HTML5, it is written: …

The ellipsis should always be followed by a space.

punctuation, style

email

No hyphen. But e-commerce, e-book.

style

embedding video

See video.

style

enquiring

With an "e".

Showing an interest in learning new things:

CERN is a place for enquiring minds. 

Not inquiring.

style

entitled

Don't use it. Use titled instead.

style

Euro (€)

See Currencies

style

event

An "event" is what happens after a collision: particles decay, form tracks and are detected.

See collision or event?.

physics, style

event or collision?

See collision or event?.

style

exclamation marks

Avoid using them. If the statement is surprising or exciting, it will be clear to the reader without the need for an exclamation mark.

In particular, avoid multiple exclamation marks e.g.:

…this year the Wildcats are here and full of determination, as never before!!!!

 

punctuation, style

experiments

Use capitals for the names of experiments (ATLAS, ALICE, NA62, CLOUD etc) except for: LHCb, LHCh and n_TOF (but note AEGIS is all caps).

Because CERN experiments can involve thousands of people working across laboratories and countries, there is considerable overlap between the concept of an experiment, research team or collaboration. 

Be careful how you use these terms - think how inclusive the term needs to be.

style

femtobarn

A unit of area, equal to 10−43 square metres. See barn and inverse femtobarn.

"Femto" means a factor of 10-15, a thousandth of a millionth of a millionth. So a femtobarn is a barn (10-28 square metres) multiplied by 10-15, which equals 10-43 square metres.

When writing pages for the general public, always give an approximate number of collisions as well as the figure in inverse femtobarns.

physics

Fermilab

Is preferable to "Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory". Link to their homepage.

A new experiment at Fermilab in the US could change our ideas about fundamenal particles.

style

fermion

A subatomic particle, such as a nucleon, which has half-integral spin and follows a statistical description given by Fermi and Dirac.

physics

fewer or less?

For things you can count off one by one, use fewer; for quantities you can only measure, not count, use less.

There were fewer cars on the roads in the 50s.

Fewer people attended the gig than were expected.

I drink less water than you.

John ate fewer apples than Jane.

grammar

fire brigade

Or fire service. Lower case.

style

firefighter

Not fireman

style

focusing

One s.

spelling

footnotes

Don't use them. 

Except in press releases, where the following footnote should be inserted, linked to the first mention (and only the first mention) of the word "CERN" in the main text.

Note: This version came into force on 14 January 2014. It should be updated if and when any new nations join CERN as member states.

English:

style

forbidden words

The following is a list of the web editor's pet peeves. It is intended to make writers think more about simple use of English, and for editors to cut jargon where possible.

Don't use the following words or constructions, except in direct quotes.

Access (as a verb)

And/or (Logic gates do not belong in prose)

Anomalous – results are not anomalous, they are “unexpected”

Anthropogenic

Breakthrough 

Colloquium – say "seminar" 

grammar, style

foreign and adopted words

Foreign words should be in italic. Where a word has passed into common English usage use roman: be guided by ODE. So Schadenfreude is in roman, because that’s the way it is in the dictionary, while Schaden or Freude (should you ever need to use them) are in italic.

 

style

fractions

Don't use them. Use decimals instead: 0.25 not 1/4

French

For guidelines on writing in French – for CERN websites and print documents alike – refer to the translation department's "Guide de Typographie".

grammar, punctuation, spelling, style

fundamental particle

Is preferred to "elementary particle". There is nothing elementary about the complex interactions of subatomic particles.

 

 

g (lower case)

Denotes gravity in mathematical notation.

Specifically, g is the acceleration due to the local gravitational field - the force exerted by the Earth on a sky diver in free fall, for example.

The sky diver experienced a force of 5 g. (not "5 g's")

g is measured in metres per second per second (m/s2) and has a value of 9.81 m/s2 on Earth.

Not to be confused with G.

physics

G (upper case)

Denotes the gravitational constant in mathematical notation.

G is the constant term in Newton's law of universal gravitation, which states: "The attractive force (F) between two bodies is proportional to the product of their masses (m1 and m2), and inversely proportional to the square of the distance (r) between them."

physics

galaxy

Always lower case.

style

Geiger counter

Cap G.

A device for measuring radioactivity by detecting and counting ionizing particles.

Do not confuse with dosimeter.

style

GEM detector

The Gas Electron Multiplier (GEM) is a gaseous-ionization detector – a type of detector used in nuclear physics, particle physics and radiation detection.

physics

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