Use of English

gender

Use gender-neutral language whenever the sex of the person being referred to is not made explicit.  

Thus we use spokesperson, not spokesman, firefighter, not fireman, police officer, not policeman, and actor for both sexes (not actor and actress).

style

Globe of Science and Innovation

Capitals on "G", "S" and "I". No italics.

There will be a public lecture today at 5pm in the CERN Globe of Science and Innovation. 

style

gluon

Plural: gluons

A hypothetical massless subatomic particle believed to transmit the force binding quarks together in a hadron.

physics

government

Lower case.

style

gram

Not gramme.

spelling, style

graphs and charts

Stories at CERN are often based on new physics results, and many of these will be accompanied by one or more graphs. 

Graphs are an excellent way to present lots of data in one place. But it is essential that the reader be given all the information necessary to understand the data presented.

Before publishing a graph or chart, check:

Are all the axes labelled?

- graphs without labels do not mean anything at all. Label your axes.

Would the labels make sense to a non-physicist?

style

grey

Not gray, for the colour.

spelling

Grid

Not GRID. First capital when referring to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG).

The Grid is just one of many computing grids worldwide.

style

hadron

A subatomic particle of a type including the baryons and mesons, which can take part in the strong interaction.

Note: The Large Hadron Collider is a large machine which collides hadrons, not a machine which collides large hadrons.

physics

hadron therapy

Two words.

spelling, style

half-life

Note the hyphen. Plural: half-lives.

grammar, spelling

headline

A headline is a short statement (60 characters max, including spaces) which should entice readers to read on. It should grab their attention and interest, and give them an idea of what to expect in the story. Headlines should be understandable on their own. Use active verbs where possible ("Experiment opens at CERN"; "LHCb discovers new particle") unless the impact is stronger in the passive ("Higgs boson found"). 

style

hi-tech

Not high-tech

style

Higgs boson

Capital "H", lower case "b".

Avoid the tautology "Higgs-boson particle". A boson is a particle; there is no need to repeat yourself. 

Named after the English physicist Peter Higgs, the Higgs boson is a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory which unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions.

physics, style

Higgs field

Not Higgs' field or worse, Higg's field

physics, style

Higgs-like

Capital H, hyphen.

The ATLAS and CMS experiments have discovered a Higgs-like particle. They are not sure yet if it is the Higgs boson that the Standard Model predicts, or another, more exotic Higgs boson.

style

High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider

Capital letters, note the hyphen.

The High-Luminosity LHC project (HL-LHC) will take the accelerator to new energy frontiers.

style

his or her

Never "his/her". Use "their" if gender is unclear or ambiguous.

See gender.

grammar

Holland

Holland is a region in the western part of the Netherlands. Don't use "Holland" to mean the whole of the Netherlands – it's incorrect.

style

however

Don't use it. Say "but".

hyperon

An unstable subatomic particle classified as a baryon, heavier than the neutron and proton.

physics

hyphens

Too many hyphens make text look cluttered, so avoid them where you can. See ndash;

After an adverb?

Do not use hyphens to link an adverb to an adjective:

genetically modified food, doubly special relativity

The only common exceptions to this are when “well” and “ill” are used as part of a compound adjective preceding the noun, when a hyphen is needed to avoid ambiguity:

well-behaved patients; ill-considered attack

Compound adjectives

Use a hyphen in phrases such as

grammar, punctuation

iframe

See video

style

image caption

See captions

style

inter

The prefix "inter" does not take a hyphen. 

interagency

interdepartmental

intergovernmental

 

style

internet

Lower case, likewise "the net"

inverse femtobarn

The inverse femtobarn (fb−1) is a measurement of particle-collision events per femtobarn; a measure of both the collision number and the amount of data collected. 

physics

ionize

To convert (an atom, molecule, or substance) into an ion or ions, typically by removing one or more electrons.

physics

ions and isotopes

An ion is an atom with a net electric charge due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons.

An isotope is each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties. Isotopes are often radioactive.

The standard scientific notation for ions is as follows:

ElementCharge

And for isotopes:

Atomic massElement

physics

ise

Use -ise endings, not -ize.

Follow British English for spelling.

Note: There are a small set of verbs in English which must always be spelled with -ise at the end and never with -ize. Here are the most common ones:

spelling

it's

Shortened form of it is or it has.

It's a particle accelerator. It's got lots of complicated parts.

grammar

italics

Use italics for foreign phrases; genus and species; exhibitions and campaigns; a complete literary work (a book, a play, an album, a magazine, journal, video game, etc. but NOT the title of a chapter, an act, an event, a song or an article – these take double quotation marks). Also italicize letters that refer to quantities (e = mc2) and vehicles that carry passengers, such as Titanic

style

its

Possessive form of it:

The dog is eating its bone.

CERN is changing its name.

grammar

J (upper case)

Joules and kilojoules kJ, are units of energy. 

One joule is equal to the energy expended (or work done) in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre.

One kilojoule equals 1000 joules.

physics

kaon

Not K-meson.

kelvin

Spell out on first mention; note the lower-case k (all SI units are lower case when spelled out); can be abbreviated to K in subsequent mentions. And note that it is always kelvin, even when plural (not kelvins or degrees kelvin).

kilogram

Not kilogramme

laboratory

Always lower case, even when referring to CERN.

Shortening to "lab" after the first mention is acceptable, but will depend on the tone of the article. 

style

Large Hadron Collider

Caps. Always spell out first time, with abbreviation in brackets. Use the abbreviation thereafter.

Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) suggest...

Beware of tautologies: Don't use "The LHC machine" or "The LHC accelerator" as this is equivalent to saying "The Large Hadron Collider accelerator..." which doesn't mean anything (The LHC doesn't accelerate accelerators).

style

last or past?

Use "past" rather than "last" in constructions such as "In the past few weeks...". If they were the last few weeks, that would imply that the end of the world is nigh, and you should probably be at home with your family rather than writing for a CERN website :)

grammar

lepton

Adjective: leptonic

A subatomic particle which does not take part in the strong interaction.

Examples include the electron, muon and neutrino.

physics

less or fewer?

See fewer or less?

grammar

licence or license?

With a "c" when it's a noun; with an "s" when it's a verb. 

I always carry my driver's licence with me for identification.

The state of Florida has agreed to license the sale of firearms.

 

spelling

Linac

Short for linear accelerator. Capital L when referring to one of CERN's Linacs, otherwise lower case. Add a space and then a numeral when differentiating between CERN's linear accelerators. 

Linac 2 started up in 1978 as a successor to Linac 1. 

style

linear accelerator

A particle accelerator that accelerates particles in a straight line rather than in a circle. 

Shorten to Linac

style

links

Links should always be in the form:

<a href="link_url_here">Link text here</a>.

Never show the reader the URL, keep it within a word or sentence. 

So: 

For CERN's style guide, click here.

NOT

For CERN's style guide, click here: https://writing-guidelines.web.cern.ch

It may seem obvious, but check that the link is relevant, and always double-check links are working before publishing. 

style

log in

Don't use this construction. Use Sign in, sign out. 

style

logo

All official CERN websites should use the CERN logo, with the following conditions:

style

luminosity

The number of particles per unit area per time, multiplied by the opacity of the target (its impenetrability) to electromagnetic radiation.

Luminosity is measured in barns per second: b-1s-1

Luminosity is an important measure of the performance of a particle accelerator.

physics

mass

The quantity of matter which a body contains, as measured by its acceleration under a given force or by the force exerted on it by a gravitational field. Do not confuse with weight.

physics

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