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


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


One word.

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

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.


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.

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