Spelling and Usage

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A

a, per
“A, in the distributive sense (ten hours a day) has traditionally been considered preferable to per, which originated in commercialese and legalese.” He earns six dollars an hour. She takes six doses a day. Some idiomatic phrases such as (60 miles) per hour, or (one drink) per person can remain intact. (Oxford dictionary of American Usage and Style (2000) p. 1)

abbreviations and acronyms
INSERT CROSS REFERENCE HERE

academic degrees
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.

academic subjects
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.

Academy for Transformation
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
active voice — passive voice
In general, avoid the passive voice. The active voice is less wordy and is usually more powerful.

HUD partially funded YouthBuild Boston. (Active)
YouthBuild Boston was partially funded by HUD. (Passive)

Of course, the passive voice is appropriate when the subject (doer) is not known or is not important.

YouthBuild Boston was partially funded by several local and national organizations.

 
acts, treaties, and government programs
See the Capitalization section.
 
adjudicated youth
See “court-involved youth” and “youthful offender.”
 
affect — effect
Affect is a verb and effect is usually a noun: The cold weather has affected attendance. The cold weather has had a negative effect on attendance. (Occasionally, effect can be used as a verb when it means to “bring about or accomplish something.” Heightening awareness can effect change in the way people think.)
 
affiliate — member (of the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network).
These terms can be used interchangeably.
 
African American (n).
See under “Ethnic and national groups” in the Capitalization section.
 
African American (adj).
See under “Ethnic and national groups” in the Capitalization section.
 
aftercare
Avoid using the word “aftercare” when referring to resources available to YouthBuild graduates. Instead, use terms such as “ alumni program” or “graduate resources program.”
 
ages
See under “ages” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
airtime (n)
 
alumna
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
alumnae
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
alumni
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
AlumniXChange
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
alumnus
See the Items related to YouthBuild, YouthBuild USA, Education, etc. section.
 
and/or
Avoid this construction. Usually “and/or” just means “or.” If you don't think “or” or “and” alone works in your sentence, rewrite the sentence.
 
anti- (prefix)
Words beginning with “anti” are usually not hyphenated.

antiabortion, antidiscrimination

 
arboretums (pl)
But use “arboreta” if the author insists.
 
as per
Avoid this phrase. Instead, use phrases such as according to or as requested by, or recast the sentence.

Example: “As per our predictions” could be, simply, As we predicted.

 
as such
Do not use this phrase to replace words or phrases meaning “therefore” or “because of this.”

The phrase as such is correctly used, however, in this sentence: The china teacups are treasured heirlooms and should be handled as such. (Here, such is a pronoun that requires an antecedent [heirlooms].)

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B

the “B” policy
In YouthBuild USA publications, it's always “YouthBuild,” not “Youthbuild”—except when we are referring specifically to Title D: “Hope for Youth—Youthbuild.”

In HUD publications only, we use “Youthbuild,” with the following exceptions: YouthBuild USA and local programs that have “YouthBuild” as part of their proper names, such as YouthBuild Boston and YouthBuild Philadelphia.

 
baby boomer (n)
Not capitalized. Also: the baby boom
 
back up (v)
Please back up your files.
 
backup (adj)
Make a backup copy.
 
backup (n)
Her drive was filled with backups.
 
below — following
To indicate text or image placement in a document, use “following” wherever possible unless “below” is absolutely certain.
 
bi- (prefix)
Words beginning with “bi” are usually closed: biannual, bipartisan, bisexual, biweekly
 
block grant (n)
They put the funds in a block grant.
 
blockgrant (v)
They plan to blockgrant those funds.
 
board of directors (noun)
“board of directors” should only be capitalized when it is used as part of a full name:

The YouthBuild USA Board of Directors made the decision.

But

The board of directors will decide.
The board of directors of YouthBuild USA will decide.

 
bookkeeper (noun)
 
bookkeeping (noun)
 
bottom line (n)
 
burn out (v)
Don't let yourself burn out.
 
burnout (n)
She was suffering from burnout.
 
bylaws (n)

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C

cannot
 
capitalization
See the Capitalization section.
 
Capitol Hill (proper noun)
They went to lobby on Capitol Hill.
 
chamber of commerce (n)
This is a generic term; it is not capitalized when used alone. Use initial caps only when part of the formal name of an organization.

Visit your local chamber of commerce.
They got verification from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

 
checkmark (n)
 
child care (n)
They provide child care.
 
child-care (adj)
They run a child-care center.
 
citywide (adj)
the mayor's citywide initiative
 
co- (prefix)
Generally does not require a hyphen. “The hyphen should appear only when the unhyphenated form might lead the reader to mistake the syllables (e.g., co-occurrence, co-organizer) or when the writer thinks that a word is a new form (e.g., co-golfer, co-secretary)” (Gardner)

coequal, coauthor, coeditor, coordinate, cooperation, cosponsor, coworker

but
co-op, co-opt

 
community-based (adj)
community-based organization
 
community building (n)
designed to promote community building
 
community-building (adj)
despite their community-building efforts
 
community development (n)
engaged in community development
 
community development (adj)
They work for a community development organization.
 
cosponsor (n)
D'Amato was a cosponsor of the legislation.
 
counter- (prefix)
Words beginning with “counter” are usually not hyphenated, for example:

counterargument, counterbid, counterclockwise, counterintuitive, counterpoint, countershot

 
cross section (noun)
They examined a cross section of the population.
 
cross-section (v)
in order to cross-section the sample
 
cross-sectional (adj)
take a cross-sectional sample
 
cut back (v)
They cut back their programs.
 
cutback (n)
They approved program cutbacks.

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D

dates (in text)
See under “dates (in text)” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
daylong
 
day-to-day (adj)
 
decades
See under “decades” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
decision making (n)
Decision making is difficult.
 
decision-making (adj)
Improve your decision-making skills.
 
different from, different than
When in doubt, use “different from”—it is rarely incorrect. “Different from” is used in sentences where an object comes after “from:”

The instructor used a technique different from any technique I had seen before.

 
dollar amounts
See under “money” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
double check (n)
 
double-check (v)
 
driver's license
 
drop out (v)
Don't drop out of school.
 
dropout (n)
He was a high school dropout.
 
drug-free (adj)
 
drywall

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E

earnings
always plural
 
earth
See the Using “earth” elaboration.
 
electoral college (n)
Not capitalized.
 
e-mail (adj, n)
 
ensure — insure
When used to mean “to make certain” or to “guarantee,” these two words are synonymous. To be consistent in publications, use “ensure.”

To ensure consistency of style, use “ensure” instead of “insure.”

 
ex-offender
see “youthful offender”
 
extracurricular
 
etc.
Do not use “etc.” in formal writing. One good way to get around “etc.” is to introduce your list with “for example,”.
 
ethnic, socioeconomic, and other groups
See the “Ethnic and national groups” section of the Capitalization section for spelling information.

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F

federal government
Not capitalized.   He works for the federal government.
 
fewer — less
Use “fewer” when describing a (noun) that can be counted. Use “less” when describing a (noun) that cannot be counted.

We have fewer students in the class than last year.
There is less tension among students than ever before.

 
field test (n)
 
field-test (v)
 
fieldwork (n)
 
firsthand (adv, adj)
 
flyer (n)
We sent a flyer advertising the seminar.
 
follow through (v)
Make sure you follow through.
 
follow-through (n)
Pay more attention to follow-through.
 
follow up (v)
 
follow-up (n, adj)
 
following — below
To indicate text or image placement, use “following” wherever possible, unless “below” is absolutely certain.
 
force-feed
 
FTP
file transfer protocol
 
fulfill
 
full time (adv)
going to school full time
 
full-time (adj)
 
full-time employee
 
fundraising (adj)
a fundraising goal of $20 million.
(This is YouthBuild USA's preference, though it is usually spelled with a hyphen in dictionaries.)
 
fundraising (v)
Most of his time is spent fundraising.
 
fundraiser (n)
We sponsored an ACLU fundraiser. He works as a full-time fundraiser.

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G

gangbanger (noun, slang)
A member of a gang. No hyphen.
 
gender
(Spaceholder — entry should explain how to avoid using he/she constructions, etc.)
 
grass roots (n)
The movement started at the grass roots.
 
grassroots (adj)
a grassroots organization
 
green-industry (adj)
We met with a few green-industry professionals.
 
gray (adj)
The preferred spelling of the color.
 
good-bye (noun, interj)
Thus spelled: with a hyphen and a final e.
 
government-owned (adj)
They visited some government-owned properties.
 
ground rule(s) (n)
Let's lay some ground rules.

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H

halfway house
 
hand in hand (adv)
No hyphens. They ran hand in hand into the sunset.
 
hand out (v)
 
handout (n)
 
hard hat (n)
Wear a hard hat at all times.
 
hard-hat (n, slang)
The hard-hats were on time.
 
hard-and-fast (adj)
There are no hard-and-fast rules.
 
head start (n)
It will give us a head start on the project.
 
headlines and titles
See the Headlines and titles elaboration.
 
health care (n)
He works in health care.
 
health-care (adj)
He works in the health-care industry.
 
heavy-duty (adj)
This job requires heavy-duty tools.
 
high-achieving (adj)
 
holidays and holy days
See “Holidays and holy days” in the Capitalization section for spelling information.
 
home page
Two words.
 
horseplay (n)
No horseplay is allowed on the job.
 
hour-long (adj)
But daylong and weeklong, etc.

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I

 
icebreaker (n)
 
important — importantly
Don't use the “ly” form.
 
in-depth (adj)
 
in depth (adv)
 
inner city (n)
The neighborhood is in the inner city.
 
inner-city (adj)
It is an inner-city neighborhood.
 
interrelated (adj)
Too many interrelated program components confused the practitioners.
 
interrelationship(s) (n)
It's a complex interrelationship.

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J

jargon
Avoid jargon; use plain English instead.

For example, the sentence “The YouthBuild staff implemented an aftercare program for graduates who are transitioning to the world of work.” could be better expressed as The YouthBuild staff began a program for graduates who had recently been placed in jobs.

 
job titles
Job titles should be capitalized only when used before a person's name:
YouthBuild USA President Dorothy Stoneman addressed the group.

But
Dorothy Stoneman, president of YouthBuild USA, addressed the group.

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L

laborsaving (adj).
 
law-abiding (adj)
They are law-abiding citizens.
 
lawmaking (adj)
Congress is the main lawmaking body in the United States.
 
life cycle (n)
 
life plan (n)
Both words of “life plan” are capitalized only when used in the YouthBuild mentoring program context.
 
lifelong (adj)
 
lifestyle (n)
That's not a lifestyle that I would choose.
 
lightbulb
 
lists
See the Lists elaboration.
 
lockdown (n)
 
log in (v)
 
log-in (n, adj)
 
log on (v)
 
log-on (n, adj)
 
log out (v)
 
long term (n)
This will save us money in the long term.
 
long-term (adj)
It's a long-term investment.
 
low-income (adj)
Theirs was a program for low-income communities.
 
low-paying (adj)
 
low-wage (adj)

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M

marketplace
 
matchmaking
 
mini-community
 
money
See under “money” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
monthlong
 
multi-
Most multi- constructions are closed. Use the closed version unless the author vehemently opposes.

Examples: multiage, multiagency, multiauthor, multibillion, multiday, multicity, multicolor, multicolumn, multicultural, multifunction, multimedia, multiracial, multiregional, multiskilled, multitalented, multitrack, multistage, multiyear

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N

Native American
See under “Ethnic and national groups” in the Capitalization section.
 
never-ending (adj)
A never-ending parade is never popular.
 
newspapers and magazines
Italicize the names of newspapers and magazines. Do not italicize or capitalize the initial “The”

I read the editorial in the New York Times.

Note: There are a few exceptions, such as The New Yorker and The Nation.

non- (prefix)
Words formed with non- are generally not hyphenated:

nonadvocacy, noncitizen, nonjudgmental, nonpartisan, nontraditional, nonviolence

 
nonprofit (adj)
He works at a nonprofit organization.
 
nonprofit (n)
Short for “nonprofit organization.” He works at a nonprofit.
 
notepad (n)
My doctor carries a notepad at all times.
numbers
See under “dates (in text)” in the Time and Numbers section.

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O

OK (and O.K., okay)
Though all these forms are technically correct, use OK for consistency's sake.

Note: AP says, “Do not use okay.”

 
one-on-one (adj, n)
 
one-to-one (adj)
The water-to-salt content was a one-to-one ratio.
 
ongoing
 
online
 
on site, off site (adv)
We will use these tools on site.
 
on-site, off-site (adj)
We have regular on-site inspections.
 
offense
So-spelled; not “offence”
 
off-line
 
op-ed
 
outpost (n)
 
outposted (v, adj)
 
overall (adj)
His overall impression was not good.

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P

PO box
No periods.
 
part time (adv)
She goes to school part time.
 
part-time (adj)
All were part-time employees.
 
part-timer (n)
party affiliations
Political party affiliations, in their shortened form, go like this: Senator Kerry (D-MA)— that is, parenthesis, hyphen, state postal abbreviation.
 
PDF
When referring to the file type (often when discussing other file types, such as .doc and .txt), use .pdf. When referring to PDFs as publications, not as file types, use PDF.
 
per
See “a, per”
 
philosophy
Takes the preposition “of.”
 
phone book (n)
Look up the number in the phone book.
 
phone numbers
See under “telephone numbers” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
percentages
See under “percentages” in the Time and Numbers section.
 
policyholder (n)
Every policyholder is covered.
 
policy making (n)
Policy making is the job of the policymakers.
 
policy-making (adj)
This is a policy-making institute.
 
policymaker (n)
The policymakers in Washington say . . .
 
Post-it, Post-it note
This is a brand name. Use “sticky note” instead.
 
post-graduation
 
post-program
 
postsecondary
 
pre- (prefix)
Most constructions using pre- are closed. Check the dictionary for capitalization; use lowercase if the term is not in the dictionary. (modified from chicago 16, 7.85)

premodern, preregistration, prewar, preempt

but

pre-Columbian, Pre-Raphalelite; preeminent, prepaid, preprinted

 
problem solving (n)
 
problem-solving (adj)
 
program — site
Use “program” to refer to local YouthBuild programs, not “site.” Site is jargon that may not be understood by readers unfamiliar with HUD contract language.
 
Directors Association
No apostrophe.
 
Directors Council
No apostrophe.
 
Young Leaders Council
No apostrophe.
 
youth policy committee
The youth governing body at local YouthBuild programs. Not capitalized.
 
provide with
The word “with” after “provide” is unnecessary in most contexts. The item or items “provided” form the direct object of the sentence and should not be preceded by a preposition.

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Q

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R

re- (prefix)
“Many English words beginning with the prefix re- take on different meanings depending on whether the prefix is hyphenated or closed up. Some of these words, whose different senses with and without the hyphen should be self-explanatory, are:

re(-)bound, re(-)call, re(-)claim, re(-)collect, re(-)count, re(-)cover, re(-)create, re(-)dress, re(-)form, re(-)fund, re(-)lay, re(-)lease, re(-)mark, re(-)move, re(-)place, re(-)present, re(-)prove, re(-)search, re(-)sent, re(-)serve, re(-)sign, re(-)sound, re(-)store, re(-)treat.

Always check the dictionary when in doubt about hyphenating “re-” words.

 
real-life (adj)
 
real-world (adj)
 
recordkeeping (adj)
recordkeeping procedures
 
record keeping (n)
to prevent sloppy record keeping
 
rest room
 
résumé (n)
Send me your résumé.
 
role play (n)
 
role-play (v, adj)
We were role-playing to explore the issue. We tried many role-playing scenarios.
 
roll back (v)
 
rollback (n)
 
Rotary club
from the Rotary club's website
 
roundtable
 
runoff

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S

Saint Louis
Or St. Louis. The usage is flexible. Whether you use St. Louis or Saint Louis, keep it consistent throughout the document.
 
Saint Paul
Or St. Paul. The usage is flexible. Whether you use St. Paul or Saint Paul, keep it consistent throughout the document.
 
self-discovery
 
self-esteem (n)
 
self-sufficient (adj)
 
self-sufficiency (n)
 
set up (v)
 
setup (n, adj)
 
Sheetrock (proper n)
Brand name of drywall.
 
shortchange (v)
The dealer tried to shortchange us.
 
short term (n)
This is only practical in the short term.
 
short-term (adj)
It's just a short-term solution.
 
short-lived
 
short-term (adj)
It's just a short-term solution.
 
side by side (adv)
We enjoy learning side by side.
 
side-by-side (adj)
The two instructors gave a side-by-side presentation.
 
site
Avoid using this word interchangeably to mean a YouthBuild program, a worksite or construction site, or as a synonym for location. Use specific language instead.

Bad examples: The YouthBuild site has a good attendance policy. It has better attendance on the site than in the classroom. The site held an awards ceremony for students with perfect attendance. The sponsoring agency was the site for the ceremony.

Better examples: <The YouthBuild program has a good attendance policy. It has better attendance on the construction site than in the classroom. The program held an awards ceremony for students with perfect attendance. The ceremony was held at the sponsoring agency's office.

 
smoke-free
 
Social Security
Capitalized only when referring to the US federal program.
 
Social Security Number
 
socioeconomic (adj)
One word, no hyphen.
 
staff
When used as a member of a staff, the plural is staff. He employed three full-time staff.
 
stand-alone (adj)
 
state
See Capitalization of political divisions box beginning on page _________.
 
statehouse (n)
one word, no caps
 
stepping-stone (n)
 
stormwater (n)
 
straightforward (adj)
 
subcontract(or) (n)
 
subgrant
 
sugarcoat (v)

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T

tagline
 
task force
 
team building (n)
It encourages team building.
 
team-building (adj)
It was a team-building session.
 
teenaged (adj)
 
teenager(s) (n)
 
thank-you (n)
He responded with a genuine thank-you.
 
that — which
See the Using “that” and “which” elaboration.
 
think tank
 
time frame (n)
Work within a tight time frame.
 
time sheet (n)
Don't forget to turn in your time sheet.
 
timetable (n)
According to the attached timetable…
 
timeline (n)
A rough timeline follows.
 
tool belt (n)
 
tool kit (n)
 
toll-free (adj)
 
traveling (v)
as opposed to “travelling”
 
troublemaker (n)
Sometimes I'd have to deal with a troublemaker.
 
troubleshoot (v)
It was an easy problem to troubleshoot.
 
troubleshooting (v)
She's good at troubleshooting problems.
 
turn around (v)
Turn around when you get to the post.
 
turnaround (n)
There's been a low rate of turnaround recently.
 
turn over (v)
They were ordered to turn over the evidence.
 
turnover (n)
There's been a low rate of turnover recently.
 
two-faced (adj)
That is a two-faced argument.
 
twofold (adj)
The reason for this is twofold.

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U

underway (adj).
The evaluation is underway.
 
up front (adv)
 
up-front (adj)

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V

verbal (adj).
“Verbal” means “of, relating, to, or expressed in words, whether written or oral.” Don't use as a substitute for “oral.”

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W

warm up (v)
Time to warm up!
 
warm-up (n, adj)
Time for our warm-up! Bring your warm-up gear!
 
webinar
 
well-being (n)
The well-being of the community was at stake.
 
which — that
See the Using “that” and “which” elaboration.
 
work site (n)
Sarah can be found at the work site.
 
work-site (adj)
Sarah is the work-site supervisor.
 
workers' compensation, workers' comp (n)
Do not use “workmans” or “workmens.”
 
working class (n)
My father was a member of the working class.
 
working-class (adj)
He had working-class values.
 
workload (n)
 
wrap up (v)
It was time to wrap up the session.
 
wrap-up (adj, n)
The wrap-up session was too long; a shorter wrap-up should have been planned.

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Y

year-round (adj)
Our students work hard year-round.
 
Young Leaders Council
No apostrophe
 
youth policy committee
The youth governing body at local YouthBuild programs. Not capitalized.
 
YouthBuild
Can be used to express the YouthBuild movement or the YouthBuild program design. When referring to a local program or the national organization, be specific: YouthBuild Gary, YouthBuild USA.
 
YouthBuild Academy for Transformation
So called, not Academy for Transformation. After the first mention in an article, use academy. The YouthBuild Academy for Transformation offers workshops throughout the year. The academy also offers . . . In academy marketing materials, it’s OK to use “Academy” (uppercase A).
 
YouthBuild Life Plan
Both words of “life plan” are capitalized only when used in the YouthBuild mentoring program context.
 
YouthBuild Youthful Offender Project
The formerly DOL-funded initiative. Do not use “ex-offenders” or “adjudicated youths” when referring to youths involved in this program.
 
YouthBuild USA
Always spelled out, never abbreviated. Always include the USA, unless referring to the YouthBuild movement in general.
 
YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network Affiliates or Members of the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network
Both terms can be used to refer to YouthBuild programs who belong to the network.
 
youthful offender
Use this term instead of “adjudicated youth” or “ex-offender,” especially when referring to youth involved in the YouthBuild Youth Offender Project. “Court-involved youth” is also appropriate, especially when referring to youth involved in the YouthBuild USA SMART program.

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Z

zero waste (n)
He embraces the concept of zero waste within the environment.
 
zero-waste (adj)
(When referring to the concept of zero-waste) They are aiming for zero-waste production.
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