The englishtalk style guide

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© englishtalk 2017

The englishtalk approach to style, writing conventions, etc.

Everyone is free to refer to this style guide, customers and non-customers, but please do ask englishtalk before copying, reproducing or quoting this website.

And why did we set this style guide up? Because few things are drummed into you in UK or US schools in the way they are in other countries, and few things in the English language are black and white. Or is that Black & White, or B&W, or black-and-white... ?



Contents

englishtalk conventions

Formal rules (grammar, punctuation, proofreading points, editing conventions)

  • Age
    • Hyphens throughout: a 31-year-old woman
  • All
    • All and All of are acceptable with nouns and the, my, this etc. "All (of) my friends like riding". US English tends more towards all of
  • Capitals
    • master's thesis but Master of Business (fixed title)
    • CD-ROM rather than CD-Rom (though neither is wrong)
    • North/South/East/West (useful: [1])
      • western Germany (historically: West Germany)
      • north England (but upper case with set names like South Korea, the Middle East etc)
      • the north-east, mid-west etc
  • Colons
    • After the colon: lower case letter in the first word (UK usage)
    • Upper case in a list: Sometimes (UK usage)
    • US usage: Colons are primarily used to introduce a list or place emphasis on an item.
      • Introduce a list. He promised this: The company will reimburse for all the losses. AND - There were three considerations: time, expense and feasibility. Note: Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a complete sentence (as in the first example.)
      • Emphasis. He had only one hobby: eating.
  • Company names
    • Avoid inverted commas and possessive with company names (eg: IBM's). Use 'The Siemens solution was to ...' rather than 'Siemens's solution was to...'
    • GmbH/AG, etc: only put in if the context is more formal. 'The product launched by Siemens' is preferable to 'The product launched by Siemens AG'
    • Do not replace GmbH with Ltd. If necessary do this: Wolfgang und Michael Schmidtlein Gmbh (Ltd)
    • AG without dots, unless the name of the company would make this confusing: PTV AG is probably better as PTV A.G.
  • E-Learning
    • At the start of a sentence, otherwise e-learning
  • Email
    • UK: email, not E-Mail or e-mail
    • US: now also email
    • UK: things are sent by email. US: things are sent via email.
  • Etc
    • Without a dot afterwards in UK usage. "Red, blue, green etc, including standard...."
    • At end of list delete if preceded by "such as/for example ..... "
  • For example/that is
    • e.g. and i.e. only in formal documents
    • In more modern contexts
      • eg: this way (ie: after a colon)
      • or eg, this way (ie, after a comma)
      • In American English: ALWAYS this way: e.g., then give the example after the comma
      • In American English: same goes for i.e.: i.e., then provide list (note the comma)
  • Foreign languages: accents
    • Cafe not café, similarly: creche, fete, clientele
  • German addresses
    • Paul-Schäfer-Strasse (not Paul-Schäfer-Straße)
    • 70173 Stuttgart, Germany (not D-70173 Stuttgart)
  • Headers
    • UK: First word only capitalized (so not First Word Only)
    • US: Nearly All Words in Title Capitalized
  • Italics
    • Used with foreign words that are not yet widely recognized, but not if most people are au fait with them (eg, cafe, and now even zeitgeist)
    • Scientific names such as Homo sapiens
    • Used with company names or proper nouns that could be confused with content ("The rock scene giant rock rebel struck the right chord","'Fixing a hole' is one of the best tracks on The Beatles' Sgt Pepper album")
    • Depending on context, used sometimes for book, newspaper, magazine or journal titles if not clear (which Der Spiegel is in English, but Time may not be, especially at the beginning of a sentence. Solution: Time magazine)
  • Links/email addresses/websites
    • Web: englishtalk.net (without www before address, not introduced as website/homepage/internet)
    • If a url is complex then at the end of a line drop off the full stop otherwise it looks like the address should have a '.' at the end: www.complex.address.like-this.net
    • If a url is simple, put the dot at the end of the sentence, www.likethis.net.
    • Internet is only spelt with a capital I (Internet) in formal texts (and US English), otherwise (especially in UK English) like The Telegraph/Orange: internet
    • Website is one word and lower case (see also UK/US differences below), "the net" without '
    • People order things over the Internet (US: preferable, although through and via are not wrong) but also "on" the internet (UK usage). If unsure, consider rephrasing with 'online'
    • Content is found or posted on the internet
  • Lists
    • Usually without a dot at the end of each line. Unless line contains sentences.
    • Preferably with 1) 2) 3) and not not 1. 2. 3.
  • Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr
    • Mr. with dot after title only in formal titles and addresses (UK)
    • In the middle of sentences write Mr Smith without dots (UK)
    • UK English standard: Dear Mr Smith (NO COMMA at end of line) then starting first line of letter with an upper case letter
    • UK English formal: Dear Mr Smith, (COMMA at end of line) then starting first line of letter with an upper case letter
    • American English always uses a period/dot: Dear Mr. Smith, (standard opener)
  • Per cent / Percent
    • UK: per cent
    • US: percent
  • Punctuation/inverted commas
    • The symbol is like a comma, curved to the LEFT not to the right …‘
    • Apostrophe: use wherever possible, or ' in many online texts, but do not mix
    • Quotation marks (off-line) should look like (66 ... 99)
  • p.s.
    • UK: At the end of a letter, both the p and the s are lower case, with dots
    • In American English, this is written P.S. (both letters upper case)
  • Quotations
    • He said, "This is reported speech." With the dot inside the quote.
    • Adding, "But I then quoted someone as saying, 'Look, single inverted commas within the quote'. Which finish with a dot."
    • John Smith: "Straight into the sentence." Dot inside the quote.
    • "You can start like this too," he added, with a comma in the quotation marks. "But then start again with a capital letter if it's a new sentence."
    • Not reported speech: put things in 'single quotation marks' in UK English. Note the dot outside single quotation marks. See also US/UK below.
    • Call attention to a specific term in British English: It's the typical ‘you get what you pay for’ scenario.
    • Call attention to a specific term in American English: It's the typical “you get what you pay for” scenario.
    • Used for book chapters, magazine/journal articles, research studies (The article "A Heady Time for Muni Bonds," printed in Businessweek, takes a look at...)
  • Slash
    • In most cases with just two words no gap between/after the slash and following word (so not like / this)
    • If numbers and currencies are involved, sometimes with a gap for clarity, eg £54 / €81
  • St - saints' names
    • Without a period - eg St George, St Swithin, St Magnus
  • Tel:
    • Without dot, or Fax: (not Tel.: with added .)

Hyphens, one word, two words...

  • A 31-year-old woman
  • 20th-century man
  • After sales support
  • Apps - lower case, two p's
  • Brand new
    • UK English: brand new (without hyphen)
    • US English: brand-new (with hyphen, see The Associated Press Stylebook)
  • Bullseye (like bulldog, bulldozer, etc)
  • Business related, without hyphen if after the noun, a business-related issue if before noun
  • On a case-by-case basis (hyphenated throughout)
  • Centre stage/center stage, withouth hyphen
  • Cleanroom technology involves technology in clean rooms
  • Compound adjectives, eg the ever-shrinking ozone layer, above-average performance
  • Cooperation, only in extremely formal contexts: co-operation
  • Cross-selling
  • Day-trippers go on day trips
  • Decision makers without hyphen, decision-making (process)
  • Do's and don'ts. Although the ' is not indicating possession and is not being used in a contraction, it is needed for clarity, as in "The number of also's in his graffiti"
  • Ecosystem (rather than eco-system)
  • Energy-efficient processes offer energy efficiency
  • Experience business first hand - not hyphenated, unlike first-hand experience
  • Eye-catching
  • Far-reaching with hyphen
  • The follow-up (hyphenated) / "I need to follow up with you" (not hyphenated)
  • Front-runner, formal: front runner
  • Frontline (no hyphen)
  • Full-time, part-time: both with hyphen
  • German-speaking, English-speaking, etc
  • Grown-ups, rather than grownups
  • Half year results, no hyphen
  • High-end technology
  • High-speed processes, which run at high speed
  • Talk about something in depth, especially in-depth analysis
  • In-house
  • Large-scale/medium-scale with hyphen
  • Like-for-like, not to be confused with 'Comparing like with like'
  • Login pages are where you log in
  • Long-term thinking, not to be confused with 'in the long term'
  • As early as the mid 19th century (noun); they discovered a mid-19th century novel (as adjective)
  • Midterm, midweek, midsize all without hyphen
  • Mission-critical
  • Mouth-watering
  • Nail-biting
  • Night-time (as an adjective)
  • Near field communication (NFC); no hyphen
  • Non-stop
  • No one (no hyphen)
  • One-stop/one-step/one-day event
  • Ongoing without a hyphen
  • On-site (although onsite is becoming more common due to 'online')
  • Problem solvers without hyphen
  • Product life cycle (as in PLC) but sometimes lifecycle is one word
  • Re- only hyphenate if next word starts with a vowel (re-use, re-educate but remastered and rekindled)
  • Run-up (as in: "in the run-up to")
  • Real-time
  • Ringtone
  • Self-explanatory
  • Set-ups can be set up in a day
  • Smartphone (lower case, one word)
  • Stand-alone
  • Startup, startups (US no hyphen), UK tendency towards start-up
  • Sub-projects rather than subprojects as it is easier to read
  • Sweetcorn (one word)
  • A state-of-the-art system (before noun) which was state of the art (no hyphen after noun), same applies to up-to-the-minute
  • T-shirt - capital T, hyphenated
  • Tenfold not ten-fold
  • Third party - companies work with third parties on a third-party basis
  • Time to market
  • "This is up-to-date technology", but "this technology is up to date"
  • To date, there are...
  • To-ing and fro-ing
  • Top-line results written on the top line
  • Torchlit (not torch-lit)
  • Touchscreen
  • Up-selling (especially when in conjunction with cross-selling)
  • Value added, also as a noun (no longer value-added)
  • Weblinks (although web links is NOT wrong) - note also US/UK differences below on Web/web
  • Well
    • A well-known man is well known, a very well known man is too
  • A wholly-owned business is wholly owned
  • Work-Life Balance
  • World-class (solutions, etc)

Stylistic preferences and conventions

  • Abbreviations
    • Where common, omit dots, eg USA not U.S.A.
    • Write plurals like this in normal cases: SLAs (and not SLA's). In upper case headlines use apostrophe, as in SELL MORE BY EXTENDING YOUR PLC's (so it doesn't look like PLCS)
    • PDF, or lower in a bracket: Portable Document File (pdf)
    • PoS (point-of-sale) not POS
    • United States: careful with US vs U.S. - if not clear from context always go for U.S. (ie, with dots)
  • Acronyms
    • Spell the name out in full followed by the acronym in brackets - eg, National Savings and Investments (NS&I) - the first time it appears in copy. Then the acronym can be used, if that's the preference, in the rest of copy.
  • Aging
    • Preferable to ageing in US
  • Among
    • Preferable to amongst in more modern texts
  • And/or
    • Where possible rather than "Take a ferry and/or plane", use: "Take a ferry, plane, or both"
  • Business-to-business/consumer
    • B2B, B2C B2G
  • Cheese names
    • ...are written with a capital letter (Edam, Brie, Wensleydale cheese etc) (since place names)
  • Commas
    • In modern UK texts commas are sometimes added to create a speaker's pause. eg, "The man's house, and also his home". This is especially the case with advertising. Strictly speaking (especially in more formal texts), the comma would be left out here.
    • With sentences including crucial thoughts, however, although the pause may not be spoken, it is indicated with commas (around "however")
    • In US lists there is often a comma before the last item:
      • US: The ingredients include milk, butter, cheese, salt, and raisins.
      • UK: The ingredients include milk, butter, cheese, salt and raisins.
  • Competence
    • Modern management (slightly alienating): competency, plural: competencies
    • Formal or more traditional/UK competence, plural: competences
    • To avoid: use skills
  • Countries
    • Großbritannien > usually United Kingdom/UK
    • USA > US, or the States
  • Disc or disk?
  • englishtalk
    • always written small. englishtalk GbR (without dot) in formal uses
  • Focused preferably with one S (although focussed with two S's is not wrong)
  • H with nouns/adjectives after "A"
    • If the H is aspirated in modern spoken English (as in hotel), then "a hotel", "a holistic solution", "a historical event"
    • US: herb is unaspirated, so "an herb"
  • He or she
    • In German it is common to use the masculine form of a word then follow this up with "er/ihm/ihn" (eg, The reader can skip to page 5 and enter his name there). In modern English usage "he" is often avoided as this could be deemed 'sexist'. Solutions:
      • The reader can skip to page 5 and enter his or her name there.
      • The reader can skip to page 5 and enter their name there. (see also they below)
      • [Best solution] Readers can skip to page 5 and enter their name there.
  • Healthcare in modern UK usage rather than health care with a gap. US: health care
  • Homoeopathy
    • Preferably as above in UK English, but homeopathy permissible with younger audiences
  • Impressum (German word)
    • NEVER Imprint on a website. Instead: about, legals, statutory details, about this website. More: here.
  • Job titles
    • lower case - particularly when the title is more general, eg, football player, manager, director etc
    • upper case when they are a salutation eg, Dr, Prof etc
    • Magazines and printed media: Publishing details
  • Like versus Such as
    • Often interchangeable, but in formal texts a distinction may be made:
      • John laughs when he hears words such as “halibut”, “guppy” and “hake” (= fish included in what makes John laugh)
      • When John hears fish names like “halibut”, “guppy” and “hake”, he has to laugh (= fish names "similar/comparable to")
  • Market
    • On the market for a product (being sold, like a house is 'on the market') rather than in the market (sometimes for a company)
  • None
    • Can be "none is" or "none are" but englishtalk prefers "none are" as more modern and US/UK neutral
  • Nordic walking
    • With a capital letter on Nordic but not walking
  • Plurals
    • One prospectus, two prospectuses
    • One radius, two radii
    • Data: The data clearly indicates... OR The data clearly indicate... [Data and datum are used on a case-by-case basis. See The Merriam Webster Dictionary for a concise yet informative explanation: [2]]
    • Latin plurals: depends on context! You'll find technically correct Latin plurals more often in academic and scientific contexts and the anglicized plurals more often in daily or informal
      • Formula ::: formulae (academic/scientific)
      • Formula ::: formulas (informal use)
      • Stadium ::: stadia (academic/scientific)
      • Stadium ::: stadiums (informal use)
  • They (singular and plural)
    • In UK English it is common to see single nouns used as a plural, eg "Blair's Government are introducing a new law.", "IBM are launching their latest server." Sometimes this also happens in reverse, "Freezing fog and mist is common in late winter".
    • They is also sometimes used in UK English to mean "one" or "someone". eg: "Someone left the light on. Could they please take more care next time.", "The javelin stabbed an athlete in the back but they are expected to make a full recovery."
    • See also what the following has to say about the use of "they" in British English - wikipedia, Guide to Learning English and MacMillan Dictionary
  • Versus
    • England vs Germany without dot after vs. Now shifting in usage towards England v Germany
  • Web/web
    • Web (US): use upper-case when it stands alone (watch it on the Web), forms part of a hyphenated compound (Web-based software, the system is Web-enabled), or forms part of a compound written as two words (Web page)
    • web: use lower-case in UK English (always) and in US English when it forms part of a compound written as one word (webcam, webzine, website)

Numbers/currency/dates/weight

  • Single digit numbers written out, "four million". Otherwise as digits, "10 million"
  • Texts sometimes use decimal points when unnecessary: €345.00 is no more useful than €345
  • £10.00: UK. $10.00 US. Or £10 / $10 in less formal context
  • £100.00: UK. $100.00 US. Or £100 / $100 in less formal context
  • £1000.00: UK. $1000.00 US. Or £1000 / $1000 in less formal context
  • £10,000.00: UK. $10,000.00 US. Or £10,000 / $10,000 in less formal context
  • 1000 - 9999: UK (without comma, unless formal text)
  • 1,000 - 9,999: US (with comma)
  • 10,000 + with comma
    • With multilingual texts (refering to the same numbers) a useful trick may be a minimal gap in the middle: 340 000
  • £2 million or £2m or £2 mill. in tight spaces
  • euros, dollars and pounds always plural and written small (eg, he lost 50 euros, except in Irish English: he lost 50 euro)
  • eurozone lower case and one word
  • The Deutschmark (upper case) but the German mark (lower)
    • Official descriptions (more formal/finance): EUR 50, GBP 50, USD 50
  • Percentages (see also [3])
    • 98% of the time: without gap between number and %
    • Also possible: 10pc of time
    • Some 58 per cent of words (US: some 58 percent of words)
  • Area/volume
    • 34 sq m in flowing copy. If there is lots of space it can be written out in full in copy ie, 34 square metres or 34 metres squared. Only write 34m² if it is within a numerical context.
    • 34 sq ft in flowing copy. If there is lots of space it can be written out in full in copy ie, 34 square feet or 34 feet squared. Only write 34ft² if it is within a numerical context.
    • 34 cu m in flowing copy. If there is lots of space it can be written out in full in copy ie, 34 cubic metres. Only write 34m³ if it is within a numerical context.
  • Dates
    • February 28, 2007 (US)
    • Saturday, December 5, 2007 (US)
    • 09/13/2008 (Sept 13, 2008) (US)
    • 28 February 2007 (UK)
    • Saturday, 5 December 2007 (UK)
    • 13/09/2008 (13 Sept 2008) (UK)
    • Formal: Saturday, 5th December 2007 (UK)
    • Ordinal numbers: no "th" or "rd" in dates specifying a month or day of the week; August 23 or My birthday is on the 23rd.
    • 43 BC (with gap)
    • 5th/fifth century AD
    • The 1960s, or the 60s (and not the '60s)
  • Degrees
    • Temperature: 34°C - no gaps, capital C, ditto fahrenheit. Write celsius and fahrenheit small [4]
    • Angles: write out full as '350 degrees' in sentences, 350° if in among figures
  • Number
    • UK: No. 34 usually with the dot, sometimes ok to write No34
    • US: #34 with no space
  • Time - usually 12-hour clock, no space after time, no dots
    • UK: 10.40am, 10.40pm
    • US: 10:40am. 10:40pm (colon)
    • Technical texts 2300 UTC (="23 hundred hours")
    • 6 min 35 secs
  • Fractions: where it would be spoken as "2 and a half": 2½ [= Alt 0189; ¼ = 0188, ¾ = Alt 0190], otherwise 2.5
    • Two thirds of all cats eat fish (no hyphen, eat is singular) (UK)
    • A two-thirds majority over the next candidate
    • Three and a quarter billion (no hyphens). See also [5]
  • Distances
    • 34km without gap
    • Careful with m that it's clear if miles or metres are meant
    • 3200m without gap (metres, US: meters)
    • 16.41m without gap
    • 327cm without gap
    • 55nm without gap (55 nautical miles)
    • 28,000m if clearly in MILES context
  • People
    • A 5-strong team (not a five-strong team)
  • Speed
    • 110mph without gap
    • 54kmh, sometimes 54km/h for sports/technical texts
    • A yacht doing 8kts
  • Wattage, power, etc
    • 40W (no gap, cap W) not 40 watt ([6])
    • 380/220kV
    • kWh for kilowatt-hour
  • Weight
    • ton for both British and American English generic copy (ton in all American copy - generic or technical)
    • (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1435326/Telegraph-Style-Book-T.html)
    • BUT when a piece of text is technical or specific in British English use:
      • tonne when referring to a metric tonne
      • ton when referring to an imperial ton
    • 100tn (abbreviation)
    • g/qm (Grammatur)
      • gsm (paper weight/thickness)
  • dBA
    • Preferably written out: 65 decibels

US vs UK usage differences at englishtalk

Grammar/syntax/morphology

  • Aftersales: US. After sales: UK
  • Apart from: UK. Aside from: US
  • Asking someone to do something: UK: Ask them to do xxx. US: Have them do xxx.
  • Classic/Classical: very little difference in meaning, although classical tends to relate more to Greek/Roman/arts/music/architecture contexts
  • Consulting is an activity (UK and US) provided in the UK by a consultancy (eg management consultancy, which does management consulting), but also a consulting company (UK/US). Increasingly UK companies are providing "consultancy" but the preferred englishtalk term is consulting
  • Effect
    • UK: come into effect
    • US: go into effect
  • Email: UK: things are sent by email. US: things are sent via email.
  • Fewer: can be counted, as in "fewer reasons", less cannot be counted as in "less wine"
  • Future: US: in the future, UK often: in future
  • Help
    • UK: This pen helps you write more clearly (more common than: helps you to write)
  • Historic = so major, it's unique. Historical = from/in the past
  • Like
    • UK: They like playing football (more common than: they like to play football)
  • Lists and commas
    • UK: Ingredients include milk, honey, butter and flour
    • US: Ingredients include milk, honey, butter, and flour
    • UK: 1000 (no comma)
    • US: 1,000 (comma)
  • Insight
    • US: gain insight (gain some insight also in use)
    • UK: gain an insight
  • Mecca
    • US: Uppercase M when talking about the city, lowercase M when talking about a place/hotspot/hub
    • UK: Uppercase M in both instances
  • Orient(at)ed
    • UK: orientated, US: oriented
  • People as percentages, singular vs plural
    • US: 100 people walk into a store and 98% buys something
    • UK: 100 people walk into a store and 98% buy something
    • These may vary due to context. Is the subject a singular, plural, or collective? "The majority of companies reports that..." (Singular) "65% of companies report that..." (Plural) "65% of the population reports that..." (Collective singular)
  • Query/Enquiry: UK (meaning what somebody asks to know, eg Press Enquiry). Inquiry: US/UK (meaning an investigation)
  • Quotation marks
    • UK: He wrote an article called 'A Heady Time for Muni Bonds'. Full stop/period outside quote, single quotation marks
    • US: He wrote an article called "A Heady Time for Muni Bonds." Full stop/period inside quote, double quotation marks
  • Stop
    • UK: this shoe stops your feet getting wet (though "stops your feet from getting wet" is not wrong=
    • US: this stops your feet from getting wet
      • If in doubt, try "prevents your feet from" (US/UK)
  • Telephone
    • UK: please ring on 0123 782136
    • US: call at this number
  • toward: more common in the US, towards: more common in the UK
  • Web/web
    • US: upper case when it stands alone or is hyphenated (Web-based software). Lower case in a compound written as one word (webcam, webzine)
    • UK: lower case
  • Weekend
    • UK: at the weekend
    • US: on the weekend
  • While in most documents. Whilst in very formal UK usage
  • In the UK you write to someone, in the US you write someone

Spelling/terminology

  • adaptor: UK. adapter: US (although adapter also permissible in UK)
  • brackets: UK. parenthesis: US. = (xxx)
  • brackets: US = [xxx] (UK: square brackets)
  • car park: UK. parking lot/parking garage: US.
  • colour: UK. color: US.
  • cotton wool: UK. cotton: US.
  • defence UK. defense: US.
  • diary: UK, planner: US.
  • envisage: UK. envision: US.
  • estate car: UK. station wagon: US.
  • full stop: UK. period: US.
  • grey: UK. gray: US.
  • helping hand: US. helpful hand: UK.
  • judgement: UK. judgment: US.
  • labour: UK. labor: US.
  • licence as a noun in UK, (to) license as a verb in the UK. US: both spelt "licence"
  • lynchpin: UK. linchpin: US.
  • metre: UK. meter: US.
  • mobile phone: UK. cell phone: US.
  • nail varnish: UK. nail polish: US.
  • open day: UK. open house: US.
  • plaster: UK. Band Aid: US:
  • practice as a noun in UK, (to) practise as a verb in the UK. US: both spelt "practice"
  • public transport: UK. public transportation: US.
  • roundabout: UK. traffic circle: US
  • saloon (car): UK. sedan: US.
  • speciality: UK. specialty: US.
  • tidbits: US. titbits: UK (alternative: tasty morsels)
  • tyre: UK. tire: US.
  • until -> till: spelling of preposition (from x till y)
  • visiting card: UK. business card: US.
  • within 6 working days: UK, within 6 business days: US


  • -ization: US. -isation: UK. If text should be neutral than the use of words such as organize with a z is possible, because even in traditional UK texts in the early 1900s editors used z more than s. It was only after American adoption of words such as color for colour that UK writers changed after deciding that it was essential to play up the UK/US differences and words with the s started to dominate. In other words: "organization" is not necessarily "American", but it is considered old-fashioned.


  • General for both UK/US:
    • RFM: Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value


Place names and German terms

If a place has a common English name then use it, like Munich and not München, Gothenburg for Göteburg. But if it's not common then add the foreign accent (this helps mix-ups between places like Munster and Münster)

  • The Alps with a capital A, alpine furniture with a small A
  • Basle for Basel (exception: Messe Basel)
  • Berne for Bern
  • Brunswick, Germany for more formal texts, otherwise Braunschweig
  • Dusseldorf without umlaut
  • Hanover with one N
  • Nurburgring without umlaut
  • Nuremberg for Nürnberg
  • Zurich for Zürich

Switzerland and parts of Austria and Italy (Tyrol): English veers more towards French or Italian names than traditional German names, eg Bolzano not Bozen, San Candido not Innichen.

  • Neue/Alte Bundesländer - in formal texts use "New Länder" for the old east, otherwise: "former (states of) East Germany". For the old west: "former West Germany"
  • Autobahn can be left in German in many cases. Plural: autobahns. See [7]

Tricky translations and false friends

  • Wissenschaft = can mean either academia or science, but in practice, almost always mean academia when used alone and science when part of a compound (eg. Wirtschaftswissenschaft). If in doubt, follow this rule.
  • Fachkräfte = generally used to simply mean "employees" and is very often used together with or in contrast to managers/executives (eg. "Fach- und Führungskräfte", which is best translated as "managers and employees"). Anyone exercising a profession is a Fachkraft. Avoid "specialist" as implies too much expertise: Fachkraft is a more general term referring to employees (ie. company staff who aren't managers. Anyone doing a job they've trained for professionally is a Fachkraft, from the lowliest clerks or secretary to higher positions. So not necessarily "specialists" as such; Fach is misleading in this context)
  • kompetent = depends on context; is often used in the same way "professional" is in English, and can therefore be translated as such ("Kompetente Beratung" = professional consulting). Other options: reliable. When talking about an individual: skilled, professional, expert, highly skilled, highly able, highly competent...
  • Kompetenz = again, also often best translated as "professional". "Kompetenz im Verkauf" = Professional sales, professional sales expertise or similar. In other contexts: skills, competence, expertise, take your pick. Whatever best matches the intended meaning.
  • Komfort, komfortabel, bequem = convenience/convenient
  • Qualifizieren = train

Useful guide: here.

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