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Spy Hop In-House Style Guide


By Stephanie Fudge
Updated April 13, 2016

Spy Hop (http://spyhop.org) is a nonprofit organization based in Salt Lake


City that teaches at-risk youth how to find their voice through film, audio,
and design. Thanks to generous donations, Spy Hop provides various digital
media classes for free at their facilities during after-school hours. In these
classes, youth gain digital media mastery to better communicate their ideas,
develop media skills for future careers, and affect positive change on
personal, local, and global levels. Spy Hop has received national recognition
for its efforts to empower disadvantaged youth and the organization has
mentored thousands of students in digital media over its sixteen-year
lifespan.

Because Spy Hop works with youth and families of various ethnicities and
cultures, it is important that the organization uses clear writing to
communicate its ideas and programs. It has been decided that Spy Hops
publications will follow style rulings set in The Chicago Manual of Style
(sixteenth edition). This in-house style guide answers stylistic questions not
addressed in Chicago and dictates Spy Hops style preferences when multiple
style choices are available. Any deviations from the style standards put
forward in Chicago are made to allow the clearest communication of Spy
Hops goals and ideas. Since Spy Hop interacts with nonnative English
speakers or those from other English-speaking countries, this style guide also
includes principles of global English according to the standards established in
John R. Kohls The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable
Documentation for a Global Market (2008, SAS Press: Cary, North Carolina,
ISBN 987-1-59994-657-3).

This style guide uses actual text from Spy Hops website in the examples
listed under each editorial decision. Some excerpts have been revised to
best illustrate a stylistic decision or to maintain other style decisions
discussed in this style guide.

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Table of Contents
5. Grammar and Usage
5.1 Verb-centered Writing
5.2 Subject Separated from Verb
5.3 Passive Voice
5.4 Parallel Structure
5.5 Clauses Joined by Conjunctions
5.6 Fragments
5.7 Limit Sentence Length
5.8 Which
5.9 Dont Capitalize Common Nouns

6. Punctuation
6.1 Commas with Independent Clauses Joined by Conjunctions
6.2 Independent Clauses not Joined by Conjunctions
6.3 Commas with Compound Predicates
6.4 Avoid Using a Semicolon to Separate Clauses
6.5 Serial Commas
6.6 Coordinating Adjectives
6.7 Em Dashes
6.8 En Dashes
6.9 Ampersand

7. Spelling, Distinctive Treatment of Words, and Compounds


7.1 Compound Modifiers Before a Noun

8. Names and Terms


8.1 Spy Hop
8.2 Titles of Student Movies and Radio Programs
8.3 Titles of Student Music
8.4 After-school
8.5 MP3
8.6 DJing
8.7 Ethnicities

9. Numbers

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9.1 Numerals and Numbers


9.2 Time of Day
9.3 Numerals and Dates
9.4 Specific Dates
9.5 En Dash and Inclusive Dates
9.6 Notating Academic Year
9.7 Punctuation with Numbers

5. Grammar and Usage


5.1 Verb-centered Writing
Verb-centered writing communicates ideas efficiently and clearly. When a
noun can be used as a verb, change it to a verb or reword the sentence in a
way that allows a different verb to convey the intended meaning.
No: This pre-professional program offers valuable creative and vocational
training to youth and facilitates the development of critical thinking, media
literacy and leadership skills.
Yes: This pre-professional program offers valuable creative and vocational
training to youth and teaches critical thinking, media literacy, and leadership
skills.
(See also Global English 3.3)

5.2 Subject Separated from Verb


A complicated series may unintentionally separate the subject from the verb
and hinder reading comprehension. Avoid long, complex sentences and place
the subject as close as possible to the appropriate verb or verbs.
No: A one-time gift of support will help us inspire young media makers,
develop academic skills, and boost the confidence of nearly two thousand
students each year.
Yes: A one-time gift of support will help young media makers gain academic
skills, develop creativity, and increase self-confidence.
(See also Global English Appendix C, p. 255)

5.3 Passive Voice


When possible, use the active voice in writing. The active voice is concise
and increases reader comprehension.
No: Join other students and be taught by experts . . .
Yes: Join other students and learn from experts . . .
(See also Global English 3.6)

5.4 Parallel Structure


Sentences with repeating elements create emphasis through consistency.
However, sentence elements that do not have uniformity can contradict each
other and impede sentence clarity. As described in Chicago, When linked

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items are not like items, the sentence breaks down (Chicago 5.212). Every
item (noun, verb, adjective) in a parallel series must match its counterparts.
No: Spy Hop's mission is to mentor young people in the digital arts to help
them find their voice, tell their stories, and be empowered . . .
Yes: Spy Hop's mission is to mentor young people in the digital arts to help
them find their voice, tell their stories, and affect positive change . . .
(See also Chicago 5.212)

5.5 Clauses Joined by Conjunctions


Conjunctions (and, or, but) connect sentences, clauses, and words within a
clause. Including conjunctions will prevent confusion and clearly define the
relationship of ideas expressed.
No: We believe in making, creating, giving form to stories through art.
Yes: We believe in making, creating, and giving form to stories through art.
(See also Chicago 5.192)

5.6 Fragments
Fragments, such as program descriptions set off in bullet points, should not
end in a period because they do not form complete sentences.
No: Personal and artistic expression through the use of emerging digital
technologies and the media arts.
Yes: Personal and artistic expression through the use of emerging digital
technologies and the media arts

5.7 Limit Sentence Length


When providing large amounts of information or lists, avoid writing long,
complex sentences and instead spread the information over several
sentences. This will help both native and nonnative English speakers better
comprehend the message. However, do not go to the extreme of using
choppy sentences, which can be equally detrimental to reading
comprehension.
No: Our afterschool and community programs in film, audio, design, and
music production are a model for youth development programs across the
nation and Spy Hop is recognized by the White House as a leading nonprofit
arts and humanities organization.
Yes: Our afterschool and community programs in film, audio, design and
music production are a model for youth development programs across the
nation. Spy Hop is recognized by the White House as a leading nonprofit arts
and humanities organization.
(See also Global English 3.1)

5.8 Which
Dont use which to refer to an entire clause. Which should refer to a specific
noun phrase.

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No: We encourage [youth] to talk and listen to each other, which creates a
connectivity and a community that wasnt there before.
Yes: Spy Hop nurtures a safe, welcoming space in which creativity,
innovation, and risk-taking can take place.
(See also Global English 5.3)

5.9 Dont Capitalize Common Nouns


To prevent confusion, avoid capitalizing common nouns.
No: Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and Education center in
the heart of Appalachia . . .
Yes: Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in
the heart of Appalachia . . .
(See also Global English 8.13.3)

6. Punctuation
6.1 Commas with Independent Clauses Joined by Conjunctions
When a conjunction separates two independent clauses, place a comma
before the conjunction. The comma can be omitted if the two clauses are
short and not part of a series.
No: Our after-school and community programs . . . are a model for youth
development programs across the nation and Spy Hop is recognized by the
White House as a leading nonprofit arts and humanities organization.
Yes: Our after-school and community programs . . . are a model for youth
development programs across the nation, and Spy Hop is recognized by the
White House as a leading nonprofit arts and humanities organization .
(See also Chicago 6.28)

6.2 Independent Clauses not Joined by a Conjunction


When independent clauses are not joined by a conjunction, they can be
connected with an em dash, a colon (when connecting an independent
clause that amplifies the former clause), or a period that divides the
independent clauses into two separate sentences. Semicolons will not be
used per 6.5.
No: We believe in them, we instill confidence and ownership in their ideas and
work.
Yes: We believe in themwe instill confidence and ownership in their ideas
and work.
Yes: We believe in them. We instill confidence and ownership in their ideas
and work.
(See also Chicago 6.54, 6.82, 6.59)

6.3 Commas with Compound Predicates


A compound predicate, as defined in Chicago, occurs when two or more
verbs [have] the same subject, as distinct from two independent clauses. A

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comma does not generally separate the parts of a compound predicate in


order to prevent confusion.
No: Join us for food and cocktails, and learn more about Spy Hop, our
students, and how you can sustain creative youth.
Yes: Join us for food and cocktails and learn more about Spy Hop, our
students, and how you can sustain creative youth.
(See also Chicago 6.29)

6.4 Avoid Using a Semicolon to Separate Clauses


While Chicago recommends using the semicolon to bridge independent
clauses, Global English discourages its use because a semicolon can create a
long and complex sentence that nonnative English speakers may have
trouble understanding. Instead, use a conjunction (see 6.1), create separate
sentences, or reword.
No: Loud and Clear is the only weekly, youth-produced radio program in Utah;
it offers teens a hands-on experience on-air.
Yes: Loud and Clear is the only weekly, youth-produced radio program in Utah
that offers teens a hands-on experience on-air.
(See also Global English 8.10.1)

6.5 Serial Commas


When listing items in a series, commas are used to separate each item. The
Oxford comma is the optional comma that precedes a conjunction in a series
of more than two items. Always use the Oxford comma to prevent ambiguity
or misinterpretation of the relationship between the last two items listed.
No: We all love creative, innovative, passionate and inspiring people.
Yes: We all love creative, innovative, passionate, and inspiring people.
(See also Chicago 6.18)

6.6 Coordinating Adjectives


When two or more adjectives precede a noun and their order can be changed
without altering the meaning, use a comma to separate the adjectives. If the
adjectives cannot be moved without changing the meaning, then no commas
are used to separate each adjective.
Coordinating adjectives
No: A yearlong intensive film class, PitchNic is an innovative way to
immerse students in the filmmaking process.
Yes: A yearlong, intensive film class, PitchNic is an innovative way to
immerse students in the filmmaking process.
Non-coordinating adjectives:
No: Learn modeling basics, texturing, and lighting techniques to create
stunning, digital illustrations.
Yes: Learn modeling basics, texturing, and lighting techniques to create
stunning digital illustrations.
(See also Chicago 6.33)

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6.7 Em Dashes
When used correctly, an em dash () can be used to set off explanatory or
parenthetical information, but its misuse can create grammatically incorrect
sentences. As stated in Global English, Make sure the sentence would be
grammatical if the em dash phrase were omitted (172).
No: Its so much more than that thoughif you want to be truly inspired
check out all of their sites around the country . . .
Yes: Its so much more than that though. If you want to be truly inspired,
check out all of their sites around the country . . .
Yes: We believe in creativity, diversity, empowerment, transformation and
communityand we work each day to instill these qualities in our students
(See also Global English 8.5.3)

6.8 En Dashes
An en dash () can be used with inclusive numbers to signify up to, including,
or through. When from precedes the inclusive elements, connect the
inclusive pair using to, not an en dash. The from . . . to construction
maintains parallel structure.
No: Every Friday from 37 pm Spy Hop opens its state-of-the-art studio to
local Salt Lake youth . . .
Yes: Every Friday from 3 to 7 pm Spy Hop opens its state-of-the-art studio to
local Salt Lake youth . . .
(See also Chicago 6.78)
6.9 Ampersand
Do not use an ampersand (&) in place of and because nonnative speakers
may be unfamiliar with its usage. Use the ampersand only if it is part of a
brand or company name.
No: Learn Cinema4D & Photoshop to create 3D illustrations & designs.
Yes: Learn Cinema4D and Photoshop to create 3D illustrations and designs.
(See also Global English 8.1)

7. Spelling, Distinctive Treatment of Words, and


Compounds
7.1 Compound Modifiers Before a Noun
A compound modifier is two or more modifiers that jointly modify the noun. If
the compound modifier precedes the noun, hyphens connect the modifiers. A
compound modifier is not hyphenated if one of the modifiers is an adverb
ending in -ly or if the compound modifier follows the noun.
No: The film By the Hour focuses on a novice runner leading up to his first
ever hundred mile race.
Yes: The film By the Hour focuses on a novice runner leading up to his first-
ever hundred-mile race.
(See also Chicago 7.81)

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8. Names and Terms


8.1 Spy Hop
While the company logo appears to compact Spy Hop into one word, always
include a space between both words.

8.2 Titles of Student Movies and Radio Programs


Following Chicagos format, all student movies and radio programs are
italicized. A single episode of a radio series is set in roman and enclosed in
quotation marks.
Yes: The film By the Hour focuses on a novice runner leading up to his first-
ever hundred-mile race.
Yes: Loud and Clear . . . . [airs] every Saturday night from 9 to 10pm on KRCL,
90.9 FM.
(See also Chicago 8.185)

8.3 Titles of Student Music


Enclose songs and audio in quotations and follow headline capitalization.
Yes: Sam composed Bad Idea while working in Audio Apprenticeship in fall
2014.
(See also Chicago 8.190)
8.4 After-school
To describe activities taking place outside of school, Spy Hop uses the
hyphenated compound modifier after-school.
No: Our afterschool and community programs . . .
No: Our after school and community programs . . .
Yes: Our after-school and community programs . . .
(See also 7.1)

8.5 MP3
Use all-caps when writing MP3 as opposed to mp3 or any other variation.
No: . . . You will walk out with an .mp3 of your music!
Yes: . . . You will walk out with an MP3 of your music!

8.6 DJing
The verb DJing will be written like the noun DJ followed with the ing suffix.
Yes: All of our students in the audio or music programs are mixing sound for a
motion picture, DJing their own radio show on KRCL 90.9 FM . . .

8.7 Ethnicities
Readers may not understand abbreviated references to ethnicities. Consult
Chicago 8.378.38 for standard names of ethnic groups, with the exception
that Spy Hop chooses to use Native American instead of American Indian.

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No: SNAG provides Native youth the opportunity to achieve balance and
harmony . . .
Yes: SNAG provides Native American youth the opportunity to achieve
balance and harmony . . .
(See also Chicago 8.37-8.38)

9. Numbers
9.1 Numerals and Numbers
Numbers zero through one hundred are spelled out and all numbers greater
than one hundred are written as numerals. When writing a whole number
between zero and one hundred that is followed by hundred, thousand, or
hundred thousand, spell out the number. When writing a number less than
one hundred that is made up of two words, the words should be hyphenated
(for example, thirty-two). Numbers that start sentences will always be
spelled out. For dates and times, see 9.2, 9.3, and 9.4 of this style guide.
Yes: All Spy Hop Youth Action Council members commit to three hours per
month for twelve months.
Yes: A one-time gift of support will help us inspire young media makers,
develop academic skills, and boost the confidence of nearly two thousand
students each year.
Yes: Since its beginning in 2001, more than a hundred teens have produced
over forty films that have screened at festivals around the world.
(See also Chicago 9.2, 9.4, 9.5)

9.2 Time of Day


When specifying time of day, write the time as a numeral (with the exception
of noon and midnight, which should always be written out to prevent
confusion). The time given as a numeral is followed by the appropriate ante
meridian or post meridian abbreviation. Lowercase a.m. and p.m. and always
include periods in the abbreviations. When writing a duration of time, use an
en dash to indicate up to or through (unless the time is preceded by
from, in which case see 6.9).
Yes: 6:309:30 p.m.
Yes: Monday and Wednesdays, 68 p.m.
(See also Chicago 10.42)

9.3 Numerals and Dates


Dates will always be written as numerals (1, 2, 3 . . .) rather than ordinals
(first, second . . . or 1st, 2nd . . .). The year alone will never be abbreviated.
No: Jan. 8th 2015
Yes: January 8, 2015

9.4 Specific Dates

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When listing a specific date, use numerals. List as month day, year, with a
comma after the day and after the year (unless the year ends the sentence).
Do not abbreviate days of the week or months of the year, as this may
confuse nonnative English speakers.
No: 24 January 2015
Yes: January 24, 2015

9.5 En Dash and Inclusive Dates


Use an en dash when notating inclusive dates (unless the date is preceded
by from, in which case see 4.32).
No: August 8-24, 2015
Yes: August 824, 2015
(See also Chicago 9.30, 9.32; Global English 9.12)

9.6 Notating Academic Year


When writing the academic year, the calendar year that the academic year
began in will be shown first, followed by an en dash (), followed by the
calendar year that the academic year ended. When notating year, always
include all four digits.
No: The classes offered in 2016-17 include . . .
Yes: The classes offered in 20162017 include . . .

(See also Chicago 7.81)


9.7 Punctuation with Numbers
When dealing with numerals of one thousand or more, use a comma to
separate groups of three digits, counting from the right. However, do not use
commas when notating years, page numbers, or numerals in addresses.
No: During the 20142015 programming year, Spy Hop served 1872
youth . . .
Yes: During the 20142015 programming year, Spy Hop served 1,872
youth . . .
(See also Chicago 9.55)

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