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The Canadian Style

A Guide to Writing and Editing
Revised and Expanded

Published by Dundurn Press Limited in co-operation with
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Translation Bureau

Toronto · Oxford

Copyright © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (1997)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, by photocopying, recording, or otherwise for purposes of resales, without the prior written permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Designer: Ron & Ron Design & Photography
Printer: Best

The publisher wishes to acknowledge the generous assistance and ongoing support of The Canada Council, The Book Publishing Industry Development Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, and The Ontario Arts Council.
Care has been taken to trace the ownership of copyright material used in the text (including the illustrations). The author and publisher welcome any information enabling them to rectify any reference or credit in subsequent editions.

J. Kirk Howard, Publisher

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

The Canadian Style

Rev. ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-55002-276-8

1. Authorship – Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Editing.
I. Canada. Public Works and Government Services Canada.

PN147.C36 1997   808'.02   C96-932516-9

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The Translation Bureau, a special operating agency of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada, is pleased to present the second edition of the Canadian government's English-language editorial style guide, The Canadian Style.

Internationally recognized for the quality of its language services and its writing and editing tools, the Translation Bureau co-operates actively with other institutions in promoting correct, uniform style and usage in communications. The Canadian Style is one of the Bureau's principal means of ensuring that this co-operation produces tangible results. The guide also makes a major contribution to the fulfilment of the Department's role of providing high-quality services and products for other federal government organizations and for Canadian society at large.

Public servants will find in this second edition standards, recommendations and information that will enable them to ensure quality, consistency and clarity in their writing.

At the same time this work, embracing as it does many aspects of editorial style, should serve as an invaluable tool to all Canadians seeking a set of standards and guidelines for solving the everyday problems of writing and editing.

Diana Monnet
Chief Executive Officer
Translation Bureau

Foreword to the Second Edition

Ten years have passed since the first edition of The Canadian Style saw the light of day. The guide has enjoyed great success, becoming a standard reference work not only for federal organizations but also for Canadians in many walks of life. A number of provincial ministries of education include The Canadian Style in their lists of books recommended for use in schools, colleges and universities.

Over the same period, new trends in society and government have brought about significant changes in written communications. Efforts to eliminate sexual and ethnic stereotyping have gathered steam and have in recent years been coupled with new requirements regarding the depiction of Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities. The microcomputer is now an indispensable tool for people in many occupations, particularly those required to write for a living. The principles of plain language have been adopted in both government and industry. As a result, this new edition contains a significantly expanded chapter on the elimination of stereotyping, a new section on electronic mail, and a new chapter on techniques for writing clearly and concisely.

The interest sparked by the first edition prompted readers to submit their writing problems to us in the hope that the second edition might provide solutions they had not found elsewhere. Accordingly, the chapters on abbreviations, capitalization, reference matter, reports and memorandums, usage and geographical names have been enlarged. The same is true of the appendix on proofreader's marks, which has become a fullfledged chapter on revision and proofreading.

Many readers have asked us to include some basic guidelines for the presentation of French text in an English document. A new appendix gives the basic rules of French typography, with specific reference to abbreviations, word division, capitalization, numerical expressions and punctuation.

We established the order of chapters in the second edition with the aim of providing the reader with typographical and format information first (chapters 1-11) and then broadening the scope of our recommendations to encompass issues of style and usage, revision, and the political and social aspects of writing (chapters 12-16).

The purpose of the guide has not changed: to provide solutions, in a readily accessible format, to problems regularly encountered by both professional and occasional writers. The recommendations are based on national and international standards, the opinions of authorities on editorial style, and a survey of current policy and practice in government communications.

We hope that readers find in this second edition the information required to ensure quality in written communications, both within the federal public service and outside.

Writer-Editor Senior Editor
Malcolm Williams
Translation Bureau
Vitalijs Bucens
Translation Bureau
Project Co-ordinator
Senior Editor



The following people made substantive contributions to this edition: Gene Bodzin, of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Carol Card, Chantal Cormier and Charles Skeete, of the Translation Bureau; and Michèle Devlin and Maria Kazamias, of Concordia University.

Several other writing specialists reviewed the first draft and made invaluable suggestions: Jane Buckley, Louis Majeau, Sheila Protti, Tom Vradenburg, Judith Whitehead and Kathleen Wright, all members of the Editors' Association of Canada; Martin McCormack, of Transport Canada; and Robert Taylor, of Public Works and Government Services Canada. We thank all these people for their expert advice and for the time and energy they put into the daunting task of revising several hundred manuscript pages.


Over to You . . .

Even revised editions can be improved upon. Your comments and suggestions would therefore be most appreciated. They should be sent to

The Canadian Style
Client Services
Translation Bureau
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0S5


If, in order to back up a statement or justify a preference, you mention a reference not included in this guide, please send us the title and date of the publication being cited and, where possible, a photocopy of the pages containing the relevant information.

Thank you for your assistance.