Authors Guide for the 2021-22 Annual Report

We've produced this short authors guide to help you - one of our lucky authors - produce content for the 2021-22 Annual Report.

 As one of our most important public-facing documents it's important we all write in a clear and consistent way, and bring our audience on the journey with us. 

The guide includes some basic guidelines about how to present content, as well as some tips & tricks which will help you write in the East West Rail tone. 

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Alex Macneill: [email protected] 

Content

    • provide background information when required to give context if you think the reader needs it
    • think about how you would describe the issue you are writing about to a member of the public
    • provide maps, diagrams, images or infographics where these add to a reader’s understanding
    • use plain English and avoid long or complicated words when short or easy ones are available
    • think about key statistics, figures, charts/graphs and/or quotes that can be used in the main body of the report to bring the narrative to life and improve clarity
    • highlight key achievements by using interesting case studies
    • make the content easy to read by using bullet points to summarise information. Incorporate bullet points as part of a paragraph and not as the only style form used
    • avoid using technical language and jargon
    • use active language, not passive. It is usually clearer, more direct and more concise and does not disguise who is doing what. For example: “EWR Co. will build a railway when Parliament has approved the route”, not “Once the route is approved by Parliament, a railway will be built”. 
    • use short sentences without multiple sub-clauses. Sentences should usually be no longer than 25 words
    • use past tense, for example: during 2021-22 EWR Co. has worked to establish…
    • The ARA is a public facing document and will be read by the public, MPs, lobbying groups, regulators, the media as well as other central and local government entities. 
    • the ARA is an opportunity to voice achievements and celebrate successes
    • if EWR Co has not been able to achieve all it wanted to in 2021-22 be honest about it
    • most stakeholders (including the NAO and Parliament) appreciate honesty and transparency, so long as lessons are learnt
    • provide a balanced assessment of achievements and performance against targets.
    • Ensure all dates and statistics are correct.
    • think about supplementing your narrative with infographics, this will help to engage the reader and enhance your narratives impact 
    • all infographics must be editable and in their original format 

Style

    Bullet points are great. They make text easier to read. Make sure that:

    • you always use a lead-in line
    • the bullets make sense running on from the lead-in line
    • you use lower case at the start of the bullet
    • you don’t use more than one sentence per bullet point - use commas, dashes or semicolons to expand on an item
    • you don’t put ‘or’ or ‘and’ after the bullets
    • if you add links they appear within the text and not as the whole bullet
    • there is a full stop after the last bullet point.
    • Please refer to :
      • The East West Railway Company as EWR Co
      • The East West Rail project as EWR
      • The Department for Transport as DfT (not the DfT)
    • If you are going to use acronyms, then spell out the component words in full first, followed by the acronym in brackets. Use just the acronym or abbreviation for subsequent references.
    • Exceptions are acronyms/initialisms widely understood and used by the public, such as BBC, UN, VAT, EU, MP, which you do not need to spell out.
    • With occasional exceptions use upper case without full stops. So, UK not U.K.
    • An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word, such as Dr, St (saint or street), but is pronounced the same. Where the last letter is the same as the last letter of the expanded form, for example Dr and St, a full stop is not needed
    • Use ‘an’ before an initialism or acronym if the first letter starts with a vowel sound. For example, a NATO strategy but an NHS trust
    • Plural forms of initialisms should not have apostrophes: for example, DVDs, GPs, URLs
    • Capitals should be used with discretion.
    • In a second reference to an organisation use lower case where you are referring to it but not using its full name. So, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs becomes the council, with a lower-case c. Exceptions include: Act, Bill, European Union, Parliament, Royalty.
    • Travelling abroad you go through customs not Customs; and the seasons of the year do not have an initial capital.
    • government – never Government, even when referring to an elected administration, (so not the British Government) unless part of a specific name, e.g. Local Government Association
    • minister, never Minister, unless part of a specific job title, e.g. Minister for the Cabinet Office
    • department or ministry – never Department or Ministry, unless referring to a specific one, e.g. Ministry of Justice
    • white paper, green paper, command paper
    • director general (note no hyphen), deputy director, director, unless in a specific job title. Directors general is the accepted plural form – not director generals.
    • group and directorate, unless referring to a specific group or directorate, e.g. the Finance Directorate
    • departmental board, executive committee, the board
    • policy themes, e.g. affordable connections
    • general mention of select committees (but do capitalise specific ones – see above).

    Please do not use contractions such as: hasn’t, can’t, we’ve and so as they are inappropriate for the Annual Report and use has not, cannot and we have.

    • The standard government style is 31 March 2022, not March 31 2022 or 31st March /March 31st.
    • Do not use a comma between the month and year, e.g. 14 June 2012
    • use ‘to’ in date ranges - not hyphens dashes. For example: tax year 2021 to 2022, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, 10 November to 21 December
    • when referring to ‘today’ (e.g. in a news article) make sure you include the date as well e.g. "The CEO announced today (14 June 2021) that…"
    • all reference to financial years should follow the conventional format: 2021-22 (not 2021/22, which is used for academic years)
    • Use lower case for north, south, east and west, except when they are part of a name or recognised region
    • so, ‘the south-west’ (compass direction), but ‘the South West’ (administrative region)
    • use lower case for: the north, the south of England, north-east Scotland, south Wales, the west, western Europe, the far east, south-east Asia
    • use upper case for: East End, West End (London), Middle East, Central America, South America, Latin America.
    • Spell out numbers under ten unless part of a financial amount or a unit of measurement (£5 or 8 tonnes). Above ten, use figures unless it produces an unbalanced result, mixing figures and words, such as the projects take between eight and 11 years to complete. In this example, it would be better to say, between 8 and 11 years…
    • Separate figures over 999 with commas to make them easier to distinguish: 1,000; 10,500; 105,000.
    • Spans or ranges should be spelled out. For example, from £3 billion to £5 billion rather than £3 billion-£5 billion. Use the defining unit at the start and end of the range, not £3 to £5 billion. Generally, spell out million and billion. Financial papers containing numerous figures would be an exception.
    • if a number starts a sentence, write it out in full (‘Thirty-four staff members took part in the event’) except where it starts a title or subheading
    • use a % sign for percentages, e.g. 50%

     

    • Do not use commas excessively. They should only be used to clarify and avoid ambiguity
    • The use of commas between adjectives or in lists depends on whether they aid understanding or create an unnecessary pause
    • Avoid italics. Use single quotation marks if referring to a document, scheme or initiative.
    • Quotations: the rule is that commas and full stops always come after the unquote, except where a full sentence is being quoted. So, He described the policy as “truly radical”; but “The policy,” he said, “is truly radical.”
    • Use double quotation marks for direct quotations. Use single quotation marks within quotes and for terms and words used in an unusual way or context: the framework allows organisations to ‘purchase’ a digital delivery team.
    • In quotes running to two or more paragraphs open quotes for each new paragraph and close quotes only at the end of the quote.
    • Semicolons: can be used to connect two sentences or to break up a list of categories. For example: postgraduate studies; nursing; midwifery and auxiliary medical studies; and health-management studies.

Reference materials