Disclaimer

The rights and wrongs of the various issues described here often leave room for more than one opinion, so there are no hard guarantees. Please don’t start complaining about anything that doesn’t fit exactly with your favourite style guide. After all, the numerous style guides you can find on the net don’t all agree with each other either, of course – otherwise, there’d only be correct versus incorrect and no need for such a thing as a style guide at all!
It’s also always worth remembering that languages are dynamic, ever-changing entities. Just look at all the coronavirus-related vocabulary that has been generated over the last few months. No matter how much purists try to claim something is incorrect, by the time everyone is using a word or phrase in a particular way, it becomes correct by definition. And you should adopt it. If you don’t like that, my bad (as they wouldn’t have said a few years ago).

There are also plenty of small differences between American and British English beyond the familiar spelling squabbles and the well-known terms like “elevators” and “sidewalks”. I’m pretty au fait with the majority of them and I’ve tried to take them into account, but I won’t even attempt to hide the fact that I’m a Brit and there’s certainly scope for me to have missed one or two points where the flavours from the two sides of the Atlantic aren’t identical.

When you’re writing for a specific end client or with a specific scientific journal in mind for publication, you may find that they have their own preferred style or that you come across an editor who’s a stickler for “data” as a plural, for example. In that case, the customer is king: just go with the flow.

And of course, if you’ve got any specific comments or suggested changes or other topics you’d like to see addressed, just let me know.

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