Publishing Team
Copy Preparation
Typing Your Book
House Style
Racism & Sexism
The Index


Elsevier house style is to use -ize endings when optional. Note, however, that the following words should always be spelt –ise:

advertise Disfranchise Misprise
advise Disguise Mortise
affranchise Emprise practise (verb)
apprise (inform) Enfranchise Precise
Enterprise Premise
braise Excise
prise (open)
chastise Exercise Reprise
circumcise Expertise Revise
comprise Franchise seise (legal term)
compromise Guise Supervise
concise Improvise Surmise
demise Incise Surprise
despise Merchandise Televise
devise Misadvise Treatise

The following should be spelt -yse, not -yze (except in American spelling):

analyse dialyse Hydrolyse
catalyse electrolyse Paralyse

Follow The Collins English Dictionary for spellings and word breaks.

Follow Butterworths Medical Dictionary for medical spellings.


Commas: Use them where they are essential to the sense.

Colons: A colon usually introduces a list of items. Never use a colon and dash together as the colon alone is adequate.

Quotes: Use single quotes for ordinary quotations and double quotes within single quotes for a quotation inside a quotation.

Hyphens: Follow The Collins English Dictionary for hyphenation. The trend is toward reduced use of the hyphen (e.g. tradeoff, mainframe, textbook). Retain hyphens, however, between double vowels (e.g. re-establish) and where required to convey a particular sense (e.g. re-sign rather than resign, three-day-old chicks rather than three day-old chicks).

Note the use of hyphens in compounds (e.g. long-term plans) and with ‘well’ and ‘ill’ (e.g. a well-produced book). Insert hyphens in compounds where the same consonants end and begin the constituent parts (e.g. cold-drawn, cross-section).

Dashes: The typesetter will set a spaced en rule for dashes. The en rule is slightly longer than a hyphen. An unspaced en rule is used to connect specially related names and properties (e.g. the Adams–Harris equation, stress–strain ratio). The unspaced en rule is also used to denote a span of numbers.

(e.g. pp. 5–15).

Abbreviations: House style is to include full points after abbreviations but not after contractions (in which the shortened form ends with the final letter of the word). Thus: Eq., Fig., Prof. (for Equation, Figure, Professor) but Dr, Mr, Ltd (for Doctor, Mister, Limited). Plurals (e.g. Eqs, Figs) take no full points.

Stops are required in such abbreviations as etc., e.g., i.e., and c. (circa) which use lower case letters.

Stops are not required where upper case letters are used as in the initials of an organization (e.g. BBC, UNESCO) or abbreviated scientific terms (e.g. DNA, GMO).

Do not begin a sentence with an abbreviation.

In general works spell out numbers under 100. In technical and scientific writing only numbers below 10 should be spelt out.

Where numbers larger and smaller than 100 are mixed use figures for both.

Always spell out a number which begins a sentence.

Four-digit numbers should be closed up with no space or comma (e.g. 5000, 3725 etc.) unless they are in tables and have to range with other longer numbers. Numbers of five digits or more should be divided by a space between three-digit groups on either side of the decimal point (e.g. 28 673.826 1).

Decimals should generally be used in preference to fractions. Decimals below unity should carry a zero before the decimal point (e.g. 0.63 not .63). Decimal points are set on the line. Where fractions are essential use a solidus in running text (e.g. 1/2). Where fractions are displayed a two-line fraction can be used. The solidus should always be used for complex fractional indices so that they can be printed on one line (e.g. 2x (m + n)/3).

The term billion should be either avoided or explained. The term has different meanings in the UK and the USA.

Use the shortest unambiguous form for ranges of numbers (e.g. 16–17, 23–4).

Do not use Roman numerals (except where essential for a third level with a list after 1, 2, 3 and (a), (b), (c)). They are less easy to comprehend and in listings give a ragged effect.

Always use a numeral with the term ‘per cent’ (e.g. 15 per cent).

Keep capitalization to a minimum. Too many capitals tend to be typographically ugly on the printed page.

Use initial capitals for proper names, official titles, trade names and specific features in the book itself (e.g. Figure 1.1, Chapter 3).

Proprietary drug names, when used, have an initial capital (e.g. diazepam (Valium)).

Italics slow the reader down because they are less easy to read than ordinary type. Use them sparingly in the text.

Only unanglicized words and phrases should be italicized, not foreign words which have become familiar through constant use (e.g. via, et al., in situ are not italicized).

Use italics for book titles and periodicals, films, operas, plays, names of ships and microbiological nomenclature where strict species terminology is used.

SI units should be used exclusively.

Any departure from SI units should be discussed with your commissioning editor. If ‘old’ units have to be used the SI equivalent should usually follow in parentheses.

Figures should always be used with symbols (e.g. 10 mm) and there should always be a space between the figure and the symbol (e.g. 10 mm ´ 10 mm = 100 mm).

The preferred style for partial pressures is as follows: Po2, Pao2, Pco2 etc.

A distinction should be made between a symbol for a physical quantity and a symbol for a unit. The former is set in italic (e.g. electromotive force, E), whereas the latter is set in ordinary type (e.g. volt, V).

Italicization of superiors and inferiors follows the same rules as for other symbols.

Unit symbols are always in the singular (e.g. 25 kg not 25 kgs).

If mathematical and chemical equations are used, number them per chapter. The numbers should be ranged right. Display where possible with a line of space above and below:

2(a - b - c) = (a - b - c) + (a - b - c)

If an equation is long and the line turns, break at =, + or - .

There should be no space either side of a colon indicating a ratio (e.g. 1:7).

Where several brackets have to be used in a mathematical expression the sequence should be {}.

Vectors should be set in bold type.


Per cent: Spell out per cent as two words in literary contexts, but in statistical contexts and in tables and diagrams where space is scarce the symbol (%) is acceptable.

Proprietary names: Proprietary names such as Terylene, Vaseline and Perspex require an initial upper case letter.

Dating: Avoid vague phrases that may date your book (e.g. ‘in the past decade’, ‘will soon be introduced’). It is better to replace these with specific dates. Avoid quoting specific prices of goods and services – if you must include them indicate the year to which you refer.

Dates: Use the form 15 August 1999 (not 15th August 1999). Do not use numerals – 7.6.99 means 6 July 1999 in the USA.

Do not put apostrophes in decade spans (use 1950s not 1950’s).

Do not use the expressions ‘thirties’ or ‘eighties’ etc. but 1930s, 1980s etc.

Use ‘from 1958 to 1959’ rather than ‘from 1958–9’.

Spell out the names of centuries (e.g. ‘the eighteenth century’ not ‘the 18th century’).