Specific issues

We reference The Guardian and Observer style guide as our default to defer to on specific issues that arise. It’s a ready-made, easily accessible and – to UK audience’s, at least – familiar set of standards we can follow. However, there are some specific points of style that we are keen for authors to consider when writing:


Always use in full first, then brackets – e.g. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – if you’re using it more than once, unless it’s such an obvious one that you assume the every reader will 100% know it – e.g. UK, USA, or FBI. Use ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’, when using these Latin abbreviations.


Avoid use of the ampersand symbol (&) where the word ‘and’ will do in written work, unless it’s part of a well-known combo – e.g. R&D – or if space demands it, e.g. diagrams, illustrations etc.


Capitals shouldn’t be used to signify importance; they should be used for proper nouns and names. A specific job title, e.g. The Marketing Manager or The Director of Innovation, should be capitalised, but they should not be used for general titles e.g. “the manager was in the office” or “the director was attending a conference”. Something like a room e.g. “Operating Room” doesn’t need to be capitalised, unless we are then going to abbreviate throughout the rest of the content – e.g. Operating Room (OR) in the first instance, OR in the second onward.


All organisations, including Sagentia Innovation, should be treated as singular entities and therefore should be accompanied by ‘is’ or ‘has’, not ‘are’ or ‘have’, e.g. “Sagentia Innovation is the leading…”. It’s fine to say ‘we’ or ‘our’ when describing the activities of people, or groups of people, within an organisation however – e.g. “We can offer bespoke solutions to your needs” or “Our team uses cutting- edge lab equipment to..”.


14 July 2016, or for the US, July 14 2016. (No commas, and no ‘th’, ‘nd’ or ‘rd’ after the number.)


Metres and miles should be written out in full, to avoid confusion with the abbreviated form of million, where it’s not obvious from context.

Exclamation marks

To be used sparingly, if ever. Over-use tends to look amateurish and unprofessional. Exclamation points should not be used to signpost a particularly interesting or relevant piece of information, they are designed to be used at the end of exclamatory sentences, i.e. sentences which express a strong or surprising emotion e.g. “That’s amazing!”

Forward slashes

Try to avoid using these where possible. Either/or examples, such as his/her, are fine but try using plain English (“and” or “or”) where possible. This helps improve flow and readability, particularly for non- technical audiences e.g. – “Science critique/validation” is jarring compared with “Science critique and validation”.

Headlines and Sub-heads

Caps first word then lower case the rest, e.g. “Partners and acquisition diligence”, not “Partners and Acquisition diligence”, “Partners and Acquisition Diligence”, or “Partners And Acquisition Diligence”. Proper nouns are fine to caps up, of course, e.g. “Our thoughts on Amazon Health’s announcement.” Headings and sub-heads should be aligned with the left-hand side of text, except for on the main title of an entire document, which should be centred. Headings should be bold but not underlined, where possible.


Always link to a section of text which says something about what’s at the other end. This is primarily to help the reader (who may be skim reading / key term hunting in a document), but it also helps with SEO. ‘Click here’ or ‘find out more here’ should not be used, they tell the reader or search engine crawlers nothing useful and, in the case of emails, can set off spam filters.


Use a capital when referring to geographic regions, (e.g. the Midlands or the North East of England) but don’t capitalise when using compass point directions (e.g. northern).


Don’t use full stops at the end of bulleted or numbered points unless they contain more than one sentence, e.g.

  • This is the first bullet point. But if there is another sentence then use a full stop.
  • This is the second
  • And this is the third


Write out the numbers one to nine in full, numbers 10+ in numerals. One million but 10 million. Fine to use m for million, bn for billion, tn for trillion etc when dealing with numbers after the first use of the full wording, i.e. 10 million on first use, 10m thereafter. Don’t mix text with numerals, e.g. do not say “one to 25”, say “1-25”. Include a comma where needed, e.g. 1,000. Third party product, not 3rd party.

Oxford commas (also known as Harvard or serial commas)

These are commas before the final “and” in lists. You decide whether to use one: simple lists can survive without them, but they are often essential to avoid ambiguity e.g. “eats, shoots, and leaves”.

Page numbers

Should be used for any document over one page.


Use the % symbol


USD 350 million, rather than $350 million. GBP / EUR etc as appropriate.

Speech marks

Use “double quote marks” when quoting speech. Use ‘single quotes’ for a quote within a quote (e.g. “Anna said, ‘your style guide needs updating,’ and I said, ‘I agree.’.”). Also use ‘single quotes’ for phrases in ‘air quotes’, where appropriate, e.g.: “This hype has resulted in a lot of investment, both from product vendors looking to ‘AI-enable’ their platforms and companies looking to use AI to improve their business performance.” Try to do so sparingly in most documents – reports of interviews, Q&As, and other reported speech may require more. NB The Guardian style guide suggests using single quotes in headings; we aren’t trying to save space printing a newspaper, so we don’t.

Starting sentences

It’s sometimes OK to begin a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’, particularly if they add rhetorical weight to what follows, contrary to what your English teacher may have told you (still, do so sparingly). Both are infinitely preferable to beginning with ‘so’, which is tempting as a way of seeming informal and conversational but is extremely overused and cliché (particularly since the rise of blogging and podcasting, where it seems to have been popularised). ‘However’, ‘therefore’ and ‘indeed’ should also be used sparingly, as they risk seeming overly stuffy, formal or academic, and tend to detract from whatever comes next, which is what we (the reader) are really interested in anyway.


Should not include rows that split over pages. The header row should be repeated at the top of each page, if they are long and span a number of pages.


°C or °F, rather than degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit


We refer to our website as sagentiainnovation.com
(no www.).