British English is to be used as a general rule for all English text. Exceptions to using British English are explicitly stated in this list.
The noun "licence" is to be used if inside a news item, but not when used related to a more "international" project (such as REUSE, where US spelling "license" should be used). Follow the practice of the project. The verb is "license", and similarly its derivatives (e.g. "licensing"). When one of these words appears as a part of the licence name (e.g. "GNU General Public License") or inside the title of a conference/external page, it should be left untouched.
Holidays, both secular and religious, including self-created holidays, should be written in upper case. E.g. I Love Free Software Day.
Choose carefully between "like" and "want". "Like" (as a verb, and there are other uses) means to be pleased by something or enjoy doing something, or to be attracted to a person. "Want" (in its most common meaning) means to desire something that one does not have. Sometimes the same thing is both liked and wanted. But often one verb or the other is the better choice. "Want" can also mean simply to lack something, without necessarily desiring it. (This is a less common usage.)
Oxford comma. (a) Use the Oxford comma wherever possible.
(b) Sometimes the use avoids an error, for example in the dedication 'To my parents, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.' Without the comma after 'Obama' it would look as though both Obama and Trump were being claimed as parents.
(c) Sometimes it must not be used, in order to avoid an error, for example in the dedication 'To my father, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.' A comma after 'Obama' would look as though Obama were being claimed as a parent.
Commas can distinguish whether someone or something is unique. When a descriptive word or phrase follows a noun and is not necessary for identification, it is set off by commas. If the word or phrase is necessary for identification, commas should not be used. Examples:
- Louis XVI's wife, Marie Antoinette, was Austrian by birth. (Omitting the commas would imply bigamy!)
- Judah was the son of Jacob's wife Leah. (Jacob had another wife, Rachel; a comma before "Leah" would deny Rachel's existence or at least deny that marriage.)
- My brother, James, is older than I am. My sister Emilie is younger than I am. So is my other sister, Kathy. (I have one brother and two sisters. Since I have only one "other sister", a comma is necessary in the last sentence.)
All punctuation, including full stops and commas, may be placed either inside or outside a closing quotation mark or parenthesis to reflect the meaning. Examples:
- Did he say, 'I am coming'?
- He asked, 'Did she go?'
- He said that he bought a 'hat'.
- He said, 'I bought a hat.'
- should be used).
- (This is a less common usage.)
Dashes. English uses dashes of various lengths, and there are very few rules. In general, any form of dash may be used in any context and it will be understood. However, consistency is desirable; when dashes are used in pairs to set off a parenthetical expression -- for example, as here -- the two items of the pair should agree. There is an extensive discussion of dashes at the wikipedia page.
The most common basic structure of an English sentence is to have a subject (a noun or a pronoun) and a verb. Either of these may be single words, or long and elaborate clauses. In a sentence with this form, there may also be words or clauses before the subject or after the verb (in the latter case, most notably a direct object). Any of these clauses may contain commas --sometimes pairs of commas (see rule 5), sometimes more than two commas (see rule 5). However, it is generally improper for a single comma to appear between the subject and the verb. See, e.g., the first example.
Be careful when copying and pasting text. When you copy text from one document to another, try to be sure that what is being inserted is consistent with what it is joining. There are many grammatical (such as tense and number) and stylistic ways in which the texts may clash. Be particularly careful when transplanting text of less than full sentences into a different document.
Try to assure that when a link is provided there are spaces around it between it and the surrounding punctuation, even if strict propriety would say that there should be no space there. If a reader copies the link, there is a danger that without the technically improper space the reader would copy the punctuation as part of the link.
The "alt" attribute of the "img" html tag should be a description of the image, in such a way that visually impaired people could understand what the image represent. If a citation is present in the image (such as the ones in "I Love Free Software Day" page), it will be better to copy the text from the image into the "alt" attribute.
- Single quotation marks (also called inverted commas) surround quoted text, except for wiki text where it is likely to be confused with formatting commands). Double quotation marks are used for a quotation inside the first quotation. If there are more nested quotations, continue alternating.
Capitals should be used when referring to a name of a project, such as Software Libero (Free Software), Standard Aperti (Open Standards). Preposition or other ancillary words should not be capitalised, as in Libertà del Router (Router Freedom).
License names should be left untouched (e.g. GNU General Public License).
Put under double quotes when translating the title of a campaign or other titles (e.g. I Love Free Software Day => giornata "Io amo il Software Libero").
Oxford comma: use it only when the "e" conjunction is ambiguous or when you want to put a pause, e.g.:
Amo moltissimo i miei genitori, Sandra Mondaini e Raimondo Vianello. (wrong if Sandra and Raimondo are not your parents)
Amo moltissimo i miei genitori, Sandra Mondaini, e Raimondo Vianello. (right)
- «Raccomando a tutti di combattere per i propri diritti» dice Paolo Rossi, e non possiamo che essere totalmente d'accordo.
When citing text, if in the English version the text is placed under double quotes ("), replace them with typographical left/right double angle quotation marks (« »).
Avoid suspensive dash at the end of the sentence, and replace it with a comma or colon, e.g. "Here you find the ones who are working for and with the FSFE and have been given permanent responsibility or authority for certain areas - staffers and volunteers" => "Puoi trovare qui le persone che lavorano per e con la FSFE a cui sono state date responsabilità o autorità permanenti in certe aree: i membri dello staff e i volontari".
Full stop should be placed outside quotes or parenthesis, and should appear after exclamation or question mark ending quotation, e.g.:
- Giovanni ha detto: «Ho comprato un cappello».
- Matteo ha chiesto: «Paola è andata via?».
- Non si può avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca (sarebbe davvero paradossale!).
- "Voglio" può anche voler dire semplicemente che manca qualcosa (questo è un utilizzo meno comune).