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Style guide: D


Dad or dad? Both, depending on the context: ‘Will you ask your dad if he is available to help at Cubs?’ – ‘Hang on, I’ll ask Dad if he’s available.’

dangling participles – avoid. Many writers like to employ these, but there are huge pitfalls. A sentence like: ‘Boring, predictable and no fun for anyone, our leader decided to replace the old Scouting games with new ones’; actually means that the leader in question is boring, predictable and no fun for anyone.

dashes are becoming more and more popular. Use as a last resort only when a comma, semi-colon or brackets simply won’t do. If you have to use dashes, use n-dashes rather than m-dashes or hyphens.

Dates and time  

Follow the styles set out below:  

Date span/range

The preference is to use a conversational style for the benefit of the reader. People don’t speak in dashes and slashes so avoid them when you can: ‘Peter Duncan was Chief Scout from 2004 to 2009’ or ‘this is a short-term role lasting from January to June.’

However, for headlines, posters or text advertising events this may not be appropriate. In such cases the style is number, dash, number; for example: ‘Come to our Big Adventure camp 17-19 July.’

On occasions where the period described will span two years (the Scouting year, the academic year, the financial year, the football season), the preferred style is forward slash (/) and no spacing. ‘The 2009/10 winter was a particularly cold one.’

daylong – best to avoid and say something lasted ‘24 hours’ or ‘a day’ instead – month-long and year-long are both hyphenated.

daysack not daysac. Same for rucksack 

deaf – the use of this term depends on the context. The National Deaf Children’s Society uses ‘deaf’ to mean all types of deafness, including temporary deafness such as glue ear.

If you are uncomfortable with using a ‘Scout who is deaf’ you could say a person is hearing-impaired or has a hearing impairment. See also impairment.

Please never use ‘the deaf’ as a catch-all term.

deaf ears is an outdated and often offensive expression. Avoid.

degrees see temperatures

departments of State British government ministries (but not ministers) take initial caps:

Cabinet Office (but the cabinet)
Home Office
Foreign Office (abbreviate to FCO – for Foreign and Commonwealth Office – after first mention)
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Communities and Local Government
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Department for Education (DfE)
Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc)
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Department for International Development (DfID)
Department for Transport (DfT)
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Department of Health (DH)
Ministry of Defence (MoD)
Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
Northern Ireland Office
Scotland Office not Scottish Office
Wales Office not Welsh Office

Use the abbreviations sparingly.

dependant noun; dependent adjective. A dependant is dependent on someone else.

derring-do – often incorrectly written as daring-do. Quite old-fashioned, but still pops up in Scouting articles.

desert Sahara; dessert pudding – but someone gets their just deserts.

developing countries not third world countries

Development Grants Board

diehard – one word as in a ‘He was a diehard supporter of Scouting in his area.’

Dinizulu – a Zulu Chief, whose ceremonial necklace contained beads used in Baden-Powell's first Wood Badge.

disability – refer to 'disabled people' rather than 'people with disabilities'. This is because people are not ‘disabled’ by any condition or impairment they might have; they are disabled by environments which are not accessible for them—for example, a hearing impairment would not be disabling (would not have an adverse effect on someone’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities) if sign language and/or subtitles were widely used. Similarly, a wheelchair user might not be disabled if every building had ramps, lifts, fully accessible bathrooms, and lowered door handles, counters, etc.

However, apart from this exception, we always use person-centred language. So ‘a person with anorexia’, rather than ‘an anorexic person’.

Never use collective terms, such as ‘the disabled’, ‘the deaf’, etc. If you wish to refer to people who are not disabled, it is best to say ‘non-disabled’ rather than ‘able-bodied’, and ‘typical’ rather than ‘normal’.

Always employ positive language to describe disability. Avoid saying that the person ‘suffers from’, ‘is a victim of’, ‘is crippled by’ or ‘is afflicted by’. You can simply say that a person 'lives with' a condition.

Similarly, a person uses a wheelchair or is a wheelchair user. They are not ‘in a wheelchair’ or ‘wheelchair-bound’.

People with disabilities are not ‘invalids’, people with learning difficulties are not ‘handicapped’ (and NEVER ‘slow’ or ‘retarded’). Always refer to people who are speech-impaired as such and never ‘dumb’. Hearing-impairment is a slightly more complicated issue; it is best to ask the person whether they identify as hearing-impaired, deaf or Deaf.

Beware of such terms as they can sometimes slip by in an otherwise-positive story. ‘We raised over £6,000 for the deaf.’

If you have to use a collective term for people with a variety of conditions, employ the term ‘additional needs’. We no longer use the term ‘special needs’, and never refer to ‘mental age’.

Again though, these are ‘young people with additional needs’ or ‘Scouts with additional needs’—not ‘additional needs Scouts’.

In the case of autism, it is best to ask the person how they identify; as a ‘person who is on the autistic spectrum’, as an ‘autistic person’, etc.

discreet circumspect; discrete separate

dispatch, dispatched with an i, not an e

Disprin is a trademark. Use aspirin unless you are specifically talking about Disprin.

District See Areas/Counties/Regions/Districts

District Commissioner avoid calling them DCs, especially to an external audience. If you have to use the abbreviation, there is no need for an apostrophe.

District Scout Council 

District Scout Network

District team

Diwali is a Hindu festival with lights, held annually in the period October to November. It signifies the new season at the end of the monsoon.

doner kebab; donor money, blood – I guess there are instances of someone being a doner donor but it’s unlikely that they’ll pop up in Scout communications. 

dos and don’ts – don’t use an apostrophe in the dos

dotcom – one word as in ‘a dotcom business’.

down under – please do not use when referring to Australia or New Zealand

Downe Scout Activity Centre but the activity centre thereafter

DofE/DofE programme; if referring to a specific award use Gold DofE.

It is usually OK to just refer to the DofE or DofE programme. If you are writing a formal, or external-facing, piece it might be better to write the name out in full in the first instance.

The full title is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. DO NOT use the word ‘Scheme’.

If you are still unsure, please consult the Activities team.

Dr – use at first mention when referring to or quoting a medical or scientific doctor. After that, just use first name, see personal titles

dreamed is preferable to dreamt although both are technically correct; see past participles

duct tape

Duke of Wherever; the first time. Just the duke after that.

Duke of Edinburgh at first mention. Prince Philip or the duke thereafter.

Duke of York at first mention. Prince Andrew or the prince thereafter.

dumb – avoid. A person is speech-impaired or has a speech impairment. See also impairment.

dwarves is the plural of dwarf, unless quoting the Disney film title. However the verb is to dwarf; ‘That skyscraper dwarfs the surrounding buildings.’

Generally this is not the most sensitive of terms so use something else. 

dyslexia – someone has this condition. They don’t ‘suffer from’ it and they are not ‘a dyslexic’.



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