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Style guide: H


hairbrush, haircut, hairdresser, hairstyle

Haiti is not an island, do not refer to it as such

half has no hyphen when used as an adverb: ‘We flew the flag at half mast’; but does have a hyphen when used as an adjective: ‘a half-eaten lunch’.

half-term is known as mid-term in Scotland so avoid when using in a UK-wide context

Halloween does not need an apostrophe but always has a capital ‘H’

handbook, handheld, handmade

handout noun, hand out verb: ‘There are accompanying handouts explaining what we do. I will hand out the sheets at the end of the meeting.’

handicapped – do not use to refer to people with disabilities. See disabilities

hangar aircraft, hanger clothes

hanging participles see dangling participles


harass, harassment

hardcore – one word

harebrained not hairbrained; as in ‘a harebrained scheme’. This is pretty offensive to hares if you think about it.

Harrods – no apostrophe

Hawkhirst Scout Activity Centre but the activity centre thereafter

Headings and web page titles – All headings and web page titles should use sentence case which puts all words in lower case except the first letter of the first word, proper nouns, Scouting nouns, abbreviations and acronyms.

See also Personal titles, Publication titles, Event titles

Online headings should be no more than eight words long. In addition, on the homepage of www.scouts.org.uk they should not extend further than two lines and on web pages they should be no longer than one line (the length of the page).

Headings should be left open-ended; they should not end with a full stop.

Headlines should always be at the discretion of the editor rather than the writer.

They don’t have to be short – there is nothing wrong with a long, eye-catching headline. They don’t have to be particularly explanatory – there is no harm in making the reader curious about what the story is about.
Beware of using obscure pop culture references that only you or your friends are aware of. Consider the tone of the article (a piece about bereavement should not have a smart, punning headline).

Who’s your audience? If you are doing a story about a Scout Group with advanced plans for celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee and you write a headline like ‘Jubilee line has no delays’ – it will mean nothing to a reader outside London.

A headline can just as easily refer to the accompanying image rather than the copy so try not to decide your headline until you know what pictures will also be on the page.

There is no harm in tying stories which are on the same page via their headlines.

Avoid dull ‘Doing something’ headlines where you can. A headline such as ‘Opening doors’ is instantly improved by dropping the –ing so it is ‘Open doors’.

Last but not least, beware of anyone who tells you there are rules to headlines that you should follow.

head office

headquarters – singular or plural. Use meeting place if applicable. Use UK headquarters or UKHQ (but never headquarters/HQ) in reference to Gilwell Park in an official capacity only. Staff work at UKHQ but events are at Gilwell Park.

headteacher – one word

hear, hear – an exclamation of agreement. It’s incredible how many people write this as ‘here, here’

heartbroken, heartfelt, heartwarming but heart-throb, heart-rending

hiccup not hiccough

Highlands, the – in Scotland

Hindi language, Hindu religion

HIV is a virus not a disease. An HIV test is not an Aids test.

Holland is a region of the Netherlands. Use the latter.

holy communion, holy grail but Holy Land

Holyrood is the home of the Scottish Parliament. Holyrood Palace is the Queen’s residence in Scotland.


homepage one word


hoodie not hoody

Hoover is a trademark. Do not use when you mean vacuum cleaner or vacuuming.


hotels – lower case if you have to use it in the name: the Ritz-Carlton hotel

hotline, hotspot

humous not hummus

hurricane – lower case, hurricane Andrew, hurricane Katrina

Hyperlinks and referencing The name of a hyperlink should match the title of the page top or document to which you are linking. Links within articles should be used sparingly.

Where possible, avoid linking within sentences as this can disrupt the user’s reading experience. Try to put links at natural action points such as the end of a page, a paragraph, or, as a last resort, the end of a sentence. If you are linking within sentences, try to keep links brief but descriptive.

Screen readers for people with disabilities browse webpages by calling up a list of on-page links, and activating the link which they're most interested in. As such, non-descriptive link text such as 'click here' should be avoided at all costs. It makes no sense when taken out of context.

List links at the end of a page for further information.

There is also a facility for listing related articles on scouts.org.uk. Consider what related articles you could include and if this could negate the use of certain hyperlinks within the body of the text.

If you are linking to a page which is not on scouts.org.uk ensure that it opens in a new window.

Links should not just be termed 'document', they should be wherever possible the title of the document, the title of the organisation whose webpage you're linking too, or part of the sentence that gives some explanation as to what they are.

Email links should be the person's/organisation's name. Not the actual email.

Screen readers for people with disabilities browse webpages by calling up a list of on-page links, and activating the link which they're most interested in so it should be as descriptive as possible: ‘email Chris James’ rather than ‘chris.james@scouts.org.uk’. Do not use ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ for the same reason.

If linking to a PDF or any other type of document you must add tracking to the individual link for it to work with Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides an easy way to track clicks on links that lead to file downloads. Ask an editor or the Digital Communications team about this.

The general rule is to avoid hyphens where possible. However, when the last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the word in question, it is probably better to use one: co-ordinate, co-operate, re-examine. There are also separate rules for re- prefixes

Prefixes such as macro, mega, micro, mini, multi, over, super and under, rarely need hyphens. Follow the Oxford English Dictionary if you’re not sure.

Where the rules of grammar require it, hyphens should be used, particularly with adjectives: ‘24-hour clock’, ‘half-drunk editor’, ‘barely-recognisable activity’, ‘ill-prepared campsite’.

Ages (as adjectives) have two hyphens: six-year-old Beaver Scout.



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Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
Registered address: The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, England E4 7QW