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Disclosures Compass POL Print Centre

Style guide: P


Pack as in a Cub Scout Pack


Pages should be no more than 500 words long if possible. Web pages should be no more than 300 words long, if a document is any longer consider whether web is the best medium. If so it might be better as a downloadable document, such as a PDF or Word file.

page references are written as lower case p and no space: ‘Look to p16 for a great article on camping’.

palate: sense of taste; palette: artist’s paint mix; pallet: hard wooden frame

Palestine – best used for the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza).


papier-mache – hyphen, no accent

Paragraphs in print should be no more than 70 words long. Paragraphs on the web should ideally be no more than 40 words long or extend no further than three lines and contain just one idea. See the guide to writing for the web.
Paralympic Games or the Paralympics

Parkinson’s disease – not just Parkinson’s, to avoid confusion with Parkinson’s Law which states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’ – this guide being a prime example.

parliament, parliamentary

participant is lower case where it refers to Scouts taking part in a Jamboree

Participation Award and Participation Badge see badges/Awards

Partnership Award see badges/Awards

part-time is hyphenated

party is lower case in organisation names: the Conservative party, the Labour party

passerby is one word, the plural of which is passersby

past participles can often take the –t ending rather than –ed: learnt, burnt, spelt rather than learned, burned, spelled. American English only uses the latter.

Technically both are correct.

The current general rule is to use –ed when describing a personal action. ‘I burned the toast’, ‘Rachael learned a lesson that day’ or ‘Justin spelled the word out slowly’.

And the –t when describing the result of such actions. ‘The toast was burnt’ ‘the lesson had been learnt.’

However in the interests of consistency it may be better to just always use the –ed ending.

Patrol as in a Scout Patrol is upper case (outside Scouting or patrol as a verb is lower case)

Patrol Leader 

Patrol Leaders’ Council 

Patrol tent

payback, payday, payoff, payout

PDF – stands for portable document format. If you hyperlink to a PDF document on a webpage, always write (PDF) after the name of the document and ensure it opens in a new window.

Peak District

pedaller is a cyclist, a peddler is a drug dealer; take care

pensioners is often pejorative, try to avoid. Use ‘older people’ instead.

people not persons

per – avoid where you can use English instead: ‘The set menu costs £25 a head’. If you have to use it, make sure you use the appropriate latin word after it: per capita, per annum.

The exception is with ‘miles per hour’ which is usually abbreviated to mph anyway.

per cent use the % symbol instead
percentage rises – be very careful with these. Check carefully. As it is often the case that the writer does not understand numbers. For example:

If 10% of the young people in Scouting in 2010 were explorers, and that figure rose to 14% in 2011, this DOES NOT constitute a 4% increase. It is an increase of ‘4 percentage points’ or a ‘4-point increase.’

If you are editing an article which claims that something rose/fell by XX%over a set period, be very careful. Check. Then double check.


Permit is upper case in Nights Away Permit, Camping Permit or Adventurous Activity Permit. But lower case in permit holder. 

personal enquiry, the

Personal titles At first mention use full title, Dr, Rev, Sir, Group Scout Leader, County Commissioner. After that it very much depends on who they are. The general rule is to use first names (Patrick, Daisy) unless you think it is completely inappropriate and over-familiar.

phenomenon, plural phenomena

phone numbers see telephone numbers

photocall, photocopy


planets – cap up the names of our neighbours; Mars, Venus, Neptune

planning – not ‘forward planning’; pretty much all planning is forward-looking


pocketbook, pocketknife but pocket money

POL – abbreviation for Programmes Online

Polaroid – is a trademark. Use it if you must, but make sure you upper case it.

police forces – you don’t need to cap ‘police’ in the name and you only need to say ‘police’ the first time: ‘West Mercia police’ but just ‘West Mercia’ after that.

police units such as special branch, flying squad, fraud squad are all lower case

policies – full titles of Scout Association policies are upper case: the Anti-bullying Policy, the Child Safety Policy, and so on.

Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR): write in its entirety the first time with the abbreviation in brackets. Just say POR after that.

political correctness – avoid this term. People who talk about political correctness are usually trying to make a point which is neither political nor correct.

pope, the – is lower case, as is papacy and pontiff. Use capitals if writing his full title: Pope Benedict XVI

Portakabin and Portaloo are trademarks. Say portable cabin or toilet.

Post-it is trademarked. Use if you must, but spell it like this.

practice noun, practise verb: ‘We practised for ages before we put our plan into practice.’

pre- is an often-superfluous prefix: pre-booked, pre-ordered and others mean the same thing with the prefix dropped.

President Barack Obama but the president or the US president thereafter

Prices – if the sum is less than £1, then the pence sign alone is used: 25p, not 0.25p. If the sum is over £1, the £ sign alone is used: £5.25. Do not use both signs in the same price. Do not use a full stop after the pence sign, unless it falls at the end of a sentence.

Try not to use zeros unless for design purposes. For example, write something out at £14. But if you are listing menu prices with all prices aligned the same, it is acceptable to have something listed as £14.00 if other items above and below are not priced as full pounds.

Prime Minister David Cameron but the prime minister thereafter

principality should not be used to describe Wales

principal means first in importance or head teacher

Print Centre is the name for one of the functions of the Brand Centre

prise open, prize award

prize is lower case: the Booker prize, the Nobel prize

proactive often means the same as ‘active’.

programme lowercase p unless referring to the national Scout curriculum ie. the Scout Programme. When referring to the Scout Programme always use the prefix 'Scout' or '6 - 25'.

Programmes Online is two words, no hyphen. POL is an accepted abbreviation 

Programme Zones
Promise, the Scout
prone face down, supine face up

proofreader, proofreading

pros and cons

province – do not use when referring to Northern Ireland which comprises two-thirds of the province of Ulster. More than 250,000 people across three counties live in the province of Ulster but not in Northern Ireland and are not part of The Scout Association in the UK. See Ulster

prusiking not prussiking. Named after the Prusik knot.

Publication titles – use initial capitals for the main title, but not for subheadings which are separated by a colon and are lower case; Colony Essentials: the guide to the day-to-day running of a Beaver Scout Colony.

Note: publication titles are no longer italicised in print.

See also Event titles, Heading and web page titles, Personal titles

Purple Card – more formally known as the emergency procedures card.

– as in 'the purpose of Scouting is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities.’

PVA is the abbreviation of polyvinyl acetate. Only use if the activity/game specifically refers to PVA



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