We provide fun, challenge and adventure to
over 400,000 girls and boys across the UK
a a a  A A
Disclosures Compass POL Print Centre

Style guide: S



Safeguarding Team

Safety Policy, the

Sahara – no need to add ‘desert’

Saint or St? Abbreviate to St with no point if used in a title. ‘St George is the patron saint of Scouting.’

Sainsbury’s for the stores; the company's name is J Sainsbury plc

Samaritans – has dropped ‘the’ from its name


Scandinavia comprises Denmark, Norway and Sweden only. If you are including Finland and/or Iceland, say Nordic countries

scapegoat is a noun not a verb


schizophrenia should only be used when specifically referred to the medical condition. In such cases, take care to say ‘person with’ rather than ‘suffering from’. Do not refer to the person as a schizophrenic. For more guidance see illness and conditions

schoolboy, schoolchildren, schoolgirl, schoolroom, schoolteacher

scotch broth, scotch egg, scotch whisky but Scotch argus butterfly

Scotland is a country with its own laws (including right to roam), education system, local government, property market, banks, sports teams, churches, bank holidays and devolved administration.

Care should be taken when writing articles or documents on policy to note whether it would affect/apply in Scotland. Don’t just write about how Scouts were enjoying the ‘bank holiday weekend sunshine’ when it is possible that in Scotland it wasn’t a bank holiday or (more likely) it wasn’t sunny.
The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats are not the ‘three main parties’ in Scotland. The Scottish National Party (not ‘Nationalist Party’) is the current government in Scotland and consistently comes at least second in Westminster elections.

Scotland is not ‘north of the border’, it is part of the UK and Scottish Scouts are as much a part of The Scout Association as those in England and should be treated as such.

The Scottish government is based at the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. It is attended by members of the Scottish parliament or MSPs and has responsibility for most aspects of Scottish life.

Scotland is a nation. Take care with using expressions such as ‘nationally’ or ‘nationwide’ when you mean ‘UK-wide’.

Scout or Scouts Individual members are referred to as Scouts whenever possible. This includes adults as well as young people. Therefore you should say ‘Angela is a nine-year-old Scout. Once a week she goes to her local Cubs meeting.’ NB:  Scouts is used in reference to The Scout Association. Use of The Scout Association should be avoided except in legal documentation.

Scout Active Support is the new name for Scout Fellowship. Do not abbreviate to SAS, no matter how tempted you are.

Scout Adventures when referring to the nationally-owned centres (Downe, Gilwell Park, Great Tower, Hawkhirst, Woodhouse Park and Youlbury)

Scouter – is an archaic term, please do not use unless referring to someone who holds the specific appointment of county scouter

Scouting – avoid this term wherever possible

Scouting facts, see facts and figures

Scout Section Leader

Scout Badge and Scout Activity Badge

Scout emblem, the It should be noted that the Scout emblem can be referred to as both an arrowhead and/or a fleur-de-lis.

Scout Fellowship no longer exists. It is now Scout Active Support

Scout Handshake, the

Scout Information Centre or the Information Centre

Scout Law, the

Scout-led activity

Scout Motto, the

Scout Movement, the is rather archaic, please try to avoid where you can

Scout Network Leader

Scout Network member not Network Scout

Scout Network section Individual members are referred to as Scouts whenever possible. This includes adults as well as young people. Therefore you should say ‘Angela is a nine-year-old Scout. Once a week she goes to her local Cubs meeting.’

Obviously this will not always be possible and you will have to refer to Cubs and Beavers but please say ‘Scout/s’ whenever you can. We are all Scouts after all.

Scout’s Own

Scout Salute, the

Scout Shops Ltd is now called Scout Store

Scout Show Recognition Scheme

Scouting Plus is the name of the weekly email to members

seaplane, seaport, seashore, seaside, seaweed but sea level, sea serpent, sea sickness

Seas/Oceans take upper case: Caspian Sea, Red Sea, Atlantic Ocean

second hand is found on a watch which you might buy secondhand

Sea Scouts

section should not be capitalised except when used in the title of a volunteer role, such as Section Leader

self-control, self-defence, self-esteem, self-respect

Sellotape is a trademarked product, use 'sticky tape' instead.

semi-colon – for when a full stop is too much but a comma just isn’t enough. This example (lifted from the Guardian’s style guide) is perfect: ‘Some reporters were brilliant; others were less so.’

Sentences – in both print and online, should ideally be no more than 20 words long. Exceptions can always be made to allow a certain style but a 20-word limit is a fair barometer. Try to ensure that each sentence/paragraph contains one thought. See guide to writing for the web 

shantytown is one word and can be used as a catch all to describe such settlements in any country

shareholder is one word

Shetland – not the Shetlands. ‘The Shetland Isles’ is acceptable; see Orkney

shipbuilder, shipmate, shipowner, shipyard

shoo-in not shoe-in

sickbed, sicknote but sick pay


singular or plural? Corporate entities or organisations take a singular. It is the same for Scout Groups. ‘The 14th Bristol is one of the liveliest groups around.’

Bands are an exception: ‘Pearl Jam are the best live band around.’

If referring to staff in a workplace, apply the plural. ‘Staff at UKHQ are supplied with free lunches.’

site – when referring to the whole of scouts.org.uk, but individual pages are referred to as ‘pages’ and sub sections as ‘areas’: ‘the Member Resources area’. Microsite is only used in exceptional circumstances.

Six – a group of Cub Scouts, usually consisting of six Cubs (hence the name). A Cub Pack is normally made up of several Sixes.

Sixer is the name for the leader of the Six, usually an older Cub.

ski, skis, skiing, skier, skied

Skills for Life
– if in the context of a sentence, it should say ‘skills for life’. If it’s a hash tag it should read #SkillsForLife. If it’s the name of our strategic plan, it’s Skills for Life.

Spacing – single space after a full stop and preceding the next word. Like that.

special needs – use instead ‘additional needs’. See disability and diversity dictionary definition.


span of years see dates

spelled/spelt see past participles

spoiled/spoilt see past participles

social network sites noun, social networking verb

south-west London, the south-east, south Wales

south pole

St Andrews is the university and golf course.

St Andrew’s Day is 30 November

St David’s Day is 1 March

St George’s Day is 23 April. If you are holding a St George’s Day event and wish it to be as inclusive as possible, it is acceptable to refer to it as ‘Renewal of Promise Day.’

St Patrick’s Day is 17 March

St John Ambulance

stadiums (stadia is rarely used; stadiums is preferred by the Guardian style guide)

Staged Activity Badges see badges/Awards

stationary means to be still whereas stationery is envelopes and the other stuff that litters your desk

stepbrother, stepfamily, stepfather, stepmother, stepsister but step-parents

sub camp

subcommittee, subcontinent, subeditor, sublet, subplot, subsection

Subheading styles – see Headings and web page titles

suicideavoid phrases like ‘commit suicide’ or ‘successful suicide'. Choose alternatives, such as ‘attempted/completed suicide’, ‘took/ended their own life’, or ‘killed themselves'.

supermarket is lower case

Support and Resources, this area of www.scouts.org.uk is now called Member Resources



© Copyright The Scout Association 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
Registered address: The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, England E4 7QW