RCoA Style Guide

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Quick reference guide

Abbreviations and acronyms



The RCoA style guide has been developed to support College staff, Council members and advisors to write, format and present College documents in a consistent and agreed style.

The guide will help enhance the quality of the College’s written output, making it easier for fellows, members and wider stakeholders to find and use the information they need.

How this guide has been developed
Produced by the College’s communications team, the RCoA style guide is informed by published content on the Guardian and Economist style guide web pages. In addition, the RCoA style guide benefits from guidance published on the web pages of other health organisations, including medical royal colleges.

This document has also been reviewed by the RCoA’s senior management team.

Why good writing matters
You have very little time to grab your audience’s attention. Online readers typically scan for information, often on mobile devices with small screens. Use short paragraphs of one or two sentences. Keywords that tell a story are crucial.

Tone of voice
We want our work to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Our tone of voice should be clear, concise and informative, not stuffy and academic. We want to be friendly and accessible, not corporate or elitist.

Our readers shouldn’t need a degree to understand what we are trying to tell them, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from tackling complex ideas.

See ‘jargon’  and ‘technical terms’  in this guide for more information.

Get straight to the point
Putting the most important information first allows the reader to obtain relevant information straightaway. Your first sentence of copy should explain what the page is about, followed by what, where, when, how and why. This way your readers can:

  • see immediately what the page is about
  • decide if they want to read the rest


About the Style Guide

How the guide is arranged
The style guide is intended to be viewed on our web pages and can also be accessed on RoCI. Download a print-friendly version of the guide here.

How to use the guide

  • search for a specific term
  • browse through a section

What is/is not included in the style guide
The guide does not tell you how to write. We aim to help you write correctly and to encourage consistency across the College’s written communications.

You may not necessarily agree with all of the guidance in this document. Some requirements are subjective, but for consistency and accuracy, please ensure you adhere to these guidelines.

The more clearly you write, the more easily you will be understood.

General writing rules

  • RCoA and the College are interchangeable terms and can either be alternated for variety or kept the same for consistency.  The first use in any document should always be Royal College of Anaesthetists spelled out in full (see abbreviations and acronyms for more detail)
  • get straight to the point. Put the important information in the first sentence
  • avoid slang or jargon. Explain technical terms in the first instance
  • use the active voice. ‘The College installed new signage’ not ‘the new signage was installed at the College’. Move the subject and the verb to the front of the sentence
  • only write out numbers up to nine and use figures for 10 onwards
  • break content into short paragraphs, with each paragraph conveying one idea
  • only use capitals where absolutely necessary - job titles alone are lower case, eg president, director, manager, but upper case when directly credited along with an individual: Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • check your copy for accuracy. The eye can skip missing words or fail to see duplication. Check it twice, read it out loud and if you can, get a member of your team to review it.

RCoA branding information
Other information on the College’s branding, including the use of the logo, can be found on RoCI.

If you have any queries about using this guide, please contact a member of the communications team.

Intro | A B C D E F G H I J, K, L M N, O P Q, R S T U V, W, X, Y, Z 

Quick reference guide

Abbreviations and acronyms