If you are planning to write or blog about something that is related to renewable energy it is worth writing to a particular set of guidelines.
A style guide ensures your team uses the same style to write posts. From a readers perspective, this sort of consistency is essential.
From a publishers’ view, it is one of those things that marks out the amateurs from those who know what they are doing.
If you want something offline, here is a download of renewable energy style guide.
General Tips for Writing Renewable Energy Copy
Think about where your readership is. If outside North America, use UK spellings, grammar and punctuation. So it’s organisation, prioritise, programme etc NOT organization, prioritize, program etc. Reverse as appropriate.
As above, when outside North America dates are as per UK style: 1 July 2017.
News and news analysis are written in the past tense. Features are written in present tense except for blogs on events, which also use past tense as they report on a specific event that happened in the past.
For general guidance on spelling and style, use The Economist style guide and Chambers dictionary.
Wind power is always two words except in event names and company names.
There shouldn’t be contractions in news stories. Do not use isn’t, doesn’t, haven’t etc outside quotes.
Wind power is followed by many readers who do not speak English as their first language. so do not use UK-specific idioms or expressions. Also be aware this may apply to US readers.
This includes terms that may not mean the same in other countries, eg. “planning permission” will not infer permission to actually build anything for non-UK readers, use construction permit instead.
Photos should be retina quality jpgs that are at least a resolution of 150 dpi. Obviously, the size depends on your site. In terms of print, go for 300 dpi.
Normally, headlines should be lowercase apart from the first letter and no last full stop. However, from an SEO perspective, you should make sure your meta-title has as many capitals in it as possible. Thus:
50 great innovations in wind power
50 Great Innovations in Wind Power
Why? It looks better on the search page and hooks people in. This is getting into the realms of SEO but it is something to be aware of. Most journalists will stick to the first version, which is a mistake in my view.
Renewable Energy Copywriting, Journalism, and Content Marketing Services
Get in touch with Electro Content you want help putting together quality, well-researched, features, blogs, articles for your website.
I am available via 07980 552293 or alternatively [email protected] . You can also get in touch for a free marketing content strategy or SEO review.
Wind Power Copywriting Style Sheet
Note: This style sheet is under constant revision. Any suggestions welcome, reach out via [email protected]
|Abbreviations||Do not use punctuation in abbreviations:
e.g. US, UK.
|Spell out name first time and give acronym in brackets: American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). After that, use acronym.
Explain what organisation is, eg Spain’s national wind association Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE); the German wind energy association, Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE). Same rules as above apply.
|Adjectives||Avoid biased adjectives like “massive,” unless quoting someone.
eg a large increase in exports to Japan NOT … a massive increase…
|Adviser||Not advisor, but advisory|
|Affiliations||A person must always be identified as belonging to an organisation, company, political party etc. Their job title must also be included.|
|Billion||Spell out, including in headlines: Nordex announces €2 billion profit|
|Company names||Do not include plc, Ltd or Inc, unless the company name is so generic that it is needed to make clear you’re talking about a company, eg Climate Risk Ltd, Wind Power Inc.
Try not to put in random capital letters in company names although we do use a capital letter if part of a name when it’s running two words together: DeWind, WindPro BUT Repower (not REpower).
Don’t cap up company names if they can be pronounced as a word, no matter what they do on their website.
CRUCIAL: ALWAYS CHECK COMPANY NAMES!
Don’t assume readers will know what a company does, tell them:
German car manufacturer BMW is investing in wind while UK retail giant Sainsbury’s is backing solar. A report by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
|Courtesy titles||Do not use them. No professor, doctor, Mr, etc.|
|Currency||This is a global sector so the main currencies are euros for European stories and US dollars for everywhere else.
Use the local currency and put the conversion in Euros or Dollars in brackets.
Other currencies are fine to use but need € (European stories) or $ conversion in brackets after the first figure only. See currency conversion below. If currency is another dollar, eg C$ or A$, put US$ for clarity, otherwise it’s just $.
Euros and dollars use € and $ symbol – no space between symbol and figure: €0.03, $4 billion.
Other currencies see below – space between letters and figures: CNY 500
CZK Czech Republic
€ Euro – use € symbol not EUR
NZ$ New Zealand
KRW South Korea
£ United Kingdom
$ US dollars – US$ only if a story uses both C$/A$ and US$
|Currency conversions||Give figures in their original currency followed by € value in brackets for European countries not in the euro-zone and $ for all other countries. Give conversion for the first sum only but use common sense elsewhere – if the first sum is eg £0.003/kWh and the story later talks about £ billions, give another conversion to help the reader as sums are so different
Use http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ to convert currencies
|Dashes||We use British style dashes as sentence punctuation, with spaces before and after.
Online – please try and use — in the CMS text editor. It just looks better, trust me.
|Dates||There is no need to include the year if the date is in the current year.
“Last month” and “Next month” is preferable to naming the month. It makes us sound more current.
Do not use “last April” in a story for the September 2009 issue if you are referring to April 2009. Just say “in April”.
|Drive train||Two words|
|Emissions reduction||Use plural for emission|
|Energy||Energy is not the same as power. Make sure you know the difference between wind energy and wind power.
Energy is the capacity of a physical system to perform work. Kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy.
Power is the rate at which energy is generated or used. Kilowatt is a unit of power.
Try and use electricity.
|Feed-in tariff||Widely used but jargony. If appropriate, explain that it is a mandated purchase price for the energy generated. Spell out first time put FIT in brackers, then use FIT.|
|Generation, generating capacity||Use these terms correctly. They are not interchangeable. “Generation” refers to the volume of electricity generated, which is variable and is typically expressed in kWh or MWh.
Installed generating capacity, in kW, MW, GW, is a fixed number for a wind turbine/farm, a bit like the engine size for a car.
|Gigawatt||1,000MW; 1,000,000kW no space between figure and wattage but spell out word if using without number:
|Government||Do not capitalise the first initial. The same applies to parliament, commission, lower house, upper house, and so on. See also political titles. But the US Senate, the House of Representatives, Congress.
Use simple, universal names for government departments/ministries where possible, ie energy ministry instead of ministry of energy; but if the ministry has a well-known acronym that is used throughout the story, give the proper name with the acronym in brackets as usual (eg Decc in the UK, US Department of Energy (DOE).
Don’t forget to explain what political institutions we are talking about.
Not everyone is an expert on global politics – give a short explanation eg … in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the US parliament.
For people see political job titles.
|Hyphens||Use hyphens where grammatically needed, eg. Energy-efficient home owners, long-term strategy, cost-effective measures, mid-term election, renewable-energy prices.|
|Hydro||Hydroelectricity, hydroelectric, hydropower all 1 word (as per Chambers dictionary)|
|Job titles||These MUST be given for every person mentioned/quoted.
Preferred style: “blah, blah,” said Acme managing director Bob Smith Claus Poulsen.
MHI-Vestas CEO Jens Tommerup is ok for short job titles and company names but doesn’t read well for longer ones. CEO is the only job title acronym we use, but not if the company/organisation is an acronym”. Vestas CEO Anders Runevad but AWEA chief executive Harry Jones.
The use of CEO rather than chief executive is optional.
See also political job titles.
|Kilowatt, kilowatt hour||kW, kWh. See generation. Close up space between the number and the letters eg the current price range is 0.001-0.11/kWh.
Put the brand name of the turbine before its size: Vestas 660kW, NEG Micon 750kW.
Spell out if using without number.
|Kilometre||No abbreviation to km. Write out in full.|
|m/s||Acceptable for metres per second, especially in second mention|
No space between the number and MW: A 12MW wind farm.
ECM style is to use MW as plural and singular:
The company is installing a 1MW turbine and also intends to install several megawatt of wind farms using its smaller machine. The first phase will start with development of 400MW.
Use GW if more than 999MW: Spain installed 3.62GW in 2008 NOT Spain installed 3,623MW in 2008.
Spell out if using without number: Siemens has launched a new megawatt-class machine
|metres||Write out in full|
|Miles||Don’t use. Use kilometres (spelled out) instead.|
|Million||Spell out, including in headlines: Suzlon to build $300 million factory|
|mtoe||million tonnes of oil equivalent; spell out first time|
|Names (people)||Always write people’s names in full, using full first and second names. Remember that Chinese names start with the surname, followed by given name.
Include job title and organisation for everyone mentioned: John Smith, managing director at (not with!) law firm XYZ.
|Names (companies)||See company names.|
|Names (places)||Do not use short forms of city names/state names, whatever the country, including US states.
Use English names for foreign states/town if they have one: Hanover (not Hannover), Castile and Leon (not Castilla y León). Make sure spellings are the same in copy and graphics.
March status report maps are a good reference for European provinces.
|Numbers||Write them out up to and including ten. Arabic numerals thereafter.
Except for following %, where numbers are always used. Put comma in thousands (1,000, 2,000).
If expressing a range, write: in the 25-35 kilowatt range, not “from 25 to 35 kilowatt or from 25 kilowatt to 35 kilowatt,” or “from 25 kW to 35 kW” unless the sentence construction absolutely dictates it.
Same rule for percentages.
|Operations and maintenance||Spell out Operations and Maintenance (O&M) first time and O&M after that.|
|Paragraphs||Use short paragraphs when writing online. No more than two sentences a paragraph. Remember, the chances are you words will be read on a phone. Think about that…|
|Per cent||If used after a number we always use %. See “Numbers”. Always use numbers before %, even lower than 10. Two words if spelled out.|
|Points of the compass||Two words hyphenated when used as an adjective, one word (capitalised) when used as a proper noun for a recognised region: the Midwest, Southeast Asia, south London, north-east of Beijing.|
|Political job titles||Upper case only if used as titles for head of state” President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May but UK home secretary Amber Rudd. Better to write: Theresa May, the prime minister.
Senator (US) uppercase as title, better to say: John Smith, a Republican senator from Oregon.
MP, MEP always write out in full.
|Power||Wind power is not the same as wind energy. Please use correctly.|
|Programme||Tricky this. If you are using British English, then its British version of programme for consistency as the magazine is written in British English. Only use the American program if referring to a computer program.
If you are using US-English use ‘program’ as appropriate.
|Punctuation||No comma before “and” in lists, but use a comma if and connects two complete sentences.
Use commas to break up long sentences for clarity. However, as a general recommendation, use short sentences.
|“Place punctuation inside quotation marks for full sentences,” he says. But they go outside quote marks for partial quotes, following “British punctuation rules”. For quotes within quotes, use single quote marks.
Limit use of partial quotes – if you are using reported speech you don’t need quote marks around the few words you’re not paraphrasing unless it is somehow controversial or the language would otherwise be inappropriate.
He said the policy amounted to “daylight robbery”. Beware that quote marks can infer doubt or sarcasm. If in doubt paraphrase.
If a quote does not make sense or contains grammatical errors, correct if very minor or paraphrase.
Do not also paraphrase a quote you are already using in your text. If the quote is worth using, it can stand on its own.
Do not use endless quotes without reminding the reader who is being quoted. Include job titles for people quoted. Give attribution after the first sentence of the quote rather than start with the attribution:
“BPA is using its control of the region’s transmission system and exploiting unusually high water levels to break contracts,” says Rob Jones, senior vice-president for public policy at AWEA. “Contracts cannot be broken for wind or anything else.”
|Renewables||Short for renewable sources of energy; don’t over use.
Ensure that the structure of your sentence makes the meaning of the word abundantly clear.
|Roadmap||One word unless talking about physical map used for directions|
|Scada||Supervisory control and data acquisition (spell out).|
|Scheme||Avoid unless it is part of the name, use plan or initiative instead.
In American English the word “scheme” still has its dictionary definition – i.e. an initiative with intent to defraud or mislead.
|Sources||Refer to by full name on first reference, along with affiliation/company and job title. Surname only from second mention.|
|Square metres/ kilometres||Write out in full|
|Temperature||Spell out: 35 degrees Celsius; use Celsius rather than Fahrenheit|
|Tenses||Features in present tense.
Features that are based on a conference but written as a general feature with quotes from conference speakers should be written in the present tense but attribute quotes as coming from the conference in the past tense.
|Titles||See affiliations. Once a person is identified as a senator or governor, or prime minister or energy minister, use their name, and not their title, throughout the rest of the story.
Do not capitalise a title unless absolutely necessary. Make them shorter and more universal whenever possible, thus energy minister, not Minister of Energy. Do not use short forms for Senator, Member of Parliament, Member of the European Parliament, as these are not readily understood by readers from other countries.
We do not use courtesy titles (Mr, Mrs, Professor, Doctor, Ms, Miss). If it is so important that a reader knows the person being quoted is a professor or doctor, tell us in a sentence what he/she is a professor or doctor of.
Also see political titles
|Turbine name||The specific make in this order
|Turnkey||A project in which the supplier undertakes to carry out all installation work, including the entire road and grid infrastructure. All the owner is required to do is “turn the key|
|Weights/ton||Tonne is used for metric (1000kg) and short (1016.06kg) ton. Unless a precise measure is crucial, just replace TON with TONNE.|
|Wind farm||Spell as two words. Do not use ”farm” on its own to refer to a wind farm, use project instead|
|Wind park||Avoid this term. Wind farms are not places for picnics; they are power plants.|
|Wind plant||For singular plant, plants for plural. Wind power station is just as good.|
|Wind power||Two words.|