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The AMUN Accords Style Guide

Welcome to the AMUN Accords style guide. All submissions to the AMUN Accords must be prepared in accordance with this document. If you have questions about an issue of style or usage, the AMUN Accords editors will help adjudicate it. This guide is generally based on the United Nations Editorial Manual (UNEM), with some exceptions for AMUN-specific usage and requirements.

Writing Style

These are very general guidelines for writing style. Article writers may wish to consult other sources on writing style and usage as necessary.


  • Favor active voice when possible—identify the actor.
    • E.g., “The General Assembly voted on the resolution” rather than “the resolution was voted on by the General Assembly.”
  • Passive voice may be used when an actor is unknown or the author wishes the actor to be purposefully obscured.


  • Use past tense when addressing events that have already occurred.
  • Use present tense for events or issues that are contemporary or on-going.


  • Favor clear, simple sentences over needlessly complicated ones meant to emulate an academic or elevated writing style.
  • Eliminate extraneous words, phrases and sentences whenever possible.



  • Italics may be used sparingly for emphasis.
  • Use italics to designate the following:
    • Foreign words, including Latin phrases, except those which are included in the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition
    • The titles of court cases
    • The titles of books, United Nations publications, periodicals, newspapers, films, plays, radio and television programs.

Boldface type

  • Boldface type may be used for headings and subheadings.
  • Use boldface type for emphasis sparingly.


  • Do not use underlining for emphasis.

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initialisms

Use abbreviations and acronyms sparingly. If they are needed, however, apply the following rules :

  • Abbreviations and acronyms should always be explained. The name or title should be written out in full the first time it occurs in an article, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. [e.g., African Development Bank (ADB)].
  • Write out United Nations when it is used as a noun.
  • Do not abbreviate names or titles that occur only once or twice in an article. If an entity is well-known by its abbreviation or acronym, it may be advisable to include the abbreviation.
  • Common units of weight and measure should be abbreviated (e.g., cm, kg, km).
  • Abbreviations and acronyms are normally used without a definite article (e.g., the members of UNESCO, the sixty-third meeting of WHO).
  • Write abbreviations or acronyms without periods between letters (e.g., US, UNDP, UNESCO).
  • A short title may be used to replace a name or title that occurs many times in a document, provided that the full name is used the first time it occurs and that there is no risk of ambiguity (e.g., the Assembly, the Council, the Committee, the United Kingdom).
  • “e.g.” and “i.e.” are Latin abbreviations; “e.g.” means “for example;” “i.e.” means “in other words.”


The United Nations generally favors minimal capitalization.

  • Certain words are capitalized when used in a specialized or restricted sense; the purpose of the capital letter is to point to that specialized or restricted meaning, such as indicating a specific person or event, rather than a generalized or collective use. At AMUN, capitalize the following words when used in a restrictive way; lowercase the same words in generic references:







faculty advisor


permanent representative






  • Do not capitalize report, resolution, opinion, memorial, statement, amendment.
  • Capitalize Member State and non-Member State (also, State and Member) when referring to United Nations Member States. These words can be lowercased when referring to non-United Nations membership, but this is rare.
  • Generally, do not capitalize non-state (e.g., non-state actors are key to understanding international terrorism).
  • When in doubt about how to capitalize UN document titles, refer to the original UN document.
  • Use title case (capitalizing all words except articles, conjunctions and prepositions) for the following:
    • Proper nouns, adjectives and recognized geographical names
    • The titles of books, periodicals, United Nations publications and AMUN handbooks
    • Major UN treaties and documents (e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Convention on the Rights of the Child)
    • The official titles of persons, councils, commissions, committees, organizations, institutions, political parties and organized movements
  • Capitalize only the first word, proper nouns and other words that are normally capitalized in the following:
    • Official United Nations and AMUN topic names (e.g., International cooperation against the world drug problem)
    • In titles of United Nations documents
    • In headings of chapters, sections, subsections, annexes, tables, figures and articles
  • In legends for figures or maps

Numbers, Dates and Time

Numbers expressed in words

  • Numbers under 10 are generally expressed in words (e.g., eight, not 8).
  • Numbers at the beginning of a sentence (e.g., Sixty staff members worked on the project).
  • Numbers in simple fractions (e.g., Almost one half of the delegations voted for the proposal; Nearly three-quarters of the population had to be evacuated).

Numbers expressed in figures

  • Numbers from 10 to 999,999
  • When comparing figures, even if one of the figures is less than ten
  • Percentages (e.g., wages increased by only 2 percent in 2005)
  • Compound fractions and decimal fractions (e.g., 2 1/2 miles; 8.5 km).
  • Ratios and map scales (e.g., the student-teacher ratio is 9 to 1).
  • Measures and weights (e.g., 300 hectares)
  • Temperature
  • Sums of money
  • Results of voting (e.g., the resolution was adopted by 15 votes to none, with 65 abstentions)
    • Use “none” instead of zero.
    • Give the majority vote first, altering whether the proposal was accepted or rejected.

A range of numbers

  • The numbers should be homogenous (e.g., between 3,430,500 and 4,000,000 housing units or between 3.43 million and 4 million).
  • To avoid confusion, express full units (e.g., earnings increased from 2 million to 5 million US dollars, not 2 to 5 million dollars).
  • Link numbers using the following forms:
    • Hyphen (e.g., production is expected to increase by 2-4 percent)
    • From . . . to . . . (e.g., The Conference runs from 17 to 20 November)
    • Between . . . and . . . (e.g., Literacy rates rose for girls between 10 and 15 years of age).

Ordinal numbers

  • Write ordinal numbers in words between 1 and 99 (e.g., the fifth meeting, the sixty-seventh session).
  • Write ordinal numbers in figures to express numbers greater than 99 and lines of latitude (e.g., the 38th parallel, the 102nd meeting).


  • Dates are expressed using the standard (Gregorian) calendar. Write full dates as follows: 23 November 2013.



AMUN follows standard American English conventions for punctuation. Additionally, follow these specific guidelines.


  • Do not use an apostrophe with an abbreviation or acronym, the name of a country, or the name of an organization (e.g., MONUC troops, the Government of Brazil, United Nations Headquarters, the World Health Organization vaccination campaigns).


  • In running text and preceding set-off lists, use a colon to introduce another element (such as a quotation, table, or a list) only after an independent clause (e.g., “Items to consider include geography, politics and the environment” or “Items to consider include the following: geography, politics and the environment”).


  • Generally, do not use a comma before the final element of a list. This comma is sometimes known as the “Oxford Comma” or the “serial comma” (e.g., AMUN representatives write reports, resolutions, statements and amendments)
    • A comma may be used if the sentence requires it for clarity or if the list includes multiple, lengthy elements.
  • Use a comma after abbreviations such as e.g. or i.e.


  • A semicolon may be used to separate items in a list that include internal punctuation, especially commas.
  • Semicolons may be used to separate independent clauses in a single sentence.

Quotation marks

  • Place commas and periods inside quotation marks.
  • Question marks, exclamation points and dashes may be placed either inside or outside of quotation marks, as the sentence requires.
  • Colons and semicolons are always placed outside of quotation marks.
  • Quoted words, sentences and paragraphs are enclosed within double quotation marks; single quotation marks are used to enclose quotations within quotations.

Hyphens and dashes

  • Hyphenate compound adjectives that precede a noun (e.g., a fixed-term contract).
  • Hyphens (-) are used to join words separated by a line break, to join compound words and to connect grouped numbers that are not ranges (e.g., tax ID or social security numbers).
  • En-dashes (–) are used to join numerical ranges (e.g., 2003–2007) and to join related unhyphenated compound elements (e.g., East German–Soviet relations).  There should be no space before or after an en-dash.
    • Keyboard shortcut in Google Docs: Windows Alt+0150; Mac: Insert special character
  • Em-dashes (—) are used to set apart a unique idea from the main clause of a sentence. They should be used sparingly. They should never be followed or preceded by a space. There should be no space before or after an em-dash.
    • Keyboard shortcut in Google Docs: Windows Alt+0151; Mac: Option+Shift+-


For spelling questions, use the following references, in the following order of precedence:

  • This style guide
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (this is the dictionary available online at
  • The United Nations Editorial Manual

In official United Nations topics, titles and names, follow the spelling used by the United Nations (e.g., World Food Programme).

Frequent spelling issues for the AMUN Accords. The spelling listed below is the correct spelling in AMUN Accords articles.

adviser (UN adviser)

advisor (AMUN faculty advisor)




chair (not chairman or chairperson)



decision maker



home page (of a website)



non-governmental organization

non-state actor








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