Style guide

Bristol Live uses the BBC Style Guide for its rules on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The key is to be consistent in the way you approach your writing rules.

Here are the top ten most common rules that people often get wrong:


Use apostrophes to indicate possession (eg: the children’s nanny, the emperor’s new clothes, employees’ cakes) or the omission of one or more letters (eg: It’s a lovely day today; Who’s been sleeping in my bed?) . There is no apostrophe in the possessive ‘its’ (eg: Virtue is its own reward). A good test is to try it with “it is” and you will know if it sounds correct. (For more see ‘apostrophes’ in the BBC Style Guide)


Only use capitals at the start of sentences and headlines, and only on official titles, street names. This applies to headlines, straplines, quotes and body copy.

DJ Derek: Hundreds attend funeral of ‘music legend’ is correct
DJ Derek: Hundreds Attend Funeral Of ‘Music Legend’ is incorrect

For example Professor, Church Street, the Queen, the Pope etc are fine as they are street names and official titles. (see more on “Capitalisation” in the BBC Style Guide.)


Put the date before the month, without suffix (eg: 12 April). There is no added comma for the year (eg: 12 April 2016), but there should be one if the day of the week is included (eg: Saturday, 12 April). Avoid the 12/04/2012 formulation. (see more on “Dates” in the BBC style guide).


Write out one to nine, and any numbers 10 and over write in digits eg Bristol Live is the number one website for breaking news and has over won over 25 awards (see more on numbers ie weights, measures, distances, in the BBC Style Guide).

Plural and singular

Use singular verbs as much as possible. Consistency is important. Do not say eg: “Bristol Live is considering its growth. The conclusion is they will eat more cakes.” To be consistent it needs to say ‘Bristol Live is considering its growth. The conclusion is it will eat more cakes.” Sports teams are plural (eg: Manchester United have beaten Liverpool), but clubs and companies are singular (eg: Manchester United has provided another bonus for its shareholders). For more see “Collective nouns” in the BBC Style Guide.


Use the the 24-hour clock (with a colon) eg 08:00 in the morning or 20:00 at night. There is no need to use am or pm. (See “Time References in Style Guide)

Quotation marks

Direct quotes should be written after a colon and should finish after the full stop:

Eg Pauline Howie, the service’s chief executive, said: “The new model will allow us to respond faster to more patients with time-critical, immediately life-threatening conditions. In other situations, we will safely and more effectively identify and send the right resource first time for patients, resulting in better overall clinical outcomes. (note no quote marks in a para break)

“The focus on time-based targets for ambulance responses has changed little in around 40 years and does not take account of the advances made in clinical development of pre-hospital care.”

Where part of a quote has been omitted, use triple dots with a space after the last dot (eg: “The quality of the news journalism is great… better than anywhere else”.)  Other references to a single word or phrase such as ‘competitive edge’, the quotation marks go before the full stop.