Coast Style Guide


Welcome. Coast style is a hybrid of Canadian Press and Coast-specific cases, which has been developing since The Coast's founding in 1993 as dictated by changing times, personal editorial preference, whimsy and/or mischief. Like language itself, the style guide is a living document, and its rules are occasionally modified, added to or abandoned. But it should be said that every deviation is discussed at great length and decided upon with care and consideration. To suggest a change or addition, email styleguide[at]thecoast[dot]ca.

Last updated: May 2021.


The Coast style guide is laid out according to the sections below. If your query is not addressed, ask your editor (it may be added!).


Mistakes happen, it's a fact of life and journalism. At The Coast we have editing and proofreading systems designed to catch errors before they are published, but still we are not perfect. So we are committed to making corrections in both print and online, and owning up to our mistakes. If you are a reader who notices an error, please let us know. The best way is by emailing corrections[at]thecoast[dot]ca.

If you are a Coast writer who discovers a mistake after publication, tell your editor about it immediately. In the print version, we publish corrections and apologies in the letters to the editor section at the very front of the paper for maximum visibility. Online, where story text can be changed post-publication, we will address the error in a variety of ways depending on the severity of the error, the specific change that is required and the time that's elapsed since publication. This makes each case different, but generally a "Correction(s):" note that addresses the correction(s) should appear at the bottom of the story, making clear the error(s), stating whether text has been changed in the story and including the date changes were made. Also the tag "corrections" should be added to the story.


2SLGBTQ+ is Coast style for referring to the community, as well as a person, event, issue or project that is part of it.

Days: First three letters: Tue, Thu. Not Tues or Thurs.

Honourifics: The Coast does not use honourifics like Dr., Mrs., chef, coach, et cetera. When referencing or quoting a source like this, use their last name as you would any non-honourable person.

e.g.: Short for the Latin exempli gratia, i.e. "for example." It has periods and lower-case letters (not eg or E.G.) and doesn't need italics or a colon. In a sentence: He was happy as long as the menu featured Italian food, e.g. gnocchi, lasagna, tiramisu, ossobuco and pizza.

i.e.: Abbreviation for the Latin id est or "that is," i.e. takes periods between the non-italic, lower-case letters (not ie or I.E.) and does not need a colon after it. In a sentence: She refused to table the motion, i.e. the legislation was dead.

Streets: Spell it out, except in listings where it does not fit on the line: Avenue, Street, Boulevard. No period—St not St.

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see Titles for capitalization of job titles/people

Black: A person of African descent is a Black person, not a black person.

Indigenous: A person from a First Nation is an Indigenous person, which is preferred over a native or Aboriginal person. (Identify the First Nation when known.) 2-Spirit is also capitalized.

City Hall: Capped when referring to the building: “A protest outside City Hall” but not when referencing city government at large: “The fat cats at city hall will have a field day with this one.”

Grades, in school: Cap the word grade, defy the number rules (see Number style):
“Winston, a Grade 7 student”

Police/military/academic/professional titles: The Coast does not use honourifics (see Abbreviations) and does use down-style for job titles (see Titles).

Region names: Capped when they are in more formal use, i.e. if you can find it in CanOx (Maritimes, Prairies), but not areas like Halifax waterfront or neighbourhoods e.g. north end, south end, west end and south shore (but Annapolis Valley is yes).

The: If the official name of a store, band, restaurant or whatnot starts with the word "The," capitalize the "The" if you use it. So you might go to The Seahorse Tavern (where you could site at a Seahorse table) or the Bill Lynch Show, but not The Bill Lynch Show.

University classes: Are only capped if it’s the full name: Crime Scene Investigations 101, otherwise it’s just a forensics class. Once you’ve completed it you get your biology degree, not your Biology degree.

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First person: Unless it is a personal essay, do not use it. No “I,” no “tells me,” no reference to yourself at all. You are not the story.

It versus they (bands and businesses):
Bands: A band with a singular name is an it not a they (Not You is touring). Exception: A band with a plural name is a they, not an it (Rabies are touring.)
Businesses: A business is a thing, not a person. Instead of “One of the highlights of their menu, which will be unveiled when they open October 1” say “One of the highlights of its menu, which will be unveiled when the restaurant opens October 1.”

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One to nine are spelled out; 10 to 999 are numerals.

Over 999 and under a million: Gets a comma: “He ate 1,000 burgers during Burger Week. There were 235,456 mentions of Burger Week around the office.”

Number beginning a sentence: Is spelled out no matter what, including years. Try to avoid starting a sentence with a number, especially if that sentence is the first line of a story.

Dates: Monday, July 8 not Monday, July 8th or 8 July

Decades: ’70s or 1970s (comma opens away from the year; never 1970’s)

Hyphens: The boy is six years old, he’s a six-year-old boy

Lists in prose: use a period after the number, not a parenthesis or colon. As in there are three things to remember. 1. Always be awesome and use periods. 2. Don't use a colon after that number two. 3. It's not the place for a bracket, either.
Percentages: 50 percent, not 50 per cent, not 50%

Phone numbers: 902-422-6278. It used to be that (902) 422-6278 was the style, but the 902 area code became mandatory to use locally in 2014, so we eliminated the parentheses to eliminate confusion about the 902 being optional.
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Acronyms: No periods used in acronyms (USA, MNS, ECMA, NSPIRG). Do not refer to an organization’s obvious acronym after writing it out, i.e. “Ecology Action Centre (EAC).” It’s redundant. Single initials always get a period (George W. Bush, Mary E. Black). If it’s somebody’s style, keep it (M.I.A., W.C. Fields)

Ampersands: Do not use unless it’s in a proper business, movie or band name

Colloquial names: If referring to something with an unofficial name just use quotes instead of adding potentially unearned importance by using capitals: Gottingen has become the “black light district” not the Black Light District. Never use both: “Black Light District”

Colons: Capitalize the first word after a colon. If a list follows, use a semi-colon instead. She rattled off a list of things that are awesome: Cats; The Office; the Holy Grail reverb pedal.

Ellipses: Word programs automatically turn ellipses into a single character when you type three dots. Re-type over it. No spaces between the ellipsis and the word, on either side. If using to signify distance between quotes, write: “There was a significant loss in revenue. ... We didn’t know it could get this bad.” Em-dashes: Should butt up against the words on either side of them, no spaces

Et cetera: Written out as such, not etc. Et cetera is lazy in the first place, avoid if possible (also avoid “and more,” “about,” “around” and any other non-specific guess).

Singular possessives ending in ‘s’: Do not add a second ‘s’ after the apostrophe (Kathleen Edwards’ comeback not Kathleen Edwards’s comeback)

Quotation marks: Always use double quotation marks, except when quoting within quotations. Punctuation goes inside quotation marks (Then she asked, “I love you as much as I love local music?”) except when it comes after words in quotation marks (Looking for something that says, “I love you as much as I love local music”?) Use double quotes always—because if you’re going to “insinuate” something you might as well go “all the way.” (Exception: When you’re quoting within quotation marks, i.e. “I saw him and screamed, ‘What the hell is going on,’” she said.)

Semi-colons: To be used when two independent but connected thoughts occur in the same sentence. Almost no one knows how to use a semi-colon properly, so please go with an em-dash when you think you need a semi-colon.

With: No space after abbreviation, i.e. Jenny Lewis w/The Watson Twins, not w/ The Watson Twins

Websites: Lower case (, unless TinyURL style:

Serial commas: The Coast does not use serial commas (x, y and z, not x, y, and z)

Spaces after a period: There is only one space after a period.

Twitter: To post on Twitter is to tweet, not Tweet

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(Always use the first spelling provided by CanOx, excepting The Coast preferences listed below in Spelling List)

Accents: Use é only in proper names (Montréal, Chrétien, Pokémon) and avoid using on common and Anglicized terms (cafe, cliche, resume). Use accents in proper names in other languages.

Canadian spelling: The Coast is a Canadian newspaper and therefore adheres to British rules of spelling. (Most spell-check programs will automatically change this.): travelling not traveling, labour not labor.

Exceptions: Do not change spelling in titles of books and movies to conform to Canadian spelling, as in the case of most American movies and books

A note about place names:
Most places in Nova Scotia do not use apostrophes in them, even in places where they probably should, including:
Georges Island
Peggys Cove
St. Margarets Bay
If you’re not sure, check a map.


Dictionary: CanOx
Always use the first spelling provided by CanOx, excepting The Coast preferences listed below. Use our style, not theirs, including sources who email quotes.

2-Spirit, not Two-Spirit or 2 spirit or two-spirit

AKA, not aka

alright, not all right

awhile, not a while

Bachelor degree

Bayers Lake

bylaw (one word, as opposed to by-law with a hypen, which is wrong accords to our style bylaws)



DJ, not deejay

ecstasy (for both the feeling and the drug)


eyelevel gallery

fair trade

focused, not focussed (because all those esses seem lacking in focus somehow)

Halifax Common, not Halifax Commons

Halifax Harbour

health care, two words, not healthcare or health-care

hip hop, not hyphenated hip-hop


internet, not Internet




Macdonald Bridge, not MacDonald

MacKay Bridge, not Mackay


Masters degree


Mi’kmaq (the people)

Mi’kmaw (a person of Mi’kmaq descent)

Mi’kma’ki (the Mi'kmaq name for the land The Coast publishes on)

MC, not emcee

Middle Eastern

OK, not okay nor ok

The Oval

percent, not per cent


rock ’n’ roll, not rock n’ roll

Saint Mary’s University or Saint Mary’s, not St. Mary’s University nor St. Mary’s


St. FX (abbreviation for for St. Francis Xavier University)

t-shirt or tee, not tee-shirt nor tee shirt nor T-shirt

Tim Hortons

TV, not teevee nor T.V.

versus or vs, not Versus nor VS; v. only in law cases: Roe v. Wade


web, as in internet, not Web nor the Web


wifi, not wi-fi or Wi-Fi


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2am (no space, no capitals) not 2 am or 2 a.m. or 2 A.M.

9-10pm, not 9pm-10pm, but 9am-10pm if an event starts in the morning and continues past noon

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Use "newcomers" over "immigrants" whenever possible

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Academic papers: Capped but not italicized

Artworks: Books, movies, exhibitions, TV shows, DVDs, video games, radio shows, magazines and albums are italicized: i.e. Broad City; Blade Runner Special Edition; New York; Lorde’s Melodrama; CBC’s Information Morning. Specific pieces of a larger work—i.e. a song from an album, short story from a collection/chapter from a novel or a painting from an exhibition—get quotation marks: “Supercut” from Melodrama; “How I Met My Husband,” from Munro’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

The Coast: Is never italicized

Government documents: Capped but not italicized

Jobs: The Coast uses down style, removing most capitals for a more pleasant reading experience to the eye (and to take the piss from institutions). i.e.: Last night prime minister Trudeau and mayor Mike Savage made a video together.

The Coast does not use honourifics, i.e. Justice Anne Derrick would be justice Anne Derrick, ditto chef (not Chef) Craig Flinn.

Podcasts: Are italicized, just as a radio show would be

Songs: Song titles and lyrics (including regular old poetry) are in quotation marks

Websites: Websites are italicized, save a Tumblr or some such that doesn’t deserve it (use your discretion or ask your editor)

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DESIGN (editors only)

Cutlines: Are bold

Tags: Are all-caps

Illustration/photo credit (regular): The photographer’s name in all-caps. Having a name to credit is ALWAYS preferred but If the photo has been supplied as a press photo without credit, the credit is SUBMITTED (not COURTESY OF or SUPPLIED or any other variation).

Illustration/photo credit (feature): Appear as “photo(s) Dylan Chew,” not “photo by”

Info boxes: No comma after information if it fits on its own line:

Lucy Rozetti & The Lady Cops w/Diane, Chicken Delight
March 7
Gus’ Pub
2605 Agricola Street

instead of
March 7,
Gus’ Pub,
2605 Agricola Street

Q&As: First question always says The Coast: (bolded), first answer says person’s full name (Paul Murphy:). Remainder of interview should be bolded questions, answers in regular font, no names at all. If there are multiple subjects, leave last names in.

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