This guide provides valuable insight into the correct grammar for the Clear Linux* OS documentation. It covers subjects such as capitalization, verbs, hyphenation, possessives, and contractions.

Capitalization

The preferred capitalization style for all documentation is sentence case.

Words should only be capitalized when:

  • They are proper nouns or adjectives.
  • They refer to trademarked product names.

Note

Do not capitalize a word to indicate it has a greater status than other words. Never change the case of variable, function or file names; always keep the original case.

Software version capitalization

Do not capitalize the word version or letter v when listing software or hardware version numbers. The v is lowercase and closed with the number (no period). For example:

  • Widget Pro v5.0
  • Widget Master v2.1.12

Hyphenated or slashed-concatenated terms

For hyphenated or slash-concatenated terms, capitalize only the first letter, even if they are headings. For example:

  • Day/night Menu
  • Follow-up Action Items

Plurals and possessives

Because English plurals and possessives use the same /s/ and /z/ phonemes, they can create problems for even experienced writers. This section deals with these issues.

Singular vs. plural possessives

Here are some guidelines for singular and plural possessives:

  • Use only the apostrophe to show possession for a plural that ends in s: The boys’ books.
  • Use apostrophe + s to show possession for a plural that does not end in s: The men’s books.
  • Use apostrophe + s to show possession for a singular that ends in a silent sibilant: Illinois’s capital.
  • Use apostrophe + s to show possession for a singular that ends in a sibilant; s, x, c, z, or others.

The following table provides some examples with the correct and incorrect cases and the notes that accompanies them.

Correct Incorrect Notes
the boys’ books the boy’s books The books that belong to several boys.
the men’s books the mens’ books The books that belong to several men.
Arkansas’s code Arkansas’ code The s at the end of Arkansas is silent and Arkansas is not a plural.
the boss’s office the boss’ office We say: “the /BOSS-iz/ office” not “the/BOSS/ office.”
the box’s lid the boxe’s lid the box’ lid One could say “the box lid,” avoiding the possessive.
Lopez’s average Lopez’ average We say “/LO-pez-iz/ average,” not “/LO-pez/ average.”
business’s sales business’ sales If you pronounce another syllable to show possession, it must have the apostrophe-s.

Apostrophe-s anomalies

If a company name ends in s, x, c, or a sibilant sound, use the apostrophe-s ending for possessives:

Traktronix’s oscilloscopes

Exception: If the company name is intended as a plural, we allow the apostrophe-only ending:

Tejada Instruments’ calculators

In many cases, it is actually best to avoid the possessive form altogether for s-ending singular possessives, such as for company names and use the company name as a nonpossessive modifier instead:

Traktronix oscilloscopes Tejada Instruments calculators

We say “Intel equipment” when discussing Intel-branded products, not “Intel’s equipment”, which implies that we own it, not that we produce it. “Intel’s equipment” sounds like the equipment that Intel employees use.

Plural modifiers

Avoid plural modifiers. For example, it should be a system administrator, not a systems administrator. It doesn’t matter how many systems this person manages, we don’t typically use the plural of a word to modify a noun. Here is a list of exceptions:

  • operations manager
  • sales department
  • graphics team

There are always exceptions, especially when the plural form is generally considered to be singular: sales, physics, operations. It is best to adhere to this rule and ask if you are unsure.

Parenthetical plurals

Do not parenthesize optional plurals, whether added to the end of a word, typically with the letter s, or internally. In general, think in plurals when you write, assume that the user understands that a plural could mean a singular as well. A typical user who has only one unit will not be confused if you say “connect the units.” On the contrary, using parenthetical plurals often creates more confusion.

Correct

Men, women, children, college alumni, moose, and even desert plants such as cacti should not use parentheses around plurals.

Incorrect

A m(e)n, wom(a)n, a child(ren), college alumn(i), (moose), and even a desert plant(s) such as a cact(i) should not use a parenthes(e)s around a plural(s).

Internal plural acronyms

Some abbreviated terms can cause trouble, particularly when the pluralized portion does not fall at the end of the phrase. These internal-plural words should follow standard English pluralization rules when abbreviated: The plural goes at the end of the term.

  • Alarms acknowledged and logged: AAL, AALs.
  • Attorneys-general: AG, AGs.
  • Regions of interest: ROI, ROIs.

Plurals of acronyms and capitalized product names

Pluralize acronyms, initialisms, and capitalized product names by adding a lowercase s; do not use an apostrophe. If the term ends in a sibilant (s, x, z, sometimes c and others), pluralize it by adding a lowercase es. Examples:

Use TVs, DVDs, CDs, DVMRs not TV’s, DVD’s, CD’s, DVMR’s. Use OSes not OSs, OS’s. Use TRAXes, iBOXes not TRAXs, TRAX’s, iBOX’s, iBOXs. Use FAACes not FAAC’s, assuming it is pronounced “face”. Use FAACs not FAAC’s Assuming it is pronounced “fake”.

Whenever you hear the extra syllable in the plural, add the -es suffix for the plural; if you do not hear the extra syllable, add the -s suffix for the plural.

Latin plurals

Pluralize Latin terms in body text as shown:

  • Use appendixes not appendices.
  • Use matrixes not matrices.
  • Use indexes not indices.
  • Use vertexes not vertices.

Note

Some Latin plurals, such as parentheses, phenomena, alumni, and crises, are widely used and accepted in English.

Contractions

Avoid the use of contractions since some of them might be ambiguous and confusing to non-native English-speaking audiences.

Some contractions can cause confusion for non-native English-speakers because these contractions stand for more than one construction. For example, there’s can be a contraction of there is or there has. The same applies to where’s, it’s, that’s, and others.

Also, avoid contractions of the word is, especially when combined with company or product names: Say, WidgetPro is an awesome product; not WidgetPro’s an awesome product.

Hyphenation

The hyphen is often used to join words together to form a compound noun. Compound nouns often go through this progressions:

  • open compound: health care
  • hyphenated compound: health-care
  • closed compound: healthcare

The English language is trending away from hyphenated compounds to closed compounds.

Prefix hyphenation

Do not hyphenate the prefixes listed below. Join the prefix to the term being modified, even if this results in a double vowel or double consonant:

ante, counter, intra, mini, pro, super, anti, extra, meta, non, pseudo, trans, bi, by, infra, micro, post, re, ultra, bio, inter, mid, pre, sub, un.

Here are some words that are often inappropriately hyphenated; do not hyphenate these words either:

antitheft device, multicamera, multiscreen, prepackaged, reuse, submenu, autofocus, multifamily, multiuser, pseudoscience, semiannual, subtotal, autoiris, multimedia, nonprofit, reengineered, semicircle, superuser, microarchitecture, multiposition, predefined, reevaluate, subfolder, superscript, microorganism, multiprotocol, predrilled, reinvent, submarine.

Note

Question whether the pre- prefix is needed at all and consider leaving it off the word entirely if the meaning is the same.

Exceptions

One overriding exception to the prefix rule is when the prefix is prepended to a proper and capitalized noun:

  • Non-European
  • Mid-April (but: midweek)

Another exception is when the second word of a compound is a numeral:

  • Pre-1914

Some prefixes, such as self-, half-, quasi-, and ex-, when meaning “formerly”, usually need a hyphen:

  • Self-control, half-truth, quasi-corporation, ex-governor

Suffix hyphenation

In general, do not hyphenate suffixes. Here are some examples. The suffix -wide is usually not hyphenated:

  • Nationwide, worldwide, systemwide, campuswide, statewide, companywide, etc.

The suffix -wise is usually not hyphenated:

  • Otherwise, businesswise, revenuewise, clockwise, counterclockwise

Quotation marks

Follow these guidelines for quotation marks:

  • Restrict use of quotation marks to terms as terms.
  • Do not use quotation marks for emphasis; use italics for emphasis.
  • Avoid using single-quote marks.
  • In terms of punctuation: commas and periods typically go inside the end-quote; semicolons, colons, question marks, and exclamation points typically go outside quotation marks. Unless they are part of the actual quotation.