HFC Editorial Style Guide

The writer-editors at Harpers Ferry Center (HFC) maintain this guide for HFC staff, park and program staff, contractors, and others who prepare NPS interpretive media. It aims to minimize distractions caused by variations in spelling, capitalization, and hyphenation and to eliminate the use of derogatory terms and insensitive, racist, and outdated language. While not intended to impose a strict house style, it includes recommended usages and style decisions developed in the interest of servicewide consistency.

In 2020 we reviewed every entry and added more than 30 new terms. Our advisors are listed below; staff from across the NPS also reviewed a draft of this document. We continue to update and add new terms as the language changes.

New or substantially revised entries are marked with a plus sign:
+ battle

Entries that could change are marked with an asterisk or star:
* Anglo

Note: The guide is available only online. You can download it as a PDF—just remember to check this digital version for updates from the HFC writer-editors. To search for an entry in the guide, use your browser's "find" function (e.g., ctrl/cmd + F in Chrome).

Remember Your Audience

When you produce NPS interpretive media, your audience is usually the general public. This includes people with and without disabilities and with varying education, backgrounds, and experience. Keep language and sentence structure as simple as possible. Use shorter and/or common words when meanings are interchangeable. Apply Plain Language principles, which are designed to make all government publications more understandable.

Examples of simple changes that make a big difference:

  • hours not current hours, hours of operation
  • many not numerous
  • get not obtain
  • at not located at

How Decisions Are Made

When we have a question about editorial style or word usage, we follow this hierarchy:

  1. HFC Editorial Style Guide
  2. The Chicago Manual of Style
  3. Associated Press Stylebook
  4. GPO Style Manual

For spelling we use the The American Heritage Dictionary, with some exceptions listed in this guide.

Ask Us!

We welcome your questions; please send us an email.

Your Own Editorial Style

We recommend you develop a style sheet for items specific to your park or office.

Recommended References

The links to these resources are current as of May 1, 2022.

NPS Advisors

  • Tina Boehle, chief, Communication and Education Branch, Division of Fire and Aviation Management
  • Joanne Blacoe, interpretation planner, Region 1 North Atlantic-Appalachian
  • Erin Drake, communications and outreach specialist, NPS Wilderness Stewardship Division
  • Dorothy FireCloud, Native American Affairs liaison, Office of Native American Affairs
  • Michele Hartley, HFC media accessibility coordinator, with the NPS Employees for the Advancement of People with Disabilities Employee Resource Group and NPS Park Accessibility for Visitors and Employees Program
  • Bernadette Johnson (now retired), former superintendent, Manzanar NHS
  • Albert LeBeau, cultural resource manager, Effigy Mounds NM
  • Thomas Leatherman, superintendent, Pearl Harbor NM, and representative, Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Working Group
  • Turkiya Lowe, supervisory historian, Park History Program
  • Diane Miller, national program manager, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
  • Deanna Mitchell, superintendent, Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad NHP
  • Jennifer Mummart, associate regional director–Communications and Community Engagement, National Capital Region
  • Victoria Stauffenberg, writer-editor, Office of Communications
  • Stephanie Roulett, public affairs specialist, Office of Communications
  • Elizabeth Stern, strategic communications advisor, Office of Communications
  • Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, bureau cultural anthropologist, Office of Tribal Relations and American Cultures
  • Anna Tamura, planning portfolio manager, Regions 8, 9, 10, and 12, and JACS representative
  • Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong, superintendent, Honouliuli NHS, and JACS lead


a or an Use a before words beginning with a consonant sound, including y and w, no matter how the word is spelled. Use an before words beginning with a vowel sound.

a National Park Service regulation

an NPS regulation

a historic site

an honor

a hoary marmot

an heir

abandoned Avoid when writing about Native American dwellings. See ruin.

Ancestral Puebloan people left their homes in Chaco Canyon about 800 years ago.

* aboriginal Not recommended for NPS interpretive media, unless in a quotation or anthropological context. See First Nations, Indigenous, Native American, Tribal terminology.

access Avoid as a verb for “reach” or “get to.” See accessible.

You can get to Prince William Forest Park from the south via I-95.

accessibility Park Unigrid brochures include an accessibility statement. See service animals.

We strive to make facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check the park website.

+ accessible Use this adjective when referring to facilities, trails, campsites, parking, services, and more that people with disabilities can use based on legal standards and compliance. Do not use when giving directions. See access, disabled, hearing loss, wheelchair, wheelchair-accessible.

The national seashore has accessible shelters for waterfowl hunters using wheelchairs.


acronym An acronym is an initialism that is a pronounceable word, such as NATO or AIDS. Spell out the name or term at first use with acronym in parentheses. See alpha code, initialism, NPS.

The United States and Russia completed the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) requirements.

Act, act of Congress

Adding these properties will require an act of Congress.
but The Wilderness Act was signed into law in September 1964.

A.D. See CE, eras.

addresses Spell out street, road, way, and avenue in running text; abbreviate in a stacked address (each item on a separate line). Whenever possible, place address (and phone number) at end of paragraph. Write NW, SW, NE, SE. See state names.

20120 Cypress Ave.
The White House is on Pennsylvania Avenue.
16th Street NW

administrative statement format See National Park Service identity statement.

adverbs Flat adverbs, which were out of favor for many years, are back. HFC does not use flat adverbs.

Drive safely preferred over Drive safe.
Go slowly preferred over Go slow.

African American Noun or adjective, no hyphen. See Black, Black American.


aircraft, remotely piloted Preferred over drones and unmanned aircraft, but OK to use drone to clarify due to common usage, like in the standard brochure statement.

Using remotely piloted aircraft like drones is prohibited.

Air Force One, Marine One, etc. “One” indicates any military aircraft carrying the US president.
Italicize. See ship.

+ Alaska Native Not Alaskan Native or Native Alaskan.

alpha code The four-letter code for a park. Do not use in running text in publications for the general public.

am No periods, small letters (no capitals), space between number and am. See time of day.

America Avoid. See United States.

America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass See National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

American Can refer to people living in other countries of North and South America. Use cautiously when referring to heritage or cultural identity.

+ American Indian Use if park and Tribes traditionally associated with the park request it or if you are writing about federal law where American Indian has a specific legal meaning and standing; otherwise use Native American to refer collectively to Indigenous people of the United States and its territories. Note: The former NPS American Indian Liaison Office was renamed in 2020 to the Office of Native American Affairs. See Indigenous, Native American, Tribal terminology.

American Revolution, American Revolutionary War Two different events. The former includes the latter, which occurred 1775–83. In text, use the full title of the period or the war first; “Revolution” acceptable thereafter.

American Revolution affiliations Lowercase patriot, loyalist, regulars, or tory (unless capitalized in quoted material). Capitalize Whig and Tory as members of political parties; Continental Army troops; Provincial regiments; British Army. Use park staff’s preference for capitalizing these terms. Note: Use patriot and loyalist cautiously; they can refer to people on either side. Consider using revolutionary and royalist instead.

Anasazi Avoid, or clarify at first mention, but use the preference of specific groups or parks. See ancestral Puebloan people.

These ancestral Puebloan people, often called Anasazi, used ladders made of ponderosa pine to reach the canyon’s ledges.

ancestral Puebloan people Predecessors of today’s Pueblo and Hopi people. See Anasazi.

and, & HFC does not use the ampersand (&) in Unigrid brochures unless it is part of a formal or trademarked name or title.

angler A person who fishes with hook and line. Avoid fisherman. See fisher.

* Anglo Multiple definitions; some objectionable. Avoid unless in a quotation or used in a historic context. See Hispanic, Latina, White, etc.

app Lowercase unless part of a proper name like NPS App or iTunes App Store. See iPhone, NPS App, smartphone.

Use the NPS National Mall app to learn about memorials in the Nation’s Capital.

archeology Preferred over archaeology. The preferred spelling is widely accepted and is used throughout the NPS in interpretive and scientific publications and media, office names, etc.

arms (small) Firearms that can be carried in the hand, like muskets, pistols, rifles, carbines, and shotguns. See artillery. Remember your audience: The average person may not know this term, so explain or name the weapon if you can.

Army, army Capitalize when referring to an official, organized group and if it is part of a proper name; lowercase if used as a generic term.

Geronimo resisted the US Army for 16 years.
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal US forces.
The army constructed new officers’ quarters.
The federal government ordered army scouts to stand 24-hour watch.

Arrowhead Capitalize when referring to the trademarked National Park Service emblem.

The Arrowhead appears on the banner for each nps.gov page.
In 1951, NPS architect Herbert Maier began working with the idea of an arrowhead as the NPS emblem.

artillery Large-caliber weapons like cannon, howitzers, and missile launchers, usually supported on a carriage and operated by crews. The average person may not know this term, so explain or name the weapon if you can. See arms (small). Note: When size is a descriptor, HFC style is to hyphenate.

The Napoleon 12-pounder cannon was a popular artillery piece in the US and Confederate armies.
See the Japanese 14-cm coastal defense gun at the Piti Gun Unit.

ATV All-terrain vehicle; no need to spell out. See ORV for more details about using correct acronyms for the various off-road vehicles.

audiovisual, AV Avoid. See film, movie, multimedia, program.



bald cypress

+ bathroom Avoid. See toilet.

+ battle In NPS context, a battle occurs between two armed groups. Duration, number of people, type of groups, intent, and weapons vary. Consider park preference and if alternatives like engagement or skirmish are more appropriate. Be cautious about the cultural context; seek advice from associated Tribes who were involved.

* BBPOC Abbreviation for Black, Brown, People of Color. Do not use; instead use BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). See BIPOC, Indigenous.

B.C. See BCE, eras.

BCE Before common era; replaces B.C. Clarify at first mention. BCE and CE are preferred because they are not based on a religion. See BP (before present), CE (common era), dates, eras.

At Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site the earliest known people date from 11,000 to 6,000 BCE (before common era).

biannual, biennial Use biannual to mean twice a year (also semiannual). Use biennial to mean every two years.

big game Do not use. Use wildlife, animals, or be specific. See game, wildlife.

biological soil crust Formerly called cryptobiotic crust.

Biosphere Reserve Also International Biosphere Reserve. Capitalize this United Nations designation for areas that belong to an international network of reserves. See World Heritage Site.

Mammoth Cave National Park, part of a major ecosystem that protects the diversity of life, was named an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.

* BIPOC Abbreviation for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Use instead of BBPOC and POC because it is more inclusive. Spell out in first use. See BBPOC, Indigenous.

birch bark, birchbark Two words if a noun; one word if an adjective.

You can see a birchbark storage basket at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Ojibwe taught French explorers how to build canoes from birch bark.

birder, birding Not birdwatcher or birdwatching.

Gateway National Recreation Area is a popular spot for birding, especially during the spring and fall migrations.

bison Commonly called buffalo. If writing bison, clarify at first mention.

Bison, commonly called buffalo, graze on this prairie.

* Black Capitalize when related to culture or identity.

Esteban de Dorantes, a Black man, is one of the most fascinating figures of the Coronado Expedition.
By 1895 South Carolina had a new state constitution that disenfranchised Black voters.
In 1950 Black Americans made up about half of Dallas County’s voting-age population.
In 1950 Blacks made up about half of the voting-age population.
but She wore a black and green dress.

* Black American OK to use instead of African American.

black-eyed Susan

boat launch Preferred over boat ramp (ramps are paved; boat launches include paved and unpaved entrances). Be consistent in park signage.

boundary, boundaries A boundary encloses a single, contiguous area. Boundaries enclose park areas that are not connected to each other; they may be separated by towns, sea channels, even states.

Today you can trace the paths of people seeking gold within the boundaries of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
The California condor is just one of the endangered species that is protected within the park boundary.

BP Before present, “present” being 1950 CE. May use for geologic or archeological time, especially in a timeline. Clarify at first mention. See BCE, CE, eras.

12,000–10,000 BP (before present): Paleo-Indians quarry novaculite in the Ouachita Mountains for tools and weapons.

braille Lowercase.


ca. Avoid writing “ca.” or “circa” in running text. Rewrite or use “about” but acceptable to use abbreviation in short caption or credit lines.

The pearlware bowl found at Ninety Six National Historic Site dates to about 1810.
Clara Barton ca. 1856; photo by Mathew Brady (left).

cacti Plural of cactus.

campsite, campstove

Canada goose Not Canadian goose.

cannon Cannon can be both singular and plural (same word, no s). Cannons is correct but used less often. Be consistent; use local preference. See artillery.

Many of the fort’s cannon were the type used on ships.

capital, capitol Spelled with an a—the city where a seat of government is located; do not capitalize except when referring to the Nation’s Capital. Spelled with an o—the building where the business of government takes place. Capitalize when referring to the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

Annapolis is the capital of Maryland.
The Virginia capitol is modeled after an ancient Roman temple.
Washington, DC, is the Nation’s Capital.
They stood on the steps of the US Capitol.
Capital Beltway but beltway

capitalization Avoid unnecessary capitals. Animal and plant names are lowercase unless they contain a proper name. Nouns are capitalized if part of a formal name, lowercase if they stand alone. If a term is plural following more than one proper name, it is lowercase (style guides differ). See geographic regions, specific words. For Spanish words, consult the HFC Spanish Editorial Style Guide (483KB PDF) and The Chicago Manual of Style.

Douglas fir, Kentucky warbler
sea otter, great blue heron
Acadia National Park but the park
Wupatki National Monument but the national monument, Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments
American colonies
the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers
on the Oregon and California trails
Cypress Street, Cypress and Larch streets
De Soto but Hernando de Soto
New York City but the city of New York
Wisconsin Ice Age but during the ice age
Apache Visitor Center but at the visitor center
US Constitution, the Constitution
Constitution of the State of South Carolina, the state constitution
US government but federal government


captions Captions end with a period, labels usually do not. Be consistent in a document.

Major Ferguson addresses his troops before the battle.
Pinelands tree frog

CE Common era; replaces A.D. Clarify at first mention. See BCE, BP, dates, eras.

These dwellings were built about 950 CE (common era).

centennial, Centennial Lowercase when used alone or as an adjective but capitalize the official name of the event “National Park Service Centennial” or “NPS Centennial” when used as a proper noun or adjective.

The National Park Service Centennial was celebrated in 2016.
All parks, partners, and programs participated in the centennial.
Park rangers developed interpretive programs for the NPS Centennial.

+ century Use actual dates—the 1500s not the 16th century.

Since the mid-1800s the West had held out the promise of gold and boundless opportunity.
not Since the mid-19th century the West had held out the promise ...
but Airplane travel became common in the last century.

chief justice Lowercase unless used before a proper name.

William Howard Taft, 27th US president, later became the 10th chief justice of the United States.

chronology or timeline format Capitalize first word and end with period—even if entry is a sentence fragment. Write in present tense. Abbreviate words and eliminate articles when possible without introducing confusion. Separate the year and content using your office’s preferred style. Unigrids use the style below.

1883 Organizes Black student school strike, first such response in United States to unequal treatment.

circa See ca.

citations HFC usually does not cite references in park brochures. Consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

civil rights movement

The Selma to Montgomery march in 1965 was a climactic event of the modern civil rights movement.

* Civil War terminology See capitalization and individual entries such as enslaved, slavery.

Civil War, US Civil War: Include US in the name if writing about international conflicts or in context of other countries’ civil wars. Otherwise use Civil War.

Confederacy: Alternative for Confederate States of America; capitalize in that context.

George Meade finally launched an offensive that marked the beginning of the end of the Confederacy.

Confederate States of America: Spell out at first use; OK to use Confederacy thereafter. See CSA below.

Confederates: Members of the Confederate army

For the Confederates, the triumph helped establish Lee and his army as the Confederacy’s greatest hope for ultimate victory.

Contraband: Avoid except in historical references or direct quotations, such as in brochures for NPS sites that had “contraband camps.” When referring to people, use “formerly enslaved” or “freed people” (which is broader), or in second and later instances, “ex-slaves.”

CSA: Abbreviation for Confederate States Army, not for Confederated States of America. Most commonly used after a person’s name.

Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, CSA, had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness.

Federals: Members of the US Army. See Union, Unionist, United States Army below.

Federal army, forces, troops: See United States Army below.

North: Use sparingly to refer to the US government during the Civil War; use United States of America or Federal government.

Rebel: Do not use as a synonym for Confederate soldiers except in quoted material. See Confederate States of America, CSA, Federal above.

A Confederate soldier not A rebel soldier

South: Use sparingly to refer to the 11 states that seceded; use Confederate States of America (formal name), the Confederacy, or the states in rebellion.

Yankee: Do not use as a synonym for US soldiers except in quoted material.

Union: Avoid when referring to the United States. See United States Army below.

Unionist: Do not use as a synonym for US soldiers except in quoted material.

United States Army, US Army: First reference should be United States Army or US Army. OK to use Federals, Federal thereafter.

Cold War

colon Use sparingly. A colon introduces something closely related to the sentence preceding the colon. Use a full sentence before the colon. Capitalize the first word after the colon only if it begins a sentence.

The president promised results: “My new program, the War on Poverty, will help families in America.”

+ comfort station Avoid. See toilet.

commander in chief No hyphens. Lowercase unless used before a proper name.

+ commas Use a comma before the conjunction (and, or) in a series of three or more items (a style known as the serial or Oxford comma). Use a comma before words that join two independent clauses. Unless needed for clarity, omit comma after short introductory phrases.

Our dessert choices are pie, cake, and ice cream.
Alfred lost the car keys, and the family is helping him search every cranny.
Around him the rolling hills and woods of the battlefield sprawl for miles.
Today the routes offer opportunities to visit surviving sites.
In 2021 scientists uncovered eight times the number of known fossil sites.

compass directions Lowercase; capitalize specific geographic regions, but try to limit capitals. See east, north, south, west, geographic regions, capitalization.

+ composting toilet See toilet.

compound words Aim to eliminate hyphens once a compound word is in common use. Generally, follow The American Heritage Dictionary. See over two dozen individual entries in this guide and compound words as modifiers.

compound words as modifiers Use a hyphen when combining two or more words to modify a noun, except when the first word ends in ly.

rust-resistant alloy but federally funded project

When two or more hyphenated compounds have a common basic element, retain all the hyphens.

4- to 5-ton trucks
8-, 10-, and 16-foot boards
moss- and ivy-covered walls


Confederacy, Confederate, Confederate States of America See Civil War terminology.

Congressional Medal of Honor See Medal of Honor.

controlled burn See prescribed fire.

convince that But persuade to.

contraband See Civil War terminology.

coordinates See GPS coordinates.

copyright Government publications are subject to copyright. Copyright usage has precise, legal regulations. Don’t assume anything. Learn the basics at the US Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov. See credit lines.

+ coronavirus, COVID-19 One word, no hyphen, not capitalized. COVID-19 is acceptable reference to coronavirus 2019, which is the disease caused by the new coronavirus. COVID is acceptable if necessary for space.

cougar Also mountain lion, panther, puma. Use park preference.

credit lines in publications HFC credits images used in Unigrid brochures and other publications, including those by NPS employees. We may edit a provider’s preferred credit. As a general practice, HFC style does not include collection numbers. All caps, small size, simple style. See copyright. Credits usually take one of these forms:

  1. Creator of photo or artwork retains all rights:
    Note: This applies to Creative Commons images because HFC contacts the photographer directly for permission.
  2. Owner retains all rights:
  3. Stock house supplied photo:
  4. NPS commissioned photo or artwork but creator retains all rights:
  5. NPS commissioned photo or artwork and owns all rights:
  6. NPS employee made it as part of their duties:
  7. NPS employee takes a photo or creates art on their own time with their own equipment:
  8. NPS owns photo or artwork, which is in its collection, but original maker is unknown:
  9. NPS owns photo or artwork, which is in its collection, and original maker is known:
  10. Institution allows use of a photo or artwork that they own:
    SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (OK to add more details if requested and space available)

    a. Artist or photographer has historical importance: Use name in caption or in credit:
    Edward Curtis photographed these Navajo riding east into Canyon de Chelly in 1904.

    b. If contemporary photographer of an artifact or artwork is known:
  11. Individual other than the creator owns the photograph or artwork and donates the use of the image:
  12. Credit with descriptor. Separate descriptor and credit with em dash.
  13. Multiple credits: Separate with semicolon.

credit lines in waysides and other exhibits The park and the exhibit designer should decide where to place credits—with each image or together in a separate acknowledgment panel or notebook. Follow the style for brochures, above.

  1. When the credits are on the exhibit to fulfill a requirement of the image’s use rights license and it has no other interpretive value, use a font size smaller than the smallest interpretive text.
  2. If the credit includes other information or has interpretive value (like crediting a famous photographer), treat it more like a caption.
  3. If the credits are placed on a separate acknowledgment panel, the font should be at least as large as the smallest interpretive text. They also should be repeated in a credit notebook containing details about the images, which is available at the information desk.

+ cross-country

cryptobiotic crust See biological soil crust.

CSA See Civil War terminology.


Dall sheep Preferred; Dall’s sheep, variant.


  1. Em dash—Longer than en dash or hyphen, often called simply “the dash.” Indicates a sudden change in thought or adds emphasis. Do not put a space before or after the em dash.
    Kings Mountain—named for an early settler and not for King George III—is a rocky spur of the Blue Ridge.
  2. En dash–Longer than a hyphen and shorter than an em dash. Means “to,” “up to and including,” or “through.” Do not put a space before or after the en dash.
    1924–2005 but 1924–25
    8 am–5 pm
    pp. 38–45

Note: Watch parallel construction; don’t mix and match written words and the en dash.

The visitor center is closed from October 15 to April 1.
or The visitor center is closed October 15–April 1.
not The visitor center is closed from October 15–April 1.

You may rent canoes between 9 am and 2 pm.
or You may rent canoes 9 am–2 pm.
not You may rent canoes between 9 am–2 pm.

dates Write dates in this order: month, day, year. Use a comma before and after the year in sentences with full dates; no comma if using only month and year in a sentence. No apostrophe in plural dates. See BCE, BP, CE, century, eras.

On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers struck Pearl Harbor.
Early in February 1861, delegates met in Montgomery, Alabama.
1900s not 1900’s
1950s and 1960s not 1950’s and ‘60’s

daylight saving time Not daylight savings time.

The Navajo Reservation observes daylight saving time, but the rest of Arizona does not.

day use, day-use Two words if a noun; hyphenated if an adjective.

degree See temperature.


Depression See Great Depression.

directions to reader Unigrids put these inside parentheses, which are styled as follows:

  1. If sentence is set in roman, the parentheses are roman but the directions are italicized.
    The core of L'Enfant's 1791 plan is the triangle created by the Capitol, the White House, and the Mall (see map above).
  2. If sentence is set in italics, both the parentheses and directions are in roman.
    The coat of the American black bear can be black, brown, or auburn (left).
  3. Parentheses in a parenthetical phrase should be in roman even if the letters are italicized.
    (The map shows the range of mammoths in North America.)

+ disability See disabled.

+* disabled When describing their disability, some individuals and groups prefer people-first language; others prefer identity-first language. Use their preference if known. If unknown and referring to park visitors in general, use people-first language. In some cases, the service or amenity may be the focus. Do not use handicapped. See accessible, hearing loss, wheelchair.

People-first language:
I am a person with a disability.
He is a writer who is blind.
Visitors with low vision can request a large-print brochure.

Identity-first language:
I am a disabled person.
He is a blind writer.

Focus on the service or amenity:
The Longstocking Trail is wheelchair-accessible.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has large-print brochures.
Assistive listening devices are available at the visitor center desk.

discover, discoverers Avoid in reference to lands already populated; rewrite in a way that includes multiple points of view. Explore, chart, venture, scout are acceptable synonyms.

disenfranchise, disfranchise Either is acceptable.

+ diver down flag

Douglas fir, Douglas-fir The hyphenated word is scientifically accurate because the species is not a true fir, but the unhyphenated name is more commonly used and OK if park prefers.

drone See aircraft, remotely piloted.

+ during Use “in” instead of “during” when they can be used interchangeably. (“During” is used when an action occurs over a span of time. “In” is used for a single action.)

Grizzlies usually hibernate during the winter but sometimes wake up in January.
In the afternoon of May 22, Federal troops stormed up Thayer’s Approach.


Earth, earth Earth is the planet; earth is soil or dirt.

east, eastern Lowercase compass directions; minimize use of capital letters except for specific regions or popular place names. Eastern Shore of Maryland; East Coast. See geographic regions.


ellipsis Indicates the omission of one or more words from a quoted passage. Use glyphs for ellipsis when available, which ensures that screen readers interpret them correctly. Add a space before and after the glyph if there is no surrounding punctuation. If the glyph is not available, use three evenly spaced dots. To indicate deleted material in paragraphs, use the preceding sentence’s punctuation, followed by one space, then the ellipsis, then one space. The three dots must appear together on the same line.

"It would have been so obvious and easy to have made my last act a tragic one. … It would not have been true. They would act in just the silly, immature compromising way that I have made them act … a bit tragically humorous in their vacillating weakness.” —Eugene O'Neill

email addresses Do not use capital letters unless address is case-sensitive.

em dash, en dash See dashes, hyphens.

emergency statement Park brochures use this style: bold, no colon, no period.

Emergencies call 911

emigrant, emigrate People moving from somewhere, usually permanently. See immigrant.

Many US emigrants traveled the Oregon Trail to reach western territories.
Some emigrants leave behind family and businesses.
They emigrated from the east.

en route

Engelmann spruce

* enslaved noun or adjective. Enslaved acknowledges the dignity of a human being; slave is a non-person, property. In text, first use “enslaved.” Use slave sparingly thereafter or if in quoted material. See enslaver, slaveholder.

The first ship carrying “20 and odd” enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, where Fort Monroe is today.
Nick Toogood was said to be a spiritual leader among the enslaved at Hampton.

* enslaver Not slaveholder, slave master, slave owner.

ensure, insure Ensure means to make certain; insure means to provide for insurance.

Careful planning can help ensure an enjoyable cross-country hike.
The policy insures her life.

eras Use BCE (before common era) and CE (common era) instead of B.C. or A.D. See BCE, BP, CE, dates.

The first people to settle permanently in the Tonto Basin arrived between 100 and 600 CE.

European American Not Euro-American. No hyphen even if a modifier. Be specific when possible.

European Americans began mining ...
European American settlers moved into Native American territory.
Sir Francis Drake, English mariner
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Portuguese explorer
French missionaries and settlers from the East Coast

explorers Refers to people venturing into territory unknown to them. Avoid “discoverers” unless that is truly the case. In certain cases, the term “travelers” may be appropriate. See discoverers.

return to top


farther, further Farther refers to physical distance, further to an extension of time or quantity.

Lydia walked farther than Mark along Cumberland Island’s shore.
Thomas will look further into the disappearance of the office laptop.

federal, Federal

  1. Capitalize:
    in Civil War context (Federal soldier, Federal forces, Federal fort, Federal government)
    the architectural style (Federal-style architecture of the late 1700s)
    when part of a name (Federal Express, the Federal Trade Commission)
    See also Civil War terminology.
  2. Lowercase: federal government, federal law, federal property, federal funds.

Federalist Federalist Party; Federalist Papers.

fewer, less In general use fewer for numbers or individual items that can be counted; less for quantity and bulk.

Fewer birds came to the feeder because Yuriko put out less food.

film Interchangeable with movie. Avoid audiovisual, presentation. See multimedia, program.

Fire, fire Capitalize when part of a fire’s name; lowercase when used alone or with “prescribed.” See prescribed fire, wildfire.

Carr Fire but the fire
Little Round Top prescribed fire

firearms regulations Unigrid brochures usually include this statement because federal, state, and local laws apply and can vary.

For firearms regulations check the park website.



first-come, first-served No need to write “are on a first-come, first-served basis.” Keep it short, be direct.

Wolverine Campground is open year-round, first-come, first-served.

first lady Lowercase unless used before a proper name.

+ First Nation, First Nations Indigenous people who are neither Inuit (people of the Canadian Arctic) nor Métis (descendants of Native people and Europeans). Often used in the plural in the collective sense, as in a program for First Nations youth. Widely used in Canada but not in the United States. See aboriginal, American Indian, Indigenous, Métis, Native American.

fish, fishes Fish (no es) can be singular or plural. Fishes (plural) is correct but used less often; it usually refers to more than one species.

We went fishing for brook trout and caught six fish.
Ichthyology is the study of fishes.
The Smithsonian Institution’s fish collection, about four million specimens, is the largest in the world.

fisher Acceptable replacement for “fisherman” or reword to say how people are taking what kind of fish. See angler, fisherman, gender-neutral language.

We went net-fishing for salmon.
Tribes on the Columbia River caught salmon with nets.
Those people are trawling for shrimp.

fisherman Avoid. See fisher, angler, gender-neutral language.

flash flood

footwear, footgear

foreign words See non-English words.

Forest Service See US Forest Service.

four-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, 4WD Four-wheel drive is preferred in interpretive text that modifies a trail or vehicle; on a map use the 4WD symbol or label as 4-wheel drive. See ORV, OSV.

Text: Most unpaved roads to the summit require four-wheel drive.
but Most unpaved roads to the summit require a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Map: Unpaved road. 4-wheel drive only.


  1. Amounts less than one: Spell out if in narrative text; use figures if in concise text, lists, or charts.
    By 1870 one-fourth of the population of Nebraska was born in another country.
    The Garden of Eden Tour is ¼ mile. Natural Entrance and Fairgrounds tours are each ½ mile.
    Roundtrip hike: ½ mile
  2. All fractions: Hyphenate if acting as a modifier.
    The steep two-mile hike takes about one hour roundtrip.
    Take the 2½-mile-long auto tour but Take the auto tour, which is 2½ hours long.
  3. Use glyph or symbol if available. Otherwise, try to stack figures in the fraction: ⅝ instead of 5/8.
    Roundtrip hike: ½ mile
  4. When using figures, no space between whole number and fraction.
    The beetle is 2¾ inches long.
    Thickness of outer shell: 1¼ in.

freed, free In the context of slavery, free refers to people never enslaved, freed refers to formerly enslaved people. See enslaved, freedmen, freedom seeker, slave/slavery.

freedmen A historical term for men, or sometimes men, women, and children, freed from enslavement. It reflects the gender biases of 1800s language. Except in quotations and proper names, substitute “freedpeople” when it doesn’t change the meaning. See enslaved, freed, freedom seeker, slave/slavery.

The US government established the Freedmen’s Bureau to help formerly enslaved African Americans.
Freedpeople gathered on St. Helena Island at the Brick Church.

+ freedom seeker An enslaved person who takes action to obtain freedom from slavery.

+ French and Indian War Use to mean the portion of the Seven Years’ War fought in North America from 1754 to 1763. Option to include parenthetical reference to the global war. See Seven Years’ War.

fresh water, freshwater Two words if a noun; one word if an adjective. See salt water.

frontcountry Avoid if possible; it is jargon.


game Do not use when referring to animals. Say wildlife, animals, or be specific.

+* gender-neutral language Use unless you know the subject’s (or subjects’) gender. See aircraft, remotely piloted; fisherman; Latino, Latina, Latinx; names, personal; NPS Gender-Neutral and LQBTQ+ Inclusive Writing Guide.

crafter, maker, not craftsman
founders not founding fathers
Representative not Congressman, Congresswoman
workforce not manpower
staffed not manned

children, not boys and girls

adults, people, not men and women

Note: They, them, and their are acceptable as singular, gender-neutral pronouns, but rewriting is preferable to avoid confusion.

Everyone will get their chance to see the cave.
not Everyone will get his/her chance to see the cave.
better Every visitor will get a chance to see the cave.

genus, species See scientific names.

geographic names As part of the US government, the National Park Service must use federally recognized place names in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The US Board on Geographic Names (BGN) standardizes names of places, features, and areas in the 50 states and areas under US sovereignty, and for features in US territorial waters. See geonames.usgs.gov; non-English words.

  1. Variant name: Often historical or local names and misspellings; if using a variant, show the federally recognized name first and the variant second; the variant must be clearly distinguished as a variant (for example, put the variant name in parentheses or different type size or typeface).
  2. Historical names: Place names can be used in a historical context; watch out for names that use apostrophes and names that may be one or two words.
    Sierra Nevada not Sierra Nevada Mountains
    The Narrows not Verrazano Narrows (the water channel)
    but the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge crosses The Narrows.
    The Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place along Wilsons Creek.
    The courthouse in the village of Appomattox Court House was built in 1846.

geographic regions Minimize use of capital letters except for specific regions or popular place names.

Northern California; Southern Appalachians; Bay Area; Upper Peninsula;
Pacific Northwest; Southwest; West Coast; East Coast; Midwest; Gulf Coast.
but the southern part of Louisiana; north of the national monument; etc.

Giardia lamblia The organism; may be abbreviated G. lamblia.

giardiasis The illness caused by the Giardia lamblia organism.

Gila monster

GPS coordinates Use decimal measurements, not minutes, etc. Add to park address in Unigrids if park requests and confirms the street address. Place after park website URL.

www.nps.gov/hfc; Lat. 39.323265, Long. -77.741109

gray The color but greyhound.

Great Depression Preferred. Use “Great Depression of the 1930s” if further clarification needed.




guide dogs Do not use. See service animals.

guided hikes See self-guiding.

gull Not seagull.

guns Can refer to anything from pistols to cannon, depending on context. Be specific. See arms (small), artillery.


handicapped Do not use. See accessible, disabled.

Harpers Ferry Center Not the Harpers Ferry Center (no article).

Hawai`i, island of Use okina (glottal stop). See Hawaiian fonts.

Hawaii, state of Do not use okina (glottal stop). See geographic names, Hawaiian fonts.

Hawaiian fonts NPS Rawlinson has the vowels with Hawaiian macrons. Regular Frutiger Lt Std does not; use HFrutiger Lt Std. NPS employees can download this font from NPGallery (NPS network only).

Hawaiian words Avoid adding apostrophe and s (’s) to Hawaiian words to form possessives. You must use Hawaiian fonts to spell Hawaiian words with macrons over vowels (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) and okina (glottal stops) (`) in certain cases. These appear in several official park names and brochures. See Hawaiian fonts.

The island of Pele not Pele’s island.
The visitor center for the USS Arizona Memorial is a 45-minute drive from Waikīkī.
The trail will lead you past the Kaloko-Honokōhau and `Aimakapā fishponds and the `A`ōpio fishtrap.

hearing impaired Use “hearing loss” instead. See hearing loss.

hearing loss Or hard of hearing. Not hearing impaired. See disabled, hearing impaired, neckloops.

Audio guides and neckloops are available for people with hearing loss.


highway Use official designation (as noted on maps); list official designation first and local name second in parentheses. For state route abbreviations use US postal codes. Abbreviate: Hwy.

I-75 (Alligator Alley)

NE 7 or NE Rt. 7 not State Route 7

I-75 exit 2

MO Hwy. 19

US 1 not US Highway 1

39063 US Hwy. 95

US 1 (Highway 1)

+* Hispanic Current definition from the US Office of Management and Budget: “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” Currently interchangeable with Latino in government publications. Consider your audience and seek park guidance when deciding which term to use. See Latino, Latina, Latinx.

historic Important, notable, or significant in history; usually refers to famous people, events, or sites. See historical.

The Old Courthouse was the site of the historic Dred Scott trials in the 1840s and 1850s.
FDR’s historic declaration on December 8, 1941, launched the United States into World War II.
Historic preservation is an important way for us to transmit understanding of the past to future generations.

historical Refers to whatever existed in the past; also refers to anything concerned with history or the study of the past. See historic.

The ranger gave a historical lecture on Western trails at the campfire ring.
Jamie loves historical novels.

holidays Use actual dates, not names, but Thanksgiving.

The park is closed Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.

hookups Common campground feature; no adjectives or hyphen needed.

hyphens See compound words, compound words as modifiers, dashes, word division; or consult The Chicago Manual of Style, which has a hyphenation table.


ice age Lowercase if used as a general term; there was more than one “ice age.”

Columbian mammoths lived in the Pleistocene Epoch, a time also called the ice ages.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is in Wisconsin.


image Avoid in text and credits. Be specific—photograph, illustration, painting, etc.

image credits See credits.

immigrant, immigrate For people moving to somewhere, usually permanently. See emigrate.

US missionaries immigrated to Oregon during the 1800s.
The new immigrants brought a different kind of agriculture.

+ impacted Do not use when the meaning is “to have an effect”; use “affected.”

Fires affected the area in 2020.

+ in, within Use “in” rather than “within” when they can be used interchangeably.

Grizzlies live in Yellowstone National Park.
Grizzlies usually live within a home range.

Indian See American Indian, First Nation, Native American.

+* Indigenous Emerging as a common, collective term for Native people whose ancestors were in the area that became the United States and its territories before European contact. Capitalize when related to culture or identity. Consider your audience and seek guidance from the park and Tribes traditionally associated with the park. See aboriginal, American Indian, BIPOC, Native, Native American, Tribal terminology.

Over centuries, Indigenous and Spanish cultures melded into the modern cultures of San Antonio. 
But Red mangroves are indigenous to the park. 

initialism Abbreviation formed from initials of a name, title, or long term that is read as a series of letters: BBC, FDR, NPS. Avoid bureaucratic use of obscure initialisms. See acronym, ATV, NPS, ORV.

initials Franklin D. Roosevelt; FDR and JFK (no periods and no spaces); but W.E.B. Du Bois, P.D. James (periods, no spaces between initials); but Harry S Truman or Harry S. Truman—both are correct, be consistent.

insure See ensure.

International Biosphere Reserve See Biosphere Reserve.

international visitors Not foreign visitors.

internet Do not capitalize.

internet address Do not use capital letters unless address is case-sensitive. Avoid breaking at the end of a line; if you must, break in a logical place and do not add a hyphen. Include www but avoid http:// unless necessary to open the webpage. See URL, webpage.

www.google.com; www.nps.gov
For information about invasive species, visit www.invasivespecies

interpretive, interpreter Define or avoid. Do not assume the average person knows these terms. Use “park staff” instead.

Historical interpreters in period dress ...
Park staff in period dress ...

invasive species Do not use alien or foreign (these have negative connotations and can offend resident immigrants and international visitors). See www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov.

Invasive plants like faya and kahili ginger displace areas of Hawaiian forests.

iPhone, iPod, iPad Brand names beginning with a lowercase letter retain the lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence or heading. See app, smartphone.

italics See non-English words, quotations, measurements, ships, and more.


Japanese American No hyphen.

Japanese American WWII incarceration terminology

Note: The US government used euphemisms to disguise the harsh reality of its actions toward Japanese Americans during WWII. Do not use them except in historical quotations or an official name. Consult “Terminology and the Mass Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII,” 2021.

assembly center: Euphemism used by the US government during WWII for temporary detention centers that held Japanese Americans before sending them to incarceration centers. Use temporary detention center.

camp: Used by many Japanese Americans to refer to the incarceration centers. Use only in quoted material or in context after establishing it refers to an incarceration center.

concentration camp: Occasionally used historically to refer to incarceration centers. Be careful using this sensitive term.

confinement site: Refers to any of the WWII Japanese American incarceration sites.

evacuate, evacuation, evacuee: Euphemisms used by the US government during WWII for forcibly removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast and Alaska. Use incarceration or forced removal. See relocate.

forced removal: Accurate term for the exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and Alaska. See evacuate, relocate.

incarcerate, incarceration, incarceration center or site, incarceree: Preferred terms to describe the unjust confinement of Japanese Americans during WWII.

intern, internee, internment: Accurate when referring to the Department of Justice or US Army legally detaining resident aliens of warring nations. Inaccurate when referring to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII; instead, use incarceration. Note: Do not confuse internment with interment, which means burying the dead.

Japanese American: Most-accepted term to refer to people of Japanese ancestry in the United States, regardless of citizenship status.

Nikkei: Refers to people of Japanese ancestry residing outside Japan, regardless of generation or citizenship status.

relocate, relocation, relocation center: Euphemisms used by the US government during WWII for forcibly removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast and Alaska. Use incarceration or forced removal.

Jet Ski Avoid, but if used, must capitalize because it is a registered trademark. See personal watercraft, registration mark.

Jews, Jewish OK to use in appropriate context. Capitalize. Do not use “the Jews,” which can imply a monolithic group.

Touro Synagogue, one of the most historically significant Jewish buildings in America, was designated a national historic site in 1946.

job titles See capitalization, gender-neutral language, president, ranger, representative, senator, superintendent.

john boat, jon boat A small flatbottomed boat with square ends used to navigate shallow rivers. Either spelling is correct; use park preference.

Joshua tree But Joshua Tree National Park.

Jr., Sr., III Abbreviations like these are part of a person’s full name. Do not use a comma before Jr. or Sr. unless it is required as part of the park’s official name. If you do use a comma before Jr. or Sr.—and the sentence continues—follow the abbreviation with another comma.

The park is Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born, lived, and buried here.
James Earl Carter, Jr., 39th president of the United States, … brought about change, compassion, and a belief that a government is only as good as its people.

judgment Not judgement.

+ Junior Ranger Capitalize when referring to the official, branded NPS Junior Ranger program, elements of the program, and participants.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

kiva Hopi word now in common use. Do not italicize.

return to top


+* land acknowledgment A statement about Indigenous people who were present when Europeans colonized the area that became the United States and its territories. At minimum, NPS staff should consult with the Tribes being mentioned.

+* Latino, Latina, Latinx In Spanish, Latino includes male and female and is used interchangeably with Hispanic in government publications; Latina includes only females. Latinx (lah-TEEN-ex) as a gender-neutral term is not currently recommended for most uses. Consider your audience. See gender-neutral language, Hispanic, NPS Spanish Language Guide.

+ Latter-day Saints Preferred over Mormons for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

+ Leave No Trace, LNT US Forest Service holds the trademark for this name but approves using it uncapitalized in a sentence about the general idea. Capitalize when referring to the principles and spell out in first use. No trademark needed in either use. See registration mark, trademark.

Respect trail closures and leave no trace.
Respect trail closures and follow the principles of Leave No Trace.

+* LGBTQ+ Acceptable abbreviation for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,” and “queer” or “questioning.” The plus symbol represents the community’s diversity.

lifeguard An expert swimmer on duty to watch other swimmers; lifeguarded is acceptable adjective.

Seasonal lifeguard services are provided at Herring Cove.
Cape Cod National Seashore has lifeguard-protected beaches in summer.
Use lifeguarded beaches when possible.

life jacket OK to use instead of PFD if park prefers. See PFD.

lifesaving [station] One word unless it is a historic or proper name or if local signage requires otherwise.

By the 1890s lifesaving stations were located every 3.5 miles along the New Jersey coast.
The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station at Cape Cod was built in 1897–98.

-like Spell without a hyphen when used as a suffix unless the word ends with the letter “l.”

birdlike, warlike, leaflike but tail-like, hill-like

livestock But pack animals.

-log or -logue Catalog, dialog, but monologue.

logos HFC Unigrid brochures generally do not use agency, partner, or social media logos. Exception: The National Park Foundation logo that is mandated by WASO.

loyalist See American Revolution affiliations.


map labels See geographic names.

map symbols, map terminology Be precise when choosing terminology for map symbols. Be aware of subtle differences—gas station (sells gas, may sell snacks) and service station (sells gas and does repairs, may sell snacks). Download map symbols at www.nps.gov/carto/app/#*/maps/symbols.

measurements in text Use English measure; spell out units of measure, but OK to abbreviate in charts, bullets. Abbreviations are lowercase and without punctuation. See numbers.

The shark weighed 32 pounds and was 80 inches long.
New hike: 5 mi (8.1 km)

  1. Metric is used in text only if circumstances call for it—such as scientific usage, parks with a high number of international visitors, or a specific request by a park.
  2. In running text, the English measure is first; the metric is abbreviated and in parentheses. Set metric in lowercase roman, use one space between the figure and the metric unit. Periods are not used with the metric abbreviation. Abbreviated symbol is always singular.
    At 20,320 feet (6,194 m) Mount McKinley is North America’s highest peak.

measurements on maps and charts Name of topographic feature in italics; measurements in roman; no space between numeral and symbol; no period after the abbreviation; and no comma between thousands.

Mount Rainier

Medal of Honor The official title for the highest honor awarded by the president of the United States to members of the US armed forces. Not the Congressional Medal of Honor.

media This plural noun takes a plural verb.

+ Métis Descendants of Native people and Europeans. Their homelands included southern Canada, northwest Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.

metric See measurements.

Mexican War See US-Mexican War.

milepost Lowercase. Abbreviation: mp.

military ranks Do not use “Brevet” in connection with any rank unless there is a reason for it and the term can be explained. See military ranks in brochures and military ranks in wayside exhibits.


Navy equivalent

[5 Stars] General of the Army

Fleet Admiral

[4 Stars] Gen. (General)

Adm. (Admiral)

[3 Stars] Lt. Gen. (Lieutenant)

Vice Adm.

[2 Stars] Maj. Gen. (Major)

Rear Adm. [upper]

[1 Star] Brig. Gen. (Brigadier)

Rear Adm. [lower]

Com. (Commodore)

Col. (Colonel)

Capt. (Captain)

Lt. Col.

Cmdr. (Commander)


Lt. Cmdr.



1st Lt. (First Lieutenant)

Lt. jg (Junior Grade)

2nd Lt.

Ens. (Ensign)

military ranks in brochures Abbreviate rank when used with complete name, unless park requests it be spelled out. Spell out rank if used with last name only; in subsequent references, OK to use last name without rank. See military ranks and military ranks in wayside exhibits.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower; General Eisenhower; Eisenhower

military ranks in wayside exhibits Spell out rank; subsequently OK to abbreviate or use last name without rank. When quoting someone use this formula: name, rank, military unit. See military ranks and military ranks in brochures.

Fort Rosecrans was named for Major General William S. Rosecrans. His troops called Rosecrans “Old Rosy.”

military terms Avoid words or expressions unfamiliar to the general public, or define.

troops or fort not garrison
stationed not garrisoned
troop or soldiers not dragoon or regulars

mission statement The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

money Nine million dollars; $35 million; $35,000,000; $35; $1.

More Information format Standard format for Unigrid brochures: Stack information on separate lines for easier reading. If a park name and designation needs two lines, keep proper name on first line and designation on second line. Abbreviate road designations. Do not add email or GPS coordinates unless a park requests; both should be on the park website. The NPS identity statement usually follows the park contact information. See GPS coordinates, National Park Service identity statement, PO Box, social media.

More Information
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania
National Military Park
120 Chatham Ln.
Fredericksburg, VA 22405-2508

more than See over.

+ mosquitoes

mountain lion Also cougar, panther, puma. Use park preference.


movie Interchangeable with film. Avoid audiovisual, presentation. See multimedia, program.

mph Abbreviation for miles per hour. No periods. Acceptable in all references.

multimedia Use if a program combines several media. Be specific if you can. See film, movie, program.

Tonight’s multimedia program includes film clips, musical performance, and spoken word.

+ MYA Million years ago. Spell out at first use.


+ names, personal Be aware of gender bias, stereotypes, and changing preferences. Discuss options with the park and then be consistent. See gender-neutral language; intials; titles, personal.

  1. Use full name or last name alone.
    Maggie L. Walker organized the first Black student school strike in the United States.
    or Walker organized...
    not Maggie organized...
  2. Avoid naming men by their last names and women by their first names, especially in the same publication or set of exhibits.
  3. If titles (like Mr.) are used for one gender, use them for both but only if gender is known.
  4. For people who have names in two languages, use their preferred name first with the second in parentheses.
  5. For transgender people, use the name and gender they use. If a birth name or assigned gender needs to be used for understanding, then use once in parentheses.

+ Nation Capitalize when referring to the Nation’s Capital or Native American culture or identity; otherwise, lowercase. See capital.

Washington, DC, is the Nation’s Capital.
Fort Laramie hosted several treaty negotiations with Northern Plains Nations.
Tribes defended their homelands from this new nation moving west.

national park, national parks, national monuments Lowercase unless part of a proper name. See capitalization.

Many national parks charge entrance fees.
Congaree National Park is in South Carolina.
Cabrillo and Lava Beds national monuments are in California.

National Park Service Not “the Park Service” (to avoid confusing with state and county parks).

+ National Park Service identity statement (Standard statement in Unigrid brochures, but make sure the park in question actually is an NPS unit before including this statement.) This may be shortened. It usually follows the park contact information. See More Information format.

North Cascades is one of over 425 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov.
or To learn more about national parks, visit www.nps.gov.
or Learn about national parks at www.nps.gov.

National Park System But “the system.”

National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, a This includes all passes. It is not necessary to preface with "America the Beautiful" or add "series."

National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark All landmarks are listed in (not on) the National Register (not registry).

Obsidian Cliff is a National Historic Landmark listed in the National Register. It was designated a landmark in 1996.

national seashore But Fire Island National Seashore.


+* Native Capitalize when related to culture or identity.

Components of Native and Spanish cultures can be found throughout the missions.
Drought, disease, and increasing competition with other Tribes led some Native people to enter the missions.
But Red mangroves are native to the park.

Native American Preferred over American Indian when collectively referring to the Indigenous people of the United States. Use a specific Tribe’s name whenever possible and appropriate. See aboriginal, American Indian, Indigenous, Tribal terrminology.

Native Hawaiian Not Hawaiian Native.


9/11 Acceptable in all references to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Also Sept. 11, 2001.

non-English words Italicize non-English words or phrases not in the dictionary; enclose translation in quotes or parentheses, depending on context.

The word she wanted was pécher (to sin) not pêcher (to fish).
The Kansas state motto is ad astra per aspera, commonly translated “a rough road leads to the stars.”

For translations of Native American place names, use parentheses to enclose the language then the definition in quotes.

Dook’o’oosłííd (Diné for “gleaming summit”)


nonprofit Refers to an organization with 501(c)3 status from the IRS. Not synonymous with not-for-profit; not all not-for-profit organizations have 501(c)3 status.

North (the) See Civil War terminology.

north, northern Lowercase compass directions; minimize use of capital letters except for specific regions or popular place names. See geographic regions.

Acadia National Park is northeast of Boston.
California’s North Coast.

NPS Takes the article “the” if used as a noun. No article if used as an adjective. Spell out at first use with acronym in parentheses. See acronym, initialism.

The Friends Foundation funds programs that are beyond the financial capacity of the NPS.
Parks acquire new acreage in accordance with applicable law and NPS policy.

+ NPS App Abbreviated name of the official National Park Service App. Unigrid brochures will include one of these versions, depending on the brochure’s layout and the park’s connectivity.

Use the official NPS App to guide your visit.
Explore More Use the official NPS App to guide your visit.
If little or no connectivity, add: Select “save this park” to use offline.


  1. In narrative text, spell out cardinal numbers one through nine; use figures for 10 or greater; spell out at the beginning of a sentence (regardless of amount), or rewrite. Sometimes OK to vary this rule, depending on context. Be consistent in the publication. See fractions, measurements in text, measurements on maps, percent.
    Yesterday two mules slid off Bright Angel Trail.
    The three hikers passed by eight overlooks and 15 waterfalls.
    or The three hikers passed by 8 overlooks and 15 waterfalls.
    Forty-five species of birds are found in the park.
  2. In hike descriptions and other concise text, use figures regardless of amount.
    The hike is 3½ miles roundtrip.
    Begin your driving tour 5 miles south of the visitor center.
  3. Use commas in numbers greater than 999 (but not in dates). See dates.
    Over 1,000 bats live in Black Hole Cave.
    Northern Plains people lived along the Upper Missouri River for over 9,000 years.
    The smallpox epidemic of 1837 killed thousands of Northern Plains people.
  4. Spell out ordinal numbers less than 10, except use figures when in one sentence with larger ordinals.
    Lake Chelan is the 3rd deepest lake in the United States and the 26th deepest in the world.


+ OK preferred over "okay"

one way, one-way Two words if noun; hyphenated if an adjective. Never 1-way.

Cedar River Gorge is a one-way loop road that winds through old-growth forest.
You have more than one way to reach the campground.

OHV Off-highway vehicle. Use ORV or park preference. See ORV.

ORV Off-road vehicle; no need to spell out. See ATV, OSV and always check with park law enforcement or equivalent.

OSV Over sand vehicle. Avoid. Use ORV unless park requests it, and then use park’s spelling with or without a space.

The Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone at Assateague National Seashore provides an adventurous getaway.
Oversand vehicle operation at Fire Island National Season is regulated.

over Traditionally “over” referred to spatial relationships and “more than” referred to quantity and numerals. Today, “over” is preferred for both unless variety in wording is needed (see last example).

Over 1,100 men died in the battle.
Trailers over 30 feet long are prohibited on Corkscrew Pass.
More than 800 brown pelicans flew over Anacapa Island.


+ Pacific Islander A collective term for the Indigenous people of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. Pacific Islanders represent a range of cultural groups and nationalities. Use specific cultural names whenever possible and appropriate.

Pacific Islanders represent many distinct cultural groups; the Indigenous people of Guam are Chamoru (historically known as Chamorro).

pack animals But livestock.


panther See cougar, mountain lion.

park Refers to any unit in the National Park System.

  1. Capitalize only when part of full name; lowercase when used alone.
    Dry Tortugas National Park lies at the western end of the Florida Keys.
    The national park needs your support to help protect the manatee.
  2. Do not use to describe park staff activities and policies.
    The park staff clears the roads in spring.
    not The park clears the roads in spring.
  3. "The park" preferred over "our park."

park area in more than one state In the black title banner of NPS graphic identity publications, list states in alphabetical order separated by a space, forward slash, and a space.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Kentucky / Tennessee / Virginia

park boundary See boundary, boundaries.

park name in translated NPS media See HFC Spanish Style Guide (483KB PDF), sections 7.37, 7.43, and 7.45.

  1. Unigrid brochures and other park documents: Use the full legislated name in English in the black band or cover and title pages. Do not translate. Exception: If the second language uses a different character set, the translated park name may appear like a subtitle beneath the English title.
  2. In running text, use the full legislated park name in English (not a translation) the first time; OK to follow with a translation in parentheses and to shorten thereafter.
    White Sands National Monument conserva más de la mitad de este oasis.
  3. In address blocks, like the “More Information” section of most Unigrid brochures, use the full English name and do not translate the mailing address.


park’s Do not use this possessive (apostrophe and s) when writing about the park website, policies, or facilities.

Check the park website.
The park firearms policy is posted in the visitor center.


patriot See American Revolution affiliations.

people, persons Traditionally persons was used for small groups (three persons) and people with large groups (hundreds of people). Today it is acceptable to use people for small groups. See The Chicago Manual of Style.

Three people signed up for Spanish classes at Saguaro National Park.

percent Spell out “percent” in text (one space between numeral and spelled-out word); use % symbol in scientific writing and in tables (no space between numeral and symbol).

Visitation to the hot springs increased this year by 25 percent.

personal watercraft In text spell out at first mention with PWC in parentheses; on map legends use symbol and spell out. See Jet Ski.

Personal watercraft (PWC) are considered vessels; you are responsible for knowing and observing regulations governing their use.

PFD Personal flotation device; spell out at first mention with PFD in parentheses. See life jacket.

Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when boating on Lake Roosevelt.

photo credits See credits.

pinyon Preferred; variant: piñon.

pit house

+ pit toilet See toilet.

pm No periods, small letters (no capitals), space between number and pm. See time of day.

PO Box Abbreviation for Post Office Box. No periods, space only between O and Box.

* POC Abbreviation for People of Color. Do not use; instead use BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). See BBPOC, BIPOC, Indigenous.

poisonous Preferred for all plants and animals, even those that are venomous. See venomous.

Poisonous snakes live in the canyon. Watch where you put your hands and feet.

possessive See rules below and Hawaiian words, ships, and The Chicago Manual of Style.

  1. Singular nouns take 's (apostrophe and s).
    the cat's tail
    Charles Dickens's work
  2. Plural nouns ending in s take only an apostrophe. Plural nouns not ending in s take ’s (apostrophe and s).
    The employees’ entrance is on the left.
    Cannon fire set the officers’ quarters ablaze.
    The Trumans' home
    women’s rights
    alumni’s feelings


prescribed fire Preferred over controlled burn. See fire, wildfire, wildland fire.

presentation Avoid. See film, movie, multimedia, program.


Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the presidency at a time of great social unrest.

President, president Lowercase unless used before a proper name.

President Clinton visited Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on Earth Day, April 1998.
Lincoln was president during the Civil War.

presidential Lowercase unless used as part of a proper name.

Rosa Gonzales received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

prickly pear cactus See cacti.

+ pristine, untouched Avoid using in reference to wilderness. Consult NPS Wilderness Communication Best Practices. See wilderness statement.

program Be specific if you can. Avoid audiovisual, presentation. See film, movie, multimedia.

The campfire program will be this evening.
The ranger-led program begins at noon.

projectile point Archeological term for all points used on weapons. Avoid or define; be specific if possible.

Archeologists found this arrowhead (at right) in a site survey.
Projectile points for spears and arrows are shaped out of bone or other material.

pronghorn Pronghorn is not a true antelope; clarify at first mention with “often called antelope.”

protecting park features The standard Unigrid statement is below; elaborate as necessary. See resource.

Federal laws protect all natural and cultural features in the park.

PWC See Jet Ski, personal watercraft.

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quotation marks The period and comma always go inside the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark, and exclamation mark go inside the quotation marks if they apply directly to the quoted material; they go outside if they apply to the whole sentence. Note: Hanging punctuation is used by some designers; be consistent in your publication or program.

Gayle asked, “When does the next tour begin?”
Do you agree with the saying, “All is fair in love and war”?

Avoid overusing quotation marks to emphasize words and phrases. Acceptable uses include:

  1. Familiar word used in an unfamiliar way
    Press the “Submit” button.
  2. Translation of a non-English phrase (which is italicized, not in quotes); see non-English words
    The Kansas state motto is ad astra per aspera, commonly translated to “a rough road leads to the stars.”
  3. Ironic use of word
    The “debate” turned into a free-for-all.
  4. Nickname inserted into the identification of a person
    Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson
    but Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige
  5. Unfamiliar word or expression
    Trappers were after “soft gold”—the pelts of fur-bearing animals.
  6. Unfamiliar word, on first use but not thereafter
    Broadcast frequencies are measured in “kilohertz,” but do you know what kilohertz means?

quotations in exhibits Avoid italics. Use quotation marks instead, especially for quotations of more than a few words. When italics are used, be sure the italic font is easy to read. Quotes can also be distinguished from other text by using a different font, a different weight of the same font, a different color, or some other graphic treatment.

quotations in publications Always provide attribution (examples below) and date, if known, and source, if verified and the layout has room.

  1. Capitalize first word if quotation is a complete sentence or introduced with a colon or comma.
    Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
  2. Do not capitalize first word if quotation is fragmentary and placed in running text (without comma or colon).
    Private Joseph Plumb Martin said troops at Valley Forge were “in danger of perishing.”
  3. When the quotation serves as a graphic element, quotation marks are unnecessary if the font, style, and weight distinguish it visually. An em dash before the attribution is optional.
    A curious ensemble of wonderful features. John Wesley Powell, 1869


racist language Do not use. See Civil War, enslaved, freedmen, and other entries.

rainforest Preferred; rain forest, variant.

ranger, park ranger But Ranger Baker.

rebel See Civil War terminology.

red-tailed hawk

+ reenact, reenactment

registration mark ® Do not use. Not legally required and increases reading complexity. See trademark.

relic Acceptable but consider specific words like artifact, fossil, shard. See relict.

relict Avoid; often mistakenly used for “relic.” In park media, relict usually refers to a species isolated by geologic or climatic change. Synonyms, depending on context, include survivor, remnant, fragment, legacy.

As the climate warmed, fragments of this forest survived in the higher elevations.

representative Lowercase unless used before a proper name. OK to abbreviate before a full name but spell out before a surname. See gender-neutral language, initials, job titles, military ranks, surnames.

Representative Pinkerton began his first term in 1909.
Rep. Grant Pinkerton encouraged President Taft to sign the Arizona Statehood Act in 1912.
but The representative from Naboo is out of order.

resource, resource protection Use sparingly and in context when writing for the general public. Many people know only its primary meaning: “A material source of wealth ... that occurs in a natural state and has economic value.”

Kivas are archeological features.
not Kivas are archeological resources.

+ restroom See toilet.

Revolutionary War See American Revolution, American Revolutionary War.

Rio Grande Rio Grande River is redundant; río means river in Spanish. OK to clarify word at first mention.

The Rio Grande (river) in Big Bend National Park is a designated National Wild and Scenic River.

rivers Columbia River but Columbia and Snake rivers.

rock art See rock markings.

rock markings Appropriate general term for pictographs and petroglyphs, but using the specific terms is best. Do not use “rock art” unless the park’s associated Tribes approve its use; it has negative connotations for some Native people.


ruin Acceptable but consider a specific word like dwelling, site, structure unless used in a specific name. See abandoned.

Ancestral Puebloan people built these dwellings over 1,000 years ago.
The 2.5-mile trail to White House Ruin is on the canyon’s South Rim Drive.

RV Abbreviation for recreational vehicle; no need to spell out.


salt marsh, saltmarsh Two words if a noun; one word if an adjective.

salt water, saltwater Two words if a noun; one word if an adjective. See fresh water.

scientific names Avoid, generally. Italicize and capitalize genus; italicize and lowercase species—even in a capitalized title. Capitalize phylum, class, order, family names, and set in roman.

A now-extinct member of the beech family, Fagopsis longifolia, was common.

seagulls Incorrect. See gull.

sea life, sea star But seabird, seaside, starfish.

self-guiding Not self-guided.

senator Lowercase unless used before a proper name. Spell out before a surname; OK to abbreviate before a full name. See capitalization, job titles, titles.

Senator Truman began his second term in early 1941.
Sen. John Quincy Adams supported Thomas Jefferson in the Louisiana Purchase.

service animals Preferred term for guide or signal animals. See accessibility, guide dog.

Service animals are allowed in the campground and on trails, but pets are not.


+ settler Be certain that usage does not imply the area was uninhabited before that time. Emigrant may be an acceptable alternative, depending on context. See Anglo, emigrant, European American, explorers, immigrant.

+ Seven Years’ War The Seven Years’ War refers to a global war from 1756 to 1763. See French and Indian War.

sexist language Avoid. See gender-neutral language.

shard A piece of broken pottery or glass, especially one found at an archeological site. Preferred over sherd. See relic.

Archeologists found Pueblo black mesa pottery shards strewn in the creek bed.

ships, aircraft, spacecraft, trains, vehicles

  1. Names of ships, aircraft, spacecraft, and artificial satellites are set in italics. Abbreviations before the name, if used, are set in roman and do not have periods. When forming the possessive, the “s” is set in roman. Note about ships: Use “it” not “she.”
    USS Arizona or Arizona, the ship
    but USS Arizona Memorial, the place
    Missouri’s turret, Challenger’s crew
    Sputnik motivated the United States to take action.
    Air Force One refers to any aircraft that carries the US president.
  2. If the text is already set in italics, like some quotations and captions, then set the name in roman.
    Sputnik motivated the United States to take action.
    The greatest loss was on board USS Arizona.
  3. Names of trains, vehicle classes or makes, and space programs are capitalized but not set in italics.
    They rode the train called the City of New Orleans.
    Chrysler Imperial
    Project Mercury
  4. Generic terms for vessels and aircraft are lowercase and roman.
    space shuttle

shuttle bus But be consistent with local signage.

slack water, slackwater Two words if a noun; one word if an adjective.

slave, slavery See enslaved.

slaveholder, slave master, slave owner Do not use except in quoted material. Instead, write enslaver for someone who possessed enslaved people. See enslaved, enslaver.


small game Do not use. Use wildlife, animals, or be specific. See game, wildlife.

smartphone Generic term for a mobile phone with computing ability and internet connectivity. See app, iPhone.

At Manassas National Battlefield Park use your smartphone to download a battle app that features animated maps, photos, and videos.


snake See poisonous, venomous.

social media HFC generally does not list social media by name or logo in the Unigrid brochures.

Follow us on social media.

song titles Enclose in quotes.

Popular songs caught the temper of the times from “jump” songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

South (the) See Civil War terminology.

south, southern Lowercase compass directions; minimize use of capital letters except for specific regions or popular place names. See compass directions, geographic regions.

spaces after subheads (titles) that start paragraphs Use an en space after a subhead in a running paragraph. (Em spaces are usually too long.)

spaces at end of sentence One space follows all closing punctuation.

Spanish language Use the HFC Spanish Editorial Style Guide (483KB PDF) and The Chicago Manual of Style. See capitalization; non-English words; Latino, Latina, Latinx; park names in translated NPS media; quotation marks; Rio Grande; Spanish, Spaniard.

Spanish, Spaniard Capitalize. Either is acceptable when referring to people. Spanish is used commonly today; Spaniard is more formal. Do not use “the Spanish” as a collective noun if you mean “the Spanish colonists” or “the Spanish people.”

species See scientific names.

+ squaw Do not use. Note: Links to DOI Secretary’s Orders 3404 and 3405 are in the reference list.

Sr. See Jr.

Star-Spangled Banner The national anthem of the United States. See song titles.

Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814.

state Use lowercase for state government, state regulations, the state of Montana.

state abbreviations Use two-letter US postal codes in highway names, chronologies, and captions and on maps. Can also be used in subtitles, depending on context. See highway, state names.

state names In running text spell out the names of states, territories, and possessions (except DC) when they follow the name of a city. See state abbreviations.

San Juan Island National Historical Park near Friday Harbor, Washington, also has beaches.
The War in the Pacific National Historical Park visitor center in Hagåtña, Guam, has exhibits about WWII.
Over three million people visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, each year.

stewardship Avoid or define if context does not clarify.

such as Use “like” instead.

suffragette Avoid; use suffragist.

summer Be specific if possible; your visitors might come from a different climate or hemisphere. See winter.

Be prepared for extreme heat in June, July, and August.

sun Lowercase in all uses except in a proper name like Going-to-the-Sun Road.

superintendent Lowercase unless used before a proper name.

Superintendent Jones is retiring; an acting superintendent will be named soon.

superlatives Avoid. If using, confirm accuracy.

supervolcano Not a synonym for any large volcanic eruption. It is a specific term for eruptions over Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) 8. Scientists have identified only 60 worldwide.

You can learn about Yellowstone’s supervolcano at Canyon Visitor Education Center.


takeout, take out When referring to water vehicles and entry/exit points, use one word if a noun or adjective, two words if a verb. Do not capitalize.

Canoe trips on the Green River end at the Bubbly Spring takeout.
The takeout site is Bubbly Springs.
Take out your canoe at Bubbly Springs.

telephone numbers 123-456-7890 is preferred style (hyphens), but (123) 456-7890 is acceptable. Do not write “1” before phone numbers. Be consistent. See TTY.

temperature 32ºF or 20–32ºF in winter (en dash; no space after degree symbol).

Expect temperatures in the 80s and 90sºF in summer.

+ thru-hike, thru-hiker

timber A tree cut and trimmed for human use; not synonymous with tree. See treeline.

timeline format See chronology.

time of day 8 am, 2 pm; spell out noon and midnight. See am, pm.

At 4:30 am a mortar shell from Fort Johnson arced across the sky.
The film is shown at 10 am, 12 noon, and 4 pm.

time zone Lowercase the time zone name except for Pacific, which is a proper noun.

Both Nez Perce National Historical Park and Minidoka National Historical Site are in Idaho, but Nez Perce is on Pacific time and Minidoka is on mountain time.

tipi, tipis Use tipi unless a park’s associated Tribes prefer another spelling.

+ titles, personal Lowercase unless used before a name. OK to abbreviate before a name. Avoid gender-specific titles like Mr., Mrs., Miss unless you know the person’s gender and preference. See initials; names, personal; military ranks; ships.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Dr. Woodson, Woodson was a doctor of philosophy

+ toilet Avoid comfort station and bathroom. Use the specific type and corresponding map symbol (where available).

composting toilet: waterless toilet system that converts waste into compost; often in areas where water is scarce
pit toilet: waterless toilet over a sheltered dirt pit; often in the backcountry
restroom: has running water; in buildings like visitor centers
vault toilet: waterless facility in which waste is collected in a concrete vault and periodically pumped out; often in a small building at trailheads, campgrounds, etc.

Tory See American Revolution affiliations.

trademark TM Do not use. Not legally required and increases reading complexity. See registration mark.

+ traditional knowledge Use instead of oral traditions, legends, myths, folklore, TEK, and TIK. It encompasses all Tribal traditions, customs, and culture and is more inclusive than TEK (traditional ecological knowledge) and TIK (traditional Indigenous knowledge).


treeline Use instead of timberline in NPS media for the general public. In other media, “timberline” may be appropriate in specific contexts. See timber.

+* Tribal terminology
Note: Use a specific Tribe’s name whenever possible and appropriate. Consider the context and be consistent in the publication. See aboriginal, Alaska Native, American Indian, BIPOC, Indigenous, Native, Native American, Native Hawaiian.

Tribal names: The federally recognized name of the Tribe may differ from how they refer to themselves. Seek guidance from the park and Tribes traditionally associated with the park about which name is preferred and how to present it. Tribal names are collective nouns that take a singular verb.

The Navajo (Diné) entered Canyon de Chelly about 300 years ago.
Contact the Navajo Nation for permits.
The federally recognized tribal name of the Meskwaki is the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa.

tribal, tribally: Lowercase when used in a general sense; capitalize when related to culture or identity.

Many parks host tribal gatherings.
Charles Sams is the first Tribal citizen to lead the National Park Service.

Tribe, Tribes: Use only when referring to Native American Tribes; always capitalize.

The United States officially recognizes over 500 Tribes.

TTY Text Telephone Service. Do not use TDD. Voice number precedes TTY number; if number is the same, follow the second example.

Call 301-123-4567, TTY 301-123-8910.
Call TTY/voice 301-412-1212.

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Union See Civil War terminology. Do not use, instead write United States or US.

unique Avoid; use only if truly one of a kind.

United States, US United States, a noun (spell out); US an adjective. Note: No periods in US, except in the black title banner of NPS graphic identity publications, then: U.S. Department of the Interior.

The United States is part of the North American continent.
US Constitution

US Department of the Interior, Interior But U.S. Department of the Interior in the black title banner of NPS graphic identity.

US Forest Service, Forest Service, USFS US Forest Service in first use to distinguish the federal agency from state agencies; Forest Service or USFS thereafter. Not USDA Forest Service.

US Geologic Survey

US House of Representatives, the House, the lower house of Congress

US-Mexican War (1846–48)

US Senate, the Senate, the upper house of Congress

unmanned Do not use. See aircraft, remotely piloted and gender-neutral language.

URL Capitalize, no italics. See internet address.

utilize Not a synonym for “use.” Appropriate only when you mean “to use to best effect.”

+ vault toilet See toilet.

venomous Use only if park insists on using this specific subset of poisonous creatures. See poisonous.

visitor Appropriate to use for people visiting parks, whether in person or digitally, or consider using second-person or neutral words like “people.”

Guided tours are limited to 15 people.
or Guided tours are limited to 15 visitors.

visitor center Lowercase unless used as part of a proper name.

North Cascades Visitor Center opens soon.
Check at the visitor center for program times and descriptions.



wapiti Avoid; use elk. If used, be specific about its origin—it is a Shawnee word.

wayside Avoid; use exhibit or outdoor exhibit, depending on context.

Exhibits along the trail introduce you to wildlife making this lake their home.
Outdoor exhibits explain everyday life of the fort in the 1800s.

webpage, website, the web Do not capitalize when referring to the internet. But World Wide Web. See internet, internet address, URL.

west, western Lowercase compass directions; minimize use of capital letters except for specific regions or popular place names. Pacific Northwest; West Coast. See geographic regions.

western red cedar

wetland Not wet land.

wheelchair Not wheel chair. See accessible, disabled.

wheelchair-accessible Hyphenate even when not a modifier.

Whig See American Revolution affiliations.

White, white Consider capitalizing when related to culture or identity; OK to leave lowercase even if capitalizing Black. Be consistent within the publication.

In 1861, White residents of the Sea Islands fled to the mainland, leaving their homes and property behind.

white-tailed deer Not whitetailed or whitetail deer.

+ whitewater

+ wilderness statement Use this statement to convey awareness; quantity (percent or acres, rounded or not); and benefits of wilderness. OK to modify; consult NPS Wilderness Communication Best Practices. See pristine, untouched.

XX percent [or # of acres] of [national park name and designation] is managed as wilderness. Wilderness preserves large and relatively undeveloped landscapes for ecological, social, and cultural benefits. Learn more at www.nps.gov/wilderness.

wildfire, wildland fire Both acceptable but different meanings. Wildfires are unintentional fires in the wildland. Wildland fires are all fires in the wildland, including prescribed fires. See fire, prescribed fire.

wildlife Can be singular or plural depending on context, but consider rewriting to avoid plural because it can seem incorrect. See big game, game, small game.

winter Be specific if possible; your visitors might come from a different climate or hemisphere. See summer.

Be prepared for extreme cold in December, January, and February.

within, in Use “in” rather than “within” when they can be used interchangeably. See in.

word division Minimize line breaks (also called word breaks) to increase readability. Divide so that the part of the word left at end of line suggests the whole word. Consult The American Heritage Dictionary. See compound words, compound words as modifiers, dashes.

capac-ity not capa-city

World Heritage Site Capitalize this United Nations designation for internationally significant areas around the world. See Biosphere Reserve.

Mammoth Cave National Park was named a World Heritage Site in 1991.

World War I, First World War, WWI

World War II, Second World War, WWII World Wars I and II; the two world wars.


Yankee See Civil War terminology.


zip code

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Last updated: May 15, 2024