National Park Service Style Guides

Harpers Ferry Center follows the Chicago Manual of Style, American Heritage Dictionary, and our own HFC Editorial Style Guide. We are guided by the principles of clarity, simplicity, and nonbiased language.

HFC Editorial Style Guide

Download Spanish-language HFC Style Guide (2015)

What's in a Name?

Parks often ask why their map must use "official" place names. Brochures and handbooks produced by Harpers Ferry Center are federal publications, and as such follow the legal requirements of the United States Board on Geographic Names. This board was authorized more than a century ago to "establish and maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government." Parks who wish to change the name of a geographic feature should petition the board. For questions about any place name, you can consult the "Geographic Names Information System" online database, established by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the Board on Geographic Names.

The Park Name

The official name of a park and its spelling and punctuation are specified in the act of Congress that authorizes the park. New legislation is required to change or alter the spelling of that name. In those rare instances when an area was set aside by administrative action, name changes must be approved by the Director of the National Park Service and by the Secretary of the Interior.

NPS Arrowhead Usage

Harpers Ferry Center does not make policy on the use of the NPS arrowhead. For regulations on how to use the arrowhead symbol please contact the NPS Brand Management Team.

Last updated: February 10, 2021