Style Guide

Caldecott Medal / Honor / award
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children" by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Caldecott Honor Books are runners-up in that competition. Authors and editors are advised to use the terms "Caldecott Medal" and "Caldecott Honor" accurately in referring to particular books, and to avoid the term "Caldecott award" whenever possible. A list of Medal- and Honor-winning titles may be found at the ALA website. (see also Newbery Medal / Honor / award)

Canada, territories (see abbreviations)

canceled (preferred over cancelled in WNWD)

canceling (preferred over cancelling in WNWD)


cannot/can not
Originally a variant of can not, the one-word form cannot is now much more common and is preferred in almost every circumstance. Can not should be used only for special emphasis (for example, to emphasize contrast with a series of can phrases).

capitalization, names of teaching methods, models, strategies, approaches, theories, programs (see strategies)

capitalization, in graphic design
Design elements such as headlines, chapter titles, subheads, and so on may be set in various styles (e.g., all caps, all lowercase, initial caps, italics, or boldface) at the discretion of the graphic designer. Any exceptions to general rules of style should be clearly noted on a style sheet.

As of March 30, 2015, the ILA website will use title-style caps for headlines and sentence-style caps for subheadings.

capitalization, in text matter
Capitalization in text is governed by a few established rules, a few general principles, and many individual judgment calls.

(See APA 6th, 4.14–4.20)

for broad principles; CMS 15th, Chapter 7 for dozens of specific cases. Check a good dictionary for capitalization of specific words. Finally, many of the more common cases (such as convention, director, and professor) are included in the main alphabetical list of this guide.) The following general descriptions may prove helpful:

  • Modern English usage tends toward a "down" rather than an "up" style in text; that is, writers and editors should favor the lowercase form of a word whenever possible. General principle: Use uppercase only when specific rules require it; otherwise, use lowercase.
  • Rule of Thumb: If a noun is indeterminate (i.e., one of many; often introduced by the words a or an), or if it requires a modifier to identify it (which one?), treat it as a common noun. Example: Smith is an associate professor of psychology and director of a major university research program in emergent reading.
  • Certain contexts may require deviations from standard practice. For example, persons who would ordinarily be described in the text of books or periodicals as "Smith is an associate professor of psychology" might appear in some promotional materials (such as a book jacket) as "Smith is an Associate Professor of Psychology." Exceptions of this kind should be listed on a style sheet to accompany a project through editing, typesetting, and production.

capitalization, in titles of works

In titles of works (books, chapters, stories, essays, tests, works of art, music, film, etc.), capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon or a dash, the last word, the last word preceding a colon, all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and most adjectives. When a capitalized word is a hyphenated compound, capitalize both parts. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but) and prepositions of three letters or fewer should be lowercase; all other prepositions are capitalized. (Note: This rule conforms to APA 6th, 4.15. (see titles and short titles of works: distinguishing topics from titles)

Capitol (begins with a capital C and ends in o-l ). This word is the name of the building in Washington, DC, in which the U.S. Senate and Congress meet; use it also to name similar buildings in state capitals. (The other, similar word—which is actually far more common—is capital. Our nation's capital is Washington, DC.)

Capitol Hill


case-sensitive (adj.)


cause and effect (n.)

cause-and-effect (adj.)

CBC = Children's Book Council

CBM = curriculum-based measurement

CCIRA = Colorado Council of the International Reading Association

CCSSO = Council of Chief State School Officers



CD-ROMs (in reference list)

  • For CD-ROMs without author: Title [CD-ROM]. (date). Available: Publisher.
  • For CD-ROM with author: Author. (date). Title [CD-ROM]. Available: Publisher.

cf. ("compare";Appears without comma or italics in citations)

chair (rather than chairman, chairwoman, chairperson)



chalktalk (a storytelling technique, per Lesley M. Morrow)

When the word chapter (or chapters) is followed by a letter or numeral, use capital C (e.g., Chapter 1, Chapters 16a–b). Note: This is not a general rule and does not apply to all nouns followed by a letter or numeral. Look up individual words in the style guide or in APA 6th, 4.17. See book parts or sections for further discussion.

Chapter 1 / Title I
Title I is a federally funded program in the United States intended to help disadvantaged children who may be at risk of school failure, particularly in the elementary grades. Chapter 1 is an earlier name for the same program. Note the roman numeral in Title I and the arabic numeral in Chapter 1. Note also that these words are context-specific to the United States. For a potential audience beyond the United States, these terms should not be used without explanation.

chapter book

chat room


check box


check mark

checkout (n. or adj.)

check out (v.)

Chicano (see note under Hispanic)

child care / child-care

  1. The open form, child care, is a noun (WNWD). Thus, "Finding affordable, high-quality child care is a problem for many workers."
  2. When used as an adjective before the noun it modifies, child-care is hyphenated (WNWD). Thus, "Some local governments regulate child-care facilities; others do not."



In most cases, "students" is the preferred term when referring to a classroom context, but this is left to the discretion of the editor and can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Children's Book Centre (Toronto)

Children's Book Council = CBC


CIERA = Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement

CISD = Consolidated Independent School District

citations, author and date
ILA style for in-text citations generally follows APA 6th, with one explicit exception: Include the publication year with any citation that includes both author and year in parentheses, even when the citation repeats within a single paragraph. The year need not be repeated if the author name is used outside parentheses, in running text. For example,

Popular culture texts can play an important role in literacy learning among adolescents (Gee, 2001; Hagood, 2001). In her research, Lewis (2005) has shown that adolescent girls, in particular, display high levels of literate behavior in their online interactions in chat rooms and through instant messaging. In the area of nonprint text, video gaming has been shown to have an impact on learning and literacy practice (Gee, 2001).


Popular culture texts can play an important role in literacy learning among adolescents (Gee, 2001; Hagood, 2001). In her research, Lewis (2005) has shown that adolescent girls, in particular, display high levels of literate behavior in their online interactions in chat rooms and through instant messaging. In the area of nonprint text, Gee has explored the impact video gaming has on learning and literacy practice.

Further, when citing literature include the author name and publication year after the first mention only.

Regarding dual-year citations, please include only the year in which the journal was published.

Old way
Barone, D., & Wright, T.E. (2008/2009). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-303. [reference]
(Barone & Wright, 2008/2009) [in-text citation]

Barone, D., & Wright, T.E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-303. [reference]
(Barone & Wright, 2008) [in-text citation]

city of publication

  1. In a reference list or bibliography, the city of publication should be followed by a comma and the two-letter postal service abbreviation for state (United States or Australia) or Canadian province (see abbreviations).
  2. If the city of publication is in a country other than the United States or Canada, use the English spelling of the city (Vienna rather than Wien), and include the name of the country.
  3. If the name of the state, province, or country is included in the name of the publisher, do not repeat the state, province, or country in the publisher location.

civil rights

the Civil Rights movement

"class" compounds
In ILA style, "class" compounds normally are not hyphenated.
nouns: lower class, middle class, upper middle class, upper class, working class
adjectives (preceding or following the noun): lower class, upper middle class, working class

A cliché is a figure of speech that has become so common as to be nearly meaningless. Consider the example of "a dog-eat-dog world." Once a fresh, vivid expression that offered a new way of visualizing ruthless competition, it is now so common that people hear it as a single, automatic expression (a "doggy-dog world"?), that has something vaguely to do with life's difficulties. A careful writer or editor will avoid such empty words and phrases and opt instead for a precise meaning, an exact word, or a fresher, more insightful figure of speech.

close-up (n. or adj., any position)

CMC = computer-mediated communication

The prefix co- generally forms closed (i.e., nonhyphenated) compounds. See CMS 15th, 7.90.


cochair, cochairing

co-construct, co-convention, any "co-co" compound retains its hyphen

code-breaker (adj.)

code-switching (adj. and n.)

The word coed is generally accepted as an adjective indicating use by both sexes (a coed dormitory, coed classes). Avoid using the term as a noun, however. Use of coed to mean a female college student is sexist, demeaning, and badly out of date.


Cohen's Kappa

(APA 6th 4.05; CMS 15th, 6.63–6.64)

  1. Use a colon after an independent clause (i.e., a complete sentence) to introduce material that will illustrate or amplify the preceding thought: Such material may include words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, quotations, tables, figures, or similar items. (These sentences are an example of the correct use of a colon.)
  2. Do not use a colon after a phrase or clause that is not a complete sentence. Colons following certain typical phrases or clauses are almost always in error. These include: "such as," "for example," and "these include." (The previous sentence illustrates a common colon error: The words "these include" are not a complete sentence and therefore should not be followed by a colon.)
  3. If the material following the colon is a complete sentence or a series of complete sentences, the first word begins with a capital letter. In a title, the first word after a colon begins with a capital letter. Otherwise, the first word after a colon begins with a lowercase letter.

Colorado Council of the International Reading Association = CCIRA


comic-book (adj., as in comic-book reader)

Capitalize only as part of formal name (e.g., the Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission). Otherwise, lowercase: the commission, commissions, an ILA commission.

committee / Committee
Capitalize only as part of formal name (e.g., the International Development Coordinating Committee). Otherwise, lowercase: the committee, a committee, an ILA committee, the committees.

Common Core State Standards Initiative

The Common Core State Standards Initiative--often referred to simply as the "Common Core"--is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). According to the Common Core Mission Statement, "The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them." The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare students for college and the workforce, and in 2010 many states began adopting these standards. (For more information, see the Common Core website.)

Please use full name (Common Core State Standards) upon first mention, truncating to Common Core in subsequent use. Title-style caps should be used when it is clear that the author is referring to Common Core documents, statements, and excerpts

Maryland, like other states, will adopt the Common Core State Standards. It is hoped that the Common Core will improve teaching and learning.


What we need are common standards, something we can all share, to guide our teaching.

Some additional phrases sometimes used in discussions of the Common Core Standards include:

  • Common Core Standards for Mathematics
  • Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts
  • Standards for English Language Learners

The following source may be used in discussion of the Common Core.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Authors.

In text, cite as (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices [NGA Center] & Council of Chief State School Officers [CCSSO], 2010)

Each appendix of the Common Core gets its own citation and reference.

common sense (n.)

common-sense (adj. preceding its noun)

comparative and superlative adjectives
A compound including a comparative or superlative adjective should not be hyphenated (APA 6th, 4.13). Thus, a lower scoring group, the highest rated cities, the fastest growing segment of the population. (Note that the Association makes an exception for compounds beginning with better or best.)

compare with / compare to

  1. New York Public Library's Writer's Guide to Style and Usage (NYPL), specifies compare with for cases involving examination to discover similarities and differences; thus, "Compared with the United States, Singapore has less crime and more severe punishment." Compare to means "to liken," in the sense of a simile or metaphor; thus, "The criminal justice system in Singapore can be compared to a severe, strict parent, and that in the United States to a gentler, more lenient parent."
  2. M-WDEU, on the other hand, minimizes the distinction and claims that the terms are interchangeable.
  3. ILA authors and editors should enforce the distinction only if failing to do so would result in ambiguity or misunderstanding.

complement / compliment
To complement means "to enhance or complete"; thus, "A fine bottle of wine complements a great meal." To compliment means "to praise"; thus, "I wanted to compliment the hostess for a wonderful meal." Both words can also be nouns with meanings similar to those of their related verbs: "A fine wine is the perfect complement to a great meal"; "The hostess was gracious in receiving our compliments."

complementary / complimentary

  1. The adjective complementary means "that which enhances or completes." Thus, "Their marriage succeeded because they had complementary personalities: she was realist, well endowed with common sense, and he was an artist, an idealist, and a dreamer of dreams."
  2. Complimentary usually means "that which flatters or praises." Thus, "The critics were complimentary in their reviews of her performance." Complimentary can also mean "freely given," as in "Our vacation package included complimentary theater tickets."

comprise / comprised

  • Comprise means "to include, contain, or consist of"; thus, the whole comprises its parts, the team comprises its members, and a campus comprises its buildings and grounds.
  • The common expression to be comprised of, meaning "to be made up of" (as in "Each team is comprised of 11 players."), is thus a contradiction of the standard sense and should be avoided. Instead of to be comprised of, use to consist of, to be composed of, or to be made up of. Thus, "Each team comprises 11 players" or "Each team is composed of 11 players."

computer-mediated communication = CMC

computer software (see software titles)

conference / Conference

  • On first reference: the International Literacy Association 2016 Conference & Exhibits, after: the ILA 2016 Conference or ILA 2016
  • Only capitalized when used as part of the proper name: "I can't wait to attend the ILA 2016 Conference; I always come to ILA's conference."
  • "annual," "annually," and "yearly" may be used to describe conference occurrence, but are not part of the official conference name.
  • For any ILA 2016 Conference-specific questions, please consult the ILA 2016 Style Sheet.

congress / Congress

  • Capitalize in reference to U.S. governing body: the U.S. Congress; the Congress (but "a member of Congress").
  • Capitalize as part of full formal name: the 17th World Congress on Reading.
  • Congress may be capitalized in promotional materials, publications, correspondence and memoranda directed to an ILA audience: the World Congress or our next world congress. Be consistent throughout the piece.


Congressman Castle (better, Representative Mike Castle)

Congresswoman Schroeder (better, Representative Pat Schroeder)

a member of Congress

conjunctive adverbs

A conjunctive adverb (e.g., thus, therefore, or for example) is an adverb or adverbial phrase that sometimes functions as a conjunction.

  1. As a conjunction, a conjunctive adverb serves to join two independent clauses (i.e., two simple sentences). In this function it is preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.
    • In this sentence, the word therefore joins two independent clauses; therefore, it is preceded by a semicolon.
    • The boys' explanation was inventive; nevertheless, I lowered their grades.
    • His citizens' ability to read poses a great danger to a tyrant; hence, he will move quickly to close schools and libraries.
  2. As an adverb, a conjunctive adverb usually interrupts a single clause. In this function, it is set off from the rest of the clause by commas (no semicolons).
    • In this single clause, therefore, the conjunctive adverb is set off by commas.
  3. Note that i.e., and e.g., are conjunctive adverbs.

    • as conjunctions:
      These groups of words are both independent clauses; i.e., each has a subject and predicate and can stand alone as a simple sentence.
      Students in the program became more avid readers; that is, they read a larger number of pages each week, they experimented with different genres, and they became active participants in discussions of literature.
    • as adverbs:
      An adverb modifies (i.e., it defines, limits, or describes) a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
      Students were attracted to genres, for example, poetry or drama, that they had earlier dismissed as "too hard" or "irrelevant."

constructed-response prompt (note hyphen; also, extended constructed-response prompt)

constructivist theory

contd. (correct abbreviation for "continued"; see abbreviations)

content area

content-rich (adj.)

convention / Convention

  1. Following the 58th Annual Convention in April 2013, the annual convention and all references to convention will be changed to "annual conference" and "conference."
  2. Capitalize as part of the formal name: the 47th Annual Convention , the 2002 Annual Convention. (Use numeral, not spelled-out form, to identify conventions and conferences.)
  3. Otherwise lowercase: the convention, a convention, at convention, this year's convention, ILA's annual conventions.







copy-edited (hyphenated only as adjective preceding its noun, [e.g., a copy-edited manuscript])

copy editing (not copy-editing or copyediting)

copy editor (not copy-editor or copyeditor)

copyright and the Internet
Under U.S. law, two exclusive rights of the copyright owner are distribution and reproduction, which, in the past, referred to print materials only and now, in legislative guidelines, includes digitally and electronically produced material on the World Wide Web. In addition, members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have agreed to the following definitions: A screen display of a document on the Internet is considered a reproduction. Sending the document over the Internet is recognized as distribution. The distribution right is particularly important on the Internet: An e-mail message is considered, technically, a copyrighted document. Individuals who send e-mail messages retain the rights to their comments and opinions, and anyone who wants to reproduce them should seek written permission from the sender. Photos, artwork, figures, tables, and graphs that may at some time be reproduced electronically should contain credit lines directly on these items, so that copyright can be traced. (11-13-97)

© 2009 (copyright symbol)
Include a space between the copyright symbol and the date (See CMS 15th, 1.16–1.19)

correlative conjunctions
Correlative conjunctions, which occur in pairs (both... and...; either... or...; not only... but also..., etc.) are used to join two elements of equal grammatical weight (a word to a word, phrase to a phrase, clause to a clause, etc. Consider the following examples:

Incorrect: The school board has not only authorized a whole language curriculum but a switch to literature-based reading instruction.

Preferred: The school board has authorized not only a whole language curriculum but a switch to literature-based reading instruction.

Preferred: The school board has both authorized a whole language curriculum and agreed to implement a switch to literature-based reading instruction.

correlative phrases
A comma should be used between clauses of the more...the more type and when correlative phrases are independent clauses (there is a subject and a verb in each clause). However, a comma should not be used between short phrases of this type. (See CMS 6.42.)

The more a boy uses a skill, the easier it becomes.

The less you eat, the better you'll feel.

The more I read about Winterbottom, the more I like her.


The more the merrier.

The file contained not only the results but also the procedures.

The sooner the better.

correspond to / correspond with
When used in the sense of "to match" or "to conform," correspond may be used with either to or with. Thus, "If a student's reading scores do not correspond to his or her age, a reading disability may be suspected." "A man whose actions do not correspond with his words may be a coward, a hypocrite, a politician, or all three."




council / Council
Capitalize as part of formal name (e.g., the Central Illinois Reading Council). Otherwise and thereafter, lowercase: an ILA council, ILA councils and affiliates, the council, a state council, local councils.

Council of Chief State School Officers = CCSSO





country names
The question of when and whether to include a country name in text depends upon context. In cases where the country is made obvious by the context (e.g., a journal article about No Child Left Behind), the country name need not be included. In cases where the country name is not made obvious by the context, it should be included.


course names and fields of study
The rules of capitalization state that fields of study are not routinely capitalized, but formal course names should appear in initial caps. The rule is easy, but distinguishing between the two may not be.

  1. A course number after a name is a dead giveaway: Together they form a course title and should be capped (Biology II, but biology). Keep in mind, however, that some course titles do not have numbers.
  2. The specificity of the name may provide a clue: The more specific the name, the more likely it is to be a course title (cf. French history, The History of 18th-Century France).
  3. Through careful use of capitals and lowercase, an author can tell the reader whether she or he is referring to a specific course or a general field of study. When in doubt an editor should not impose his or her understanding on the text; in these cases, a query about the author's intention is more appropriate.


coworker (not co-worker)

CRA = California Reading Association, Connecticut Reading Association

cross-cultural (adj.)




curricula / curriculums
WNWD accepts both forms of the plural of curriculum, but lists curricula first, as the preferred form. M-WDEU cites curricula as the more prevalent form. Therefore, ILA writers and editors should stick to curricula.

curriculum-based measurement = CBM

cutoff (n. or adj.)