Style Guide

the letter l / and the numeral 1
Do not use a lowercase letter "L" in place of the numeral "1". Although in some type faces these characters are almost indistinguishable, small differences in spacing or alignment could disrupt the reader's concentration. Note the difference: l997 / 1997



LAN = local area network

language arts (do not hyphenate, even as adjective); thus, a language arts curriculum

Language Assessment Scales-Oral = LAS-O

"-language" compounds

  1. Adjective phrases ending in "language" typically follow the unit modifier rule: hyphenate if they precede the noun they modify; otherwise, leave them open. Thus, second-language instruction; English is her second language.
  2. Be aware that hyphens may have to be used to clarify the relationship of words: He is an English-language learner (i.e., he is learning the English language); but She is an American language-learner spending a semester in France (i.e., she is an American student of languages).

Language Experience Approach = LEA

language-experience (hypenate compound adj. before its noun; lowercase as generic descriptor).

laptop (n.; small computer that fits on your lap)

LAS-O = Language Assessment Scales-Oral

Latino/Latina (see note at Hispanic)

lay / lie
Few words in English cause more confusion than these two related but distinct verbs. The difference between them relates to their grammatical function within a sentence:

  1. The verb to lay is transitive; that is, it requires a direct object. Its meaning is similar to that of the verb to place:
    • present tense: Under normal circumstances, one should not lay one's clothing in the mud.
    • past tense: Sir Walter Raleigh laid his cloak in the mud for the queen to walk upon, and he received a knighthood.
    • past participle: I have laid my jacket in the mud many times, but I've never received so much as a thank-you.
    • present participle: Laying one's clothing in the mud is no longer considered an act of chivalry. These days, laying one's clothes in the mud is thought an act of lunacy.
  2. The verb to lie is intransitive; that is, it is used without a direct object. Its meaning is similar to that of the verb to recline:
    • present tense: At sea, Raleigh would lie in his hammock and look at the stars.
    • past tense: In later years, he lay in a prison cell, awaiting the queen's pardon.
    • past participle: "I have lain in this cell for 20 years," he complained.
    • pres participle: "But I'd rather be lying in my grave than apologize."
  3. Rule of thumb:
    • If the verb will have a direct object (i.e., something that will be laid), choose a form of to lay.
    • If the verb will not have a direct object (i.e., nothing that will be laid), choose a form of to lie.

Law School Admission Test = LSAT

LEA = Language Experience Approach

LEAs = local education agencies (compare SEAs, state education agencies)

leadership academy

learning disability
The term learning disability is controversial. Many in the literacy field believe that many students are incorrectly labeled as learning disabled because of reading problems that could be corrected with remedial teaching. The learning disabled label carries a stigma because learning disability is sometimes attributed to some sort of neurological problem. In general, it may be safer to say that a person or group is having difficulty learning to read or mastering specific skills than to call them learning disabled. Never say a person is learning disabled simply because he or she has trouble reading.

Lectura y Vida = LyV (ceased publication by IRA in 2010)

LEP = Limited English Proficient

less / fewer
Use less for amounts that cannot be counted: Jane reads less than Sophia. Use fewer for amounts that can be counted: Jane reads fewer books than Sophia.

In keeping with the general rule that compound adjectives are hyphenated before the nouns they modify, the Style Guide subcommittee has elected to hyphenate compound modifiers

lexical decision paradigm (no hyphen)

LGBTQ (unless content indicates that I and A populations are included)






like / as

  1. Like other prepositions, like introduces a prepositional phrase, which always includes an object and almost never includes a verb. As other subordinating conjunctions do, as introduces a subordinate clause, which always includes a verb. Thus, in deciding whether to use like or as, base your decision on the presence or absence of a verb in the word group that follows:
    • An hour spent reading a good book is (like) an hour in paradise. (prepositional phrase)
    • She teaches passionately, (as) all great teachers must. (subordinate clause)
  2. As a preposition, like requires an object, which must be in the objective case. Thus:
    • incorrect: No one loves to read like my daughter and I.
    • correct: No one loves to read like my daughter and me.


limited English proficiency = LEP

limited English proficient = LEP

line breaks (see word division)

listening-while-reading (a teaching/learning strategy)


list styles (see series and lists)

Literacy Daily

literacy–science connection

Literacy Today

Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. = LVA

Literal refers to the use of words in their ordinary sense, as opposed to their metaphorical or symbolic sense. The current fashion of using literally as an emphatic element frequently results in absurd statements ("The film was so funny that I literally died laughing." "I’m so hungry that I could literally eat a horse"). Rule of thumb: Never use literally as a synonym for really, truly, virtually, almost, nearly, or similar terms.

(An adjective phrase formed by a noun + participle is hyphenated before the noun it modifies, otherwise not.)

Literature Cited: Do not include information for illustrators, photographers, or other artists (see illustrator names in reference/literature cited lists)

little / few (see few / little)

little book


local area network = LAN

local education agencies = LEAs

log in, log on, and related terms
As verbs, log in and log on are open two-word phrases (a space between the words and no hyphens). As nouns or adjectives the phrases are closed: login and logon. Thus, "After you log in to the system a dialogue box appears that asks you for your logon name (username) and password."

long-range (adjective preceding noun)

long-standing (adj.)

long-term (adjective preceding noun)

longtime (adj.) The closed form is preferred by WNWD.


low road transfer (no hyphen)

lowercase (adj., n., or v.)


low-stakes (adj.)

LSAT = Law School Admission Test

LVA = Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.

-ly endings (APA 6th, 4.13, Table 3.1; CMS 15th, 7.87)
An adverb ending in -ly followed by a participle or adjective forms an open (not hyphenated) compound. Thus, "highly motivated," not "highly-motivated"; "a recently discovered element," not "recently-discovered."

LyV = Lectura y Vida (ceased publication by IRA in 2010)