Style Guide

S, plural Ss

S. 1234 = Senate bill #1234

SAT = formerly, Scholastic Aptitude Test; more recently, Scholastic Assessment Test

SBRR = scientifically based reading research

scaffolded silent reading = ScSR

schema (plural is schemata)

schema theory (not capitalized)

"-school" compounds

  1. When used temporarily as an adjective, a compound noun ending in "school" is not usually hyphenated. Thus, high school curriculum (not high-school), primary school students, public school funding, and so on. These are correct because high school, primary school, and public school are compound nouns (that is, we can refer to something called a high school, a primary school, or a public school).
  2. Word groups like "after-school programs" take the customary hyphen because after school is an adjective phrase, not a compound noun. (We can meet after school or participate in an after-school program, but we would not be likely to call something an "after school.")

"school words"
Note the apparent inconsistency about whether phrases beginning with school should be open, closed, or hyphenated. When in doubt, check the word or phrase in WNWD.

school-age (adjective preceding noun)
school board (two words, per WNWD)
school bus
school district
school system

scientifically based reading research = SBRR

SCIRA = South Carolina State Council of IRA, or Swedish Council of IRA

screw up (v.)

screwup (n. according to, also listed as acceptable per WNWD)

ScSr = scaffolded silent reading

SD = standard deviation (Note italics)

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

second (not secondly)
in series, first, second, third, etc., rather than firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.

secondary-grade / secondary-level

second-language acquisition

Second Life (official name of the interactive virtual world)

Section 6, etc., of a legal document or the Association's bylaws. Note cap S.


Compounds beginning with the prefix self- are almost always hyphenated (see CMS 15th, 7.90):
self-assured, self-centered, self-critical, self-esteem, self-report technique, self-respect

semantic feature analysis = SFA

Compounds beginning with the prefix semi- are almost always closed (CMS 15th, 7.90):
semiannual, semiliterate, semiskilled, semistructured, semiweekly

semicolon ( ; ) (APA 6th, 4.04; CMS 15th, 6.57–6.62)
The semicolon is a specialized punctuation mark that has only two standard uses:

  1. A semicolon should be used to join two independent clauses that are not joined by a comma+coordinating conjunction (, and | , or | , nor | , but). Compare: "Winnie is an enthusiastic reader. Every room in her home is filled with books" and "Winnie is an enthusiastic reader; every room in her home is filled with books."

    A semicolon should be used to join two independent clauses, the second of which begins with a conjunctive adverb (therefore, however, moreover, nevertheless, thus, on the other hand, accordingly, for example, additionally, likewise, nonetheless, afterward, not surprisingly, on second thought, at first, eventually, after awhile, consequently, and similar words).

    Note that the standard construction for sentences of this kind is this:

    Mary Lennox was never very fond of animals; however, under Dickon's patient instruction her fear of them subsided.
  2. A semicolon can be used to subdivide a complex series (e.g., a series whose components themselves contain series or other information separated by commas). Example: "Her favorite authors include novelists Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and Alice Walker; poets Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks; dramatists Tom Stoppard and David Rabe; and one sublime wordsmith who transcends categories, Annie Dillard."

    Note that semicolons are used in the sentence above to help clarify the separation of the novelists from the poets, the poets from the dramatists, and so on. Note also the "serial semicolon" (cf. serial comma) that appears between the penultimate category and the ultimate category in the series.

semicolons, Rule of Thumb: If you don't need a semicolon, don't use it.

  1. Do not use a semicolon to separate items in a series if the items do not contain internal commas. Compare "Be sure your picnic basket contains the following items: a loaf of bread; a bottle of wine; a wedge of cheese; and at least a dozen cans of insect repellent" with "Be sure your picnic basket contains the following items: a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, a wedge of cheese, and at least a dozen cans of insect repellent." [Commas work perfectly well to separate items in this sentence, and so they should be used. Semicolons are unnecessary and therefore should be avoided.]
  2. Do not use semicolons if the hierarchy of the series is easily understood without them: Example: "Her favorite authors include novelists (Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and Alice Walker), poets (Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks), dramatists (Tom Stoppard and David Rabe),and one sublime wordsmith who transcends categories (Annie Dillard)."
  3. Do not use semicolons to join words or word groups that are not independent clauses:
    • Churchill was raised to be an English gentleman; not a politician. [independent clause + phrase]
    • The Industrial Revolution; its aftermath can still be discerned, one continent and two hundred years away. [phrase + independent clause]
    • Although most Western Europeans were brought up believing that printing began with Gutenberg; Chinese artisans were printing on textiles hundreds of years before. [dependent (subordinate) clause + dependent clause]

the U.S. Senate, the Senate, a member of the Senate

a senator, the senator

Senator Williams

sentence-completion task

September 11, 2001
Use the complete date (with the year) for first appearance in text matter. Thereafter, if no ambiguity will result, use September 11 without the year. In casual writing, callouts, captions, and so forth, the abbreviation 9/11 may be used.

serial comma
In a series of three or more items, the last of which is joined to the others by and, the comma preceding the and is called a serial comma. Although this comma is called optional by some authorities, it is ILA Style to include the serial comma. Thus, the phrase "apples, pears, and bananas," which includes the serial comma, is preferred over "apples, pears and bananas," which does not.

series and lists

SES = socioeconomic status

set up (v.)

set-up (n. or adj.)

SFA = semantic feature analysis

short-term memory = STM


SIG = Special Interest Group
Capitalize only as part of the group's formal name (e.g., ILA's Special Interest Group on Adult Literacy). Otherwise, lowercase (e.g., ILA members may participate in any of 40 special interest groups.).

sight-read (v.)


sight word (n.)

sight-word (adj.)

sight word vocabulary

Sign in
Sign in on ____ (webpage as location)
Sign in at ____ (website as destination)
Sign in to ____ (take action/do something)

Sign in on the Renew My Membership page (webpage as location)
Sign in at (website as destination)
Sign in to access your journals (take action/do something)

The Simpsons (FOX cable station TV show)

since / because

Use of since as a preposition meaning "after" is standard and should cause few problems ("Since her graduation she has received a number of job offers.") However, use of since as a subordinating conjunction is problematic and can lead to ambiguity: "Since she graduated in the top third of her class, she has received a number of tempting job offers." (Because she graduated in the top third? Or after she graduated?)

Sing, Spell Read & Write = SSRW

skill-and-drill approach

skill set


small-group (adj.)

SMART Board (brand name)

smartboard (generic)



Compounds beginning with the prefix socio- are almost always closed (CMS 15th, 7.90):
socioeconomic, sociogram, sociopsychological

socioeconomic status = SES


softcover (not softback)

software titles

Titles of computer software, programs, tools, and the like are initial-capped in text but are not italicized (thus, Windows XP, Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, Eudora, Firefox). In reference lists, these titles are neither italicized nor underlined. See APA 6th, 7.08

SoHo (Manhattan neighborhood)

south / South, southern / Southern (See directional terms)

South Carolina State Council of IRA / Swedish Council of IRA = SCIRA

Spache readability formula

spacing, between words (see word spacing)

Special Interest Group = SIG
Capitalize only as part of the group's formal name (e.g., ILA's Special Interest Group on Adult Literacy). Otherwise, lowercase (e.g., ILA members may participate in any of 40 special interest groups... ).

spelling, preferred forms

  1. ILA's standard for spelling is (Merriam-Webster OnLine), referring to Webster's New Word Dictionary (WNWD) when an item cannot be located at Where two or more spellings are listed for a word, the first spelling is the preferred form for ILA editors and authors. If a variant spelling is allowed for a given work, it should be specified on a style sheet to accompany that work.
  2. American spellings (e.g., honor, color, toward) are preferred over British (e.g., honour, colour, towards). At the editor's discretion, exceptions may made for British or Commonwealth authors of books, essays, or articles who use British spellings consistently throughout their work. Such cases should be clearly indicated on a style sheet.

spin-off (n.)

SQ3R = a study technique (Survey-Question-Read-Recite-Review)

SSR = Sustained Silent Reading

SSRW = Sing, Spell, Read & Write (K–3 program)


standard deviation = SD

Standard English

Italicize only as part of the title of a project or publication (e.g., Standards for Reading Professionals). Capitalize when used in titles or headings, or when a specific standard is named (e.g., Standard 1: Foundational Knowledge, or the Foundational Knowledge Standard). Otherwise, lowercase: the standards, the 2017 standards, ILA's reading standards

Standards-Based Change (SBC) Process

Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017
Use full title on first reference, and thereafter this can be shortened to Standards 2017 (see Standards)

stand-up (n., as in comedy routine)

startup (n. or adj.)

a state council, state councils, the Tennessee state council

state education agencies = SEAs


stationary / stationery
The "a" form—stationary—means stable, fixed, or not moving.

The "e" form—stationery—means letterhead, envelopes, and similar writing supplies.

On ILA stationery, home H, office O, and mobile M numbers may be listed. If these letter codes appear, capitalize them and add a colon after them: Tel. O: 302-731-1600, ext. 319; Tel. M: 302-555-5555; Fax H: 302-368-2449. If letter codes do not appear, use no colon: Tel. 302-731-1600, ext. 929; E-mail (note that E-mail does not require a colon). This rule is an exception to telephone numbers, point 5.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) 


story line (as per WNWD)





strategies, theories, models, methods, approaches, programs

  1. Names of strategies, methods, techniques, and the like, should not routinely be rendered in italics or quotation marks. The only exceptions would be for names used in a special sense, as in the examples below:
    1. Quotation marks are used to designate an explicit process of naming (name as name):
      Did Marie Clay actually invent the name, "Reading Recovery"?
    2. Italics are used to designate use of a word as word:
      The alliteration in the name Reading Recovery helps to make this approach memorable.
  2. Capitalization of names is trickier, because they follow the same rules as other proper or common nouns. Check list of terms in this guide, or do a search of scholarly publications.
    1. Some of these are formal names (e.g., trademarked, registered, named for a specific individual, or official in some other sense) and should be rendered in title case. Examples include Reading Recovery, Open Court program, Marxist criticism, K-W-L strategy.
    2. Other names are generic or merely descriptive and should not be rendered in title case. Examples include reading readiness, reader-response method, guided reading, interactive model of reading.

Strivers' Row


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.

student edition (but teacher's edition)

Compounds beginning with the prefix sub- are almost always closed (CMS 15th, 7.90):
subgrant, subset, subskill, subtest, subtotal, subvocalization, subgenre
exception: sub-Saharan

In text or reference lists, use a colon to separate a subtitle from a title. Note as an exception to this rule: When a title or subtitle ends with a question mark or an exclamation point, no other punctuation follows (CMS 15th, 8.173, 17.53)
Example: Glen, P. (1990). It's not my department! How to get the service you want, exactly the way you want it! New York: William Morrow.

such as
The phrase such as introduces an example or, more commonly, a list of selected examples.

  1. Do not use such as to introduce an inclusive list (See include).
  2. Do not insert a comma (or any other punctuation) between such as and the example or examples it introduces (See colon, item #2).

sun (not capitalized)

Compounds beginning with the prefix super- are almost always closed (CMS 15th, 7.90):
superheated, superhighway, supernatural, superordinate

sure-fire (adjective preceding its noun)

Survey-Question-Read-Recite-Review = SQ3R

Sustained Silent Reading = SSR (capitalized as formal name of a specific program; otherwise, lowercase)

symposia / symposiums
WNWD prefers symposiums but allows symposia. Authors or editors who use the nonpreferred symposia must be consistent throughout the work and should note this usage on a style sheet accompanying the project.