Style Guide

walk-through (n.)

Warm Up America!


Washington, DC

Washington state

watercolor (n., adj.)

WCPM = words correct per minute

a web of interconnected information

the Web (the World Wide Web)





  • website as an entity:
    • Avoid using website name. Instead try to use descriptive text: offers free resources for teachers. You can find information about Membership on the ILA website. Find registration rates on the ILA conference website.
  • website as a URL:
    • Use the website address without the http://www and in all lowercase:
      Go to Go to Go to
  • vanity URLs and webpage URLs:
    • Use the website address without the http://www and in all lowercase:
      Go to Go to
  • exceptions for reference lists:
    • Use www. in references and bibliographies.

website, parts and sections

  • When referring to the name of a page, part, feature (e.g., button, drop-down menu item), or section of a website, use title case but no quotation marks (e.g., Focus on Issues in Reading, Explore Membership, Join, Get Order Form)
  • When referring to hyperlinked text in webpage body copy, use quotation marks and retain case currently shown (e.g., "Discounted insurance programs," "Click here to learn more about the different types of ILA membership.")

Example: Go to and look in the header. Click Join. On the Membership page, click Join. On the Join ILA Today page, select your membership type and options, and then click Next.

Best practices: Try to separate steps as much as possible. For instructions with more than two or three steps, like the one above, consider using a bulleted list like this:

  • Go to
  • In the header, click Join.
  • On the Membership page, click Join.
  • On the Join ILA Today page, select your membership type and options.
  • Click Next.

Web 2.0 (a style and mindset about design and use of information)

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children = WISC

well + adjective or participle (CMS 15th, 7.90)
Compounds consisting of well plus a participle or adjective are hyphenated before the noun (well-known person); open after the noun (That person is well known); open if preceded by an adverb (fairly well known).

well-being (n.)

west / West, western / Western (see directional terms)

whether / whether or not
The word whether implies two alternatives, "whether so," and "whether not." Thus, or not is redundant and "usually unnecessary" (NYPL). However, M-WDEU testifies to the use of whether or not by authoritative writers for over a century and insists that the usage is legitimate. ILA authors are urged to avoid the unnecessary "or not." Editors should use discretion in deciding whether (or not?) to delete the phrase.

which / that (see also restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers)

  1. Use which to introduce a nonrestrictive modifier (i.e., one that is nonessential to the meaning of the sentence). Note also that a "which" clause should almost always be set off from the main sentence by a comma. Example: This Bible, which has been in my family for generations, is over 200 years old.
  2. Use that to introduce a restrictive modifier (i.e., one that is essential to proper understanding of the sentence because it limits or restricts the word it modifies). Note that a restrictive modifier should not be separated (e.g., by a comma) from the word it modifies. Example: A Bible that is over 200 years old may require careful handling.

while / although

  1. In its standard usage, while is a preposition or subordinating conjunction that means "during the time that." Examples: "While reading a particularly dull passage, Roger fell asleep." or "While he was reading, Roger fell asleep."
  2. In another common but problematic usage, while is used to mean "although" ("While the book has been considered a classic, it is very dull reading."). Because this usage can result in ambiguity (during the time that the book has been considered a classic? or although the book has been considered a classic?), IRA authors and editors should avoid it. Choose although instead.

whiteboard (not preferred; use dry-erase board or interactive whiteboard)

who / whom

  1. Who is a pronoun in the nominative (subjective) case. Most often, it functions as the subject of a question (Who am I? Who has not read The Last of the Mohicans?) or of a relative clause (I am the only one who has not read the book). Who can also serve as a predicate nominative, i.e., the complement of a linking verb (She is not who she seems to be). Who can never be a direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, or object of a verbal (gerund, infinitive, or participle)
  2. Whom is a pronoun in the objective case. Most often, it serves as the object of a preposition (...the person of whom we spoke; ...the man to whom the insult was directed; ...a woman for whom the most difficult tasks seem easy). Whom can also serve as the direct object of a verb (Whom did you see? Is she the person whom you told?). Less often, whom may serve as the object of a verbal (...the person concerning whom I have already written). Whom can never function as a subject or predicate nominative.
  3. Do not use the word that as a substitute for who or whom; reserve that for references to impersonal objects. Thus, the sentence "She is someone that I know well" is nonstandard. Write instead, "She is someone whom I know well" or, less formally, "She is someone I know well."


whole language (n. or adj.)

whole-word (adj.)

"-wide" constructions
Some adjective phrases ending in "wide" are closed (citywide, statewide). Others are hyphenated (office-wide, university-wide). IRA style generally follows WNWD on this; if the dictionary says the word is closed, we will close it. In most cases, the absence of a word from the dictionary means we should hyphenate it (organization-wide); however, exceptions may be made for words that are very common in the context of reading instruction (e.g., schoolwide).


WISC = Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children

WISC-III (third edition) (Use a hyphen, rather than an en-dash.)

WISC-R (revised) (Use a hyphen, rather than an en-dash.)


WJ-R = Woodcock–Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised

Woodcock–Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised = WJ-R

word-association test

word bank

word-by-word reading

word calling

word division (CMS 15th, 7.33–7.40)
Use a hyphen to mark a word break at the end of a line of type. The following are general rules about when and how to use word breaks. See CMS 7.33–7.40 for a more detailed discussion.

  1. Divide words between syllables, never within syllables. Any standard American dictionary will indicate correct syllabification of words. (British syllabification [demo-/cracy] will not always agree with American [democ-/racy]. In IRA publications, use the American system.
  2. The following line breaks are not permissible:
    1. a break that leaves a single letter at the end of a line: a-/bility, a-/gain, i-/tem, u-/nite
    2. a break that starts the next line with a one-letter word-ending: might-/y, nois-/y, bus-/y
  3. Avoid the following if possible:
    1. Starting a line with a two-letter word-ending: wat-/er, wonderful-/ly, mon-/ey, loss-/es
    2. Breaking a compound word at any place other than the original junction: pov-/erty-stricken, moth-/er-in-law, self-re-/spect, semico-/lon, pseu-/doscientific
    3. Breaking words so that the result is misleading or confusing: bum-/blebee, reap-/pear
    4. Breaking a person's name (Fred-/erick L. Anderson), or breaking before an initial (T./ S. Eliot; Robert/ E. Lee) (see CMS 15th, 10.13)

word-frequency count

word learning activities (or any other compound, no hyphen)

wordplay (one word, closed, per WNWD; contra The Literacy Dictionary)

word-processing (Hyphenate as adjective preceding its noun; otherwise, leave open)

word processor (two words, open, per WNWD; contra The Literacy Dictionary)

word spacing
When preparing copy that will be typeset, avoid double spaces after a period or colon and between the state and zip code in a U.S. address. When editing copy that will be typeset, search and replace double spaces with single spaces.

word wall activities (or any other compound; no hyphen)

words correct per minute = WCPM



workplace literacy

work sheet / worksheet
Although WNWD prefers "work sheet," IRA authors seem overwhelmingly to prefer "worksheet." Our official spelling is thus be the closed compound, worksheet, on the analogy of workbook.


work study / work-study
When used as an adjective preceding the noun it modifies, work-study is hyphenated. Thus, "a work-study student," "a work-study program," "a work-study experience." In all other cases, the phrase is left open, not hyphenated.

world congress / World Congress on Reading

  • Capitalize as part of full formal name: the 18th World Congress on Reading.
  • Capitalize in promotional materials, publications, correspondence, and memoranda directed to an IRA audience: the World Congress. Otherwise, lowercase.: a congress, the next world congress.



World Wide Web (the Web)

worshipped, worshipping

writer's block

writers' workshop