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Style Guide for AOS Publications

This style guide was started in the early 1990s to bring uniform style to articles in Orchids (then the AOS Bulletin). Originally, it was based in part on a style guide prepared by Horticulture magazine, but it has grown considerably to include terms, nomenclature, names of AOS awards and publications, and other entries that have caused problems, and been solved, in past issues of Orchids. It is updated periodically to reflect changes in, and the content of, Orchids. In general, the style of Orchids follows that presented in The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual and Webster's New World Dictionary (3rd College Edition, 1994, or a newer edition).


  • Aerides vandarum: use Papilionanthe vandarum
  • Affiliated Societies
  • airborne
  • air plant (n)
  • air-plant (adj)
  • Aldus PageMaker
  • American Orchid Society: spell out the first time mentioned in a story, then abbreviate as AOS or use Society (not society)
  • AOS Achievement Award
  • TheAOS@compuserve.com
  • AOS Bulletin
  • AOS 1998-2000 Almanac
  • AOS Affiliated Societies Guide
  • AOS awards: Abbreviate when listed as an award after a plant's name (Cattleya skinneri `Ella', CCM/AOS), but spell out an award name when used in a sentence in text (Ned Nash's Cattleya skinneri won a Certificate of Cultural Merit).
  • The American Orchid Society Celebrates its Diamond Jubilee: A Review of the First 75 Years, 1921-1996
  • AOS Fellow
  • AOS Headquarters
  • An Orchidist's Glossary
  • Angraecum philippinense: use Amesiella philippinensis
  • anyhow
  • anytime
  • anywhere
  • area codes: place before number and connect with a hyphen if within parentheses (telephone 232-232-8568) or put in parenthese if the rest of the number is not in parentheses (232) 232-8568.
  • article and department titles are in quotation marks when mentioned in text. Include month and year if reference to Orchids article.
  • Ascocentrum miniatum: use Ascocentrum garayi
  • author
  • Awards Quarterly
  • back-cross
  • back yard (n), backyard (adj)
  • bare-root
  • bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV)
  • Benjamin Kodama Dendrobium Award
  • Benlate
  • benomyl
  • bird feeder
  • birdbath
  • birdhouse
  • black and white: hyphenate before noun, as in black-and-white photographs

  • bone ash
  • bone meal
  • booklist
  • The AOS BookShop
  • botrytis: Italicize and capitalize when referring to the bacteria that cause the disease: Cattleyas are susceptible to infection by the fungus Botrytis. Lowercase and set in Roman type when referring to the disease: Cattleyas often get a disease known as botrytis blight.
  • -bound: Hyphenate when used in such forms as root-bound and pot-bound, whether before or after a noun: A root-bound plant; the plant is root-bound.
  • Brassavola digbyana: use Rhyncholaelia digbyana
  • broad-leaved
  • bulb: orchids do not have bulbs, they have pseudobulbs, so change copy that reads bulb(s) to pseudobulb(s)
  • Burma: use Myanmar
  • Butterworth Prize (Details: February 1993 Bulletin, page 150)
  • buzzword
  • Carlyle A. Luer Pleurothallid Award (Details: February 1993 Bulletin, page 147)
  • catalog (not catalogue)
  • Cattleya Alliance (a botanical grouping)
  • Cattleya citrina: use Encyclia citrina
  • centuries: Use figures (In the 18th century...)
  • Certificate of Meritorious Achievement in Orchid Education
  • cities: No state after these cities in text: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami, St. Louis.
  • clonal names: Place in single quotes, e.g., `Mary Anne'. If an awarded plant, then write `Mary Anne', AM/AOS (parent name × parent name).
  • CITES: Acronym for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Details: August 1992 Bulletin, page 792)
  • close-up
  • cloud forest
  • cold-stratify, -ied
  • color (not colour)
  • colors: Hyphenate two-color compounds such as blue-green and orange-red (two colors of equal importance) and noun-color compounds (snow-white, slate-gray). Leave open all other color compounds (the petals are yellowish orange) unless there is a noun immediately after the compound (yellowish-orange petals).
  • common names: Use lowercase Roman type and do not put in quotes, eg. lady-of-the-night orchid
  • compots
  • CompuServe
  • Cooperative Extension Service: Initial cap when referring to a specific one: The University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension Service; lowercase and hyphenate all others: Have your soil tested at your local cooperative-extension service; your cooperative-extension service agent will test your soil for free.
  • contact: Avoid using this word as a verb
  • crisscross: n and v
  • crosshatch: n and v
  • cross-pollinate
  • cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)
  • Cymbidium mosaic virus (CyMV)
  • Cymbidium ringspot virus (CyRSV)
  • Cymbidium Society of America, Inc.
  • damping-off
  • day length
  • daylong
  • day-neutral
  • daytime: often the word day will suffice
  • Dendrobium coerulescens: use Dendrobium hellwigianum
  • Dendrobium sophronitis: use Dendrobium cuthbertsonii
  • Dendrobium superbum: use Dendrobium anosmum
  • dendrobium vein necrosis virus (DVNV)
  • depth of field (no hyphens unless before a noun)
  • desiccate
  • Diazinon (formerly a common name, it is now a tradename)
  • diehard
  • Dillon/Peterson Essay Contest: Use the complete name, Gordon W. Dillon/Richard C. Peterson Memorial Essay Prize, when writing about this contest in an essay or a press release. Okay to use Dillon/Peterson Essay Contest in title to save space and on second mention in an essay.
  • dimethoate
  • disc: as in a compact disc
  • disk: as in a computer disk
  • doctor: To distinguish between the two types, do not use Dr. in a byline, a name in the text or before the author's name in the biographical note at the end of a story. Instead, when known, place PhD or MD after the person's name.
  • down-size
  • dwarfs (not dwarves)
  • ELISA: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a test for viruses
  • e-mail (not email)
  • embed (not imbed)
  • Epidendrum schlecterianum: use Nanodes discolor
  • everbearing

  • everblooming
  • evergreen
  • ex situ: in italics (except in titles)
  • fax
  • feed: we do not feed orchids; we provide nutrients that are utilized to manufacture food
  • fiberglass
  • film titles: set in italics
  • fine-tuning
  • firsthand
  • first-rate
  • flower bud
  • flower spike
  • flower stalk
  • flowerpot
  • foot-candle: always hyphenate
  • fruit: plural is fruits
  • f/stop (camera lingo)
  • full-size
  • full-time (adj)
  • full time (n)
  • fund-raiser
  • fund raising: the act
  • fund-raising (adj)
  • Gardeners' Chronicle
  • genus abbreviations: Follow Sander's. If not there, use the first letter of the genus name (as in botanical usage)
  • Gold Medal of Achievement
  • good-size
  • Grammatophyllum bacilliform virus (GBV)
  • grassland
  • greenhouse
  • green thumb
  • groundcover
  • Growing Orchids
  • Growing Orchids Under Lights
  • half-day (n, adj)
  • half sun
  • Haemaria discolor: use Ludisia discolor
  • Handbook on Judging and Exhibition
  • hand-pick (-ed)
  • hand-pollinate (-d)
  • handsaw
  • hand-water
  • hardcopy
  • hardcover
  • hardening off
  • hardheaded
  • hardworking
  • Herbert Hager Phalaenopsis Alliance Award
  • home page (not homepage)
  • horticulturist: not horticulturalist
  • housebound
  • houseplant
  • hybridizer
  • hybrids: Give grex name followed by parentage in parentheses.

  • in situ: in italics (except in titles)
  • Internet
  • in vitro: always in italics (except in titles)
  • italics: Use them for Latin botanical names, titles of books, plays, paintings, sculptures, films, operas, symphonies and other lengthy musical pieces. When using italics, any punctuation immediately following the italicized word or phrase is also in italics (Cattleya skinneri, a native of Costa Rica, is pretty.) One exception is parentheses around an italic phrase — "Skinner's cattleya (Cattleya skinneri) is hardy to Zone 5."—which are always in Roman.
  • International Phalaenopsis Alliance
  • James and Marie Riopelle Miltonia Award
  • Jones & Scully
  • Judging Centers: Cap all words, e.g., West Palm Beach Judging Center
  • Laelia red leafspot virus (LRLSV)
  • leaf blade
  • leaf miner
  • leaf roller
  • leafhopper
  • life cycle
  • lifelong
  • life span
  • life-size
  • lifestyle
  • lifetime
  • -like: The suffix -like is generally spelled solid (catlike, pagodalike) except for compounds formed from proper names (Tokyo-like), words that end in 11 (gull-like), and word combinations (oil-can-like). Also proper-name word combinations (Oil-Can-Boyd-like).
  • Lindleyana
  • long-lived
  • long-standing
  • long-term
  • longtime
  • long-winded
  • luster
  • Madagascar: the island
  • Malagasy Republic: the nation
  • malathion (lower case)
  • Masdevallia militaris: use Masdevallia ignea
  • Masatoshi Miyamoto Cattleya Alliance Award (Details: February 1993 Bulletin, pages 144-145)
  • MasterCard (always with a cap C)
  • Maxillaria Tribe (a botanical grouping)
  • mealybug
  • memoriam
  • Merritt W. Huntington Award (Details: February 1994 Bulletin, page 138)
  • mid-: The prefix mid- is generally spelled solid (midmorning, midtown). Some exceptions are the seasons mid-fall and mid-spring (midsummer and midwinter are not exceptions). Proper nouns are hyphenated (mid-June).
  • midsize (rather than midsized)
  • montane
  • multi-: Spelled solid (multifaceted)
  • multiflowered
  • names (people): Use first and last name on first mention, then last name for subsequent mentions. If two family members with the same last name are in an article, use their first names after the first mention to avoid confusion if both are the subject of the story. If only one is the subject of the story, and this is clear to the reader, continue to use last name.
  • natural hybrids: precede name by a multiplication sign (non-ital) without a space between × and the name
  • Nax Botanical Trophy (Details: February 1993 Bulletin, pages 148-150)
  • nice: weak word, avoid in text
  • nighttime: night will do
  • non-: The prefix non- is generally spelled solid (nonlethal, nonessential)
  • noon: not 12 noon
  • North American Native Orchid Alliance
  • nursery names: Consult the AOS 1998-2000 Almanac. Names not found there may be found in Orchids.
  • nutshell
  • ocher (not ochre)
  • Odontoglossum Alliance (botanical grouping) and Odontoglossum Alliance (no ital, a specialty group)
  • Odontoglossum cervantesii: use Lemboglossum cervantesii
  • Odontoglossum rossii: use Lemboglossum rossii
  • offset (n, adj, adv)
  • Oncidium Alliance (a botanical grouping)
  • Oncidium guianense: use Tolumnia guianense
  • Oncidium haitense: use Tolumnia haitiense
  • Oncidium prionochilum: use Tolumnia prionochila
  • Oncidium quadrilobum: use Tolumnia quadriloba
  • Oncidium triquetrum: use Tolumnia triquetra
  • Oncidium variegatum: use Tolumnia variegata
  • on-line (adj) (not online) or on line, as in an on-line site or the site is on line
  • The Orchid Badge Club International
  • The Orchid Digest
  • Orchid Emporium
  • orchid fleck virus (OFV)
  • Orchid Pests and Diseases
  • Orchid Photography
  • OrchidPress (one word)
  • The Orchid Review
  • Orchids — The Magazine of the American Orchid Society
  • OrchidWeb®: This is a registered service mark of the AOS and so the ® symbol should follow the name OrchidWeb® in our publications. The service mark is not used when the address (http://orchidweb.org) is given.
  • overall

  • overfertilize
  • overpot
  • overwater
  • over winter (adv)
  • overwinter (v)
  • overwintering (adj)
  • Paphiopedilum fairrieanum
  • The Paphiopedilum Guild (a specialty group)
  • pendant: a necklace
  • pendent: a hanging inflorescence
  • percent: spell out the word percent in essays and editorial, but use the % symbol in charts
  • photograph: not photo or photos
  • Phragmipedium ecuadorense: use Phragmipedium pearcei
  • Physosiphon tubatus: use Pleurothallis tubatus
  • pinecone
  • plant materials: do not use this word combination
  • The Pleurothallid Alliance: a specialty group
  • Pleurothallids: common name for a botanical grouping of orchids. Cap if it starts a sentence, but lower-case p if used as a common name within a sentence.
  • postcards
  • pseudobulb (not bulb)
  • puree, pureed
  • Q-tips cotton swab(s) or use just cotton swab(s)
  • R. F. Orchids
  • rainforest
  • rainwater
  • Robert B. Dugger Odontoglossum Award
  • The Rod McLellan Co.
  • root-ball
  • root-bound
  • root zone
  • root-hardy
  • root-prune
  • round-trip (adj)
  • Roundup
  • Roy T. Fukumura Vandaceous Award (Details February 1994 Bulletin, page 140)
  • The RHS Orchid Information System
  • Saccolabium luniferus: use Chiloschista lunifera
  • Sander's: with the apostrophe (The man's name was Sander)
  • Sander's List of Orchid Hybrids
  • sawtooth
  • saw-toothed
  • screwdriver
  • seasons: always lowercase (spring, summer, autumn, winter) except when in a title or when referring to an AOS Trustees Meeting (then Fall Trustees Meeting and Spring Trustees Meeting)
  • section: lowercase and not in italics, but the name of the section begins with an uppercase letter and the section name is in italics (example: Dendrobium section Callista)
  • seed coat
  • seed leaf
  • seedbed
  • seedpod: use capsule; orchids do not have pods or beans (although you often hear of the vanilla bean)
  • semi-: Words with the "semi-" prefix are spelled solid (semiopaque, semiconductor) except words such as semi-independant and semi-indirect.
  • semiannual (not semi-annual)
  • Sevin (carbaryl)
  • shade cloth
  • shade house
  • shelf life
  • shirt-sleeve
  • short-day
  • sic: always in italics
  • since: Implies passage of time (The barn had been used as a garden center since 1955.) Not to be used in place of "because" (He planted rye because winters were long and his garden needed a cover crop.)
  • sledgehammer
  • Slugit
  • softcover
  • soilborne
  • Sophronitis rosea: use Sophronitis wittigiana
  • species: Spell it out in text, don't abbreviate: "Cattleyas (Cattleya species)..." not "Cattleyas (Cattleya spp.)
  • strap-leaved
  • sulfur (not sulphur)
  • sunroom
  • SuperThrive
  • taglines: Author taglines present a brief biography of the author and mention of an article previously printed in Orchids or elsewhere, plus the author's address. These vary in length and should be updated.
  • telephone: not phone
  • temperature: Use F without the degree symbol between it and the number when specific temperatures are given.
  • that vs. which: That is correct in restrictive clauses; which is correct in nonrestrictive clauses. Bernstein gives this guide: If the clause could be omitted without leaving the noun it modifies incomplete or without materially altering the sense of what is being said — or if it could be reasonably placed in parentheses — it would be better introduced by which; otherwise, by that. Words into Type simplifies the rule: When a comma can be inserted, the word is which.
  • though: Change to "although" when it starts a sentence
  • The New York Times
  • through: not thru
  • timberline
  • Time of day: Time of day is expressed in figures, followed by lower case am or pm
  • tiptoe
  • tip-top
  • titles (of people): Cap if before the person's name (Director of Education and Conservation Ned Nash) and lower case if after the person's name (Ned Nash, director of education and conservation)
  • tobacco mosaic virus (TMV-O)
  • tobacco rattle virus (TRV)
  • tomato ringspot virus (TomRSV)
  • top growth
  • top-dress (v)
  • topdressing (n)
  • top-prune
  • topside
  • topsoil
  • trademark names: Do not put in all caps (even if that way on the package). Follow by the type of product,
  • e.g., Q-tipsTM cotton swab.
  • travelog (not travelogue)
  • tree fern (n), tree-fern (adj)
  • Trustees Meeting (always upper-case T and M)
  • underside
  • unique: no modifier needed
  • Vanda Alliance
  • Vandaceous (common name for Vanda Alliance)
  • very: weak word, eliminate from text when possible
  • vice president
  • viewfinder
  • Visa® : not all caps in editorial
  • Volunteer Guide to the AOS (sometimes called Volunteer Guide)
  • wannabes
  • waterborne

  • watercolor
  • Web
  • Web site
  • WWW
  • wheelbarrow
  • W. W. Wilson Cypripedioideae Award (Details: February 1993 Bulletin, pages 150-152)
  • wildflower
  • window box
  • windowsill
  • woodland
  • WordStar
  • World Orchid Conferences: not Congresses. When referring to a specific one, spell it out the first time mentioned and then abbreviate, e.g., 14th World Orchid Conference and then 14th WOC.
  • worldwide
  • year round but year-round (with hyphyen) when an adjective
  • Your First Orchid
  • Zygopetalum mackayi