JSS Style Guide
Rev. C, updated June 2009
This document is the official style guide for editing and publishing the System Safety Society’s Journal of System Safety. All articles published in the journal, including material previously published elsewhere, shall be edited to conform to this style guide. The publisher is responsible for seeing that this guide is followed.
For rules not addressed in this style guide, please consult The Chicago Manual of Style.
U.S. English grammar and spellings shall be used throughout. This may involve changing British, Canadian and European spellings, except in the case of proper names.
Dates shall follow standard U.S. English format (“February 11, 2009”), not military format (“11 February 2009”). Similarly, dates submitted in European format (day/month/year) shall be translated to U.S. English format.
Although U.S. English standards are followed, editors must always be aware that Journal of System Safety is an international publication. Anything too heavily focused on the U.S. should not be published in it. Anything unclear to those outside the U.S. must be explained. Names of states and countries shall be spelled out, except in postal addresses. Always list states (or countries, if non-U.S.) after cities at their first appearance but not ad nauseum. Months shall be spelled out as well, as foreign readers may not recognize the abbreviations.
Care should be taken not to use the word “engineers” to refer to all system safety professionals. A non-specific term, such as “professionals” or “practitioners,” should be used instead.
Gender-specific terminology should be avoided whenever possible.
Previously published materials shall always be labeled as such.
Abstracts should not be included in articles, and should be deleted if included in article submissions. An introduction should not be labeled as such. The first word of any article should never be “Abstract” or “Introduction.”
Use of the passive voice shall be kept to a minimum. Every effort shall be taken to use descriptive and interesting active and action verbs. (Yes, we know this style guide repeatedly violates that rule.)
Use of the second person (you, your) should be avoided in technical articles. It may be used in features. Point-of-view must be consistent throughout (i.e., the narration may not shift from third to first person).
The content of advertisements is the responsibility of the advertiser. Ads should not be edited. However, if an error in an ad is noted, the publisher should notify the advertiser and offer to correct it.
Journal of System Safety respects U.S. and international copyright and intellectual property laws. Extreme care should be taken not to violate these, either knowingly or inadvertently (such as by publishing something that an individual author may have illegally borrowed or plagiarized). All JSS staff members must be thoroughly familiar with the relevant laws and with the doctrine of fair use.
Grammar and Punctuation
Serial commas shall not be used, except where necessary to avoid ambiguity. When in doubt, use the comma. Example: “The group will perform Preliminary Hazard Analysis, Functional Hazard Analysis[,] and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis.” [Without the comma, would you know how many analyses were being performed if you weren’t familiar with the terminology?]
To make a singular word ending in “s” possessive, add apostrophe-s.
To make a plural word ending in “s” possessive, add an apostrophe.
Here is a list of our director’s duties. [There is only one director.]
Here is a list of our directors’ duties. [There is more than one director.]
Here is a list of Niles’s duties. [There is only one Niles.]
Unit modifiers (words closely joined in meaning to create a single adjective) shall be hyphenated when (and only when) they precede a noun. Example: a cost-effective solution, third-party software, hands-on testing. BUT: a solution that is cost effective.
Em-dashes (—) shall be used in text, rather than en-dashes (–). There shall be a space before and after. Example: “Em-dashes are longer and take up more space in text, but they have their advantages — they will never be mistaken for minus signs or hyphens.”
There will be no space before or after an ellipsis (like...so). Three dots shall be used for an ellipsis, except where a fourth dot is needed to end a sentence.
Following U.S. standard for quotations (although it is out of keeping with the rest of the world), periods and commas shall be included within quotation marks. Colons and semicolons shall not. Question marks and exclamation points shall be inside if (and only if) the question or exclamation is part of the quotation. Examples:
“That’s ridiculous,” she said.
She said, “That’s ridiculous.”
She said, “That’s ridiculous,” but I’m not sure why.
She said, “That’s ridiculous”; however, I’m not sure why.
Did she really say, “That’s ridiculous”?
Actually, she often said, “That’s ridiculous!”
Commas shall be used to introduce a quotation if (and only if) the quotation is a complete sentence. In that case, the quotation shall also begin with a capital letter. Note: Using a direct quotation may not always be necessary — it depends on the context. Examples:
She said, “That’s a ridiculous statement.”
She said it was “a ridiculous statement,” but she didn’t explain why. [Echoing her precise wording is important to the context.]
She said it was a ridiculous statement, but she didn’t explain why. [Her precise wording is not important to the context.]
Commas shall not be used before titles cited in text. Example: The second article in this issue is titled “Safety in Holiday Card Design” by Esther Bunny. [No comma should be used after “titled” in such an instance.]
Contractions (“can’t,” “shouldn’t,” etc.) may be used in the feature portions of the journal to create a more informal, personal style. Contractions should be avoided in technical articles and published papers.
The word “insure” should only be used when referring to the purchase of insurance. The word “assure” should only be used with a direct object and only pertaining to a human (“I assure you, that’s correct”). In nearly all cases, the correct word is “ensure” (“Good planning ensures good results”).
Hyphens should not be used after the prefix “re” unless needed to prevent a misreading. Example: “I redirected that article.” BUT “I re-sent (vs. resent) that article.”
In ishcap (title case), the second half of a hyphenated compound will follow the use of U.S. English grammar; thus, the following are correct: Risk-Based; Follow-on; Floating-Point; etc. The rule, precisely, is to capitalize the second word if it would be capitalized standing alone.
In punctuating bullet lists, rules of standard sentences shall be followed. This means that if all items are sentence fragments, each item shall begin with a lower-case letter and end with no punctuation. If all items are complete sentences, all items shall begin with a capital letter and end with final punctuation. A mixture of sentence fragments and complete sentences should be avoided within the same list.
Whenever possible, double hyphenation at a line break (for example, system-crit-ical) shall be avoided. If necessary, insert a manual carriage return to eliminate the extra hyphen, or turn hyphenation off. Adjusting the tracking may also solve this problem.
When written in text, the abbreviation for United States (U.S.) shall contain periods. However, the abbreviation USA, when used in a postal address, shall not contain periods. The abbreviation for the United Kingdom (U.K.) shall follow the same rule.
System safety, where it refers to the discipline and not to the name of the Society, shall not be capitalized.
The abbreviation “SSS” shall not be used. This should be changed to “the Society” or to the organization’s full name.
Names of Society and chapter offices (President, Treasurer, etc.) shall be capitalized.
Award titles (for example, Chapter of the Year Award) shall be capitalized. They shall not be enclosed in quotation marks.
Any reference to “national” regarding the Society shall be changed to “international.”
Society logos must be the officially sanctioned logos of the Society and should always include the ® symbol. Pointed-top logos and typed logo facsimiles (such as created in Word, PowerPoint, etc.) may never be used. When published in color, the gold color shall be PMS 110 CVC or equivalent.
The word “conference,” when it refers specifically to the International System Safety Conference held by the Society, shall be capitalized. When used in its generic sense, the word shall be lower case.
When referring by name to a Society chapter (for example, the New Mexico Chapter), the word “chapter” shall be capitalized. When referring to chapters in their generic sense, the word shall not be capitalized. Examples:
The TVC is ahead of schedule, as the Chapter held its 15th meeting in June.
Like the New Mexico Chapter, many chapters are holding elections this month.
The word “proceedings,” unless it is part of the title of a book, shall not be capitalized.
JSS, when it refers to Journal of System Safety, shall be italicized. The word “the” should not be used preceding Journal of System Safety or JSS, but “the journal” may be used in text.
Journal of System Safety should never be referred to as a magazine.
Formatting, Layout and Typography
Following general typographic standard, only one character space shall be used between sentences.
End-of-article (small double-sigma graphic) symbols shall be used to mark the end of all articles, except where layout makes it obvious (e.g., when there are multiple short articles on one page).
“Smart” (curved) quotation marks and apostrophes (“ ” ’) must be used in the print edition. Straight (" ') marks must be used to represent feet and inches. In the electronic edition, straight quotation marks and apostrophes may be used throughout in order to ensure compatibility with older browsers.
Whenever possible, figures shall be enclosed in a box, using a red #2 (medium weight) line. Figure captions shall be ishcap (title case), and shall be formatted as follows:
Figure 1 — Title of Figure.
The same shall apply to tables. Following standard technical writing practice, figure titles shall generally be placed below the figure, and table titles placed above the table. However, in the print edition, figure titles may be placed to the side of the figure if necessary to save space or improve layout. If figure titles are placed to the left of a figure, they shall be flush right. If they are placed to the right of the figure, they shall be flush left. In the print edition, if they are placed above or below (according to whether they are for tables or figures), they shall be flush left. In the electronic edition, all figure and table titles shall be centered.
Text in figures and tables may be no smaller than 8 pt., and may appear no larger than the text of body copy on the page. Sans serif text should be used in figures and tables.
When referenced in text, numbered figures (for example, “see Figure 1”) shall have the word “Figure” capitalized. The word “Figure” should not be abbreviated. The text reference to a figure must appear before or on the same page with the figure itself.
DC (as in Washington) shall not contain periods, except as needed to end a sentence. The Washington DC Chapter shall have its name written as shown here.
Phone numbers shall have the following format: XXX-XXX-XXXX, not (XXX) XXX-XXXX. Care should be taken not to break phone numbers into two lines.
Two spaces shall be used before a zip code, and also between a zip code and the country name.
First paragraphs, including the first paragraph of a section, shall not be indented. Subsequent paragraphs shall be indented one-quarter inch.
References, in text, shall follow this format: [Ref. 1]. References must be cited in numerical order.
Reference lists shall follow standard format according to The Chicago Manual of Style, 15.74 – 15.82. When references are placed in the back of the journal, an appropriate footnote to that effect must appear on the first page of the article. In the electronic edition, all references shall be placed at the end of the article, linked from the text reference.
Lead articles or papers should contain an About the Author bio of one or two paragraphs. Shorter features, such as Opinion columns, should contain a short italicized line about the author.
When citing names of government armed forces, the words Navy, Army, Air Force, etc. shall be capitalized.
In-text abbreviations such as i.e. and e.g. shall be lower case and shall not be italicized. A comma shall follow the abbreviation.
Advertisers, as shown in the index of advertisers, shall be listed in alphabetical (not page number) order. Other lists of names (e.g., countries, persons, companies) shall be listed alphabetically. Exception: In an article with multiple authors, names of authors should remain in the order listed in the original submission.
Regular advertisements should be rotated with each issue so that fairness in placement is maintained.
Chapter News should be written (or rewritten, if necessary) in the third person.
Scientific and Technical Terminology and Representation
Use of acronyms shall be kept to the barest minimum! An acronym should not be used at all except when a lengthy term is to appear four or more times. (Exception: cases in which the acronym is more familiar than the words; for example, PC; CPU; etc.). Acronyms serving no purpose beyond force of habit — example: The All Inclusive Agency (AIA) — should be deleted.
All necessary acronyms shall be clearly defined at their first appearance in the text. However, acronyms should not be defined in titles, headings or subheads.
Acronyms should be preceded by “a” or “an” according to how they are pronounced, not how they are spelled (i.e., regardless of whether the acronym actually begins with a vowel). Examples: A U.S. agency; an RCA connector.
An acronym may be made plural by adding an “s” and no apostrophe. If an apostrophe is used, then the acronym becomes possessive. Examples:
“The report contains four FTAs and one FBD.”
“The reviewer doubted the FTA’s accuracy.” [The acronym is singular; there is only one FTA in question.]
“The reviewer doubted the FTAs’ accuracy.” [The acronym is plural; there is more than one FTA, and all are in question.]
Equation numbers should be well separated horizontally from the equations to which they refer. Ideally, they should be flush with the right margin. Equation numbers should be enclosed in parentheses.
Equations should be in the same font as the text of the article. Fuzzy-edged bitmap art (e.g., .tif, .bmp and .psd files) may not be used for equations in the print edition. Simple equations should be recreated as text. Complex or lengthy equations may be included as vector or crisp line art.
Ordinal numbers (for example, 41st and 14th) shall be written in superscript format.
Minus signs shall be represented by en-dashes (–), not by hyphens (-).
The following shall be written without periods: CSP, PE, EA, BS, IEEE, MS, MSEE, AIAA, ASSE, HFES, and most other professional designations. The advanced degree Ph.D. shall be written as shown here.
The word “Web,” when it refers specifically to the World Wide Web, shall be capitalized. The words “home page” (referring to a page on the World Wide Web) shall not be capitalized.
Years should not be abbreviated ’97, ’06, etc. The dates must include all four digits.
Using “there is” or “there are” as the beginning of a sentence should be avoided. However, editors should not use odd phrasing (such as “[noun] exists”) simply to avoid it.
When referring to a government standard, all capitals should be used. Example: MIL-STD-882.
Numbers shall follow general technical writing (not AP) standard: use numerals for all numbers 10 or larger. If a mixture of numbers (under and over 10) appears in the same paragraph, use numerals for all. Never begin a sentence with a numeral. Numerals shall always be used for units of measure, numbering of items, scale points, steps and mathematical expressions, whether in formulas or in text. Examples:
Attendees included 16 members, 10 presenters and 2 guests.
Please repeat steps 1 through 4.
Do this exercise four times.
The abbreviation for the Department of Defense (DoD) shall be written as shown here. By contrast, the abbreviation for the Department Of Energy (DOE) shall be written also as shown here. Please note that the contradiction is not our fault.
The following spellings shall be standardized for use in JSS:
APT Research, Inc.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
criterion (singular); criteria (plural)
fail-safe (noun and adjective)
Failure Mode and Effects Analysis / a FMEA
Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis / a FMECA
floating point (unit modifier: floating-point)
life cycle (unit modifier: life-cycle)
setup — noun
set up — verb
single-point failure (BUT a single point of contention)
Vice President, Operating Vice President
Weapon System Explosives Safety Review Board
JSS Staffing and Chain of Command
The publisher of the journal operates as a paid independent vendor to the System Safety Society. The publisher will invoice the Society monthly or as needed, and will issue payments as appropriate to staff, third-party vendors and/or subcontractors. As of this writing (June 2009), the publisher produces six issues per year under the budget approved by the Society.
The reporting and chain of command are as follows:
- The publisher is responsible to the Technical Editor.
- The Technical Editor is responsible to the Director of Publicity and Media.
- The Director of Publicity and Media is responsible to the EC and the Society as a whole.
Should the publisher resign or become unable to fulfill his or her duties, the Technical Editor chooses a new one, under the guidance and approval of the Director of Publicity and Media. Should the Technical Editor resign or become unable to fulfill his or her duties, the Director of Publicity and Media chooses a new one. EC approval is not required, and these appointments need not be submitted for an EC vote.