RCN house style for print and web



names of bacteria in italics, genus name only taking capital letter, species all lower case – for example, Staphylococcus aureus; Escherichia coli, but E coli is acceptable

BA (Hons)

note space


TM; use plaster or sticking plaster

bank holiday

bank nurse


basically, this word is usually redundant

the Bible

cap up, no italics if referring to New or Old Testament; lower case in sentences such as “the RCN style guide is my bible”; biblical is always lower case


for example, NHS Reform Bill, thereafter, the bill; draft Mental Health Bill


five-bed unit, not five-bedded unit

benefited, benefiting

one t


between 15 and 20; not between 15-20


twice a year; biennial means every two years

Black History Month

note caps


black and minority ethnic groups or communities – spell out at first mention

Boxing Day


use sparingly. Where brackets form part of a sentence, the full stop comes outside the sentence (as here). (But where the brackets contain a whole sentence, the full stop should be inside the bracket.) Square brackets are used in direct quotes to clarify something not uttered by the speaker: “The nurses in the [A&E] unit were brilliant.”


one word


one word

Britain, UK

These terms are synonymous: Britain is the short form of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Used as adjectives, therefore, British and UK mean the same. Great Britain, however, refers only to England, Wales and Scotland. Take care not to write Britain when you mean only England, for example. British Isles is a geographical term usually taken to mean Great Britain, Ireland and some adjacent islands – best avoided


a secure psychiatric hospital, not a prison

Budget, the


bullet points

usually a list of bullet points will be proceeded by introductory text and a colon, in which case each bullet point begins in lower case and the only punctuation is a full stop at the end of the list. Each bullet point will usually form a complete sentence when appended to the introductory text. So…

Bullet points should:

  • begin in lower case
  • have a simple black circle at the beginning, and not something fancy
  • include no full stop or semicolon, with the exception of the last one
  • conclude with a full stop.

In exceptional case, the list mayhave to begin directly under a sub-heading, for example, with no introductory text. If so, each bullet point should begin with a capital letter and end in a full stop. So…

Bullet points

  • Bullet points are useful on web pages.
  • They can break up text and make the page easier to read.
  • They can help simplify complex messages.

A bullet point may require further break down:

  • in which case, it should include:
    – a dash
    – another dash
    – possibly a third
    – a full stop only if this marks the end of the bullet points.


things included in the RCN Royal Charter