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HL7 Style Guide for Writers
Last revised August 26, 2014
Comments or questions? Contact andrea@HL7.org

Reference

Use the[ |http://www.apstylebook.com/]Associated Press Stylebook as a guide for all external publications.

Abbreviations

When using abbreviations that are not in common usage, spell out in parentheses after first use on a page or content chunk.

Acronyms

When using abbreviations that are not in common usage, spell out in parentheses after first use in body copy on a page or content chunk
For plural acronyms, add "s" (no apostrophe): EHRs, PCs
It's OK to use acronyms in headings, but spell the words out in first reference in the body and then enclose the acronym in parentheses.
When spelling out an acronym, use initial caps only for a proper name, but not for common or descriptive names (even if the acronym is all caps):
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)
electronic health record (EHR)
Acronyms that have turned into words need not be be entirely capitalized: scuba, radar, Nasdaq

Bulleted Lists

Omit periods, semicolons or other punctuation after words or phrases in a bulleted list, even if list items form a complete sentence with the lead-in phrase:
You'll learn about topics like these:

  • The new HL7 conformance testing program
  • Services for implementers like the Help Desk and user groups
  • What's new with HL7, including sessions on FHIR® and CDA®


Use punctuation if any of the list items is a complete sentence.
A few notes on the Treasurer's Report:

  • Only selected and significant revenues and expenses are noted in the tables below.
  • All figures are as of December 31, 2012 and are not yet audited.
  • All figures are in US dollars.

Capitalization

Avoid unnecessary capitals. Do not capitalize words for emphasis; instead, use italics—but sparingly.
Do not initial-capitalize acronym definitions, except when the definition is a proper noun. See Acronyms.

Heads and Subheads

Use title caps for heading and subheads:

  • Capitalize all nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
  • Capitalize prepositions, pronouns, and adverbs if they are four letters or longer.
  • Always capitalize the first and last word.


What Makes HL7 Work?Learn About the StandardsSpecial Benefits for Members

Products and Standards

Capitalize names of HL7 standards and products:
HL7 Version 2 Messaging StandardArden Syntax

Proper Nouns

Capitalize nouns that constitute the identification of a specific person, place, or thing.
Capitalize common nouns such as river, street, and north when they are an integral part of the full name of a person, place, or thing: Main Street.
Capitalize words that are derived from proper nouns and depend on them for meaning: American, English-speaking.
Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, radio, and television programs.

Professional Titles

Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas.
President Jones
Mr. Jones, president of the organization
Capitalize formal titles in a biographical summary.
A 37-year veteran of the healthcare IT industry, Dr. Jaffe was previously Senior Global Strategist for the Digital Health Group at Intel Corporation, Vice President of Life Sciences at SAIC, and the Director of Medical Informatics at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

Bulleted Lists

Capitalize the first word in each item in a bulleted list, whether or not it forms a complete sentence or completes the introductory sentence.

Copyright

Use this copyright statement for all HL7 publications:
® Health Level Seven, HL7, FHIR and CDA are registered trademarks of Health Level Seven International, registered in the U.S. Trademark Office.
Use the registered trademark symbol (®) on first use of these terms, even if it appears in a headline.

Commas

When there are three or more simple items in a list, don't use a comma before the conjunction (and or or).
name, address and phone number
Put a comma before the conjunction in a series, if an item the series requires a conjunction:
Breakfast includes orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs.
Use a comma when a list contains complex phrases:
The main points to consider are whether home caregivers have the proper training, whether they have good social support, and whether respite care is available as needed.

Dates and Times

Use U.S. standard formatting for dates. Spell out the month or use a three-letter abbreviation; avoid number-only date formats.
Do not use –st, –th or –rd (1st, 3rd, etc.) in dates; just use the date (April 3). Generally include the day of the week.
On Monday, April 3, HL7 will…
Include the year at least once on any page containing a date.
In running text, use the word "to" in the time span (from 10 a.m. to noon), but in brief listings, it's OK to use an en dash (Monday, April 3, 10 a.m.–noon). See Dashes.
Always include the time zone (Eastern, Central, Pacific, etc.)

Dashes

Em dash (—): Use em dashes to denote a pause in thought, a parenthetical statement, or an afterthought. Type an em dash by holding Alt and typing 0151 on the numeric keypad. Don't insert spaces around an en dash.
Methods of care are rapidly changing, requiring different—and more flexible—technologies.
En dash (–): Use for a range of times, dates or numbers. Type Alt+0150 on the numeric keyboard. Don't use spaces around an en dash.
3:00–4:00 p.m.
2008–2009
Hyphen (minus): Use the hyphen key for hyphenated words.
day-to-day
pre- and post-operative

Emphasis

Use bold sparingly to emphasize important words in text.
Don't use underline for emphasis (looks like a hyperlink).
Don't use italics for emphasis (hard to read online).

Numbers

Spell out numbers up to and including ten. Use numerals for 11 or higher.
Between ten and 25 organizations were involved in the project.
Spell out numbers over ten at the beginning of a sentence:
Twenty-five organizations were involved in the project.
Spell out large numbers used in text:
We expect over a thousand attendees.

Phone Numbers

Format phone numbers as follows, always including the area code:
(555) 555-5555
+1 (800) 555-5555

Proper Names

Follow the usage of the organization for spelling words in proper names:
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Single Space After Sentence

Use a single space after a period, question mark or colon.

Trademark Symbols

Use the registered trademark symbol ® with the first use on a page for the following terms:
CDA® CCD®
FHIR®HL7®
greenCDA®
greenCCD®
Trademarked names should be referenced in the copyright statement. See Copyright Statement.

URLs

Omit thehttp:// from URLs.


When writing the URL or email addresses, HL7 should always be capitalized. Otherwise, unfamiliar users might confuse the L for a 1 and type in H-seventeen into the address bar.
www.HL7.org

laura@HL7.org


Working Group Program Titles

Set off program codes from program titles by setting them in a colored box:
W16 Version 2.7 Control Specialist Certification Test Preparation



Terminology

Use this...

Not this...

Notes


i.e.

Don't use. Use namely, specifically, or recast the sentence.

"click X"

"click on X"

Click Submit, not Click on Submit.

am

a.m.AM
A.M.


canceled
canceling

cancelled, cancelling


cont.

con't.
cont'd.


co-chair

Co-Chair

Capitalize when referring to a person's title, don't capitalize when referring to the role in general

datasets

Datasets


data type

datatype


eHealth

e-Health
ehealth


email

e-mail
Email
E-mail





etc.

et cetera
etcetera
&c


fax

FAX
Fax


for example

e.g.

Avoid Latin abbreviations (except etc.).

HL7


Use in referring to standards

Health Level Seven InternationalHL7 International
HL7

Health Level 7
HL Seven

Use full name on first reference to the organizationUse "HL7" on subsequent references
Use "HL7 International" to distinguish the organization from the standards

healthcare

health care


implementation guide guide

Implementation Guide

Capitalize when referring to official title but not a general reference. This: The HL7 Implementation Guide for CDA Release 2 - Level 3: Emergency Medical Services. Not this: This Implementation Guide covers emergency medical services.

inpatient

in-patient


internet

Internet
InterNet


KB

KbK bytes
Kbytes
K.B.
Kb

Abbreviation for "kilobyte." Include a space after the number: "30 KB."

labeled
labeling

labelled, labelling


log in (verb)
login (adjective)

logon
log on


log out (verb)
logout (adjective)

log off
logoff


long- (adjective)
long (noun),


Adjective: "long-distance," "long-lived," "long-term."
Noun: "long distance."

low-
low


"Low-end," "low-grade," "low-level."

MB

MbM bytes
Mbytes
M.B.
Mb

Abbreviation for "megabyte." Include a space after the number: "30 MB."

mHealth

m-Health
mhealth


Meaningful UseMeaningful Use Stage 2

meaningful use"Meaningful Use"MUMeaningful Use Phase 2
Meaningful Use II


NA

N/A, n/a
n.a.
na

"Not applicable" or "not available."

non-profit

nonprofit


online (adj.)

on-line
on line

"help is available online"

outpatient

out-patient


pm

p.m.PM
P.M.


parenthesis (singular)
parentheses (plural)



pre-


Only hyphenate compounds formed with "pre-" when the second word starts with "e": "preregistration," "pre-existing."

press (a key)

hit
depress


preventive

preventative


re-


Only hyphenate compounds formed with "re-" when the verb starts with "e": "reboot," "reinstall," "re-enable."

standard

Standard

CDA standard

status (singular)
statuses (plural)



type (text)

enter
type in


use

utilize


web page

Webpage
webpage


website

Website
web site


-wide


Words such as departmentwide, hospitalwide, statewide and worldwide do not require a hyphen.

working group meetingWGM

Working Group Meeting

Spell out first use

x-ray

X-ray
X ray


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1 Comment

  1. Andrea Ribick Thanks for creating this back in 2014.