HELP International Style Guide Holly Smith Created October 10, 2013 HELP International (http://www.

help-international.org) is a nonprofit company located in Provo, Utah. Their mission is “to empower people to fight global poverty through sustainable, life-changing development programs.” They were created following Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, when a team was assembled to raise money, provide humanitarian aid, and offer microcredit loans to Hondurans. Since then, they have expanded to eight different countries: El Salvador, India, Fiji, Peru, Belize, Tanzania, Uganda, and Thailand. Volunteers go to these countries to provide humanitarian work in academic, business, and health fields. Volunteers are encouraged to immerse themselves in the culture of the countries and respond to the desires of the local people. In doing so, they can create projects that target the needs of the people and are sustainable by the locals when the volunteers leave the country. While in these countries, HELP International volunteers often give the website, brochure, or blog address to prospective work partners. This creates a global audience for their company. In addition to the general publications, HELP International operates a website and a blog for each country. Following each summer they spend in the country, country directors are required to write annual reports of what they accomplished in that time in their respective countries. As a result, there are many different people who are writing on behalf of the nonprofit organization and creating grammatical inconsistencies. This in-house style guide will help to increase the consistency of their various publications. Besides anything specifically discussed in the HELP International Style Guide, any queries should be referred to the Chicago Manual of Style (Sixteenth Edition). Because HELP International commonly refers business partners and people they interact with in other countries to their blog and website, they have a following of readers who do not speak Standard American English. This guide will define any inconsistencies in current publications, as well as any issues that may arise in the publications that are created for a worldwide readership. Anything pertaining to this can be found in the IBM Style Guide Conventions for Writers and Editors. (DeRespinis, Francis, Peter Hayward, Jana Jenkins, Amy Laird, Leslie McDonald, and Eric Radzinski. The IBM Style Guide: Conventions for Writers and Editors. IBM Press, 2011.)

1. Grammar and Usage
1.1 Brevity 1.2 Inappropriate Terms 1.3 Parallelism 1.4 Contractions 1.5 Negative Constructions 1.6 Active Voice 1.7 Phrasal Verbs 1.8 Ambiguous Pronouns 1.9 Noun Phrases 1.10 That-Clauses 1.11 Prepositions 1.12 Plurals 1.13 Lists

2. Names and Terms
2.1 Name Consistency 2.2 Terminology 2.3 Creating New Terms 2.4 Please and Thank You 2.5 Domestic and Foreign

3. Numbers
3.1 Billion, Trillion 3.2 Dates

4. Punctuation
4.1 Special Characters 4.2 Symbols 4.3 Slashes 4.4 Serial Comma 4.5 Em Dashes

5. Abbreviations
5.1 Over Usage 5.2 Latin Abbreviations

6. Foreign Languages and Cultures
6.1 Culture-Specific References 6.2 Colors and Symbols 6.3 Flags 6.4 Maps

1. Grammar and Usage
1.1 Brevity IBM advises to, “Keep sentences as short and simple as possible. Try to keep sentences to 25 or fewer words. . . . Be succinct. Avoid redundant and unnecessary text” (236). By avoiding wordy phrasing, readers will be able to clearly understand what is being said. The company used to engage in primary aid relief in the form of earthquake and tsunami aftermath relief efforts. Now, HELP aims to work more in the context of secondary development relief with training initiatives and program partnering. NOT Though HELP has engaged in primary aid relief in the form of earthquake and tsunami aftermath relief efforts, its primary drive is to work more in the context of secondary development relief with training initiatives and program partnering. 1.2 Inappropriate Terms A variety of terms should be avoided in international writing. According to IBM, these include “slang, jargon, humor, sarcasm, colloquialisms, idioms, emoticons (also called smilies), and metaphors” (236). Although these would be clear to an American audience, they may be confusing to international readers. Use the most straight-forward terms possible to avoid possible miscommunications. If you are interested and ready to join our team, apply now! NOT If you are sold and ready to take the plunge, apply now! 1.3 Parallelism Parallelism within the text creates clarity for the reader. IBM points out that this means avoiding “a mix of phrases and sentences or a mix of passive and active voice” (236). IBM also says that “words, phrases, and clauses should be grammatically equal” (239). Parallelism will give the writing consistency that will make the text easier to understand. Volunteers must behave respectfully and professionally. NOT Volunteers must behave respectfully and be professional. 1.4 Contractions IBM’s section discussing style says to not use contractions. The reader may not understand what contractions mean, so it is better to include the entire phrase. If you are interested and ready to join our team, apply now!

NOT If you’re interested and ready to join our team, apply now! 1.5 Negative Constructions IBM says to avoid negative constructions. This means writing sentences that say what should not be done, instead of sentences that begin with a positive verb. Eliminating negative constructions will give a specific set of instructions of what to do, instead of listing what not to do. Also, the chances of writing double negatives are decreased. Volunteers should have hair that is clean, combed, and neatly trimmed. NOT Volunteers cannot have messy or dirty hair. 1.6 Active Voice According to IBM, international writers should “write in active voice and the present tense as much as possible” (237). This simplifies text for translation. Passive voice and different verb tenses are not as clear to translate, and non-native English speakers may be unfamiliar with the various tenses. The volunteers raised the funds over four months. NOT The funds were raised by volunteers over four months. 1.7 Phrasal Verbs Phrasal verbs should not be used in international texts. IBM says to “avoid using a phrasal verb (verb and a preposition) if the verb alone provides the same meaning” (237). The preposition that follows the verb is often unnecessary and is more colloquial than informational. If volunteers will be late for appointments, they should call their clients to inform them. NOT If volunteers will be late for appointments, they should call up their clients to inform them. 1.8 Ambiguous Pronouns Ambiguous pronouns (pronouns that could stand for a variety of things) make the subject of the sentence unclear. To avoid confusion, IBM says to “avoid ambiguous pronoun references in which a pronoun can refer to more than one antecedent” (238). If the reader has to wonder what the pronoun is referring to, it will cause confusion. Volunteers can spend anywhere from five weeks to three months in-country.

NOT Volunteers can spend anywhere from five weeks to three months there. 1.9 Noun Phrases To aid with clarity, noun phrases should be short and concise. “Limit a noun phrase to no more than three words. When you use a noun phrase, make sure that it has only one meaning and that you use it consistently” (IBM, 239). Extended noun phrases probably include unnecessary information and may mask the subject of the sentence. Many volunteers receive internship credit. NOT Volunteers may receive a variety of internship credits. 1.10 That Clauses In American English, that is often omitted because it is understood by readers. However, global audiences may not know that that is present or implied. IBM says, “The use of the conjunction that, although technically optional in some sentences, is never wrong and makes the sentence easier to translate and clearer for readers whose primary language is not English” (239). We take pains to make sure that our programs allow the people we serve to become selfsufficient rather than dependent upon others to meet their daily needs. NOT We take pains to make sure our programs allow the people we serve to become selfsufficient rather than dependent upon others to meet their daily needs. 1.11 Prepositions IBM recommends “avoid[ing] using too many prepositions in a sentence” (239). It makes sentences more lengthy than necessary and also adds additional noun phrases that muddle the meaning of the sentence. HELP International volunteers and interns are not to use any form of illegal drugs whatsoever, nor are they to participate in any transactions involving illegal drugs while volunteering. NOT HELP International volunteers/interns are not to use any form of illegal drugs whatsoever, nor are they to participate in any transaction involving the sale or transfer of illegal drugs for the duration of their in-country experience.

1.12 Plurals Avoid forming a plural by adding (s) at the end of a noun. To fix this, IBM suggests to, “Try to rewrite the sentence to use either the plural form or singular form, whichever is more appropriate. If you must indicate both forms, repeat the noun, or use one or more” (241). The addition of (s) is ambiguous and may not signal to non-native speakers that a plural is optional. Instead, by adding an extra phrase, the meaning is made explicit. It is within the discretion of the Country Directors (or director if only one is placed incountry) to determine whether or not a volunteer’s dress and grooming are appropriate. NOT It is within the discretion of the Country Director(s) to determine whether or not a volunteer’s dress and grooming are appropriate. 1.13 Lists IBM suggests “us[ing] a complete sentence to introduce a list” (236). By doing so, the reader understands what is actually being introduced and its importance. In addition, list items should be grammatically parallel to avoid confusion. If the items are not parallel, it may seem like the items are not meant to be part of the same list. The following is a list of the majors we have worked with in the past: Advertising, Marketing, Art, Music, Business, Construction Management, Chemistry, Biology, Dance, Theater, Education, Engineering, English, Exercise Science, Finance, Accounting, Health Science, History, Family and Consumer Science, Humanities, Mathematics, Political Science, Pre-Dental, Pre-Med, Recreation Management, Social Work, and Sociology. NOT Majors we work with: Advertising, Marketing, Art, Music, Business, Construction Management, Chemistry, Biology, Dance, Theater, Education, Engineering, English, Exercise Science, Finance, Accounting, Health Science, History, Family and Consumer Science, Humanities, Mathematics, Political Science, Pre-Dental, Pre-Med, Recreation Management, Social Work, and Sociology.

2. Names and Terms
2.1 Consistency HELP International should always be referred to with HELP written in all caps and International written with a capital I and the rest of the letters lowercased. A hyphen should not be included between the two words. If you would like to shorten the name for brevity, refer to the program as HELP.

We expect our volunteers to represent HELP International by adhering to certain policies. Any violation of these policies may result in disciplinary action or termination from the HELP program. 2.2 Terminology IBM says to “Use correct and consistent terminology. . . . Use the simplest term possible to convey the intended meaning” (241). If one specific term is listed to describe an idea, be sure to use that same term throughout the text and avoid decorative and figurative language. The most simplistic term is most effective in communicating an idea to a global audience. Those learning English as a second language will most likely have a strong understanding of basic words. Since then, HELP has grown to be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization specializing in three core areas: (1) public health; (2) education; (3) business. NOT Since then, HELP has grown to be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization specializing in three core competencies: (1) public health, (2) education and (3) entrepreneurship/business projects. 2.3 Creating New Terms IBM suggests not creating new terms or using terms that are made-up when writing for an international audience. Although new words are always being created, they can cause confusion. It is easier to use terms that the reader is already familiar with. These HELP volunteers worked to create school gardens in local public schools. NOT These HELPers worked to create school gardens in local public schools. 2.4 Please and Thank You Using please and thank you takes away from the authoritative tone of a text. IBM notes that “terms of politeness convey the wrong tone for technical information and are not regarded the same way in all cultures” (237). Although it may appear as though you are being polite, it can be distracting and take away from the effectiveness of the writing. Be considerate of your team, your partners, and the local community in choosing how you dress. NOT Please be considerate of your team, your partners, and the local community in choosing how you dress.

2.5 Domestic and Foreign IBM says to “Avoid using the terms domestic and foreign” (241). The terms domestic and foreign can be confusing because the reader may not understand where the point of view is coming from. These terms are usually used from an American standpoint, not from the view of other countries. So, the reader may think they are speaking about the domestic parts of their own country when in fact it is talking about the United States or another country. While working in-country, volunteers should be aware of different cultural customs. NOT While working in the foreign countries, volunteers should be aware of different cultural customs.

3. Numbers
3.1 Billion, Trillion The terms billion and trillion should be avoided “because they have different meanings in different countries” (IBM, 241). IBM suggests using the actual number instead. See Chicago 9.8, where it states that although generally it is advised to write billion or trillion, “editors working with material by British or other European writers may need to query the use of these terms” to clarify the meaning for their specific country. Roughly 4,000,000,000 lives have been touched by the work of HELP International. NOT Roughly four billion lives have been touched by the work of HELP International.

3.2 Dates Dates should be written out as completely as possible. IBM says, “Do not write dates only in numerical form. In most countries, a date written as 9/12/99 means 9 December 1999, not 12 September 1999” (237). Writing out the month name will show exactly which date the author means. Volunteers will leave the United States on May 15 and return on June 20. NOT Volunteers will leave the United States on 5/15 and return on 6/20.

4. Punctuation
4.1 Special Characters

IBM suggests not overusing special characters. If they are going to be used at all, they should be defined to explain their purpose. See Chicago section 4.2-4.3 for specific help with special characters. 4.2 Symbols IBM says not to “use symbols instead of words in running text” (236). It is clearer in meaning and does not interrupt the flow of the words. Volunteers will help cook and prepare daily meals. NOT Volunteers will help cook & prepare daily meals. 4.3 Slashes Forward slashes should not be used to mean “and/or.” IBM says, “a forward slash can be ambiguous. Rewrite the sentence to clarify the meaning” (241). Much like discussed in 4.2, using words instead of a symbol in this situation will not interrupt the flow of the words and is easier to understand. Since then, HELP has grown to be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization specializing in three core competencies: (1) public health; (2) education; and (3) entrepreneurship and business. NOT Since then, HELP has grown to be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization specializing in three core competencies: (1) public health, (2) education and (3) entrepreneurship/business projects. 4.4 Serial Comma Commas should be used between each item in a series, including before the conjunction before the last item. IBM says that these commas are added “to ensure that readers can clearly separate the item” (241). HELP currently runs programs in El Salvador, India, Uganda, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Belize, and Fiji. NOT HELP currently runs programs in El Salvador, India, Uganda, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Belize and Fiji. 4.5 Em Dashes Em dashes should not be used in international writing. To explain this, IBM says that “more common punctuation marks, such as commas, parentheses, or a colon, provide the same result.

Rewrite the text or use different punctuation” (241). Although IBM also says that em dashes are acceptable in marketing content, HELP International will not use em dashes in any material. Our alumni have gone on to start successful domestic nonprofit organizations (furthering their projects internationally), as well as starting successful small businesses which sell products produced by community members they once worked with, and to whom they continue to partner with. NOT Our alumni have gone on to start successful domestic nonprofit organizations—furthering their projects internationally—as well as starting successful small businesses which sell products produced by community members they once worked with, and to whom they continue to partner with.

5. Abbreviations
5.1 Over Usage IBM warns against overusing abbreviations. Although they are helpful and necessary at times, an excessive use of any one abbreviation should be revised. Any abbreviation that is used in a text should be defined upon its first use with the abbreviation in parenthesis. More information for this can be found in section 10 of the Chicago Manual of Style. While in Fiji (FJ), volunteers will live in a rural community. FJ is a beautiful area known for its friendly culture and farming practices. NOT While in FJ, volunteers will live in a rural community. FJ is a beautiful area known for its friendly culture and farming practices. 5.2 Latin Abbreviations IBM says, “Do not use Latin abbreviations” (241). Because they are mostly used in American writing and not in global English, most audiences outside of the United States will not understand what each abbreviation means. It is better to use phrases such as “for example” or “and so forth.” Program costs go towards housing and food, volunteer support, volunteer training and handbooks, promotional items, projects, and so on. NOT Program costs go towards housing and food, volunteer support, volunteer training and handbooks, promotional items, projects, etc.

6. Foreign Languages and Cultures
6.1 Culture-Specific References Culture-Specific references should be avoided because they are probably not known worldwide. IBM says that these include “holidays and celebrations, monetary units, and phone number and address formats” (240). Instead, use more generic terms or explain what the reference means and its significance to the text. 6.2 Colors and Symbols IBM says to “be careful not to use colors, symbols, and text in a way that some cultures might find confusing or offensive” (242). Each culture has different connotations for specific colors, hand gestures, and symbols. It is important to understand these connotations and be respectful of them when writing for a global audience. This includes awareness when creating graphics or including images. 6.3 Flags Flags should not be included as images in a text. There are many reasons for this. As IBM explains, “The use of a flag might be falsely interpreted as an expression of approval or sponsorship of that country or as an affiliation with that country. Some countries are particularly sensitive about how and in what context their flags are displayed” (242). To avoid any issues associated with flag use, it is best to not include them at all. 6.4 Maps Maps should not be included in a text. IBM says, “Geographical information, such as national or internal political boundaries, the names of countries, states, and cities, and the names of other geographic elements, continually changes. Maps that include explicit details might have to be updated regularly” (243). It would be extremely difficult to keep maps up to date in all versions of a text. Also, maps may be drawn inaccurately regardless of when they were created. Maps can also be difficult to translate. For these reasons, it is best to avoid map use.