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an orthographic guideline

Paragraph boundaries

Paragraph boundaries in English must be marked in one of two ways: either with an indentation at the beginning of the paragraph, or with a blank line and no indentation. Don’t put a line break (hard return) after a sentence unless it ends a paragraph.


Italicizing titles

Note that in English, we use italics (or underlining, in the days when italics was not an option) when we write the titles of books, newspapers, or magazines:

No: the Guardian, War and Peace

Yes: the Guardian, War and Peace


Be careful with capital letters. Many types of words are capitalized in English but not in Swedish. Make sure to use capitals in such cases.

No: I like studying english.

Yes: I like studying English.

No: We mostly watch american tv shows.

Yes: We mostly watch American TV shows.

No: I have been here since monday.

Compound nouns

While compound nouns are almost always properly written as one word in Swedish, in English they may be written in three different ways: as one word, as two words, or (much more rarely) with a hyphen. For each individual compound, there is usually a preferred way to write it, which you must simply learn.

No: highschool

Yes: high school

No: tea pot

Yes: teapot

Use of commas

Commas are used somewhat more often in English than in Swedish. Among other things, they are used to separate parentheses and appositives, to separate longer adverbials, and between two clauses with different subjects (but not two clauses with the same subject).

No: After the war had ended he returned to his family.

Yes: After the war had ended, he returned to his family.

Sentence fragments

Make sure every sentence contains a verb.

A sentence fragment results when a piece of text is punctuated as a sentence but lacks a verb. These should be avoided in formal writing.

No: We learned this. And many other things.

Yes: We learned this, as well as many other things.

Run-on sentences

Within a sentence, separate clauses either with a semicolon or with a comma plus a conjunction.

A run-on sentence occurs when clauses are strung together using commas (or even without commas). Any time you have two clauses within the same sentence, you must separate them with a semicolon (;) or a conjunction followed by a comma (, and).

No: The question is not an easy one, I see it as something we must all decide for ourselves.

Its vs. It's

Remember that it’s is short for it is, while its is a possessive pronoun, like my.

No: It’s power is incredible.

Yes: Its power is incredible.

Using contractions

In formal genres such as the essay, we tend to avoid contractions, such as isn’t, don’t, and it’s.

No: This isn’t an issue to take lightly.

Yes: This is not an issue to take lightly.

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