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Authors' Guidelines: Editorial Style

Last Updated: April 17, 2018

This section is your guide to proper and consistent usage for Steve Jackson Games releases.

Everything we release will meet the highest professional standards. Text must be readable and easily understood. Game rules must be clear, precise, and internally consistent. Outside submissions must be revised and/or edited until they meet these standards – or they will be returned. Art and graphics will complement and reinforce the text. Simplicity and elegance are the order of the day.

Following are discussions of the overall style and tone of the games and magazines produced by SJ Games, as well as all the picky details which create that style and tone – word usage, spelling, layout, and a hundred other seemingly minor points.

Keep these guidelines handy and refer to them as necessary. If in doubt, let your stylebook be your guide. If you're still in doubt about a particular point after checking here, ask your editor for assistance.

Library for Writers

We strongly recommend that every game writer possess, and refer to, the following books:

The AP Stylebook is good but doesn't cover all possible situations. Acceptable secondary references are Garner's Modern English Usage, Fourth Edition and The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. If you use a ruling from a secondary source, please note that for your editor in case it is something we should add to this document. In case of a dispute among rulings, this style guide and the AP Stylebook, in that order, are definitive.

Note: an asterisk marks any rules given below where our style differs from the AP Stylebook.

Good Writing Style

We can't tell you everything, but we can cover some basics.

  • Organization. Start with an outline, and follow it. If we sign a contract with you, it will include an outline that we will expect you to follow. Don't wander – or if it's important to wander, rethink your outline. (Many great ideas occur after you've started writing.) If you think a change is necessary, tell your editor! Don't surprise us with it when you send in your first draft.

  • Brevity. Too many writers think they need to fill up space with long sentences and big words! Too many lazy writers don't prune their word-heavy first drafts into word-thrifty final manuscripts.

    Terseness in rules writing makes more room for other rules, explanations, or color. Terseness in a roleplaying product (especially a worldbook) means more space is available for background, adventuring, and examples.

    And terse writing is more readable – readers will notice.

    To be brief, you need the judgment to tell what is important and what's trivial. You need to properly organize what you've written, know what you're trying to say, and be ruthlessly critical of how you're saying it.

  • Color. While you're being brief, you can also be colorful. Colorful writing is not lurid; it is writing that is fun to read, that springs naturally from idea to idea, and that gives readers the feeling that they are hearing an interesting person speak.


A famous author once said, "When I say writing, it is rewriting that I have chiefly in mind."

Amen! Nobody gets it perfect in one shot, especially not in the game field. Manuscripts always get better on the second run-through, and better yet on the third. By then, your playtesters have found all your holes in logic, and all the places where you thought you explained what you meant to say.

We require two drafts on each project. The first draft is a complete draft. If any sections are missing, it's not an acceptable first-draft submission. When the writer sends the first draft, they should feel that it's ready to be typeset and printed, as is!

The final draft is the author's rewrite of the first draft, based on the editor's evaluation and the playtesters' comments. The final draft really should be ready to go straight to typesetting. The editor will check it again, but will not expect to find anything major to change; if they do, there is cause for distress.

Common Errors

  1. Errors in tense and person. GURPS rules are usually written in the third person, with "you" used only in introductions, not in rules language or background descriptions. Rules examples may address the character directly: "You must roll against ST to move the rock." GURPS advantages, disadvantages, and skills may be written in the same style. "You can fell the mightiest foe with a belch." However, the writer should never use the first person except in an introduction.

    Rules for our card and boardgames will refer more frequently to "you" rather than "the player" and the like, but even then, third person isn't wrong. Avoid switching back and forth between second and third person in the same section or on the same card; it carries too much potential for confusion.

    A surprising number of writers can't keep past, present, and future tenses straight within a paragraph or even a sentence; similarly, they mix up singular and plural. It is our style to present historical information in the past tense and campaign information in the present tense. We avoid future tense, except where it is grammatically necessary. Rules information should be present tense, not future. Note the correct transition from past to present tense in the example below.

    Example: "In the early 1900s, a few experiments were made in the military use of powered airships, and a steampunk world may take this practice much further. One way of doing so is to use airships as long-range military transport; unhindered by most sorts of terrain other than mountains and able to carry massive loads, airships allow much more flexible logistics and reduce the need to protect railways."

  2. Repetitious phrasing. Avoid repetitions of the same word, especially repetitions in the same sentence. Don't be repetitive; recast the sentence or find a synonym. "Character" and "PC" are repeated over and over – they are the most repeated words in adventure gaming.

    Did that paragraph bother you? It should have, but we see a lot just like it. Let's try again.

    Avoid repetitions of the same word, especially in a single sentence. Recast the phrase or find a synonym. "Character" and "PC" are the most overused words in adventure gaming. (And, on that note, see "Too Much Character.")

  3. Inappropriate attempts at humor. Game writing should be clear and entertaining. This does not mean it should contain jokes, inside references, cute comments, and the like. It is perfectly all right to set up a humorous, even slapstick, situation – but let the readers see the humor; don't try to rub their noses in it. (Of course, if you are writing a humorous game such as Munchkin, tailor this advice accordingly.)

  4. Colloquial writing and slang. This problem is often tied to the misusage of humor. Slang can be appropriate in vignettes and character dialog, and maybe in cases where a slang word is a term for a setting-specific item. Even then, be cautious – you can easily confuse a reader with a term which you think is known, but is in fact regional. Explain, and always check your dictionary when you are unsure.

  5. Editorializing. Frankly, we don't care about your politics, past or present. If you hate the Russians, the Republicans, the Albigensians, or the Red Eye Orcs, you're entitled to your opinion, but we're not paying for a forum. Nobody wants to buy a game that interrupts itself to make speeches, or even cute asides, about the writer's pet love or hate.

  6. Overwriting. We cut down the average submission by at least 5% – one word in 20. Some writers get cut by 25% or more. If you send us a 10-page manuscript overwritten to 15 pages, we won't be impressed. We want a terse, journalistic style. Writers who get royalties don't get paid by the word. Writers who get paid by the word don't get their pay calculated until their work is edited. So there is no good reason to pad text.

    Here's an example of an overwritten paragraph, as edited. The emphasized words are the ones that should be cut out . . . It's just longer than it needs to be to get the writer's message across. The excess words take up valuable space and add nothing of any significance. But a lot of people, if not the majority, write almost exactly like this without ever realizing what they are doing. And they're always, without exception, amazed when they see how much waste and fat an editor can trim without interfering with their intended meaning.

  7. Weaseling. Overuse of words like mostly, usually, almost, sometimes, rather, mainly, apparently, seemingly, generally, etc., gives the manuscript a confused or tentative feel. Avoid, avoid, avoid!!!

  8. Below are some very common errors that should be searched for and fixed before you send in your manuscript (this goes for writers and editors):

    • Double spaces (remove them!)
    • Commas and periods on the outside of quotation marks (they should be inside)
    • A space between a period or comma and a quotation mark (remove any you find)
    • The "ward" words (toward, backward, etc.). Make sure there is no S on the end (i.e., towards, backwards).
    • And DO A SPELL CHECK! We can't repeat this enough. Spell checks aren't foolproof, but if we see errors a spell check should have caught, we won't have much faith in your writing.

Rules Organization

In general, rules should be organized into chapters, sections, subsections, and, where necessary, sub-subsections. These are distinguished by progressively smaller headings, usually ranging from an A-HEAD for chapter titles down to a D-HEAD for sub-subsections. See the GURPS Basic Set for an example, and the Formatting Guides for complete instructions.

We no longer use the wargame "case system" of numbered sections except in Ogre and its sequels.

Style of Presentation


We vary from AP style here, because italic and bold italic are more attractive than quotation marks.


Use italic in references to chapters or sections – for instance, "See Phlebotomy, pp. 12-14." Use italic for ship and aircraft names and any time ordinary emphasis is required. Italicize the first instance of foreign terms in an essay or short work, or in each major section of a long work. Vignettes or quotations at the start of a section are in italic.

Italicize the edition of a GURPS product when it accompanies the GURPS title (e.g., GURPS Fourth Edition) but not when it is by itself (updated to the Fourth Edition).

Italicize the names of magazines, and the titles of all books, albums, TV shows, and movies. This includes all non-game books such as the Principia Discordia and the Suppressed Transmissions books. Do not italicize names of book series, such as The Book of the New Sun or the Vorkosigan saga. Italicize the name of our company blog, the Daily Illuminator.


The name or title of a card in a card game by any company should be bold. Exceptions: Do not bold the title of a card on that card itself. Card names in the Munchkin Collectible Card Game are italic, not bold.

Bold Italic

Use bold italic for all SJ Games product names, except magazines and non-game books, as noted above. Also use bold italic for game and game supplement names from other publishers, but not for their items that are not games or supplements, such as dice sets. Exception: On Warehouse 23 product pages, use bold italic for all products from all publishers so they stand out.

When a section of type is in italic or bold type, indicate emphasis by using bold italic . . . not by going back to plain non-emphasized type! If a section of type is in bold italic . . . well, it really shouldn't be, because that leaves no way to add further emphasis.

Quotation Marks

Put the titles of short stories, poems, songs, individual TV episodes, adventures within worldbooks, etc., in quotation marks.

Punctuation and Special Symbols

Apostrophes. Apostrophes are used to make contractions (can't) and in other instances of omitted letters or numbers (rock 'n' roll, the '80s), to make a noun possessive (wolf in sheep's clothing), and to pluralize single letters (P's and Q's). That is the only circumstance in which an apostrophe is used to make a word plural. Words, abbreviations, and numbers are made plural by adding an "S" with no apostrophe (cars, NPCs, 747s). Proper nouns that end in "S" are made possessive by adding an apostrophe with no "S" after it (Chris' dagger), but common nouns that end in "S" add both an apostrophe and an "S" (the princess's treasure). Examples of correct apostrophe usage: "That is our GM's campaign notebook. He is a king among GMs. That is Russ' soda; don't touch it. It's been there since the 1980s."

Braces. This is the proper name for the "curly brackets" symbols: {}. They are rarely needed in text.

Bullets. Don't use fancy bullets in your text. For a bulleted list, use the Word list widget. For a bullet in running text, use the appropriate keystroke (option-8 on Mac, Alt+0149 on the numeric keypad on Windows). We have specific times when a bullet is necessary in text; see the Formatting Guides for more details.

Colons and dashes. Never put a colon between GURPS or In Nomine and the title. It's GURPS Fnord, not GURPS: Fnord. For books or games with subtitles, use a dash if the main title ends in a numeral, a colon otherwise. Examples: GURPS Traveller: Fnord and Munchkin 23 – Fnord.

*Commas. SJ Games follows the AP Stylebook rules on commas (except serial commas – see below). Especially important: Commas and periods go inside quotation marks. Do not omit the final comma in a simple series. We use serial commas (contrary to AP style). Example: He had ham, eggs, toast, and fried alligator for breakfast.

Copyright/Trademark symbols. Authors should rarely have a reason to use these symbols. Do not stick them into text after the names of products! If copyright or trademark symbols are necessary, they can be entered directly in the WYSIWYG template.

Dashes and hyphens. For a true dash (what a typesetter calls an en-dash), type option-hyphen on a Mac, or control-minus (from the numeric keypad) in Word for Windows. Place a space on both sides. For number ranges, use a true hyphen rather than a dash, and don't use spaces on either side. Examples: "On a roll of 1-3, the Ogre . . ." "Combine ahead by 100-299 points: marginal victory." The word "to" may be substituted for a dash in many cases. Note that we do not use an em-dash under any circumstances.

*Ellipses. An ellipsis is a series of three dots used to indicate a pause or a change of thought . . . like this. It is also used to indicate an omission in quoted material. If an ellipsis ends a sentence, we still use just three dots. Space between each dot in an ellipsis, and before and after the ellipsis, as shown above (this is contrary to AP style). Do not use the single-character ellipsis found in many fonts! If the ellipsis begins or ends next to another punctuation mark, such as a quotation mark or a parenthesis, leave out the first or last space, respectively. Example: (He never meant for things to go so far, but . . .)

Extra Spaces. Single-space after periods – don't double-space. Don't space before or after tabs. In fact, there is no reason to put double spaces anywhere in a manuscript. Don't put spaces before or after carriage returns, either. Search for all of these and remove them before submitting text.

Hyphens. SJ Games follows the AP Stylebook. See also "Dashes," above. When typing, do not put space before or after a hyphen. See pp. 433-434 (2017 edition) of the AP book for a list of commonly hyphenated and nonhyphenated words. In particular, compound adjectives should be hyphenated (50-pound bomb, man-eating tiger) but "very" and adverbs ending in "-ly" do not need hyphens in front of adjectives (truly gruesome accident, easily completed task). Also pay close attention to what prefixes are and aren't hyphenated, and where, usually found under the entry for the specific prefix in question.

Leader. A leader is a string of dots used to connect items in columns. These are commonly used in tables of contents. When creating a table of contents, put a single tab between the entry and the page number. Our layout software will create the leader.

Mathematical symbols. Do not use the Equation Editor or similar software to create mathematical formulas; if you need one, write out what you need in the text and include a pictorial reference, if necessary, to show exactly what you mean. Some fonts have math symbols you can use, but double-check them with your editor before submitting your manuscript. Do not put spaces before or after a math symbol unless a space would be there normally.

Page references. When the text refers to another section of the book, or another book, you should insert a page reference, which the editor will fill in after the book has a layout. Normally, an internal reference is written (see p. 00) or (p. 00). Either is appropriate, depending on the sentence. Abbreviate as follows: p. 4, pp. 4-7. Be sure to give full page numbers; say "pp. 124-128," not "pp. 124-8." Do not spell out "page" or abbreviate "pg."

Page references are usually enclosed in parentheses; e.g., "Fred's Garage (see p. 00) is famous for . . ." The "see" should be lowercase (unless the page reference is a complete sentence) and you should put a space between the "p." and the double zeros. Do not use the letter "O" or "X" instead of a zero. When referring to a specific section, italicize the section head (see Advantages, p. 00). When referring to the GURPS Basic Set book, give the page number with a "B" in front ("p. B5" for page 5 of the Basic Set). For references to all other GURPS books, use the full title in bold italic ("see GURPS Atlantis, pp. 12-16" or "see pp. 12-16 of GURPS Atlantis"). When referring to an In Nomine book, use the full title in bold italic (Fall of the Malakim, p. 76). Page references may be a separate sentence, such as the next sentence. (See p. 10 for more on the Pimpernel's exploits.) Long page references should be avoided except where necessary for clarity.

*Parentheses, sentences within sentences. A complete sentence may be enclosed within another sentence (this is an example), so long as the inserted sentence is dependent on the surrounding material. This deviates from AP style.

Quotation marks. Use double quotation marks to open and close quotes. Single quotes are used to denote dialogue in text that is already in double quotes. If a single quote ends right before a double quote, add a space between them. For quotation marks used with other punctuation, see Quotation Marks, below.


All capitals. Do not type something in all capital letters unless you want to see it printed that way. We use bold or italic for emphasis (see above).

Beginning and Ending Paragraphs. Each paragraph should use the appropriate WYSIWYG style (see the Formatting Guides). Each paragraph must end with a carriage return, not an extra space and a carriage return. Do not leave extra blank lines between your paragraphs except to indicate transitions – see our style in any printed product. (See below and the Formatting Guides for a list of the few places we do want blank lines.)

Beginning and Ending Pages. In general, writers should not indicate page breaks. Layout is our job. If you are assigning boxes, maps, or other specific elements to particular pages of text, fine – but do not use multiple carriage returns, forced breaks, or any other end-of-page indicators. These cause trouble. Instead, just mark the copy to show where you want the material to be placed.

Bibliographies. These have their own detailed formatting rules; see Bibliography Style.

Carriage returns (hard returns). A carriage return (also known as a hard return) is what happens when you press the RETURN (or ENTER) key. Put in a single carriage return after every paragraph, after every header, and after every line in a table. Put a double return between the end of a table and the following text, between a quote or vignette and the body text, and between descriptive text and stats. Do not put double returns between paragraphs or headers.

Charts and Tables. When typing in a table, always use tabs rather than spaces. Begin each line with a tab; use only a single tab between entries. Don't try to make the chart columns line up in the electronic files – we'll do that in the layout.

Glossaries. The defined word is boldface, followed by a colon and a space, and is not capitalized unless it's a proper noun. The first word of the definition is capitalized. Glossaries are always hang indented, or TEXT-HANG style. (See the Formatting Guides for more details on styles.)

Illustrations and Maps. Some manuscripts will need to include maps or other components that can't be handled on a word processor. These may, of course, be hand-drawn. Number maps or illustrations to show where they are needed in text: Map "25a" would match the text on p. 25 of your document. Be sure to give the proper scale for your map, and draw it in that scale! Always show which way is north.

Italic and Bold. Parentheses and quotation marks are only italicized in pairs. Thus, (this note is superfluous) but (this one is redundant).

Justification. Please do not justify your manuscript! That is, don't insert spaces within lines, or format your computer program, so that every line is the same length. We prefer for your lines to "run ragged"; if justification is needed, we'll handle it in layout.

Notes. In general, we dislike having notes to the editor or production artist embedded in the manuscript, especially in the final draft. A separate document of notes is better, and your comments are less likely to be overlooked. If embedded notes are necessary, they should be separated from the text by a space before and after, and some searchable tag (such as ***three asterisks*** or (((three parentheses))) ).

Quotations. A quotation may be used after a header to lead into a section, or be embedded in the body text; they should be italicized and in the QUOTE or QUOTE-BOX style. (See the Formatting Guides.) We also like to use pullquotes or box quotes to add graphic interest to a page layout. A pullquote is taken from the text of the book itself. A box quote is a quote from a source outside the book, such as quoting Shakespeare. These quotes do not use quotation marks, except to denote dialogue or for emphasis.

Quote attributions should be on a line following the quote itself – use the QUOTE-SIG or QUOTESIG-BOX style – and are preceded by an en-dash and a space. Do not put a period at the end of the line! More information on proper coding and format for these quotes and attributions can be found in the Formatting Guides.

Special Characters. Many computers and word processors allow special characters or features, which unfortunately do not translate well from machine to machine. Avoid Greek, accented, or other nonstandard characters unless you are using the WYSIWYG style templates – and even then, consult your editor first for formatting. If you have to change fonts to get to a specific character, you should reconsider whether you need it . . .

Style Change When going from hang-indented text to plain text (or vice versa), put in a carriage return. For example, a block of character statistics should have a blank line above and below it. See the Formatting Guides for more details.

Upstyle. This is the style we use for all headers in our products. It means that the first letter in each word is capitalized, with the exception of short articles and prepositions such as "the" and "of." "Is" and "are" should be capitalized. So should the second word in a compound word. Example: "Double-Dealing Half-Wit Mind-Numbing Excess," not "Double-dealing Half-wit Mind-numbing Excess." However, the Daily Illuminator and our other news/blog pages do capitalize every single word, even the articles and prepositions.

Glossary of Usage

# * A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z


3D, three-D: Use 3-D in all cases.


*A.D. and B.C. come after dates (1483 A.D., 500 B.C.). This is contrary to AP style. Don't put a space between the two letters, do use periods, and don't use BCE and CE. A.D. may be assumed and omitted except where it is near a B.C. date in the same text.

a.m. and p.m. appear in lower case, with periods, and a space between the number and the letters: 3 p.m.

Aborigine. The native peoples of Australia. Always capitalized, even when used as an adjective.

acronyms. Unless they are very well-known to our readers (like FBI or AADA), spell acronyms out on first use in each product or article. Use periods for two-letter acronyms (like U.S.) but not for longer ones, like CIA or FARKLE (unless there's a specific exception noted in AP or SJ Games style, such as GI and the game title G.E.V.). Do not put spaces between the letters of an acronym.

adventure. Best term for a roleplaying product that is primarily adventure material; more descriptive than "supplement."

alright. This word does not exist. Use "all right" in all cases.

altogether, all together. "Altogether" means "entirely"; "all together" means "collectively." Do not confuse them.

American Indian is preferred to "Amerind" or "Native American." It's an unfortunate accident of naming that has been sanctified by centuries of (mis)usage. Naming a specific tribe or tribes is always appropriate, when known.

and/or. Use only when necessary – and it almost never is. The words are separated by a slash and no space. These are the only two words treated this way.

animals. Species names should be in italic, with the first name capitalized: Homo sapiens. Use "it" for an animal unless its sex has been established or it has a proper name.

any time. Not "anytime."

archaeology. Not "archeology."

attributes. In GURPS, capitalize attributes whether spelled out or abbreviated (ST or Strength) if followed by a number or in a context such as "roll against Strength."

autoduellist (and duellist) are spelled with two Ls.

*axe. We disagree with AP. Do not use "ax."


Basic Speed. Capitalize when referring to a GURPS character. Note that in character stat blocks, we simply say "Speed."

boardgame. Not "board game."

bonus. The opposite of this word is "penalty." Don't say "malus" or "negative bonus."

booster. We used to use this term for the small foil-packed or blister-packed Munchkin expansions. However, it caused some confusion with the same term for collectible card game expansions (particularly the Munchkin Collectible Card Game), so we now avoid this word when talking about fixed expansions.

British writers and editors should be alert for common Britishisms. Switch "our" suffixes to "or" (colour/color) and "ise" suffixes to "ize" (sympathise/sympathize). "Round" in American usage means "curved." Use "around" to mean "in close proximity." American English says "no one," two words, rather than the hyphenate "no-one." We also say such things as "point total" rather than "points total" when speaking of the number of points put into a character design.

It should go without saying, but doesn't, that British vocabulary is to be avoided whenever possible (use "truck" rather than "lorry" and "diaper" instead of "napkin" – that last one is very important!). Also remember that Americans go to the hospital and on vacation, not on holiday. Finally, remember that in American English, collective nouns are usually singular; so, while Parliament are in session, Congress is not.


c./ca. Stands for "circa." We don't use this term, or its abbreviation. Use "about."

capitalization. Only proper nouns are capitalized. For personal titles, see below. GURPS attributes are capitalized. All-caps may very occasionally be used for emphasis; italic is strongly preferred.

catalog. Not "catalogue."

chainmail. One word, not capitalized. "Scale mail" is two words – but don't use the term. It's "scale armor."

*chainsaw. One word, contrary to AP style.

character vs. player. A character is an imaginary person played by a participant in a roleplaying game. Don't say "player" unless you mean the actual person. (In a card or boardgame, the distinction is murkier, and "player" is often appropriate when talking about a marker on a board or a collection of cards.) Avoid endless, repetitive use of the word "character" in an adventure. Synonyms include PC, party, party member, adventurer. Depending on what is happening, terms like rescuer, drinker, user, driver, hero, victim, investigator, etc., can also be appropriate and interesting. If you can't think think of a good substitute, see "Too Much Character." Each gratuitous use of "character" will be punished by a boot to the head.

character points. The full, formal name of GURPS' character-creation currency. Unless another kind of points is involved, shorten it to "points." Do not capitalize either usage where you would not capitalize another word, and never use the abbreviations "cp," "c.p.," "CP," or "C.P." Brackets around a point cost mean "points," so there is no need to spell it out. That is, never write things like "Joe has Combat Reflexes, for [15] points" or "Joe has Combat Reflexes [15 points]"; instead write either "Joe has Combat Reflexes, for 15 points" or "Joe has Combat Reflexes [15]."

comprise/compose. "Comprises" means "is made up of"; "composes" means "makes up." The whole comprises the parts, or is composed of the parts. The parts compose the whole. Do not confuse the two words.

Contest of Will. Always capitalized. The same goes for any contest – e.g., Quick Contest of Strategy. We prefer to use attribute abbreviations here; e.g., Quick Contest of ST.


*dates. If B.C. is not specified, A.D. may be assumed. "B.C." goes after the date: 3000 B.C. Adjective references to a century are "20th-century," not "20th Century," "20th-Century," etc. For a noun reference, use "the 20th century."

For decades, say the Gay '90s, the 1920s, the mid-Sixties. Do not put an apostrophe or a space between the date and the "s" at the end.

"November 10th" is incorrect. Use either "November 10" or "10th of November." It's also "January 10, 2004" not "January 10th, 2004."

Finally, month names should be spelled out – it's "February 12," "December 19," etc., not "Feb. 12" and "Dec. 19." This is different from AP style.

*dextrous. Not "dexterous."

dice. The singular is die. Two or more are dice. In a game that uses more than one type of dice, distinguish between types as follows: d4 for a 4-sided die, d6 for a 6-sider, d8 for an 8-sider, and so on. Don't specify type unless you are writing about a game that uses different types.

When describing damage or other random determinations made by a die roll in GURPS, use "1d," "2d," and so on to indicate a die roll with no subtractions or additions. If there is an addition or subtraction, use "1d+1" to indicate a roll of 1 die and an addition of 1 point. "4d-2" would indicate the roll of 4 dice, minus 2 points, and so on. We occasionally use multipliers, such as 6dx10; this means roll 6 dice and multiply the sum by 10, not roll 60 dice! Do not use "4 dice – 2." Do not use "3d6-2" or similar styles unless there are dice other than 6-siders in the game.

In situations where it will aid clarity, add parentheses. For instance, (3d+10)% indicates "roll 3 dice and add 10 to get the percentage."

die roll is used here, rather than "dieroll." Even better is to avoid this term and just say "roll"; e.g., ". . . if you make your roll . . ."

dimensions. When giving a product's dimensions, use the multiplication-symbol coding from the Formatting Guides rather than an "x" or capital "X." Put spaces around the times symbol.


e.g. and i.e.: E.g. means "for example." Use it to introduce an example. Example: "The same goes for any contest – e.g., Quick Contest of Strategy."

"I.e." means id est, Latin for "that is." Use it to introduce a synonym or explanation. "I.e." should be preceded by a semicolon if the next clause could stand on its own as a sentence, an en-dash if the next clause could not stand on its own as a sentence. "I.e." clauses may also be enclosed in parentheses.

email is not hyphenated (follows AP style). Email addresses are regular type, not boldface.

England is the part of Britain south of Scotland and east of Wales. It is often, but incorrectly, used as a synonym for Britain or for the entire United Kingdom (Britain and Northern Ireland). Ireland usually refers to the separate country, but can refer to Ireland and Northern Ireland together. Yes, this is confusing, but that makes it doubly important to get it right.

etc./et al. "Etc." means "and so on." Never use "Etc." at the beginning of a sentence. "Et al." means "and the rest"; it may be used when you are giving part of a finite list and want to imply your statement is true of all the other members of that list.


The Fantasy Trip. Also known as TFT. Be sure to spell out the first instance, and do not drop "The" since it's part of the game's title. All instances of TFT should use bold/italics. Unlike most GURPS books, Melee and Wizard as titles can stand alone.

fewer/less. Use "fewer" with countable nouns, "less" with uncountable nouns. You have fewer soldiers, so you can guard less of the country (but fewer towns). We prefer "one fewer" to "one less": "Draw one fewer card," for example.

floor plan. Not "floorplan." Same with "deck plan."

flyer is a pamphlet; flier is an aviator. (Recent AP Stylebooks prefer "flyer" for both; we are still discussing this change.)

footnotes. The Formatting Guides include instructions on setting footnotes in various instances. Do not use your word processor's footnote feature, as it will screw up the text import.

foreign words or terms are always italicized.

fractions. Type as two numbers separated by a slash: 1/2, 3/4, etc. When a number is followed by a fraction, separate the two by a space: 2 9/16.

freelance, freelancer, freelancing. One word.


G.E.V./GEV. – G.E.V. (BFI, all caps, with periods) is our game title; GEV (all caps, regular face) is a hovercraft; G.E.V. is also a hovercraft, though GEV is more commonly used.

GM. Means "Game Master." Do not use "game-master," "gamemaster," or "game master." See also referee. "GM's" is possessive, "GMs" is plural.

game world. Two words.

gameboard. Not "game board."

gender/sex. "Gender" refers to social identity; "sex" refers to physical characteristics. Do not confuse these! Phrases such as "both sexes" or "the opposite gender" are beginning to be seen as marginalizing of nonbinary genders; avoid them where possible and acknowledge the oversimplification where it is not. We now accept "they" as an acceptable pronoun for a single person whose gender is unknown or who presents outside the usual gender binary; "they" takes plural constructions even when it refers to a single person. This is a constantly evolving area of language and we are not trying to stay 100% au courant; consult your editor before including something more outré.

Grain Blight. Capitalize any reference to this Car Wars-world disaster.

guerrilla. Two Rs, two Ls.


half-orc. Not Half-Orc.

he and she. See "gender/sex," above.

hits. Damage is measured in hits; a creature or item has hit points measuring the damage it can take. If you have 10 hit points, you can take 10 hits of damage. See also dice, above.


initials. Follow them with periods but no spaces: J.K. Smith. Exception: when an individual is commonly known by only their initials: JFK, SJ.

*Internet is capitalized when it refers to the worldwide network of computer networks (even when used as an adjective – but see Net and Web, below); in the rare circumstance when you must refer to an internet which is not the Internet, use lowercase and make sure the context is clear. Do not say Internet when you mean Web or vice versa!

it's is a contraction for "it is;" its is the possessive of the third person singular neuter pronoun. Do not confuse them! It's one of the most common errors we see, and does not dispose us kindly toward a manuscript or its author. If you know this is a mistake you commonly make, check every single instance of both "its" and "it's" to be sure you're using them appropriately.

There is no such word as "its'." If you use this, we will send people to break your keyboard.


jargon. If you must use a special in-group or technical term (computer terminology, for instance), explain it. Jargon can be very useful in setting a particular tone or mood – but not when it obscures the meaning.


kobold. Name of a race; not always capitalized.


lamp post. Not "lamppost."

layout is a noun and an adjective: "The layout artist fixed the book layout." lay out is the verb: "Lay out your hand on the table."

lb. and lbs. "Pound" is abbreviated "lb." "Pounds" is abbreviated "lbs." Use a period after the abbreviation. Use "lbs." unless you have 1 lb. or less.

literally. Don't use this word unless you are describing a situation that more often occurs in a figurative sense. He literally turned white-haired overnight. But only if his hair really turned white.


machine gun. This is the noun; "machine-gun" is an adjective or a verb.

makeup, make up: See setup, below.

map. Use "map" as a synonym for "playing area," even when more than one map sheet is in use – "Leaving the Map," not "Leaving the Maps."

map edge. Not "mapedge."

measurements. Use quotation marks to indicate inches, and an apostrophe to show feet, when describing game mechanics. Otherwise, spell out the words feet and inches. Do not use the special prime and double-prime characters.

Precise decimal conversions of approximate measures are also not necessary. If you say something is "about 6 ft tall," don't go on and say "(182.88 cm)."

MIB. Men in Black, the people who run demos at local game stores and conventions. In print, use "a MIB" (all caps), not "an MIB," and the plural is "MIBs" even though the "M" stands for "men." The "I" is capitalized.

module. TSR popularized this term for an adventure. Don't use it. It implies faceless interchangeability, which may fit some products, but not ours.

morningstar. One word when referring to the weapon; two words when referring to Venus as seen before dawn.

Move. Capitalize this word when it refers to the Move attribute of a character.


Neanderthal. Not Neandertal.

Net. Lowercase, even when it's used as a shorthand noun for Internet. (But we still capitalize Internet.)

*no. Abbreviation of "number" (i.e., no. 1). SJ Games does not use this abbreviation. Use the pound symbol instead (#1) or, better yet, avoid altogether.

nonhuman. One word. (See AP style for the correct hyphenation of other "non-" words – when in doubt, don't.)

numbers. Second instead of "2nd," third instead of "3rd," and so on. But use numerals for anything over "ninth" – 10th, 30th, 99th, and so on.

For numbers over 999, use a comma every three digits: 3,042, not 3042. (Exception: four-digit dates do not use commas: 3000 B.C., 1492.)

Spell out "hundreds" (not "100s") and "thousands" (not "1,000s").

In general, spell out the numbers one to nine. But use numerals when giving:

  • Number of dice to roll (but not cards to draw).
  • Numbered map locations or hex-grid numbers.
  • Attack strength, dexterity, tread units, or other unit stats.
  • Numbers of armor and infantry strength points (40 points of armor and 8 infantry strength points).
  • Rolls in rules or examples ("Rolling a 3 means . . .").
  • Modifiers ("and subtract 5 . . .").
  • Product names (Ogre Miniatures Combine Set 8).
  • Page or paragraph numbers.
  • Time and duration ("4 hours, 12 minutes, and 6 seconds").
Numerals are not required for:
  • Number of units, either in rules, examples, or setup instructions ("Take four Ogres . . .") ("He rolled a 5, so he lost one secondary battery . . .").
  • When moving units "one at a time."

Never start a sentence with a numeral. Spell out any number or fraction at the beginning of a sentence unless it's a year; e.g., "1945 saw the war end." Avoid doing this whenever possible.


Ogre. When using the word "ogre," watch what you mean! "Ogre" (capitalized, in bold italic) refers to the game. An "Ogre" is a large computerized fighting machine (not italic, capitalized). An ogre is a fantasy creature.


page references. See Style of Presentation, above.

penalty. Not "negative modifier."

percent is one word. When following a number, we use the % symbol instead of the word "percent." Use the word "percent" only when it appears without a number.

For example: "This is several percent higher than the previous decade."

But use "a larger percentage," not "a larger percent."

pickup is a noun, most commonly used to describe a truck; "pick up" is the verb.

player. See "character," and be sure you know the difference. Do not refer to characters when you mean players, or vice versa.

playmat. Not "play mat."

prefixes. Consult the AP Stylebook and the dictionary for proper hyphenation of prefixed words.

proportion. Do not use this word as a synonym for "fraction." That word is "portion." It is far more common to see the adjectival forms of this word (proportional, proportionate).

Pyramid. When it's the name of our magazine, italicize it.


quotation marks: Quotation marks are used to identify direct quotes. They may also be used to set off a new word or phrase. Commas and periods are placed inside quotation marks – "I will never cry," he said. Other punctuation goes outside, including colons and semicolons. Question marks, exclamation points, and dashes go inside or outside, depending on the context. (E.g., Steve said, "What are you doing?" but Do you know why Steve said "fnord"?) Also see Quotation marks in the Punctuation and Special Symbols section.


race names. Usually lowercase: "elves," "reptile men," etc. But capitalize if the context seems appropriate (for example: "The Elysian Mountain Elves are revered by other elves of the region."), or if writing a licensed product with a differing house style.

re-enter. Use "re-enter," not "reenter" ("Units may re-enter the map . . .") Again, see AP style for other "re-" words.

referee. Use this term for Car Wars (which started as a boardgame). But use GM or Game Master for GURPS and In Nomine, and "Animator" for Toon.

repellant/repellent. Use "repellant" for a noun: "a can of insect repellant." Use "repellent" for an adjective: "an insect-repellent tent."

reptile men/reptile man. Not "reptileman" or "reptile-man."

re-roll. Preferred to "reroll."

re-trace, retrace. "Re-trace" means "trace again," and refers to drawing. "Retrace" means "go back over" in any nonliteral sense, and is not hyphenated!

roleplayer. One who plays a roleplaying game. Capitalized and italicized, it's the name of one of our former publications. Do not hyphenate.

roleplaying. Not "role-playing" or "role playing." When capitalized, make it Roleplaying (not "RolePlaying," except in "Generic Universal RolePlaying System" where the P is part of GURPS).

roll. Usually not capitalized; e.g., Hearing roll, not Hearing Roll.

rulesheet. Not "rule sheet."

rules version. Part of the legal template for any rulesheet in a card or boardgame. It does not go on packaging or in advertisements. Except in rare situations, start with version 1.0 on the first printing of a product. The line editor or executive editor is responsible for keeping the version number updated when a reprint goes through. Truly minimal changes can result in increments in the hundredths place; more substantive changes will increment the tens place. A new edition may jump to the next whole number (1.x to 2.0, for example).


setup. Using "setup," "set up," and "set-up": Setup is a noun ("Make your setup with . . . "). Set up is the verb ("The players set up . . . "). Set-up is neither and nothing; don't use it. (Similarly for make up and makeup.)

ship names. Names of ships, spaceships, individual aircraft, etc., are italicized (including any designations): the USS Enterprise, the Spirit of St. Louis. Type names, such as destroyer and DC-10, are not italicized.

SJG/SJ Games. Use "SJ Games," not "SJG," in official documents, including newsletters and trade flyers. SJG is marginally acceptable in highly informal usage, or where space is at a premium (such as in computer file names). See also Steve Jackson Games Incorporated, below.

Slang. Avoid slang and "folksy" expressions (except in dialog in a roleplaying adventure). A slangy editorial comment such as "The BLUD organization is so screwed up the leaders don't know who their members are," is unacceptable.

sourcebook. Acceptable term for a roleplaying supplement that is primarily background material rather than an adventure. But a book of blank maps or characters is not a sourcebook; the term implies that the writer did a lot of research.

*standie. Not "standee."

Steve Jackson Games Incorporated is our full legal company name. We do not abbreviate to "Inc.," nor do we use a comma before the word "Incorporated." When abbreviation is needed, use "SJ Games," not "SJG."

submachine gun. This is a noun; "submachine-gun" is the adjective.

subscripts and superscripts. Use your word processor's super- and subscript commands. The layout staff will format them correctly for our style. But do not use these for footnotes; follow the Formatting Guides instead.

supplement. An acceptable term. But if a supplement is primarily an adventure, use that phrase.


T-shirt. Always capitalize the T. Use "T-shirt" as the first reference, and then "shirt" thereafter.

tables. Full instructions for formatting tables are in the Formatting Guides.

teenage or teenager. Do not hyphenate it; this is a change in AP style. "Teen" is also appropriate. Do not use "teenaged."

temperature. Always Fahrenheit unless specified otherwise; GURPS uses Fahrenheit. Use the degree sign in text, with no space between the number and the symbol. Do not spell out "degrees" unless you have no other choice.

*titles, personal. Formal titles used directly before an individual's name should be capitalized and spelled out, e.g. "General Eisenhower." Titles may also be capitalized when the title serves as an alternate name – e.g., "the Captain gave an order." This varies from AP style.

titles, publications. Game and supplement names appear in boldface italic. Magazine and newsletters are in italic. The names of short stories, and of adventures within larger publications, appear in quotation marks. Upper and lowercase are used in all cases except GURPS, G.E.V., and other titles that are actually acronyms. For more information, see titles, books, and Typefaces, above.

Toon. This is the name of our cartoon roleplaying game. NEVER use the word in lower-case to refer to a cartoon character. Use "cartoon character" or another synonym.

toward. Not towards. Similarly, backward, forward, etc.

transgender. Preferred to "transsexual" and other, older terms. This word is both a noun and adjective; do not say "transgendered." Where it will not cause confusion, the shortened form "trans" is also appropriate, as are such terms as "trans man." To refer to a person whose gender matches their sex, you may use the term (and prefix) "cis," but do not use this unless the contrast is necessary.

Traveller/traveler. The GURPS setting and original game use two Ls. All other "travel" forms use one L.

turn one. Say "first turn" rather than "turn one" ("His units enter the board on the first turn . . .")


*URLs. Always boldface URLs. Break URLs after a slash (preferred) or period, and in no other places. Never hyphenate. Email addresses are plain text. Do not include the initial http://www. in a website address; do include other prefixes, such as ftp://, in the rare instances when they are used. When referring to a game on the Steve Jackson Games website, use the format [game title] unless a different URL is specified by your editor. Example:

U.S. and U.K. use periods and no spaces, according to style for initials. Acceptable as nouns or adjectives. Avoid "USA" in text, except for "Printed in the USA" and similar phrases (do not use periods).


Vodou. This is the proper name for the Caribbean religion, not "voodoo."


website, web page, World Wide Web. Capitalize Web when it is being used as a noun; in other uses, it is lowercase. Note that "website," "webmaster," and "webcomic" are single words, but "web address" and "web browser" are not.

worldbook and not "world book," when referring to these GURPS products.




ziplock bag. Small z, one word. Without a K, this is a trademarked term; don't use it.

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