Editorial Guidelines

What editorial style guide do we use?
The South Carolina Baptist Convention uses the AP Style guide whenever possible.

What are the approved ways of writing “South Carolina Baptist Convention?”
The full organizational name of “South Carolina Baptist Convention” should be used first whenever possible. The acronym “SCBC” or the short hand “SCBaptist” can be used when space does not allowed and after the full organizational name has been mentioned at least once. The use of the shorthand “SCBaptist” is preferred over “SC Baptist” since this relates to our social media channels.

What are the steps in creating and developing written material?
 If your project has words, (printed, digital, social media, email marketing, video, etc.), it must adhere to the following process:

1. Write copy
2. Submit Ministry Support Form
3. Editorial Specialist approves copy
4. Editorial Specialist sends approved copy to be formatted/designed
5. Final design proofed by Editorial Specialist before mastered

What are some frequently seen writing mistakes?
Academic Titles
In general, spell out academic titles. Only use abbreviations following a full name. Academic titles are also not capitalized but abbreviations are. Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc.

Ex: Boaz Lyons, who has a Doctorate in psychology.
Ex: Grace Lyons, Ph.D.
Ex: James Lyons holds a master’s of divinity and a bachelor’s of theology 

Any abbreviation should be spelled out in the first use. After that, it is acceptable to abbreviate it.
Ex: “We are asking that your churches pray for Unreached People Groups across the world. One UPG is located in East Asia…”
Ex: The South Carolina Baptist Convention hosts the IMPACT conference each year. SCBC’s purpose in the event is to… 

Books of the Bible
Spell out the books of the Bible. Do not abbreviate them.

Capitalization of Biblical Words
In general, do not capitalize Biblical words unless they are names.We do capitalize the word “Gospel.”
Capitalize: God, Jesus, Christ, Gospel, Bible, Biblical
Do not capitalize: grace, hope, kingdom, resurrection, and cross

Generally, avoid contractions. They can be used in more informal writing, though. It is typically a judgment call based on the audience.

Book Titles
Use quotations around the title of a book.
Ex: In “Desiring God,” John Piper…
Ex: This study will focus on content from “Future Grace” by John Piper. 

Capitalization of SCBC terms
Capitalize terms that relate to a ministry, group, or event within SCBC.
Capitalize Advance, SummerSalt, etc.

Bible Version
The SCBC has designated the HCSB as their preferred Biblical translation. If citing another version, include the version in the scripture reference. Otherwise, HCSB will be assumed.
Ex: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Use numerals for the day of the month.
Ex: January 2016 was a cold month.
Ex: Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month.

People First Language
We write in ways that humanize people. For this reason, we choose to first recognize the humanity in a person, using descriptions of the person rather than labels.
Ex. “children with special needs” instead of “special needs children”
Ex. “children in foster care” instead of “foster children”

Use lowercase a.m. and p.m., with periods. Always use figures, with a space between the time and the a.m. or p.m. If the time is an exact hour, there is no need to add “:00”
Ex: The event will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will end at 4 p.m.”

Gender and Sexuality
Language around gender is evolving. Aim for language that treats people equally and is inclusive of those who do not necessarily identify as strictly male or female. Ultimately, language should be respectful and inclusive.

Gender-neutral language: Use terms that apply to any gender. Choose a police officer over a policeman. Choose firefighter over fireman. Some words lend themselves more easily to a gender-neutral noun.

Cisgender: Describes individuals whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth.

Transgender: Describes people whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Often, these individuals have chosen a different name than the one they were assigned at birth. This name is sometimes considered a “deadname” and should not be used unless relevant to the story. Do not use transgender as a noun, such as referring to someone as a transgender. “Christina is transgender,” not “Christina is a transgender.”

Same-sex marriage: The preferred term over gay marriage.

Gay or lesbian: Used to describe people attracted to the same sex. These terms are often preferred over homosexual.

Heterosexual: In males, a sexual orientation that describes an attraction to females, and vice versa. The word straight is also acceptable.

Homophobia/Homophobic: Acceptable in broad reference to the concept of fear or hatred of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Related and more specific terms include biphobia (hatred or fear specifically of bisexuals) and transphobia (hatred or fear of transgender people.)

LGBT or LGBTQ: Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and questioning or queer. Other forms include LGBTQIA. The “I” generally stands for intersex, and A can stand for asexual (a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction) or ally (someone who is not LGBT but who actively supports LGBT communities.)

Queer is an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or cisgender. It is acceptable to use for people and organizations that use the term to identify themselves. Do not use this word as a slur.

Spell out numbers one through nine. Use figures for 10 and higher.
Ex: There were three students.
Ex: There were 14 ministers present.

Put quotes inside of quotation marks. Any ending punctuation should also fall inside of the quotation marks.
Ex: Senator Jones said, “I will work with both parties to reach an agreement.”
Ex: As the author spoke, he called on the audience to “recall a time when they felt truly happy.” 

From AP Style Guide: “Reporting and writing about issues involving race calls for thoughtful consideration, precise language, and an openness to discussions with others of diverse backgrounds about how to frame coverage or what language is most appropriate, accurate, and fair.” It is necessary to decide whether it is important to identify someone by their race. It is often an unnecessary identifier. In some cases, it may be useful to include if it is a historical or ground-breaking event. For example, Kamala Harris is the first woman and the first woman of color to hold the Vice Presidency. Using Black or white:
Do not use either as a singular noun. It is okay to use phrases like Black teachers, white students, Black people, white people if it is relevant to the story. The use of the capitalized “Black” recognizes that language has evolved, along with the common understanding that especially in the United States, the term reflects a shared identity and culture rather than a skin color alone. As of now, “white” is not capitalized as “white people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.”
Avoid this broad and imprecise term unless it is in a quote.
Avoid using this as a synonym for white. “Anglo” is also not an acceptable synonym for white, as it refers to a very specific group of people of European heritage.
It is okay to use to describe people with more than one racial heritage. Usually more useful when describing a group of people rather than an individual. Be specific if possible.
African American:
Acceptable for an American Black person of African descent. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. No hyphen.
Asian American:
Acceptable for an American of Asian descent. When possible, refer to a person’s country of origin or follow the person’s preference. No hyphen.
Latino is often the preferred noun or adjective for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form.
A person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Latino, Latina, or Latinx are sometimes preferred.
Native Americans:
Acceptable term in general references for those in the United States when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations. For individuals, use the name of the tribe. Do not use the phrase “Indian” as a synonym for Native Americans.   People of color:
This is an acceptable phrase to describe people of races other than white in the United States. Avoid using POC. When talking about just one group, be specific.
Do not use as a synonym for areas inhabited by minorities or poor individuals.
Do not use when referring to East Asian nations and their people. Asian is the acceptable choice.

Spacing in between sentences
It used to be commonplace to put two spaces after a sentence. This relates back to the typewriter and to the spacing of fonts. It is now preferred to put only one space in between sentences as the computer automatically spaces for you.
Correct: The dog ran. The cat jumped.
Incorrect: The dog ran. The cat jumped.

See the Associated Press FAQ page for other questions. https://www.apstylebook.com/ask_the_editor_faq