Manual of Style

It is important that when creating pages on our website — or publications for our members or the public — that we project a professional image. Incorrect or inconsistent spelling and formatting can ruin an otherwise well-written document.

Words to Capitalize

  • Arrowman and Arrowmen should always be capitalized.
  • Scout, Scouter, Scouting, etc., are capitalized if they refer to the organization or members of the organization, as opposed to an activity. For example, "Scouts went scouting to find something to eat."
  • Lodge, council, chapter, troop, and crew should not be capitalized unless they are a part of someone’s title ("Lodge Adviser"), a specific event ("Council Camp-o-ree"), a specific committee ("Lodge Executive Committee"), or the full name of the organization ("Merrimac Chapter"). You would not capitalize "chapter business", "lodge volleyball team", or "troop meeting". An exception is that you can capitalize them if it would be otherwise confusing. ("Members of the Lodge enjoyed the trip to the hunting lodge.")
  • Titles or position names are always capitalized when they immediately precede a person’s name ("Ceremonies Chairman Bob Jones", "Lodge Chief Joe Smith"). Except for terms that are always capitalized because they contain “Scout”, “Venture”, or another proper noun, position titles are usually not capitalized if they are used elsewhere in a sentence. ("Have you met the Scout executive?" "Bob used to be the lodge adviser.")
  • Order is capitalized if it is used as a shortened form of the full name of our organization, the Order of the Arrow. ("Bob was thanked for his years of service to the Order.")
  • Most acronyms should be capitalized ("DVD", "TV"). File formats should be capitalized if you are referring to the format itself, as opposed to the extension. ("I can view PDF files and JPG files on my iPad." "How do I open a file with a ‘pdf’ extension?")
  • Email addresses are not case-sensitive and by convention should generally be all lower case. Web domain names (blueheronlodge.org) are not case sensitive. Most URLs (beyond the domain name) are case sensitive and it is important to spell them correctly.

Spelling

  • In the OA, adviser is spelled with an "e". The two spellings are often used interchangeably and if you are referring to someone other than an Order of the Arrow adviser, you should check to see how he or she spells it on his or her official documents. For example, "the lodge adviser met with the mayor’s senior advisor". Oddly, other aspects of Scouting use advisor, for example, "Venturing crew advisor".
  • Plurals should generally not have an apostrophe EXCEPT for single letters and single numbers. (Note that some argue that you should use an apostrophe with a capital letter or a number only if the meaning is otherwise unclear, for example "0’s" vs "0s". It is also acceptable to quote a capital letter to make it plural — "D"s.) "I found three b’s and two c’s in my alphabet soup". "Give me all of your 2’s or tell me to ‘Go Fish’." "In the 1960s, there were no DVDs."
  • Do not use contractions unless you are giving a direct quote. "Arrowmen cannot park their cars in camp — as the lodge adviser put it, ‘if you don’t want it towed, don’t do it.’"

Punctuation

  • Use an em dash (—), or — in HTML, when you are making a break in your thought. "The Lodge Adviser — a truly wonderful person — brought us donuts."
  • Use an en dash (–) to show contrast or ranges ("the Merrimac–Elizabeth River volleyball game", "we won 62–0", "May 16–June 10").
  • Use a hyphen (-) for hyphenated words ("Freeze-o-ree", "mid-1990s", "anti-discrimination").

Miscellaneous

  • Our lodge website is at http://blueheronlodge.org. It is not at tidewaterbsa.com/blueheron and it is not at www.blueheronlodge.org. If you are making a clickable link or you are referring in print to the site, you generally should include the full URL (http://blueheronlodge.org). If you are speaking, you can simply say, "Blue Heron Lodge dot org".
  • Know the difference between "it’s" and "its"; "they’re", "their", and "there"; and "you’re" and "your".
  • Documents being published on the web should not include contact information for youth under the age of 18.

Other Resources