SAE Editorial Style Guidelines for Authors

This document offers some tips to help authors of SAE book manuscripts make the writing in their manuscripts stronger and more concise. As an accompaniment to the Guidelines for Authors of SAE Manuscripts, authors are encouraged to review these editorial style guidelines prior to starting to write their manuscripts. This document consists of the following:

General Style Guidelines
SAE books loosely follow the style conventions of The Chicago Manual of Style. Each SAE book is a separate document within itself, and the intent is not to make all SAE books appear identical. However, authors are expected to follow basic rules of grammar and syntax, as well as to be consistent in writing style and format throughout their individual manuscripts.

Style conventions are important, but it is more important that the author's intended meaning be clear and complete to readers. While SAE editors try to maintain an author's writing style, editorial changes may be required to make the text more concise, consistent, logical, or readable. In most cases, SAE editors do not significantly rewrite an author's text.

Use the SAE book template to format your manuscript. Do not use tags or manual formatting. Refer to the SAE book template instructions.

For questions regarding style and formatting of manuscripts, contact your book Product Manager at SAE.

Units and Abbreviations for Units
Always use numerals when referring to measurable values with units (e.g., 4 m, 10°C). In most cases, a space separates the number and the unit. Note that no space is used when referring to degrees.

However, abbreviations and symbols should be used only when the unit is preceded by a numerical value (e.g., pounds of material, not lb of material).

Use only singular abbreviations for units (e.g., 17 lb, not 17 lbs).

SAE book authors are expected to use U.S. units for measurement, immediately followed in the text by the conversion to the equivalent S.I. units listed in parentheses, such as "10 in. (25.4 cm)." This particularly applies to technical books. However, some expressions commonly used in the automotive industry may be expressed without metric conversions, such as "22-in. tires" or bore and stroke expressed in inches.

Common Quantities and Units (S.I. and Non-S.I.)
QuantityUnitSymbol
(Formula)
length (S.I.)meterm
length (S.I.)centimetercm
length (S.I.)millimetermm
length (S.I.)kilometerkm
lengthinchin.
lengthfootft
lengthmilemi
mass (S.I.)kilogramkg
massgramg
mass (weight)poundlb
mass (weight)ounceoz
volume (S.I.)literL
volumegallongal
time (S.I.)secondsec
timeminutemin
timehourh
temperature (S.I.)degrees Celsius°C
temperaturedegrees Fahrenheit°F
temperature (S.I.)KelvinK
electric chargeCoulombC
electric current (S.I.)ampereA
electric potential (S.I.)voltV
electric resistance (S.I.)ohm
electric capacitance (S.I.)FaradF
quantity of electricityampere-hourA·h
magnetic fluxTeslaT
force (S.I.)newtonN
forcepound-forcelbf
torquepound-foot (-inch)lb-ft (-in.)
torque (S.I.)newton-meterN·m
energy, workfoot-pound (inch-)ft-lb (in.-)
energy, work (S.I.)jouleJ (N·m)
energycaloriecal
energyBritish thermal unitBtu
acceleration (force of gravity)gravityg
power (S.I.)wattW (J/s)
power (S.I.)kilowattkW
powerhorsepowerhp
pressure (S.I.)pascalPa (N/m2)
pressureinches of waterin. H2O
pressureinches of mercuryin. Hg
pressurepounds per square inchpsi
pressurepounds per square inch absolutepsia
pressurepounds per square inch gagepsig
pressurepounds per square inch differentialpsid
frequency (S.I.)hertzHz (s-1)
sound pressure leveldecibeldB
angledegree_° (or deg)
angleminute_'
anglesecond_"
speed (S.I.)meters per secondm/s
speed (S.I.)kilometers per hourkm/h
speedmiles per hourmph
angular speedrevolutions per minuterpm
angular speedrevolutions per secondrps
viscosity (S.I.)pascal-secondPa·s
viscositycentipoisescP (mPa·s)
kinematic viscositystokeSt (1 cm2/s)

Common S.I. Prefixes
giga109G
mega106M
kilo103k
centi10-2c
milli10-3m
micro10-6µ
nano10-9n
Note that micron (µ) = micrometer (µm).

Chemical Elements, Compounds, and Symbols
oxygenO2nickelNi
hydrogenHphosphorusP
nitrogenN2siliconSi
aluminumAlsilverAg
antimonySbtinSn
arsenicAstitaniumTi
bismuthBizincZn
cadmiumCdmercuryHg
chromiumCrwaterH2O
cobaltConitrogen oxides (as a group)NOx
copperCunitrogen dioxideNO2
goldAucarbon monoxideCO
ironFecarbon dioxideCO2
leadPbmethaneCH4
magnesiumMgmethanolCH3OH
manganeseMn

Trigonometric Expressions and Abbreviations
(Note the use of lower case.)
sinesincotangentcot
cosinecossecantsec
tangenttancosecantcsc

Other Common Abbreviations
square meter (or any dimension)m2computer-aided designCAD
cubic meter (or any dimension)m3head-up displayHUD
gallons per minutegal/mininclusive (in tables)incl
liters per minuteL/mindiameter (in tables)dia
part per millionppminside diameterID
part per billionppboutside diameterOD
radianradmaximum (in tables)max
relative humidityRHminimum (in tables)min
Rockwell CRcinfraredIR
root mean squarermselectromagnetic interferenceEMI
top dead centertdcelectromagnetic compatibilityEMC
bottom dead centerbdcradio frequency interferenceRFI
wide open throttleWOTthat is,i.e.,
center of gravitycgfor example,e.g.,
front-wheel driveFWDet ceteraetc.
rear-wheel driveRWDversusvs.
four-wheel drive4WDAmerican Society for Testing and MaterialsASTM
sport utility vehicleSUVInternational Organization for StandardizationISO

Use of Numerical Values in Text
For numbers that have no units with them, spell out the numbers one to ten. For 11 and above, use numerals. This rule also applies when one number follows another (e.g., nine 4-in. bolts, 24 4-in. bolts).

One exception to this rule is in connected numerical expressions. That is, if one number must be a numeral, then make all numerals (e.g., 5 to 15 copies).

If a sentence begins with a number, spell out that number (e.g., "Thirty laps of the race were completed.")

When expressing numerical ranges, the unit of measurement follows only the final value (e.g., range from 10 to 20°C [in text] or 10-20°C [in tables]).

If possible, use en dashes rather than hyphens in ranges of numbers (e.g., 10-20°C).

In cases of plus/minus, use spaces if you are dealing with a range, as in "10°C ± 2." Note that the unit follows the main value, or appears with both values. However, if the plus/minus value stands alone, then don't use a space (e.g., ±2 km)

Always use a leading zero for decimal numbers less than 1 (e.g., 0.251).

When a fraction must be written with a slash (/), use a hyphen to connect it to a whole number (2-1/2 hours).

For numbers greater than 9999, use a comma or a space (ISO standard) to separate into threes, with the comma being preferred (e.g., 18,000,000 or 18 000 000). No comma or space is used for four-digit numbers in technical text (e.g., 3000 lb). In historical books, it is acceptable to use commas in numbers that are four or more digits (e.g., $2,500).

Use a times sign "×" for expressing dimension rather than using "by" (2 × 4). Use a times sign "×" rather than a lower-case "x" to indicate multiplication.

Dates
Use the American form for dates, listing the month, day, and year with typical punctuation and without abbreviation (e.g., February 24, 1904).

Do not use an apostrophe in decades (e.g., 1980s).

Dashes and Hyphens
When using en dashes, em dashes, or hyphens, do not place spaces on either side of the dashes or hyphens.

The following are guidelines for the proper use of hyphenation:

  • Use hyphens in compound modifiers when ambiguity may exist, such as two-stroke, four-cylinder, four-wheel, full-scale, cast-iron, high-speed, high-performance, high-temperature, heavy-duty, self-contained, built-in, state-of-the-art, or over-the-road. Note that the phrase "cross section" is not hyphenated when referring to a noun, but it is hyphenated if it is an adjective, as in "cross-section drawing." Some words or phrases common to the mobility industry are not hyphenated according to the above rule (e.g., internal combustion engine).
  • Do not hyphenate compound modifiers involving an adverb that ends in "ly" (e.g., fully automatic).
  • Hyphenate numerals and units when used as a modifier, e.g., 1-in. bolt.
  • In general, do not use hyphens for prefixes such as non, semi, anti, multi, pre, and post.

Trademarks
Brand names that are trademarks should be capitalized if they must be used. A better choice is to substitute a generic term when available. There is no legal requirement to use the registered trademark symbol (®) or the unregistered trademark symbol (TM) and they should be omitted wherever possible.

Punctuation
Use commas for all items in a series (e.g., "a, b, and c" rather than "a, b and c").

Use a comma after introductory or connecting phrases in sentences, such as "Therefore, the problem was resolved."

The following are some tips regarding the use of quotation marks with other punctuation:

  • The comma and period are always enclosed within the quotation marks, even if they are not part of the quote.
  • The colon and semicolon are never enclosed within the quotation marks, unless they are within the quote and not at the end of it.
  • The dash, question mark, and exclamation point are enclosed within the quotation marks if they are part of the quote but are outside the quotation marks if they are not part of the quote.

Avoid the use of contractions. Also, remember that in formal usage, inanimate objects usually should not be possessive (e.g., "the chassis of the vehicle," rather than "the vehicle's chassis").

When an author refers to himself or herself in text, it is preferred that the author use "I" rather than "the author."

When referring to the United States as a subject, spell out both words (e.g., We live in the United States). However, when referring to the United States as an adjective, use the abbreviation (e.g., the U.S. climate).

Spelling
Use the "American" spellings of words (e.g., meter rather than metre, liter rather than litre, standardized rather than standardised) unless the word or phrase is a proper name (e.g., European Centre for Research).

The following are accepted spellings of words related to the automotive industry:

aftertreatment
airbag
air conditioning (abbr. A/C)
air/fuel ratio
airflow
airspeed
airstream
all-wheel drive
all-wheel-drive vehicle
alphanumeric
anti-icing
antilock brakes (ABS)
armrest
automaker
backlight
backrest
backup (noun); back up (verb)
backward, forward (no "s")
ball bearings
ball joints
bar code
biaxial
bidirectional
buildup (noun)
build up (verb)
by-product
CAN bus
carryover
centerline
changeover
channeling
circuit board
circuit breaker
cleanup
coaxial
counterclockwise
countershaft
coworker
crankcase
crankpin
crankshaft
crashworthiness
cross section (noun)
cross-sectional (adjective)
crossmember
crossover
cutaway
cutoff
cutout
database
databus
deicing
diesel engine
dipstick
driveability
driveline
driveshaft
drivetrain
dustproof
earthmoving
electromagnetic
e-mail
end user
falloff
fiber optics
fiberboard
fine-tune
finite element analysis (FEA)
fireproof
firsthand
five-speed manual transmission
flatbed (adj. & noun)
floodlamp
floodlight
floor mat
floorpan
flowfield
flowmeter
flywheel
fog lamp
front-wheel drive
front-wheel-drive vehicle
fuel cell (noun); fuel-cell (adj.)
fueling
fuel-injection system
gases
gauge
gearbox
gearset
gearshift (noun)
gear tooth
gear train
gradeability
grille
halfshaft
halftone
Hall effect (noun)
handgrip
handheld
handmade
hangar (aircraft housing)
hardtop
headlamp
headlight
headrest
headroom
head-up display
heat-treat (verb)
heat treatment
hourmeter
hybrid-electric vehicle
inflow
infrared (abbr. IR)
in-house
inline
internal combustion engine
Internet
ISO 9000
joystick
kickoff
kingpin
know-how
laptop
layout (noun); lay out (verb)
lawnmower
legroom
liftgate
lightpipe
lightweight
lineup (noun); line up (verb)
login (noun); log in (verb)
machinable
macrostrain
makeup (noun); make up (verb)
manageable
manikin (when testing human response)
marque
market share
marketplace
mass flow
mass-produce (verb)
metalworking
microcomputer
microprocessor
microstrain
midday
midpoint
midsize (not midsized)
minibike
minivan
modeling, modeled
moneymaker
motorboat
movable
multichannel
multicylinder
multifunctional
multilink
multimedia
multipurpose
nonautomotive
nonaqueous
noncontact
nonmanufacturable
nonstop
offboard
offline
off-road
off-tracking
oilproof
onboard
oncoming
online
on-site
O-ring
oversteer
payoff
pickup (noun); pick up (verb)
pipelayer
pipeline
power line
powerplant
powertrain
preassembled
preignition
premanufactured
preheat
preproduction
processability
printout (noun)
print out (verb)
pushbutton
pushrod
QS-9001
racecar
racetrack
racy
readout
real time (noun); real-time (adj.)
rearview mirror
re-engineer
reentry
right-of-way
rollover (noun): roll over (verb)
run-in
runoff
screwdriver
seat belt
setup (noun); set up (verb)
shakeout
sheet metal
short-circuit
shortcut
shutdown (noun)
shut down (verb)
shutoff (noun); shut off (verb)
side lamp
snow blower
snowmobile
softtop
spaceframe
spark arrester
spark plug
spin-off
sports car
spot lamp
spotlight
startup (noun); start up (verb)
state of the art (noun)
state-of-the-art (adj.)
steady-state
stop lamp
stoplight
sulfur
superalloy
taillamp
taillight
tailpipe
takeoff
testbed
test-drive (noun & verb)
thermocouple
thermoplastics
3-D
throwaway
Tier 1
time frame
time-to-market (noun & adj.)
toward (no "s")
trade-off
transatlantic
transaxle
troubleshoot
tune-up (noun); tune up (verb)
turbocharger
twofold
ultrahigh
ultralightweight
ultralow
underhood
understeer
usable
V-4
V-6
V-8
variable valve timing
vice versa
warm-up (noun & adj.)
warm up (verb)
waterborne
weatherproof
website
well-being
wheelbase
windshield
wishbone
workload
workplace
World War I (or II)
wrap-up
x-ray

Problem Words and Phrases
SAE's editors will not drastically alter an author's style, but formal usage should be followed in most cases to make the author's intended meaning as clear as possible. Avoid problematic words, or at least be correct in the proper use of those words, such as the following:

  • about ("approximately" may be a better term)
  • affect versus effect
  • between (refers to two items) versus among (refers to more than two items)
  • compliment versus complement
  • comprise (often misused or confused; avoid if possible)
  • continual (means in rapid succession) versus continuous (means without interruption)
  • earlier (indicates time—use "preceding" or "previous" if time is not implied)
  • farther (refers to distance) versus further (refers to degree or extent)
  • just (meaning fair and equitable)
  • less (refers to amount or bulk quantity, used with singular noun) versus. fewer (refers to individual items that can be counted, used with plural nouns)
  • only (use proper placement with the word/phrase it modifies—e.g., "typically only a few items," not "only typically a few items")
  • over (means above; if intended to indicate a quantity greater than another quantity, use "more than" instead)
  • since (indicates time—use "because" if the intended meaning is not time related)
  • still (means quiet or motionless)
  • towards (use toward)
  • under (means below; if intended to indicate a quantity less than another quantity, use "fewer than" instead)

Eliminating "Wordiness"
Clear and concise writing is the best way to convey information to readers. The following are some examples of words and phrases that often can be expressed more concisely or are often misused:

Incorrect or Wordy:Replace with:
&and
a large number ofmany
a small number ofsome
adjacent tonext to
all of theall the
alongside ofalong
alrightall right
amidstamid
amongstamong
an historica historic
and alsoand
arising from the fact thatbecause
at presentnow
at that point in timethen
at the time whenwhen
at this point in timenow
backwardsbackward
based uponbased on
be helpfulhelp
but ratherbut
by itselfalone
cannot help butcan only
cognizantaware
consensus of opinionconsensus
currentlynow
data isdata are
depends upondepends on
despite the fact thatalthough
devoid ofwithout
different thandifferent from
divide updivide
due to the fact thatbecause
due tobecause of
end resultresult
endeavortry
ergotherefore
erstwhileformer
first of allfirst
firstlyfirst
give an indication of indicate
have a tendency totend to
have an effect on affect
have an impact onaffect
in order toto
in spite of the fact thatalthough
in the event thatIf
in the near futuresoon
in view of the fact thatbecause
inquireask
irregardlessregardless
join togetherjoin
lengthylong
make a decisiondecide
may possiblymay
media ismedia are
might possiblymight
neither of them areneither of them is
none of them arenone of them is
numerousmany
on a daily basisdaily
on an annual basisyearly
owing to the fact thatbecause
preventativepreventive
prior experienceexperience
reason is becausereason is that
secondlysecond
take into considerationconsider
the majority of most
together withwith
until such time asuntil
virtually allmost
whilstwhile
will in the futurewill
with the exception ofexcept