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
- Units and Abbreviations for Units
- Common Quantities and Units (S.I. and Non-S.I.)
- Common S.I. Prefixes
- Chemical Elements, Compounds, and Symbols
- Trigonometric Expressions and Abbreviations
- Other Common Abbreviations
- Use of Numerical Values in Text
- Dashes and Hyphens
- Problem Words and Phrases
- Eliminating "Wordiness"
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.
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.)|
|temperature (S.I.)||degrees Celsius||°C|
|electric current (S.I.)||ampere||A|
|electric potential (S.I.)||volt||V|
|electric resistance (S.I.)||ohm||Ω|
|electric capacitance (S.I.)||Farad||F|
|quantity of electricity||ampere-hour||A·h|
|torque||pound-foot (-inch)||lb-ft (-in.)|
|energy, work||foot-pound (inch-)||ft-lb (in.-)|
|energy, work (S.I.)||joule||J (N·m)|
|energy||British thermal unit||Btu|
|acceleration (force of gravity)||gravity||g|
|power (S.I.)||watt||W (J/s)|
|pressure (S.I.)||pascal||Pa (N/m2)|
|pressure||inches of water||in. H2O|
|pressure||inches of mercury||in. Hg|
|pressure||pounds per square inch||psi|
|pressure||pounds per square inch absolute||psia|
|pressure||pounds per square inch gage||psig|
|pressure||pounds per square inch differential||psid|
|frequency (S.I.)||hertz||Hz (s-1)|
|sound pressure level||decibel||dB|
|angle||degree||_° (or deg)|
|speed (S.I.)||meters per second||m/s|
|speed (S.I.)||kilometers per hour||km/h|
|speed||miles per hour||mph|
|angular speed||revolutions per minute||rpm|
|angular speed||revolutions per second||rps|
|kinematic viscosity||stoke||St (1 cm2/s)|
|Common S.I. Prefixes|
|Chemical Elements, Compounds, and Symbols|
|cobalt||Co||nitrogen oxides (as a group)||NOx|
|Trigonometric Expressions and Abbreviations|
|(Note the use of lower case.)|
|Other Common Abbreviations|
|square meter (or any dimension)||m2||computer-aided design||CAD|
|cubic meter (or any dimension)||m3||head-up display||HUD|
|gallons per minute||gal/min||inclusive (in tables)||incl|
|liters per minute||L/min||diameter (in tables)||dia|
|part per million||ppm||inside diameter||ID|
|part per billion||ppb||outside diameter||OD|
|radian||rad||maximum (in tables)||max|
|relative humidity||RH||minimum (in tables)||min|
|root mean square||rms||electromagnetic interference||EMI|
|top dead center||tdc||electromagnetic compatibility||EMC|
|bottom dead center||bdc||radio frequency interference||RFI|
|wide open throttle||WOT||that is,||i.e.,|
|center of gravity||cg||for example,||e.g.,|
|front-wheel drive||FWD||et cetera||etc.|
|four-wheel drive||4WD||American Society for Testing and Materials||ASTM|
|sport utility vehicle||SUV||International Organization for Standardization||ISO|
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
air conditioning (abbr. A/C)
antilock brakes (ABS)
backup (noun); back up (verb)
backward, forward (no "s")
build up (verb)
cross section (noun)
finite element analysis (FEA)
five-speed manual transmission
flatbed (adj. & noun)
fuel cell (noun); fuel-cell (adj.)
Hall effect (noun)
hangar (aircraft housing)
infrared (abbr. IR)
internal combustion engine
layout (noun); lay out (verb)
lineup (noun); line up (verb)
login (noun); log in (verb)
makeup (noun); make up (verb)
manikin (when testing human response)
midsize (not midsized)
pickup (noun); pick up (verb)
print out (verb)
real time (noun); real-time (adj.)
rollover (noun): roll over (verb)
setup (noun); set up (verb)
shut down (verb)
shutoff (noun); shut off (verb)
startup (noun); start up (verb)
state of the art (noun)
test-drive (noun & verb)
time-to-market (noun & adj.)
toward (no "s")
tune-up (noun); tune up (verb)
variable valve timing
warm-up (noun & adj.)
warm up (verb)
World War I (or II)
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 timeuse "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 modifiese.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 timeuse "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)
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:|
|a large number of||many|
|a small number of||some|
|adjacent to||next to|
|all of the||all the|
|an historic||a historic|
|arising from the fact that||because|
|at that point in time||then|
|at the time when||when|
|at this point in time||now|
|based upon||based on|
|cannot help but||can only|
|consensus of opinion||consensus|
|data is||data are|
|depends upon||depends on|
|despite the fact that||although|
|different than||different from|
|due to the fact that||because|
|due to||because of|
|first of all||first|
|give an indication of||indicate|
|have a tendency to||tend to|
|have an effect on||affect|
|have an impact on||affect|
|in order to||to|
|in spite of the fact that||although|
|in the event that||If|
|in the near future||soon|
|in view of the fact that||because|
|make a decision||decide|
|media is||media are|
|neither of them are||neither of them is|
|none of them are||none of them is|
|on a daily basis||daily|
|on an annual basis||yearly|
|owing to the fact that||because|
|reason is because||reason is that|
|take into consideration||consider|
|the majority of||most|
|until such time as||until|
|will in the future||will|
|with the exception of||except|