A to Z

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0-9, symbols and issues peculiar to LXF

0–9 – spell out, then use numerals for 10, 11 upwards

4MLinux - distro.

24-7 - with a hyphen


5ESS - a switch

32-bit - hyphenate when used as adjective, see bit. 64-bit - hyphenate when used as adjective, see bit.

Avoid using asterisks for table footnotes; prefer superscript numbers instead

> - use for menu paths, eg Options > Preferences

I and L - On rare occasions our body font (BentonSans) can make it unclear whether an upper case 'i' or lowercase 'L' is being used for a switch after a command. If a command uses something like '--I', for example, you will have to remember to check. Sorry.


a) - can be used in a list, eg 'There are three things to try: a) running, b) cycling or c) bungee jumping.'

ability - strictly, this means "possession of necessary skill, competence or power". Writers often talk about an "ability" of an application, but often it makes more sense to talk of an "option". If software really does have an ability to do something, that's great, but more often it's that it gives the user the option to do something.

AbiWord - the office software. Note capital 'W'.

Access - the Microsoft application.

Acid2 - a test for web browsers' support of web standards. All one word.

adapter - a person.

adaptor - a device.

add-on (n)

Adobe - written roman unless part of software brand name, eg Adobe Photoshop.

ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

adviser (n)

AIGLX - whizzy new graphical technology.

Ajax - used to develop web applications.

aka - accepted abbreviation for 'also known as'. Not AKA.

Akregator - capital A, lower-case k.

all right - not alright.

ALSA - the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture library.

alternative - is usually a choice of two, you can rarely have three alternatives. Prefer 'option'.

Amarok - not amaroK.

AMD64 - do not use this term any more. Instead, use x86-64.


among - not amongst.


Anaconda - Fedora installer.

analogue - not analog.

anti-aliasing - hyphenated.

antivirus - one word.

Apache - the world's dominant web server.

Apache License - all roman, note 's' not 'c'.

Apache modules - are not italicised.

the Apache Software Foundation

API - stands for Application Programming Interface. We do not italicise APIs, but we do put them in title case, eg Cairo, Web Services.


Apress - not APress

APT - Advanced Package Tool.

Arcade mode

argument - an argument is an extra bit that you put in the command line, which alters the way a command is carried out eg ls will list directory contents. But give it a couple of arguments (ls /-a) and it might list only those contents which begin with the letter A.

Article references - see page furniture references, which also refers to previous article references.

Assembly - technically, this is the program that converts assembly language into machine code. It is not a language; you're thinking of assembly language.

assembly language - lower-case 'a'.

Athlon 64



Autopackage - the software.

Autopackage (n) - this is a ready-to-install application packaged up with Autopackage.

Avahi – roman.

AVFS - uppercase, A Virtual File System.

avoid, avert, prevent

Avert comes from avertere, to turn from. You can use 'avert' in two senses of prevention.

  • To turn away from disaster. "He averted his face from Medusa's eyes."
  • To ward off disaster ('ward off' means to turn aside or repel). "Fire crews averted a major forest fire."

Note that you can either avert yourself from disaster (his face), or you can avert disaster itself (the forest fire).

Avoid comes from vuidier, to empty (that archaic meaning of to empty or to expel has gone now). Avoid doesn't have avert's sense of repelling danger.

  • Its principal meaning is to keep out of the way of disaster, rather than prevent disaster from happening. "I avoided guerrillas by sticking to the coast."
  • A second, slightly different meaning is to elude, or escape.
  • Avoid can also mean to shun, to keep away from. "I avoid that kind of pub."
  • But avoid can also be used in the sense of keeping something from happening. "We avoid burning the cake by covering it with foil."

Prevent comes from praevenire, to anticipate or precede. Prevention is a much more active way of dealing with disaster than aversion or avoidance.

  • Its main meaning is to keep disaster from happening, especially by taking some precautionary action.

Note that the sense of anticipating disaster and going on to stop it happening harks to the root of prevent, praevenire.

AWK - A programming language. Note: also a command, which would be lowercase.


back up - verb.

backup - noun and adjective, eg 'a daily backup', 'a backup'.



backport - all one word.

Basic - the Ur-programming language. Initial cap.

Bash - GNU command language interpreter, or shell, eg 'the Bash shell'.

beat 'em-up - the apostrophe should face 'beat', like a closing single quote.

best-selling (adj)


beta - small bee!


BIOS - Basic Input / Output System (all caps).

bit - hyphenate when used as adjective; eg '8-bit', '32-bit'.


bitrate – one word


BitTorrent - roman when referring to the protocol (actually a peer-to-peer digital content delivery platform). You might talk about 'BitTorrent packages'. You don't have to use BitTorrent the client to download files on BitTorrent.

BitTorrent - only italicise when you are referring to the application: the original client software written to be used with BitTorrent, released under the BitTorrent Open Source License.

BitTorrent Inc - the company that maintains the BitTorrent protocol and develops BitTorrent software.

blast-'em-up - see beat-'em-up.

bloatware - software that's full of features, requiring lots of RAM.

blog, blogging - write this short form rather than the full 'web logging'.


Bold See also Capitalisation, Code, Italics and Software entries for more on LXF's formatting style.
Bold entries are two levels up from the main copy weight eg, BentonSans Book becomes BentonSans Medium.
Note: Where this would make the font weight higher than Bold then Bold is used instead.
Things that are - generally - bold in Linux Format:

  • All files (See Files for more details).
  • All pathnames for directories and folders. eg /etc/apache.
  • URLs.

Note: See individual entries for more specific information. This is only intended as a general reference guide and was changed quite extensively in June 2015.

Books - Yes, we italicise book names. See the italics entry for more detailed information.

bootloader - all one word.

Btrfs - the B-tree file system.

bubblejet - all one word.

bugfix - all one word.

bug tracking - two words.


bzipped - the past participle of bzip is bzipped.


C - the programming language, stupid!


CAD - all caps.


caching - not cacheing.

caching proxy server - no caps.

Cairo - although it looks Egyptian, this should actually be roman (it's an API).

cannot or can't - never 'can not'.

Capitalisation (see also Italics, Bold and Software entries for more on LXF's formatting style)
Things that are capitalised in Linux Format:

  • Begin application names with a capital letter, even if the creator doesn't, eg amaroK > Amarok.
  • If you make an instruction to press a certain key on the keyboard, you would capitalise the key name eg press Enter.
  • Standard keys are not capitalised, which allows for shortcuts that use uppercase letters, eg In Less, Ctrl+n runs a previous search and CTRL+N runs a previous search but in reverse.
  • If you are talking about a tool, whether generically or in terms of a specific page or button it is also capitalised eg the Rotate tool works well, the Recovery function sucks.
  • Similarly, if you are talking about a certain page, feature, tab or menu, it should be capitalised eg 'go to the About Us page', 'right-click on the File menu'. NB: to avoid confusion, the entire name of the tool, feature etc should be capitalised eg click on Layer To Image Size AND NOT click on Layer to image size.
  • With sequences of destinations, use > signs eg go to File > About Us > News. Note: no single quotes/apostrophe.

CAPT - a driver protocol.

Cat5 - short for 'category 5 cable'. One word, initial cap.

CDE - Common Desktop Environment.

CD-ROM - all caps, and note hyphen. 'Disc' is not required afterwards.

cell phone - two words, but prefer 'mobile phone'.

CERN - all caps. Very important place for the interweb. Originally stood for Conseil Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (but the name has since changed).

centre/center - Use center only when that is the actually name of the product or place, eg Yast Control Center, otherwise we use the English spelling of centre.

changelog - all one word.

checkbox - one word.

chipset - but 'tool set', 'feature set'.

chroot - command to change the root directory. Sometimes used with parentheses, though Nick says you'd only write chroot() in a code string.

chroot (n) - don't italicise in this case.


client-server - use an 'en' dash to denote relationship. Not client/server.

CNR - short for Click-N-Run, the Linspire system.

CMake- the software, but the command is all lowercase.

COAS - Caldera Open Administration System project.

COBOL - all caps (COmmon Business Oriented Language).

Code - in Linux Format, code is presented with its own coloured paragraph rule behind it. If the code is longer than a few words, we style it separately on a new line. We treat code output as code as well as code input and is also presented with its own different-coloured paragraph rule behind it. Lines in a config file are also treated as code; lines or excerpts from other documents can be treated like error messages: roman, with single quotes.

CodeWeavers - St Paul-based company behind Wine and CrossOver Linux - formerly CrossOver Office.

coin-op - hyphen, no apostrophe.

colourize - one of the few -ize words in the Linux Format style guide.


  • A direct command used in the body (instead of on a separate line) also uses the standard code style (see Code, above) with a coloured paragraph rule.
  • Note: command line commands are prefixed with a '$', eg, $ sudo apt-get install xxx.
  • If you are talking about a command utility but not directing that you actually do the command, it should be italicised, eg 'here at Linux Format we think make is really cool'. This is why programs are italicised: they are just complex commands, eg 'here at LXF we think Excel is a really cool command'.
  • If you are really talking about a function and not a command at all, treat it as a tool (see Capitalisation), eg 'reapply Unsharp Mask'.
  • If you are not sure if something is a command or a function, ask a geek, try it on Google with double quotes or try typing it as a command line into your Terminal.

command line - no need to hyphen unless meaning is otherwise unclear, eg 'command-line tool'.

company names - write them sensibly, not slavishly: Nvidia and Netgear rather than NVIDIA and NETGEAR. Also eBay (EBay at the start of a sentence), iPod, CodeWeavers...

commercial - it's usually more accurate to use 'proprietary'.

compared with - as analysis, eg 'I compare apples with oranges'.

compared to - as metaphor, eg 'I compare thee to a rose'.


configuration file - no caps, 'config' is acceptable as abbreviation. Note: when printed in the magazine, lines in a config file are treated as code.



copyleft software - permissible when 'free software' and 'open source' are being over-used.

counter-intuitive - note hyphen.

coverdisc - all one word.

Cron when referring to the utility itself, but cron if you're referring to the command (and would be bold too as commands are in bold).

crontab - but 'cron job', 'cron task'.

crossheads - are used as an access point into the page instead of section breaks. See page elements for more details.

cross over (v)

crossover (n, adj)

CrossOver Office

cross-platform - note the hyphen.

crowdsourcing – one word, like outsourcing.


CUPS - common Unix printing system. All caps.

customise - not 'customize'.


cypher text - As opposed to plain text. Note 'y', two words.


daemon - a small program resident in memory and running in the background. Often has a 'd' at the end.

Dates - not presented as ordinal numbers, eg 20 not 20th. Date ranges have an en dash, no spaces, eg 20–23 September. The day comes in front of the month, eg 12 October, not October 12.

DB2 - IBM's database management system.

DDBMSs - Database and Distributed Database Management Systems.

D-BUS - all caps, hyphenated.

Deb - type of file used for Debian software packages. Often mentioned in the same breath as RPM.

Debian - an amalgam of Ian (Murdock, Debian creator) and Debra (then girlfriend, now wife, surname unknown) picked to name the new Linux distro in 1993.

Debian Project Leader - acceptably abbreviated to 'DPL' after first mention.

Decades - with a preceding apostrophe eg. '80s not 1980s or 80s.


decompile - note not hyphenated.

Delicious - the web service. Prefer to 'del.icio.us'.

demo, demos

denial of service (DoS) attack

desktop - all one word.

DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

dialog - use US spelling in computer-specific contexts, eg 'a dialog box'.

dialogue - use UK spelling in general contexts, eg 'a dialogue between the two companies'.

dial-up (adj)

dial up (verb)

different from - not 'different to'.

Digikam – no longer do we have to write this with an intrusive capital K


directories - are always bold, as are filenames and partitions.

disc - compact, LP record, brakes.

disk - floppy, hard, external.

distro - abbreviation for 'distribution'.

DMA - Direct Memory Access.

DNS - Domain Name System.

Dock - the Mac OS desktop GUI feature.

DOS - all caps.

dotcom - all one word.

dots per inch - abbreviated to dpi (small letters, no full stops).


double-dash, or -- - this is Paul's 'special' geek dash (--foobar..). Space hyphen hyphen foo. The two hyphens are tracked out to 75.

Down cursor - capital 'D'.



drag and drop - three full words, like cut and paste (not cut 'n' paste).

Drizzle - database software, not the wet stuff.

drop-down menu/box


dual boot - unhyphenated.

drop-ship - seen in computer games.

due to - The word ‘due’ comes from devoir, Old French for ‘to owe’. Generally speaking, ‘due to’ is fine used as an adjective with ‘to be’. It is OK to use it in these three ways:

1. meaning ‘owing or payable to’. ‘Pay Caesar what is due to Caesar’

2. meaning ‘supposed to’. ‘The train is due to arrive at 5 o’clock’

3. meaning ‘ascribable to’. ‘The doctor agreed that his death was due to heart disease’ Here, think of ‘due to’ being substituted for ‘attributable to’: ‘The doctor agreed that his death was attributable to heart disease’.

Note that these uses are related to a noun: ‘death’, ‘train’.

Purists object to ‘due to’ being used as a compound preposition without a verb. ‘Michael… hated mathematics at school, mainly due to the teacher', ‘Largely due to the defence efforts of the Western Powers, Europe was in a stalemate’. Note that in this usage, ‘due to’ isn’t related to a noun, and the ‘attributable to’ rule doesn’t work: ‘Michael… hated mathematics at school, mainly attributable to the teacher'. Because we follow the purists, it is better to avoid this usage of ‘due to’ and prefer ‘owing to’ or ‘because' instead.

(A compound preposition is just two or more words acting together as a preposition, such as ‘ahead of’ and ‘in addition to’. A preposition connects a noun with another word and indicates the relationship between them. ‘Peter walked to the store’ connects ‘walked’ and ‘the store’.)


dynamic IP address - 'no caps either side'.


east - but Middle East.

e-business, e-commerce - both use a hyphen.

Eclipse - it's a programming environment, so we italicise it.

ecosystem - this word has been cropping more and more in corporate press releases. The meaning of it isn't very clear for ordinary people, so please avoid using it.

Emacs - Linux editor, short for Editing MACroS.

Eee PC - Initial cap only, as with all pronouns

eg - not e.g. or eg. Try to use 'for example' instead.

El Torrito


endstops - go at the end of the body copy.

Enlightenment - Note: not in italics anymore to sit in-line with all desktop environments for clarity.

enigmail - extension for email clients. No italics.

environment variable - in Bash, always in caps and in bold, eg '$EDITOR'.


Error 21 - capital 'E'.

Error messages

These are put in single quotes.

eg 'I noticed a message at the bottom of the Mozilla screen saying 'Resolving Host XXXXXXXX'. This causes a five to ten-second delay in the page appearing.'

If the error message is very long, put it on a new line and indent it by 4mm left and right.

eg 'The installer began to copy the files but I was hit with the following error:

-Installing platform dependent files ... Done

./INSTALL: line 219: ed: command not found

ERROR installing /usr/local/Acrobat5/bin/acroread'.

I have repeated the procedure a number of times, and have downloaded the software from the Adobe site on several occasions.'

et al - italicised.

etc - no full stop unless at the end of a sentence. No comma before it.

Ethernet - networking protocol. Distinguish between different versions, such as Fast Ethernet (100MBps) or Gigabit Ethernet (1,000MBps).

ever - don't use with a superlative. Biggest, best etc are total and don't need qualifying.

executable files - preferable to '.exe files'.

Exif data – a class of metadata found in photos

Exposé (with an accent) - the window tiling feature on Mac.

ext2, ext3

Extend (Novell)

extensions - Firefox extensions, such as Greasemonkey, are not italicised.

Extreme Programming

ezine - no hyphen.


FAM - File Alteration Monitor.

fast-forward – the button on your tape deck that skips past the songs you don't like

feature set - two words.

Fedora Linux - not Red Hat Fedora, though it is sponsored by Red Hat Inc. This community distro used to be called 'Fedora Core Linux', but in January 2007 the Fedora project decided to merge the 'Core' repository with the 'Extras' repository.

Fdisk - the utility; DOS FDISK - all caps.

FFmpeg - command-line program for handling multimedia data.

FHS - Filesystem Hierarchy Standard.

fifty-fifty - all one word; not 50:50.


In tutorials, you can refer to specific images or diagrams, particularly as part of a series, with 'see Fig 1' in the text and '(Fig 1)' at the start of the caption.


file manager - no caps.

filenames - are always bold, as are directories.

filesystem - only one word.

file extensions and filetypes - write these in caps (GIF, JPEG) not as actual file extensions (.gif, .jpg).

firepower - all one word.



flamewar – one word

flash - if you are talking about flash memory on a memory card or flash drive, this is written with a small 'f'.

Flash - when it comes to multimedia, this should be roman and with a big 'F'. The word 'Flash' might refer to the file format (this has a .swf file extension) or to Flash Professional, the authoring environment. The distinction isn't terribly important when you talk generally of 'Flash websites'. But should you ever refer to the Adobe Flash Player, please italicise it.

flat file (database) - two words.

FLOSS - Free/Libre and Open Source Software. All caps.


focused/focusing - not focussed, focussing.

follow-up (n)

for example - avoid 'eg' wherever possible.

for instance

the Force – capital eff

Fortran - despite style of COBOL, we use initial cap only (FORmula TRANslator).

FOSS - Free and Open Source Software. All caps. More common than 'FLOSS'.

fps - frames per second, no space and lowercase, eg 30fps.

frame rate - two words.

framebuffer - all one word.

frames per second - this is OK to abbreviate to 'fps', eg "The rate was 42fps."

FreeBSD - all one word.

free software - some people write this in Title Case, 'Free Software', but not us.

front-end - refers to the parts of software seen by user, such as a dialog box. One word (see back-end).


FTP - File Transfer Protocol (based on TCP/IP).

FVWM - The F Virtual Window Manager.

full stops

Use these at the end of captions, pull quotes and standfirsts.

The only pieces of text that are left hanging without a full stop are:

  • headlines
  • box titles
  • anything in contents

functions - are in bold.

Fuse - Filesystem in Userspace.


Gaël Duval - Mandrake creator. Let go from Mandriva in April 2006; began working on his own Linux distro Ulteo.

game programmer

gameplay, gameplaying, gamesplayer(s)

Gb - abbreviation for gigabits, also Gbps for Gigabits per second. GB - abbreviation for gigabytes, not Gb. No space, eg '20GB'. Also GB/s for Gigabytes per second.


gconf - small 'g'. It's a configuration file editor for Gnome.



Gedit - Proper noun, graphical editor.

geekspeak - see -speak.

Gegl – The Generic Graphics Library


gFTP client - FTP client in Linux


GHz - gigahertz. No space, eg '1.6GHz'.

Gimp - GNU Image Manipulation Program.



GLX - roman, all caps.

GMC - GNU Midnight Commander. This used to be the default file manager in Gnome.

Gnome - GNU Network Object Model Environment; a GUI desktop in Linux, similar to KDE in function.

Gnome Control Centre. NOT Center.

Gnotepad - the popular text editor. Forget the '+' sign often written at the end.

GNU - GNU's Not Unix. All caps. A free operating system announced in 1983 with its own software, libraries, compilers and, it is planned, its own kernel (GNU Hurd, still in development). The Free Software Foundation, which supports free software and GNU, would like people to say 'GNU/Linux' rather than simply 'Linux', in order to recognise the contribution of GNU technology. Technically, 'Linux' refers only to the kernel of the operating system. But this is only rarely adhered to and it is fine to write simply 'Linux' when you refer to the OS with a Linux kernel in Linux Format, as the title of the magazine itself suggests!

GnuPG2 for the encryption tool or Gnupg2 for the package.

google (vb) - avoid this, as Google is a trademark. Try 'search Google' instead.

Google Summer of Code



GPL - GNU General Public License.

GPL 3 or GPL v3 - note space between. Prefer 'GPL 3' to 'GPL v3'.

GPLed - software published under the GPL.

greyscale - adjective describing a device (such as a monitor) or image that uses grey levels only, not colours. Not 'grayscale' unless quoting, for example, an application menu,

grey scale - noun. A table of grey levels (usage rare and usually technical).





GTK - note that we have dropped the '+' from the end.

GUI - graphical user interface. All caps. Pronounced "gooey".

Gzip - the compression software utility.

gzip - the command in use!

GZ - a gzipped file, see file extensions.


HAL - all caps. The Hardware Abstraction Layer.

hardcore (adjective)

hard drive

hardware - all one word.

hda - small letters.


Hello World – a Hello World program is not italicised. Writing a Hello World program, where the screen prints out the words "Hello World!", is often used in tutorials for teaching people a new computer language.

here documents - special code blocks or strings (usually heredoc).


hi-res - not 'hi-rez'.


holy grail - not capped. A bit of a cliché.

homepage - one word.

hostname - one word.

HotPicks - this section in Linux Format is all one word.

hotplug, hotplugging - one word.

HOWTO - all one word, caps.

HPLIP - all in caps. Hewlett-Packard's Linux Imaging and Printing software.


HTML colours - for example, F3D901 (egg-yolk yellow). Keep the letters upper case.

HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol.

http:// - only include this as part of the address in Linux Format if the URL doesn't have 'www' or similar.

hub - no cap unless integral part of trademarked proper name.

hyperlinks - All URLs need to be converted into hyperlinks in InDesign using Type > Hyperlinks & Cross-References > New Hyperlink from URL.

Hyperthreading - capital 'H', because it's an Intel trademark.


Use hyphens to clarify meaning, especially when nouns and other words are used as adjectives.

eg 'I keep my versions up to date' but 'an up-to-date version'.

eg 'I was fined on the spot' but 'an on-the-spot fine'.

We do not insist on using hyphens with compound modifiers/adjectives every time. 'Open source software' is fine without a hyphen, as are 'de facto standard' and 'high school student'. The better known the phrase (such as 'open source'), the better it can cope without being hyphenated. But if hyphens help, use them. As Bill Walsh writes in Lapsing Into A Comma, "Sure, orange juice salesmen isn't going to be confusing in its entirety, but for one nanosecond the reader is going to be led down the wrong path, thinking orange is the modifier and juice is the noun… The job of an editor is to make things as easy as possible on the reader, and the least the editor could do is stick in a little hyphen and make that link to begin with."

A quick note on multiple hyphens. It might feel profligate to write 'three-year-old child' or 'high-school-age students', but don't be afraid of using more than one hyphen: it's better than selective hyphenation, which might leave words unlinked.

Hz - hertz (cycles per second); MHz = megahertz; GHz = gigahertz



id software – The company that makes Doom and other shoot-'em-ups. They write it with a small 'i', and so do we.

IDE - Integrated Development Environment, such as Eclipse, Anjuta. Also stands for Integrated Drive Electronics (a kind of hard drive interface, as distinct from SCSI hard drives). IDEs are italicised.

ie - not 'i.e.' or 'ie'.

iFolder - for such program names starting with an 'i', we make an exception to the rule of starting programs with a capital letter and keep the 'i' in lower case.


Inc - for companies; no comma before or full-stop afterwards (eg 'VMware Inc is based in the United States').

infinite(ly) - these terms are frequently used inaccurately. 'Infinitely-configurable menus' aren't infinitely configurable, the options just run into very high numbers. If you can't think of a better expression, 'almost infinite(ly)' at least avoids being definitively wrong!

init scripts

Initials - such as' JRR Tolkien': no space, no periods. Or 'Kevin B Smith'

InnoDB - not italicised.




Internet Explorer - from version 7 onwards, the official name for this is WIndows Internet Explorer.


I/O port - Input/Output.

IO slaves - seamless access to media and protocols (eg compressed archives, SSH, HTTP etc).

IP address/routing - no cap on word after Internet Protocol abbreviation. Roman, don't treat as URL.

IPCop - a specialist Linux firewall distro.




IRC - all capital letters, no italics.

IrDA - Infrared Data Association.

ISP - internet service provider.

Italics See also Bold, Capitalisation and Software entries for more on LXF's formatting style.
Note: A style guide is about creating clarity and highlighting subjects that are important to the magazine brand. Therefore, the use of italics was revised in the style guide in July 2014 to 'simplify' what had become an incredibly impenetrable definition that our readers were unlikely to follow in any meaningful way.
Things that are - generally - italicised in Linux Format:

  • All books, films, newspapers, magazines and TV shows.
  • All software programs (See Software for more details).
  • All page references that refer to the current issue. (See Page furniture references for more details).
  • Command line utilities - but only in a specific instance, where you are talking about the utility but not directing that you do the command, eg 'here at Linux Format we think make is a really cool command'. (See Commands for more details).

Things that are not italicised in Linux Format that are easy to get wrong:

  • Anything in an article strap/standfirst or pullquote that would normally be italicised.
  • Desktop environments, eg Cinammon, Gnome and, yes, Enlightenment.
  • Modules and libraries (which typically have a prefix of 'lib'). Note: these used to be italicised but we simplified the style guide in July 2014.

Note: See individual entries for more specific information. This is only intended as a general reference guide.


JACK – The Jack Audio Connection Kit. This is not italicised. Some people refer to it as a server, but it isn't, really.

JavaScript – language that gives scripting capabilities for dynamic content in web browsers (or something). Capital Jay, capital Ess

job titles - lower case, eg managing director. (Note: the exception being CEO).



JPEG See File extensions and file types



K3b - CD-burning software. Not 'K3B'.

K menu - big kay, little em.

k - kilobytes, lower case, eg '32k'.



KDE Control Centre - not '-er'.

KDE 4.0 - use 'x.0' like this for a specific release. Use 'KDE 4.x' for the series (4.1, 4.2, 4.3 etc) and technology.




Keyboard commands - If you make an instruction to press a certain key on the keyboard, you would capitalise the key name eg press Enter. Note: we do not encapsulate them in square brackets ([]).


kernel components - are italicised, such as Xen and Inotify.




Kfm - KDE file manager.

kg - kilograms. Not Kg, eg '764kg'.

kHz - kilohertz, eg '5kHz'.

KHTML - rendering engine used in Konqueror, equivalent to the Gecko engine used in Firefox; italicised.


KIO slave, KIO slaves




Konsole - it's a named terminal.





KVM - virtualisation software.





LAMP - traditional Linux platform comprising Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python.

LAN - local area network. All caps.


laser - acronym, no 'z'.

LDAP - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol

left-click - hyphen eg 'left-click on my face'.


libraries - Often contain the word 'mod' or 'lib'. Note: no longer italicised.

licence (n) - spell with a 'c' unless quoting an existing, US licence such as the Apache License.

license (v)


Lilo</font> - LInux LOader, allows booting of any OS.


Linux - LXF abbreviate GNU/Linux to this for brevity.



Linux Format but LXF and LXFDVD are in Lexia DaMa Bold.



These are formatted with bullet points, tabs and full stops, as follows:

'Once we know that our input is from a real person, we can eliminate potentially bad data - this is much easier! Our goal here is to:

  • Trim all data to the size we're expecting.
  • Substitute reserved characters with their HTML equivalent.
  • Escape quotes.'

Then the new paragraph begins straight after the list, indented as per a usual paragraph.

The rule is the same no matter how long or short the items in the list, like so:

'Once we know that our input is from a real person, we can eliminate potentially bad data - this is much easier! Our goal here is to:

  • Trim.
  • Substitute.
  • Escape.'

Then the new paragraph begins straight after the list, indented as per a usual paragraph.

If there is a title to each list entry then some blurb, you should put the title in bold, without following with a full stop.


'But as this tutorial will show we can use PHP to manage the other three steps, which we can summarise as:

  • Validate Ensure that the inputted data is what you expected, of the correct length and correctly formatted.
  • Authenticate Check what the user provided against what you have in your database.
  • Allocate When you have established that the user should have permissions, issue them with an access token that gives them access rights to their account.'

The bullet points are actually two chevrons, coloured with the article's section colour.

live CD, live DVD - an easy-to-install Linux distro available on a disc. Note lack of capitalisation.

Linuxy - informal adjective. Not '-ey'.


log in - verb.

login - noun.

login prompt


lo-res - not 'lo-rez'.

lowdown - one word.

lower-case (adj) - note hyphen.

Lpd - line printer daemon; Linux printing service manager.


LUG - Linux User Group or Linux Users Group. All caps.

LXDE - Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment


LXQt - not LXQT


Mac OS - Apple's operating system, not 'MacOS'.

MacBook - Apple's hardware.

Mactel - the new nickname for the Apple Mac computers running on an Intel chip.

mail server - two words.


Mandriva (the company) - created in April 2005 from the merger of Mandrake and Conectiva. Makes the Mandriva Linux distribution.

Mandriva Control Centre. NOT Center.

Mandriva Linux (the distro)

man pages - online help system.


mashup – all one word

may, might - there are several uses for both words, but the commonest is to express possibility.

  • In this sense of possibility, 'might' is a weaker, more tentative and more hypothetical version of 'may', and best used in the future or subjunctive tenses. "If I were younger I might have caught him up."
  • When expressing possibility that is more likely or more real, often in the present tense, 'may' is better. "The rope may break", "He may be young but he's not stupid."
  • It doesn't help that 'might' is also the past participle of 'may'. "She said he might be young but he wasn't stupid."
  • Just as 'might' suggests weaker possibility than 'may', 'might' is considered more polite than 'may' when used in the sense of having permission. "Might I ask...?"

MB - megabyte. No space, eg '32MB'.

Mbps - megabits per second. Do not confuse with MBps.

MBps - megabytes per second. Do not confuse with Mbps.

MBR - Master Boot Record.

menu bar - two words (but note 'toolbar' is one word).

Mepis Linux - no more MEPIS! Putting 'Mepis' into title case follows our rules on software names


Metisse - it is fine to describe this as a 'desktop' or 'window manager', even though it is technically a toolkit that developers use to build 3D desktop environments. The result is similar to Xgl and AIGLX desktops. Metisse emerged from academia: it is not a Mandriva project, although Mandriva has adopted and supported the project.

MHz - megahertz. No space, eg '733MHz'.

Midnight Commander

Micro:bit - The BBC writes it in lowercase, ie micro:bit.

MIME type

mkiso - this is pronounced "make iso", so you would write 'a mkiso script'.

Microsoft Word

MMOG - massively multiplayer online game.

MOD - audio sequencing.


motherboard - one word.

Motif - this is a widget toolkit.

mount point - two words, Linux disk partition.



Mp – megapixels








multimedia - one word.

multiplayer - one word.

multitasking - one word.

multithreading - one word.

MyISAM - not italicised.



nano - lowercase, non-graphical text editor.

NAS - network attached storage.

NASA - all caps.

NAT - Network Address Translation.

NATO - all caps.


ncurses - A library and not italicised anymore (July 2014).

nd - ordinal numbers aren't used for dates, see Dates.


.NET - all caps. Because it starts with a '.' that we can't get rid of, avoid starting sentences with ',NET'.


Netscape Messenger

Netscape Navigator

NetworkManager – yes, it looks daft, but it's all one word

newline - all one word.

newsgroup - one word.

newsreader - one word.


NIC - Network Interface Card.

'*NIX' - don't use this. Stick to 'Unix' or 'Linux'.


no one - two words'

north - but The North.


npm - Node Packaged Modules

NTFS - New Technology filesystem.


numbers – spell out 0–9, then use numerals for 10, 11 upwards

Nvidia - ignore the way other people write it. We know better.

Navigation - With sequences of destinations, use greater than (>) signs eg go to File > About Us > News. Note: no single quotes/apostrophe.


OASIS - all caps

object orientation, object-oriented programming


off site - two words.

OGG files - capitalised, to be consistent with JPEG, TIFF et al. Any type of file that uses the Ogg container, but we use it mostly as shorthand for the Ogg Vorbis music file format.

Ogg Theora – Ogg is the container, Theora the (movie) codec.

Ogg Vorbis – Ogg is the container, Vorbis the (music) codec.

OK - not 'okay'.


Old World Mac

online - one word.

on site - two words.

on to - two words, not 'onto'.

OpenBox - window manager.


OpenOffice.org - the '.org' is mandatory. Abbreviated as OOo (no dot).

open source - not 'Open Source' or 'open-source'.

open sourcey - should you ever need to say so.

OpenGL - not italicised, my friends!




OpenSUSE - this is the Novell-sponsored distro developed with the help of the community, as opposed to the purely Novell-produced 'SUSE Linux'.

operating system - no caps.

OS - this abbreviation of 'operating system' is fine.

OSCON – looks silly with just an initial cap, so it's OK to do it all caps. No other reason.

OSes - plural of OS (operating system).

OS X - Apple's post-System 9 operating system, with a space between the 'S' and the 'X', and not 'OS-X' (in full: Mac OS X, with two spaces).

Ordnance Survey

Oracle - the company.

Oracle - the software (Oracle Database).

Outlook Express - this MS product is now known as Windows Mail .

OVA - Capitalised only because it's an acronym not a file extension, such as JPG. This is an OVF package made using TAR. See deb for another example.

OVF - virtualisation software.

oversimplified - all one word.


owner - user who created file or directory.


Pacman - package manager for Arch.

packages - can be thought of as a kind of file, so are bold.


Page elements - headers, straps, crossheads etc.

  • crossheads - are used as an access point into the page not as section breaks.
    As a rule, where a page template requires crossheads (reviews, tutorials, features) it should only have one crosshead, but two are allowed to fix copy issues.
  • straps/standfirst - require a byline in BentonSans Bold and do not italicise words that are normally put in italics in the copy.

Page furniture references - when you want to refer to an image, box or other page item in the text, put it in brackets, write any name of the item in Title Case, and put the whole lot in italics. Examples:

  • 'Witches are feared throughout England (see Witch Killers box, below) to this day.'
  • 'As you can see in the screengrab below, only serif fonts are used.'
  • 'In this tutorial we will recreate the GUI in Fig 1, all in under an hour.' [Caption: (Fig 1) The GUI you will be recreating.]

Previous articles - this is common in the letters section. Put the full title as it appeared on the page in Title Case, and follow it with the issue number. If the article appears within a section, include that too. Examples:

  • 'I read your article on witches with interest this month [Witch Hunt, LXF73].'
  • 'In reading your Witchcraft review last month [HotPicks, LXF82], I realised...'
  • 'Your story on witches contained a factual error [Wrong Witch Dunked, Newsdesk, LXF82].'
  • 'I must respond to Mistress Eldritch's letter published in LXF91 [I Love Black Cats, Mailserver].'

partitions - are treated like directories, and are thus bold.

PAM - Pluggable Authentication Modules. All caps.


passphrase - all one word.



PDF - talk about 'a PDF'. If the letters are part of a filename, you'd obviously write them lower case: 'Sample.pdf'.

per cent / percentage - use symbol '%' for this.

Pear DB


PGP is a program.



Pico - text editor.

PID - Process ID, must be a non-negative number.

Ping - the game, no caps.

pin-up (n)

plain text - two words.

playback (n) - all one word.


plug-in (adjective)

plugin (noun)

POP - Post Office Protocol, server usually under control of an ISP, with dial-up net access. Note: POP2, POP3.

pop up (verb)

pop-up (noun)



PostScript - printer language, abbreviated as 'PS'.

post script - text at the bottom of a letter after signature.

Power – a type of processor architecture made by IBM, formerly used in Macs. Use 'Power' rather than 'PowerPC'.

powerup (n) - an object collected in a game to replenish shields etc.

Prices in reviews and so on

For consumer goods such as computer games, we quote the price inclusive of VAT

eg 'PRICE £24.99'

For enterprise goods, we quote the price exclusive of VAT and write '+ VAT' afterwards.

eg 'PRICE £349 + VAT'

If we are given a price and don't know whether the VAT is included or note, we must find out!.


program (n) - software.

programme (n) - a television programme, a reform programme and so on.


protocol prefixes - write these as if they were URLs, eg http://

Pull quotes - (aka callouts) should be punctuated with double quotes (even if it isn't a direct quote) and finished with a full stop. Add the name of the quotee afterwards if that's important.

PureBasic - NOT PureBASIC.


Qemu - not QEMU.


QParted - the non-GUI brother of QtParted.


queuing - storing files, usually to print. Alternative word: spooling.

QuickBasic - Not QuickBASIC.

Quotation marks

Use double quotes when the quote comes from a person, whether they are speaking in person, being reported through a press release, or writing on a blog or in a book. By extension, quotes from companies are also put into double quotes.

Use single quotes when the quote comes from a non-human, such as an error message or instructions on a packet.

Also see Punctuation page



RAID 1, RAID 2, RAID under Linux

RAM - all caps.


Readme file


read-only file

Real Audio


real time - two words: 'It happens in real time'.

real-time (adj)

Red Hat - two words.

regular expression - there are several ways you will see this abbreviated. We're going with 'regex'.

reinstall - all one word.

ReiserFS - filesystem. Made by Hans Reiser convicted of murdering his wife.

requester - as in 'file requester'.

rescue disc - not 'disk': a rescue disc is a Live distro that comes on a CD or DVD.


retrofitted - one word.


Reviews - Written as the magazine's opinion and therefore 'we think' not 'I think'.


RFC - request for comments.

Resolution - write resolution of screens and so on thus: 800x1,024 (no gaps) dots per inch abbreviated to dpi (small letters, no full stops)



RPG - role-playing game.

root block - two words. This is the first part of the disk that RAID will read.

root user - two words, 'superuser' is all one word.


roundup (noun)

Roundup - the section in Linux Format. Note capital 'R'.

round up (verb)

routing - not 'routeing'.


RPM - Red Hat Package Manager; also available in other Linux distros and Unix systems.


RPM - type of file. Don't rely on the styling to make this clear to the reader; spell it out.

rpm or rpm - command as written on command line.

rsync - tool to transfer files.

Ruby On Rails - is a website development framework using the Ruby language. Often abbreviated to 'Rails'.

rule set - two words.


runtime - all one word.

Rute - not RUTE.


Samba - not SAMBA.

SANE - the name of this system is short for Scanner Access Now Easy.

SATA – like BIOS and VESA, this is one of those things that are so old-school that we have to write them as all caps even though we pronounce them.

satnav – one word


Sax, Sax2 - short for 'simple API for XML'.


SciMark 2.0 - the benchmark used by Biagio in his compiler tests. You can execute it, so it's italic.

screensaver - one word.

screenshot - one word.

scrollwheel – as on a mouse, one word.

SCSI - is pronounced "scuzzy".



sed - an editor.

selector (n) - this '-or' spelling is the standard. But see 'adviser' and 'requester'.

semicolon - all one word.


setuid - a permissions setting that enables you to use the access permissions of the owner of whichever program you're using.

setup (noun)

set up (verb)

SHA1 - this is pronounced "shar-won", so you would write, "a SHA1 hash cracker".


shell scripting - no hyphen.

ship - this is an ugly, corporate word used to mean 'comes' or, at a pinch, 'is shipped with'. Example: 'Mandriva ships with the Metisse desktop.' Avoid.

shoot-'em-up - the apostrophe faces 'shoot', like a closing single quote.


show - when you're writing about what can be seen on a computer screen, often the verb 'display' works better.

shutdown - 'the PC is in shutdown mode'.

shut down (verb)

sim - short for 'simulator'.

simple and simplistic - do not mean the same thing. Simple = easy to understand, plain, uncomplex, unpretentious. Simplistic = characterised by extreme simplicity (simplicity is just the quality of being simple), even naivety. Thus something can't be "too simplistic" or "over simplistic".

SIOX - all caps.


smartphone - one word.

Smart Boot Manager


SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Software - Software titles are italicised in Linux Format most of the time. Note: we revised the style guide in July 2014 to 'simplify' what is italicised as it had become overcomplicated and confusing. The general rule is that software installed on the system is italicised, such as Gimp, MySQL, Firefox, but not modules and libraries.

Web services are not italicised eg Dropbox, but the client is in italics.

See the Italics entry for more general information on use of italics.

When the name of manufacturer and version are included in the brand name, eg Adobe Photoshop 6 but Microsoft Word.

There are some parts of a page where a program is not displayed in italics:


  • Body copy
  • Standfirst
  • Picture caption
  • Top bar


  • Headline
  • Box title
  • Crosshead
  • Pullquote

When a command line utility is being mentioned then it is put in italics, but when the command itself is being typed on the command line, we write it in bold (or format it as code, with a coloured background). eg grep is a really handy utility, we can use the grep command to search files for a match.

We try to spell software as its developers have christened it. However, after Roundup suffered a recent rash of aKregators, mtPaints, kdisserts and gentoos (no, not that one), we decided that some of the more arcane spelling choices of software creators must be ruled out. In conclusion, we will keep software names as their authors intend but draw the line at the following:

  • software starting with a lower case letter (vis gThumb)
  • random capped letters appearing (vis amaroK) [Note, though, that we will keep upper case letters within a name if they start a new word or meaningful syllable.]
  • writing it all in upper case (vis INSERT).

Confused? Check out these examples: F-Spot</i> we keep as F-Spot, xpad we write as Xpad, muLinux we write as MuLinux, aKregator we write as Akregator. Hope that's all clear now!

Question: What if the software is more of a program used on the command line, where it might be confusing or even misleading to turn a lower case word into title case? For example, wc (word count command).

Answer: Damn you! OK, in that case we would use our judgement and keep the program/command all lower case.

Solaris - Sun's Unix operating system.

soundcard - one word.

sound effect - two words.

source code - two words, no caps.

SourceForge - big eff.

spaceship - one word.

-speak - this suffix can be used with anything to describe the sub-language used in a particular field. Examples: geekspeak, cyberspeak, Californiaspeak. You do not need to insert a hyphen before ‘speak’ unless the first word ends with an ‘s’, as in business-speak. Words taking the -speak suffix are often pejorative and suggest jargon, such as managementspeak and doublespeak. But they can also describe an arcane language and the cosy community that uses it with fondness, as in BSDspeak. Using -speak in this way comes from George Orwell’s 1984, which introduced ‘newspeak’ as the language used by the totalitarian establishment. Note that newspeak is a language and should technically be capitalised, to mirror English (or Oldspeak), Esperanto etc. But our dictionary writes newspeak with a lower-case ‘n’, so we follow that rule for other -speak words. If the root word starts with a capital letter, however, the resulting word should keep it, eg Californiaspeak, Linuxspeak.


Special - when we're referring to the special editions of Linux Format, write Linux Format Special. To refer to a specific special edition, you would write "I bought Linux Format Special #6", "I enjoyed your recent web special [Linux Format Special #10]."

speed - to express modem speeds, write "56kbps", for example.

spellcheck, spellchecker

spine – there should be only one space before and after the chevron separating the hits on the spine of the magazine. Thus spake Effy.



SQLite - it's a library. Note: not in italics anymore.

Squid, SquidGuard - both take italics.

SSH - can refer to a command, which would be in bold but is left as roman if referring to the protocol.
Note: that a tool such as OpenSSH would be in italics as it refers to a utility that uses the SSH protocol.

SSH server


standalone - no hyphen.

StarOffice - all one word. This is the proprietary version of OpenOffice.org.

start up (v) - two words.

startup (adj) - one word, as in 'startup times'. See online/on line.

startup screen




storyline - one word.

stylesheet - one word.

submenu - no hyphen.

subnotebook – no hyphen.

subscript - meaning: like the '2' in H2O. One word, unless quoting, say, a menu item.

superscript - meaning: like the '2' in X2. One word, unless quoting, say, a menu item

SuperKaramba – italic, large 'K'. KDE widget manager analogous to Mac OS X's Dashboard.

superuser - one word, root user is two words.

SUSE - A long time ago this was written 'SuSE' (the 'u' used to stand for the German 'und').

Swatch - Simple Watcher, log monitor.

symmetrical - prefer to 'symmetric'.

symlink - no hyphen, short for symbolic links. It's a kind of shortcut. A symlink, such as vmlinuz, should be in bold, because it is a file, and in Linux Format we bold files!


sync - this is an acceptable abbreviation, though we'd prefer 'synchronise'.

synthesizer - note the rare '-ize' spelling.

sysadmin - shorthand for 'system administrator'. All one word.

Syslinux - bootloader.

systemd - system and service manager.


tar file - prefer 'tarball'.

tarball file - no caps, one word (similar to WinZip or PKZip files).


Tcl - scripting language, cap 'T', not TCL.

TCP/IP - Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

team - usually plural (eg 'the team have done a great job').


Telnet - you might be interested to know that this is not installed with Vista by default, but is still an installable feature.

th - ordinal numbers aren't used for dates, see Dates.


time - this is written with a full stop (7.30am).

timeline – one word

timeout - noun.

time-saver, time-saving - hyphenated.

time slice - two words.

timestamp - all one word.

to-do list

toolbar - one word (but note 'menu bar', 'task bar' and 'title bar' are all two words).

toolchain - one word.


tool set

tooltip - one word.

touchpad - generically, or TouchPad if the Synaptics trademarked technology (eg 'Synaptics TouchPad devices appear in most touch pad-enabled notebooks').

touchscreen - one word.

trojans - we're not talking about people from Troy, so use a small 't'.


Tutorials - written from the individual's perspective and therefore 'I think' not 'We think'.


Tux - the penguin mascot of Linux.


uBee512 - an emulator for the Microbee. An exception to the software name formatting rules (see Software), presumably because it looks silly with a capital 'U'.


udev - this is a kernel option, so treat it as Xen and Inotify. Small 'u', italics.

under way - two words.


Unicode - capital letter.

Unix - in the olden days, we used to make a distinction between UNIX, the proprietary name owned by SCO, and Unix, the general operating system. No more. Don't write *NIX/nix any more.

untar, untaring, untarred

Up cursor - capital 'U'.


UPnP – small en. This stands for Universal Plug 'n' Play.


URL - Note also that all URLs need to be converted into hyperlinks in InDesign using Type > Hyperlinks & Cross-References > New Hyperlink from URL.


USE flag - these are used to dictate how a package is installed in Gentoo. Some fix bugs; some enable features that require dependencies.


user base – two words

user list - this is two words.

username - all one word.

userspace - all one word.



V - Volts.

Variables - We use the code style to highlight variables and options within a command, but only when it is being explained after a code extract.
For example: "The [code style]--target[code style ends] option for FFmpeg makes sure that bitrates and codecs are appropriate..."
The intention here is to clearly define elements of code that are being explained so that anyone can follow it. Without providing any emphasis, explanations had
previously been difficult to follow without greater prior knowledge or constant referral to the code extract being discussed.

versions - defer to the software developers for how the version is written eg 'Rosegarden 2' but 'Lphoto 2.0'.

Note that the version number is italicised along with the program's name.

When used generally, write version with a lower-case 'v' eg 'our last review was of the new version 3.2; v3.2 is much worse'.

When someone is referring to several versions in a row, such as 9.1, 9.3 and 9.9, it may be written as 'the 9.x versions'.

A release candidate version has 'rc' on the end, eg '1.30rc'. Note no space. The same for beta versions: '1.30b'.

VESA - all caps.


VirtualBox - virtualisation software.

Visual Basic


voice chat - term used by instant messaging types. Two words.

voilá, voici - it's nice to use these sometimes. They should be italicised, as they are foreign words.

VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol.

vs - or versus, not 'v'.

VT - short for 'virtual terminal'.

VT7, VT8 - common VTs.


walkthrough - noun, no hyphen.

wargame - one word.



WebDav - roman.

WebKit – 'tis a rendering engine for the web, like Gecko and KHTML. Big doubleyoo, bit kay, all one word

weblog - shorten this to 'blog'.

webmail - all one word.



website - one word, lower case.

while - never 'whilst'.

whizz, whizz bang - note spelling, as in Billy Whizz.

Wi-Fi - wireless.

wiki - small 'w'.

wildcard - one word.

Win95 - no space in any Windows abbreviation (in contrast to Mac OS).

Window Maker


Windoze, Micro$oft et al - derogatory phrases serve no useful purpose outside of opinion columns.






wizard - (as in desktop guides) these have become generic, so use a small 'w'.


workaround - noun is one word, verb is two words.

workspace - one word.

WWW - world wide web.

wxWidgets – I have decided that this is the least stupid way to write this name.



X11 - NOT italicised.


x86-64 – the new name for AMD64


Xdm - X display manager.





Xfce - Not italised as a desktop environment.






X Window System - never 'X Windows'.


Yahoo - no exclamation mark on the end.


Yahoo - no exclamation mark on the end.

Years - 1995 not '95.

YouTube – big Y, big tee



ZFS - The Z File System.

Zip - Capital 'Z' when referring to the software utility Zip and when referring to hardware ('Zip drive', 'Zip disk').
- Lowercase as the verb for making those files ('to zip a document').
- All uppercase if referring to the file extension, ZIP.

Zlib - lower case. Compression library. Note: Not in italics anymore.

Zsh - can be thought of as doing the same thing as Bash, so we treat it the same.

ZX80, ZX81

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

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