Hey writers! This style guide is meant for current and future contributors of Beat. If you have any enquiries, please email the editors.
Examples are italicised for clarification.
Referring to people
When referencing a person, we use their full name when first mentioning them. After that, we refer to them by their last name. If there is more than one person with the same last name, you can use first names throughout the article.
When writing about mental illness, depression or suicide, please include a sentence at the end of your article referencing contact details to a mental health hotline.
For example, “If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.”
Sentence case vs title case
For online articles, headlines and subheadings are sentence case. Subheadings need full stops. Headlines don’t.
Headline: Howler fights developers, calls in lawyers to protect their live music venue
Subheadline: Yet another prominent live music venue is under threat from inner-city developers – this time it’s Howler in Brunswick.
For print, headlines are title case, subheadings are sentence case.
Headline: Howler Fights Developers
Subheadline: Calling in big guns to protect Brunswick’s live music hub.
Don’t write in the first person
We tend not to publish articles written in the first-person, so try to steer clear of it or at least don’t get offended when we change it. Articles that have ‘I ask’ in them usually just don’t work very well, and we’d rather not have you use that shtick.
Always write in the active voice
Write in the active voice, not the passive voice, as it is more concise. The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb.
Active voice: Robbie Williams (subject) announces (verb) tour.
Passive voice: A tour has been announced (verb) by Robbie Williams (subject).
Active voice: Harry (subject) ate (verb) six shrimp at dinner.
Passive voice: At dinner, six shrimp were eaten (verb) by Harry (subject).
Dashes and hyphens
Use spaced en dashes to separate parenthetical material or asides off from the rest of the sentence: Why – indeed – not.
An em dash is used in the same instance of an en dash. Beat doesn’t use em dashes. This is an em dash: Why—indeed—not.
Use – for hyphenation: a very rock-critical thing to do.
Use double quotes, and single quotes within them, and double quotes within them, and so on.
Kermit disagrees: “I think Miss Piggie and I have a very good rapport. Just yesterday she said to me, ‘Kermie, you know I’m the star, but without you we couldn’t do the show; Fozzie told me in the dressing room that he thinks you’re “useful”. I think he’s right.’ So you see, we get on fine.”
With part quotes that are at the end of a sentence, the punctuation sits outside of the quotation marks.
Musicians have condemned Sydney’s lockout laws as “ridiculous and dangerous”.
All bands get title case (Outkast, The Circle Jerks, Eagles Of Death Metal, Sum 41 etc). The exceptions are bands whose names are abbreviations, or smart-arsey spellings, who get all caps (XTC, N.E.R.D, AC/DC, REM), and tossers like blink-182.
All titles of albums, books, movies etc are written in italics and title case.
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Kill Bill Volume 2
The only exception to this rule is the names of gigs or tours, which are in title case only: Big Day Out, Vans Warped.
Band names, by the way, aren’t titles. They are band names. Band names are not italicised.
The names of other magazines/websites, such as Rolling Stone, are in italics. There are no italics for Beat.
Singles/songs are written with single inverted commas.
‘Hey Ya’ not “Hey Ya” or Hey Ya
The numbers ten and below are written as words, 11 and over numerically: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 etc.
Exceptions are dollar prices ($7) and numbers that open sentences – these should be spelt out unless it would require too many hyphens: Fifteen years later, he died.
326 years later, he was canonised (instead of Three-hundred-and-twenty-six years later).
Landline: 9428 3600
Mobile: 0417 666 666
Six digit numbers: 123 456
Correct: Friday August 11.
No need to include the year if it’s obvious. If the year is required, write it as Friday August 11, 1970.
If the date is from ages ago and it’s going to be difficult to find the date (or it’s not relevant), just format it as August 11, 1970.
7pm and 7.45pm
3 Newton St Richmond 3121
Spelling and Australian English
Australian spelling, please.
Humour. Favourite. Neighbour. Note the letter U.
It’s recognise with an S, not recognize with a Z.
When adding a suffix to most words ending in L, we double the L: travel / travelling / travelled, control / controlling / controlled.
The exception is words that contain two vowels immediately before the L: school / schooling / schooled, fail / failing / failed etc.
(Webster, the man who set the standard for American spelling, was a simple man and he decided all this was too complicated. We Australians, still in thrall to the English monarchy, decided to stick with the sophisticated British spelling, for the most part.)
Critically – it’s ‘arse’ rather ‘ass’ — unless you’re quoting an American.
When you quote someone, don’t finish the quote as a sentence and then immediately add a weird little non-sentence along the lines of “Pete says of the album”. Look at the following example – “We’re totally stoked to be releasing this album, cos it’s what we do.” Pete says of the album.
The example above should read: “We’re totally stoked to be releasing this album, cos it’s what we do,” Pete says of the album. Note the comma before the end quotes. Note how it’s not a full stop.
Other common terms or phrases
CD, not cd.
DVD, not dvd.
Frontman/Frontwoman — The lead figure of a band.
Grammy — The prestigious music award.
Indigenous — When writing the word ‘Indigenous’ in reference to Indigenous Australians, we use a capital I.
Internet — The ‘i’ is not capitalised. It’s not as special as it was back in the ’00s. It doesn’t deserve it.
It’s is a contraction. Every time you shorten “it is”, “it has”, you write it’s. Okay?
“It has been a good year.” can be shortened to “It’s been a good year.”
“It is totally overrated” can be shortened to “It’s totally overrated”.
Its, on the other hand, is the possessive of it.
“This CD is rad. From its cover to its songs, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted…” (the CD ‘owns’ the cover and the songs; it is everything you’ve ever wanted) .
Confusing it’s with its is perhaps the most common error in writing. If in doubt, simply ask yourself if you’re saying “it is” or “it has”.
Bands are bands. So it’s “Jet are proud of their new album”, rather than “Jet is proud of their new album”.
LGBTQIA+ — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and more identities. For more information, head to the ABC’s style guide section on sexual and gender minorities.
Lineup — one word, not two.
Lockout laws – lockout is one word, not two.
R&B — Rhythm and Blues
Science fiction — A genre of book, film, series or comic.
They’re is a contraction of they are. When you don’t want to write ‘they are’ you shorten it to ‘they’re’. Usage note: Beat, being an informal publication, likes you to use contractions. Writing they are, it is, I am, does not – instead of they’re, it’s, I’m, doesn’t – looks too formal. Contractions also make it easier to stick to word limit.
Their is possessive, an indication of ownership: Their CD, their song, their dad.
There is an indication of place. They’re over there.
triple j Unearthed
You’re is a contraction of you are. When you don’t want to write ‘you are’ you shorten it to ‘you’re’.
Your is the possessive form. Bring your esky, your dog and your mates, it’s gonna be big. (You wouldn’t say ‘Bring you are esky, so don’t write bring you’re esky).
Yore, just in case you didn’t know, means yesteryear, before, a long time ago.