Last week I asked why TfL had started calling the capital the Capital.
And the answer is because that's what it says in their style guide. We still don't quite know the rationale, nor how recently this changed, but here it is in black and white.
Use 'Capital' (with an upper case C) when referring specifically to London
Use lower case when referring to other capital cities
Amusingly the very next entry in the style guide says this...
Avoid where possible as it can imply shouting
...but presumably the first entry trumps the second in this case.
As well as being an essential read for TfL's communicators, the style guide has also been shared with the public deep in the uncharted recesses of the TfL website.
This guide explains when and how to use abbreviations, punctuation, numbers, branding, and terms related to equality and inclusion. It indicates which words should be favoured or avoided, as well as when to use upper or lower case.
When a word is listed without explanation, it is there to show spelling. Accepted abbreviations are given in brackets.
The style guide is thoughtful and detailed, in line with generally accepted best practice.
'Fewer' is used for countable nouns and means smaller in number: fewer coins; fewer passengers; fewer tickets
Do not confuse with less, which is used with singular nouns or quantity: less money; less time; less fat
Generally, 'that' defines while 'which' informs: This is the house that Jack built; this house, which Jack built, is now falling down
Sometimes it's all about being politically correct, to avoid publishing something inappropriate.
Use positive language about disability, avoiding outdated terms that stereotype or stigmatise. Do not use 'cripple', 'handicapped' or 'wheelchair-bound' and avoid referring to people as nouns (eg 'the disabled') or as suffering from, or afflicted by, a condition
Refer to older people rather than elderly people
Include references to sexuality only when it is essential. The words 'gay', 'bisexual' and 'transgendered' should not be used as nouns, but adjectives: 'gay people' rather than 'gays'; a 'bisexual man' rather than a 'bisexual'. The term 'lesbian' is an exception as it can be used as a noun or adjective
Note: Do not use the term 'homosexual' as it is a medical term and so considered inappropriate
Avoid mentioning wars in communications where possible. For example, rather than referring to 'post World War II' instead write 'since the late 1940s' or 'for generations'
Several of the entries are TfL-specific, to ensure terminology is used in the correct way.
Should only be used when referring to a new feature, for example more space on new trains. This should not be used as a general term when referring to passenger benefits as the extra room created will be absorbed by increased demand and therefore won't be noticeable
Refer to 'customers' rather than 'passengers'
An improvement to an asset that makes it easier for customers to use
Where we offer a service that is noticeably less than normal (could apply to train frequency or escalators/lifts in operation)
'The Tube' (with a capital T) is acceptable colloquial shorthand for the London Underground
The Underground' (with a capital U) is acceptable colloquial shorthand for London Underground
This one flies in the face of Plain English, but until someone rebrands the individual Overground lines we're stuck with this gobbledegook.
Use 'London Overground'. Do not refer to as 'Overground'
• 'North London line' is now 'Overground Richmond/Clapham Junction - Stratford'
• 'West London line' is now 'Overground Willesden Junction - Clapham Junction'
• 'DC line/Watford Euston DC' is now 'Overground Watford Junction - Euston'
• 'Gospel Oak to Barking (GOB)' is now 'Overground Gospel Oak - Barking'
• 'East London line' is now 'Overground Dalston/Highbury & Islington - West Croydon/Crystal Palace/New Cross'
Pesky local punctuation is addressed.
Earl's Court station
Unlike the area or the exhibition centre, the Tube station has an apostrophe
Unlike the Tube station, neither the area nor the exhibition centre have an apostrophe
Elephant & Castle station
Unlike the area, the Tube station has an ampersand (&)
Elephant and Castle
Unlike the Tube station, the area does not have an ampersand (&)
Online exception: Use the ampersand (&) for both station and area
Where external suppliers have to be endorsed, the correct terminology is essential.
Barclays Cycle Hire
Do not use. See Santander Cycles
Barclays Cycle Superhighways
Do not use. See Cycle Superhighways
Emirates Air Line
Sponsored by Emirates Airline
Must be written in full and capitalised on first mention. After that, 'cycle hire scheme' and 'scheme' and acceptable
Santander Cycles is singular. Use 'Santander Cycles is...', not 'Santander Cycles are...'
A trade secret is revealed.
We do not use italics in print or online
And finally, here's TfL's communications philosophy in three bullet points.
Every journey a customer makes matters to them - so it should matter to us. Your communications should adopt a tone that shows we care about improving people's experiences on our network. For example:
• When talking about improvements, be proud of what we're doing. When referring to works that are under way and causing disruption for passengers, your tone should be serious
• If we're celebrating our successes, write in an upbeat style
• When writing about consultations, be open and honest. Show that we care about people's views