Episcopal Church Writing Style Guide


  • ampersand (&): Use the ampersand when it is part of a company’s formal name or composition title: Episcopal Relief & Development. In general use, do not use an ampersand in place of “and.”  
  • apostrophe (’)
    • Use ’s to indicate the possessive of singular and proper nouns not ending in s: Timothy’s, the church’s attendance, the bishop’s request, the fox’s den, Xerox’s profit margin.Use ’s for singular common nouns ending in s: the virus’s spread, the witness’s replyUse just an apostrophe (’) for plural nouns and singular proper names ending in s: Jesus’ example, James’ letter, Moses’ law, the churches’ request, states’ rights. For parishes named after a saint, the saint’s name takes an apostrophe: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, St. James’ Episcopal Church, All Angels’ Episcopal Church.  Do not use an apostrophe after a word ending in ‘s’ when it is primarily used descriptively: a writers guide, the rectors college, citizens band radio. A way to remember this is that if “for” or “by” would be appropriate in the longer version, rather than “of,” an apostrophe is not usually needed. A guide for writers, the college for rectors, a radio band for citizens.
  • commas: Use a serial comma to separate items in a list. He bought apples, oranges, and bananas. Use a comma to offset additional information about something or someone: “My sister, Alison” implies you have one sister, and her name is Alison. Without the comma, “my sister Alison” implies you have other sisters as well.
  • dashes
    • Use an em dash (—) without a space on either side when a dash is used in the body of the text to signal a change or set off a series within a phrase. The seminar—attended by parishioners and clergy from throughout the diocese—focused on issues of racial justice.  (Chicago style)
    • Em dashes are used in citations; in an epigraph, they follow the quote, usually on a separate line: 
      All shall be well. 
      —St. Julian of Norwich
      See also 
  • italics: Do not use italics for book and other composition titles, nor for foreign words; use quotation marks instead. Seek to avoid using italics for emphasis; write clearly and give the reader credit for being able to discern the important words. Italicize for emphasis only when drawing attention to a word within a quotation.
  • parenthesis / parentheses: If a parenthetical clause is a complete sentence and falls at the end of the sentence, it stands alone as a separate sentence: He didn’t know the gorilla was hungry (despite all the warning signs), and so he ate a banana in front of him. (He won’t do that again.)  
  • quotation marks: Use quotation marks (not italics) around the names of books, lectures, movies, operas, plays, podcasts, podcast episodes, poems, songs, speeches, radio and television programs, videos, and works of art. For Advent, the church released new episodes of the “Prophetic Voices: Preaching and Teaching Beloved Community” podcast. See also titles: composition
    • Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks; dashes, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points go outside unless they apply to the quoted material. Will he show us how to find the place he described as “the world’s most beautiful garden sanctuary”? 
    • Use single quotation marks for quotes within a quote: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’”
    • Citations after a quote should be in parentheses after the quotation marks with the period following: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
    • When a quote is being used as an epigraph at the beginning of a work, no quotation marks are needed; use an em dash before the citation: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. —John 3:16  See also epigraph