No FT style book... no comment

Tucked into my Christmas stocking was a copy of the Financial Times Style Guide; whether Mrs Apus was commenting on my lack of style I have yet to ascertain. In any case, while flicking through it as an aid to the digestion of a rather fine rib of beef on Christmas afternoon I came across the following, under 'honorifics':

Do not give awards such as VC... Queen's Counsel keep their QC.

This alone was enough to put me off the entire 218-page guide.

Why? Because the suffix VC stands for Victoria Cross, which is the UK's highest award for valour, to the extent that many heroes have been awarded their VCs posthumously. A Queen's Counsel is a senior barrister (lawyer) who is appointed on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor.

Subs who run foul of the libel laws might have good reason to fear encountering a QC, but do the FT's subs really rate a VC below a QC?

Whoever came up with that one should be ashamed of themselves.

The same style guide calls for the use of Mr/Mrs/Ms in news stories -- except for "people in show business, sportsmen and the dead".

It was almost enough to put a chap off his Christmas pudding.


JD (The Engine Room) said...

Apus, I'm glad you're getting into this blogging thing – but talk about burning the midnight oil!

Anonymous said...

In America in the '60s, Betty Friedan (I *think* it was her) criticized women's magazines because they referred to women by their first names on second reference, but to all others (doctors, social scientists, businessmen) w/ an honorific and last name (Dr. Johnson, Mr. Wilson).

She said this essentially infantalized women, giving them (and the rest of the world) the impression that they weren't full adults, deserving of as much respect as men.

That led to a common style that only children (usu. defined as those under 18 or those still in high school, but sometimes those under 16) are referred to by their first names alone.

How does the FT say you should refer to those in showbiz or sports? By their first names, or by their last names only?

Anonymous said...


If you don't care for your FT Style Guide, I'd be glad to take it off your hands. It's as good as the bible in our office!


Apus said...

Hey tootsync, interesting point on how honorifics reflect the writer's (or society's) views - no doubt it was assumed back then that all doctors and other professionals were men!
When I was a nipper I recall that as well as Mr and Mrs we used Miss (this being before the advent of the all-purpose Ms) but you'd also see Master for boys. Master was to Mister as Miss was to Mrs.
The FT guide seems to call for first and last names which is what JD and I do as a matter of course with no honorifics except where they're needed for clarity.

Anonymous said...

full name even on second reference? Surely not.

So the FT guide says "David Beckham, soccer player" on first reference, but "Mr. Wilson Gadfrey, managing director"?

And what about 2nd ref?

(don't you wish sometimes that you could just MAKE people write their stylebooks the way you want them to?)

Apus said...

Good point tootsync; we use full name on first reference then just use surnames

(YES!) ;)