'the' Observer brought down to size by Guardian group's new integrated style guide

So farewell then, ‘The Observer’. Say hello to ‘the Observer’.

The loss of the upper-case ‘t’ from the Sunday paper’s title is just one of the changes resulting from the unveiling today of a unified style guide for the Observer, the Guardian and guardian.co.uk.

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Axegrinder hears that some people at the company’s new Kings Cross home regard this little change as symbolising the paper’s overall defeat in the style wars. The new ‘integrated” guide has been edited by a duo from the Guardian, David Marsh, assistant editor, production, and Amelia Hodson, a senior sub-editor.

Earlier today, subs on the Obs received an email from Bob Poulton, the Sunday paper’s production editor, announcing: ‘The Observer and Guardian style guides have been integrated with effect from this week. The revisions have been agreed by a working group representing the Observer, the Guardian and guardian.co.uk.

‘This is a necessary step for cross-platform working and web publishing. In some cases, the Observer (note the lower case t) has adopted Guardian style; in others, the Guardian has adopted Observer style; in yet others, style has been updated and is different from former Observer and Guardian styles.”

Poulton then lists the ‘most significant entries and changes’for Observer subs. These are as follows (non-subs, look away now, for you will surely die of boredom):

accents as well as French and German, use on Spanish and Irish words, and proper names in any language where possible

act caps for name of act, eg Official Secrets Act



apostrophes follow Observer style with possessives and always use ’s, rather than be guided by pronunciation, eg Dickens’s house, Gallas’s own goal, Jesus’s disciples

art movements generally l/c: art deco, art nouveau, cubism, dadaism, expressionism, gothic, impressionism, pop art, surrealism etc*but Bauhaus, Modern (in the sense of Modern British, to distinguish it from “modern art”), pre-Raphaelite, Romantic (to differentiate between a romantic painting and a Romantic painting) 


billion £3bn, 3bn apples but 3 billion people (and same for million)

bogy (ghost, menace), bogey (golf), bogie (truck)

book titles the Observer retains italics for titles of books etc; guardian.co.uk does not, so subs need to change italics to roman for the web and vice versa (and same for film titles, magazines, newspapers etc)

capitals as Guardian style (see full entry in style guide) – note that prime minister etc now l/c


cold war (and most other wars) l/c

dashes the en dash (option-hyphen), as already used by the Observer, will replace both the em dash used by the Guardian and the short dash (hyphen) used by guardian.co.uk

dates as Observer style – note that the week for all our publications now starts on Sunday

decades 80s etc

eg, ie etc no full points

encyclopedia not aedia

foreign names Le/De/Di/Van have initial caps when used without first name, eg Ruud van Nistelrooy becomes Van Nistelrooy on subsequent mentions

Gaddafi is the new style for both Observer and Guardian


Hezbollah is the new style for both Observer and Guardian

job titles all l/c


Land Rover no hyphen

Luxembourgeois live in Luxembourg


No 10

the Observer not The Observer (and same for all newspapers)

% not per cent (in both text and furniture)

president Barack Obama, the US president, but President Barack Obama

pin number

privy council, privy counsellor

al-Qaida not al-Qaeda

quotation marks use double quotation marks, with single marks inside – “David described this policy as ’sensible’, although not everyone agreed.”

Qu’ran not Koran

register office (until now the Observer has been capping this up)

stock exchange, stockmarket

third world l/c if you must (but developing countries preferable)

verbs end in -ed for past tense (he burned the cakes), -t for past participle (the cakes were burnt)

the west



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