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The Red Hat Style Guide

Conventions for Writers and Editors

Edition 4.2

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The Red Hat Style Guide and Word Usage Dictionary is a joint effort by various groups within Red Hat. It is intended as a supplement to the titles listed in Chapter 7, Resources
1. We Need Feedback
I. Writing Style Guide
1. Objectives of this Guide
2. Grammar
2.1. Active Voice
2.2. Agreement
2.2.1. Pronoun-antecedent agreement
2.3. Using Who, Whom, That, and Which Correctly
2.4. Sentence Structure
2.5. Avoiding Ambiguities
2.6. Easily Confused Words
2.7. Contractions and Abbreviations
2.8. Punctuation
2.8.1. Colons and Semicolons
2.8.2. Commas
2.8.3. Parentheses
2.8.4. Quotation Marks
2.8.5. Apostrophes
2.9. Hyphenation
2.10. Gender References
2.11. Tense
3. Design
3.1. Overall Book Design
3.1.1. Titles and Subtitles
3.1.2. Prefaces
3.1.3. Abstracts
3.1.4. Introductions
3.1.5. Unused Heading Titles
3.2. Heading Styles
3.3. Documenting Fonts
3.4. Documenting the User Interface
3.4.1. GUI Elements and Punctuation
3.4.2. Starting Applications from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop
3.4.3. Documenting Command Terminology and Syntax
3.4.4. Describing How to View and Edit Files
3.4.5. Using Host and User Names Correctly
3.5. Documenting Currencies
3.6. Using Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms Correctly
3.7. Using Company, Product, and Brand Names Correctly
3.8. Using Version Numbers Correctly
3.9. Using Admonitions
3.10. Making Recommendations
3.11. Citing Other Works
3.12. Citing Other Authors
4. Avoiding Jargon, Slang, Metaphors, and Misleading Language
4.1. Avoiding Misleading or Confusing Language
4.2. Identifying and Avoiding Slang
4.3. Neologisms (Invented Words)
4.4. Anthropomorphism
5. Writing Clearly and Succinctly
5.1. Sentence Structure
5.1.1. Using and Formatting Lists
5.1.2. Noun Stacking
5.2. Grammatical Genders
5.3. DocBook Elements
5.4. Code Blocks
5.5. Entities
6. Using Cross-references Effectively
6.1. The Additional Information Test
6.2. The Information/Link Ratio
6.3. The Repeatability Test
7. Resources
7.1. References for Technical Content and Collateral
7.2. References for Marketing and Corporate Collateral
7.3. Secondary References
II. Usage Dictionary
8. 0-9
9. A
10. B
11. C
12. D
13. E
14. F
15. G
16. H
17. I
18. J
19. K
20. L
21. M
22. N
23. O
24. P
25. Q
26. R
27. S
28. T
29. U
30. V
31. W
32. XYZ


1. We Need Feedback

Raise an issue at with suggestions for improvements, requests for additions, recommendations, and any other updates.

Part I. Writing Style Guide

Recommended design practices, how to write for translation, common mistakes to avoid, rules for everyday punctuation, grammar, and sources of information for the less common cases.

Table of Contents

1. Objectives of this Guide
2. Grammar
2.1. Active Voice
2.2. Agreement
2.2.1. Pronoun-antecedent agreement
2.3. Using Who, Whom, That, and Which Correctly
2.4. Sentence Structure
2.5. Avoiding Ambiguities
2.6. Easily Confused Words
2.7. Contractions and Abbreviations
2.8. Punctuation
2.8.1. Colons and Semicolons
2.8.2. Commas
2.8.3. Parentheses
2.8.4. Quotation Marks
2.8.5. Apostrophes
2.9. Hyphenation
2.10. Gender References
2.11. Tense
3. Design
3.1. Overall Book Design
3.1.1. Titles and Subtitles
3.1.2. Prefaces
3.1.3. Abstracts
3.1.4. Introductions
3.1.5. Unused Heading Titles
3.2. Heading Styles
3.3. Documenting Fonts
3.4. Documenting the User Interface
3.4.1. GUI Elements and Punctuation
3.4.2. Starting Applications from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop
3.4.3. Documenting Command Terminology and Syntax
3.4.4. Describing How to View and Edit Files
3.4.5. Using Host and User Names Correctly
3.5. Documenting Currencies
3.6. Using Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms Correctly
3.7. Using Company, Product, and Brand Names Correctly
3.8. Using Version Numbers Correctly
3.9. Using Admonitions
3.10. Making Recommendations
3.11. Citing Other Works
3.12. Citing Other Authors
4. Avoiding Jargon, Slang, Metaphors, and Misleading Language
4.1. Avoiding Misleading or Confusing Language
4.2. Identifying and Avoiding Slang
4.3. Neologisms (Invented Words)
4.4. Anthropomorphism
5. Writing Clearly and Succinctly
5.1. Sentence Structure
5.1.1. Using and Formatting Lists
5.1.2. Noun Stacking
5.2. Grammatical Genders
5.3. DocBook Elements
5.4. Code Blocks
5.5. Entities
6. Using Cross-references Effectively
6.1. The Additional Information Test
6.2. The Information/Link Ratio
6.3. The Repeatability Test
7. Resources
7.1. References for Technical Content and Collateral
7.2. References for Marketing and Corporate Collateral
7.3. Secondary References

Chapter 1. Objectives of this Guide

The objective of the Red Hat Style Guide is to help authors communicate information in a clear, transparent fashion, and to facilitate consistency in tone and delivery. We write documentation for a variety of audiences, across multiple geographies and with very different skill sets. We write for end users as well as expert users. Red Hat documentation is:
  • Accurate and consistent
  • Readable, with a score of 60-70 on the Flesch–Kincaid reading ease scale.
  • Comprehensible, with a fog index of 9-12, using the Gunning fog index.
  • User focused, providing information without patronizing the reader, or making presumptions about their skills.
Technical documents should be readable by the targeted audience. In this instance, we expect our audiences to have the minimum reading and comprehension level of an eighth-grade student, of an age between 14 and 15 years. The Flesch-Kincaid and Gunning Fog index provide measurable grades. A Red Hat guide should have a Gunning Fog index of 9-12.

Chapter 2. Grammar

This section contains information on a few common grammar topics. For subjects not covered here, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition.

2.1. Active Voice

Use the active voice ("Type ... to start Linuxconf.") rather than passive ("Linuxconf can be started by typing...") whenever possible. Active voice makes for more lively, interesting reading. It is more compelling than passive voice and helps to reduce word count.
This does not mean that the passive voice is forbidden. There are situations when using the passive voice is appropriate, such as release notes, technical notes, and similar material.
For example, the sentence, "The Developer Center, a site for reference material and other resources, has been introduced to the OpenShift website." reads better than
"The OpenShift website introduces the Developer Center, a site for reference material and other resources." Here, the passive voice is better because the important issue ("The Developer Center") is the subject of the sentence.
You can also use the passive voice to front-load important keywords in key areas of your content, such as the title, heading, or at the beginning of a paragraph or sentence. You need to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, weighing the importance of front-loading keywords against content that is readable (that is, not awkward sounding). Consider the following two examples:

Example 2.1. Active Voice

"Dutch hosting provider Oxilion launches public cloud service based on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization."

Example 2.2. Passive Voice

"Public cloud service based on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization launched by Dutch hosting provider Oxilion."

2.2. Agreement

In grammar, agreement occurs when specific parts of a sentence are coordinated; that is, they agree in number and gender.
There are two forms of agreement: subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement. Subject-verb agreement is pretty rudimentary, and is not discussed here. Pronoun-antecedent agreement can be a little more problematic, so...

2.2.1. Pronoun-antecedent agreement

A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun (for example, I, he, she, it). An antecedent is a word or phrase to which the pronoun refers.
When you are comfortable with subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement often follows as a matter of course.
The following is an annotated roundup of pronoun-antecedent rules:
Singular and Plural Nouns
A singular pronoun refers to a singular antecedent; a plural pronoun refers to a plural antecedent. For example:
  • The CD spins in its caddy. (The singular third-person pronoun "its" refers to the singular antecedent "CD".)
  • The developers checked their work. (The plural third-person pronoun "their" refers to the plural antecedent "developers".)
Collective Nouns
When collective nouns are used as antecedents, use singular or plural pronouns, depending on the sentence's meaning. For example:
  • Microsoft seems second to none in its marketing skills. (The collective noun "Microsoft" takes the singular pronoun "its" because the collective noun refers to the group as a whole.)
  • The developers were asked for their preferences. (The collective noun "developers" takes the plural pronoun "their" because the reference is to the individuals of the group.)

2.3. Using Who, Whom, That, and Which Correctly

Use "whom" or "who" to introduce a qualifying phrase when the antecedent is a person. Use "that" or "which" when referring to a thing. Use "which" or "that" to introduce a qualifying phrase when the antecedent is a concept or an object. Who, whom, that, and which are known as "relative pronouns."
Use the following as guidelines:
Relative pronoun when a person (or persons) is the subject.
Relative pronoun when person is not the subject.
Relative pronoun for things.
Restrictive pronoun for things.
  • The jewel case, which once held the CD, was broken recently.
  • The CD that I received for my birthday is defective.
  • Edward C. Bailey, who wrote "Maximum RPM,"...
  • The company that published "Maximum RPM" was...
  • This book belongs to whomever purchased it last week.
  • Who ate all the cereal?
  • To whom should I address the letter?
  • The desktop that was designed by Earl is not called GNOME.
  • The GNOME developers who worked on the desktop are...
  • The GNOME developers to whom I owe my gratitude are...


To help you choose between who and whom, substitute the person about whom you are speaking with either him or he.
  • If your restatement contains him, her, them, me, or us, then use whom or whomever. "I'm giving the book to him." "To whom am I giving the book?"
  • If the restatement contains the word he, she, they, I, or we, then use who or whoever. "Do you think he would mind?" "Who do you think would mind?" "She's walking in the door." "Who's walking in the door?"

2.4. Sentence Structure

A sentence is one, complete thought. A sentence expresses something about a subject (a person, place, or thing) and a verb (what the subject is or does).
The following are things to consider when constructing sentences:
Sentence Length
Try not to pack too much information into one sentence. Keep it short. For example, the following sentence is a good example of how not to write:
The Start button, which you can find in the bottom left corner of your screen (also activated by the "Windows key" on your keyboard, the one between the Ctrl and Alt keys), provides a central starting point for applications and tasks, and can be customized according to your individual preferences so that it presents menu items relevant to you instead of presenting the standard items that come with the default installation of the operating system, items which, in my opinion, are irrelevant for most users these days who really only need access to an internet browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Run-on Sentences
Two or more complete ideas that are joined without punctuation create a run-on sentence (also called a fused sentence). The sentence does not have to be long to be a run-on sentence, although the longer the sentence the more difficult it is to read. You can:
  • Separate independent clauses with a period. Doing so will form two sentences out of one.
  • Use semicolons to form a compound sentence. Think of a semicolon as an extended breather; longer than a comma.
  • Insert a coordinating conjunction, such as "and" or "but", between the independent clauses to form a compound sentence. For example, "The process will start, but it will produce an error."
  • Insert a subordinating conjunction, such as "although" or "because", which will form a compound sentence with a subordinate clause. For example, "Although the process will start, it will produce an error."

Table 2.1. 

Example Improvement
The CDs both of which belonged to the developers were in the test lab. The CDs, both of which belonged to the developers, were in the test lab.
To access your programs click the Start button. To access your programs, click Start.
The CDs, both of which belonged to the developers, were in the test lab, because they were the only available CDs for the new release, the developers were anxious about keeping them clean. (This sentence exhibits a comma splice which is also often regarded as a run-on sentence.) The CDs, both of which belonged to the developers, were in the test lab. Because they were the only available CDs for the new release, the developers were anxious about keeping them clean.
Sentence Fragments
A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence. For example, "We will release no upgrade before its time." is a complete sentence, whereas in "We will release no upgrade. At least, before its time." the second of the two sentences is a fragment. Repair sentence fragments by making them complete sentences.


Read your sentences aloud, as if each sentence were the *only* sentence on a piece of paper. If you hear a sentence that does not make any sense by itself, then it is probably a sentence fragment.
Telegraphic Style
Extreme cases of word economy can result in a telegraphic style, omitting words that can clarify the meaning of a sentence, such as articles, prepositions, and verbs used with gerunds.

Table 2.2. 

Example Improvement
Click button to start. Click Initiate to start the process.
This problem is often encountered in the Revision History. It is important that wording in the Revision History is clear for translators and customers to understand.

Table 2.3. 

Example Improvement
Minor revision - missing element items Minor revision - added missing element items
Some further work required to avoid 404s at lower levels of the SDK. Some further work required to avoid 404 errors at lower levels of the SDK.
Avoid unnecessary words. Keep it succinct.

Table 2.4. 

Example Improvement
The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels. People read. (Translation by Richard Feynman.)
Word Order
When two or more correct arrangements are possible, choose the order that will create the least ambiguity. Generally, this is the standard subject-verb-object, with modifiers before or immediately following what they modify.

Table 2.5. 

Example Improvement
To update the address lists may be your primary concern. Your primary concern may be to update the address lists.

2.5. Avoiding Ambiguities

Capitalizing Proper Nouns
In some cases it is not clear if a term refers to a concept or a proper noun or product name. By using the correct capitalization, you will help translators identify untranslatable proper nouns and Red Hat product names.

Table 2.6. 

Example Improvement
This property must be enabled when you are using CTDB in a Windows domain or in active directory security mode. This property must be enabled when you are using CTDB in a Windows domain or in Active Directory security mode.
Homographic Verbs
The verb "may" can be used to express possibility as well as to grant permissions. Similarly, "should" can be used to make recommendations as well as to express obligation or expectation. A sentence containing one of these verbs often has a double meaning. Avoid these types of words.

Table 2.7. 

Example Improvement
The next() method should return null to indicate the end of results. The next() method is expected to return null to indicate the end of results. OR The next() method must return null to indicate the end of results.
It may be held in memory. It can be held in memory. OR It might be held in memory.
When a single term has multiple meanings, be explicit in order to differentiate between them.

Table 2.8. 

Example Improvement
Tab through the dialog box. Set the tab. Move the tab on the ruler. How to show or hide tabs. Select the tab. Use the tab key to move through the dialog box. Set the tab stop. Move the tab mark on the ruler. How to show or hide tab characters. Select the View tab in the Options dialog box.
To create another administrator, click New on the File menu. To create another administrator account, click New on the File menu. OR To set privileges for another administrator, click New on the File menu.
Invisible Plurals
Some two-word phrases (noun + noun) do not clarify whether the first noun is singular or plural.

Table 2.9. 

Example Improvement
Once the file retrieval has been completed, you are ready to restart your system. After the files have been retrieved, you can restart your system.
Sometimes multiple terms have a single meaning. If terms are used inconsistently, users (and translators) will assume they refer to different things. It is best to use a single term for a single concept throughout.
For example, "Administration GUI" and "Administration Console" could both be used to refer to a single application or to different applications. For this reason it is important that writers choose the most suitable term for each situation and use it consistently.

2.6. Easily Confused Words

This section identifies some easily confused words and how to choose the correct term for your situation.
Affect and Effect
Each of these words can be used as a verb or a noun, but they are not always interchangeable.
n. Refers to the emotional impact of an action. Unless you are writing a psychology article, this is unlikely to be the choice for you.
vb. Means to have an influence on something, or to cause something to change.
n. Refers to the result of some action. For example, "the team members discussed the effect of the new policy on their working conditions."
vb. Means to produce a result, or to cause something to happen. For example, "the CEO claimed that the new policy would effect a positive economic outcome."
The use of "effect" as a verb is less common than the use of "affect," and there are usually alternatives that are clearer. For example, "the CEO claimed that the new policy would produce a positive economic outcome."
Assure, Ensure, and Insure
These are relatively easy to get right, but here are some quick definitions.
vb. Suggests mental comfort. For example, "I assured my future father-in-law that I would eventually find a job."
vb. Means to make sure of something, to be certain that something exists or some condition has been met.
vb. Relates to monetary insurance.

2.7. Contractions and Abbreviations

Do not use contractions in Red Hat documents. For example, do not use "can't," "don't," "won't," and similar examples. Always write out in full. Take care also with abbreviations; replace "e.g." with "for example," and replace "i.e." with "that is," and so on. See The IBM Style Guide for full details.

2.8. Punctuation

This section contains information on common punctuation topics. For more information, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition.

2.8.1. Colons and Semicolons

Current standards allow the use of a colon or semicolon in a range of different circumstances. Some of these are described in the following sections.
To relate clauses:
The following sentences show a connection or shared theme between two clauses, or use the second clause to reiterate or amplify the idea in the first clause:
  • They had been writing code all night: this could explain their bloodshot eyes.
  • They had been writing code all night; this could explain their bloodshot eyes.
  • I spend a lot of money on food; last month, I went out to eat 36 times.
  • I spend a lot of money on food: last month, I went out to eat 36 times.
The phrase following a semicolon or colon should begin with a lowercase letter, unless it begins with a proper noun. In the case of a colon, use an uppercase letter if the phrase constitutes a complete sentence on its own.
Try to limit your use of colons and semicolons. Separate sentences with a period if possible.
To introduce a list or series:
A colon is generally used before a list or series.
  • The Triangle Area consists of three cities: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
Do not use a colon if the list is a complement or object of an element in the sentence.
  • Before going on vacation, be sure to (1) set the alarm, (2) cancel the newspaper, and (3) ask a neighbor to collect your mail.
  • The colors I hate most are:
    • green
    • orange
    • pink
    • magenta
Use a colon after "as follows" and "the following" if the related list immediately follows the stem, or introductory sentence.
  • The steps for changing directories are as follows:
    1. Open a terminal
    2. Type cd Documents/Books
Use a colon to introduce a bullet list.
  • In the Properties dialog box, notice the following entries:
    • Connection name
    • Count
    • Confirm starting connection
    • Confirm stopping connection
    • Cost per
Use a semicolon to separate items in a series if the items contain commas.
  • Everyday I have coffee, toast, and fruit for breakfast; a salad for lunch; and a peanut butter sandwich, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate cake for dinner.
Use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb, such as however, therefore, otherwise, namely, for example, and so on.
  • I think; therefore, I am.

2.8.2. Commas

In compound sentences:
Use a comma to join clauses in a compound sentence, unless the clauses are short and have a similar theme.
  • I spent five hours working on this document, but I lost it when my computer crashed.
  • Do you want to go the mall and the grocery store with me, or are you going to watch football instead?
  • You play and I'll sing.
A comma can be omitted from a sentence with several clauses, but only when there is little chance that the sentence could be misread without it.
  • We played football all afternoon and were completely exhausted but we still stayed up watching movies all night.
That sentence is acceptable, but adding a comma before "...but we still stayed up..." would provide a pause and avoid the chance of having it read like a run-on sentence.
In a compound sentence that contains several short independent clauses, separate the clauses with commas and use a comma before the conjunction.
  • You need to go to the grocery store for milk, drop off my dry cleaning, and pick up your little sister from soccer practice.
In adverbial clauses and phrases:
If a dependent clause is restrictive (omission affects the meaning of the main clause), do not set it off with commas. If it is nonrestrictive (omission does not affect the main clause), set it off with commas:
  • I'll go to lunch with you if we can get pizza.
  • I don't want to go out for pizza, because I had pizza yesterday.
If a dependent clause comes before the main clause, use a comma whether the clause is restrictive or not.
  • If we get pizza, I'll go to lunch with you.
  • When I heard the voice on the other end of the line, I was quite surprised.
In adjectival clauses or phrases:
An adjectival clause that can be dropped without changing the meaning of the sentence is set off with commas.
  • The application, which comes with excellent documentation, is used by many graphic artists.
An adjectival clause that cannot be dropped without changing the meaning of the sentence is not set off with commas:
  • The plan that matters most to us will be easy to implement.
With coordinate adjectives:
Separate coordinate adjectives (two or more adjectives modifying the same noun) with commas.
  • My dog is loyal, obedient, and affectionate.
  • It was a long, boring meeting.
With series and lists:
Separate elements in a series of three or more with commas, including a comma before the conjunction if one is used.
  • Today I am wearing socks, shoes, pants, and a shirt.

2.8.3. Parentheses

Parentheses are similar to commas in that they set off information that further explains or enhances a statement. Information that is very closely related to the statement should be set off with commas; information that is more incidental should be set off with parentheses.
  • I tried to get to the elevator before the door shut, but I was too slow.
  • Most of my favorite authors (Shakespeare, Dickens, Woolf) are dead.
Expressions beginning with i.e., e.g., that is and so on can be set off with parentheses if they cause a major break in the sentence. If the break is minor, use commas.
  • He interviewed the biggest stars of the day, namely, Madonna, Johnny Cash, and Jack Nicholson.
  • Classic works of literature (e.g., Dickens, Shakespeare, the Brontes) lined the shelves.
If the contents of the parentheses include at least one complete sentence, the period goes inside the parentheses. If not, the period goes outside.

2.8.4. Quotation Marks

Commas and periods go inside quotation marks.
Question marks, exclamation points, dashes, and semicolons go inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quote; if not, they go outside.
Do not put quotation marks around cliches or slang terms (in fact, avoid using cliches and slang as it makes the translation of content more difficult).
A word or words being introduced to readers should not be placed in quotation marks. In DocBook, use the <firstterm> element for first reference. If you are writing outside of the SGML tagging environment, use quotation marks for first references. Subsequent references do not need quotation marks or the <firstterm> element.

2.8.5. Apostrophes

Plural nouns not ending in s should add an 's (for example, the alumni's contribution).
Plural nouns ending in s only need an apostrophe (for example, the horses' food).
Singular common nouns ending in s should add an 's unless the next word begins with an s (for example, the witness's answer or the witness' story).
Singular proper names ending in s only need an apostrophe (for example, Dickens' novels).

2.9. Hyphenation

There are no hard and fast rules for hyphenation. In general, do not hyphenate unless required for clarity, or our other references declare that hyphens are required. The following is general guidance; if you are unsure about whether or not to hyphenate, ask your peers.
Hyphenate for Clarity
Hyphenate when needed for clarity. Words that begin with prefixes are usually not hyphenated. Prefixes can include "multi," "non," "sub," "co," "semi," "pre," "re," and so on. The same applies to suffixes; for example, "less" as a suffix does not require hyphenation.


Always use a hyphen if clarity would suffer otherwise. For example, "He recovered his health" versus "He re-covered the leaky roof."[1]
Hyphenate Complex Adjectives
Hyphenate complex adjectives (compound modifiers). This is when two adjectives work together to modify an object. The hyphen is used when the first adjective modifies the second adjective. For example, cloud-based solutions, right-side paralysis, system-wide menu.


Do not hyphenate "open source," even when used as a complex adjective.
Do not hyphenate a compound that includes an adverb ending in -ly, whether it comes before or after the noun. This is described in Chicago Manual of Style 7.82.
Hyphenate Consecutive Vowel Sounds
Hyphenate words where the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel. For example, semi-independent, pre-emptive.


Exceptions to this rule include cooperate and coordinate.
Hyphenate Mixed Capitalization
Hyphenate when the word that follows a prefix is capitalized. For example, un-American, non-British.
Hyphenate Double Prefixes
Hyphenate when the word has double prefixes. For example, sub-subparagraph, re-sublet.

2.10. Gender References

Do not use gender-specific pronouns in documentation. It is far less awkward to read a sentence that uses "they" and "their" rather than "he/she" and "his/hers." In most cases, use "you" when giving instructions, and "the user," "new users," and so on in more general explanations. Do not use "one" in place of "you" when writing technical documentation. Using "one" is far too formal.

2.11. Tense

Avoid future tense (or using the term "will") whenever possible. For example, future tense ("The screen will display...") does not read as well as the present tense ("The screen displays..."). Remember, the users you are writing for most often refer to the documentation while they are using the system, not after or in advance of using the system.
Use simple present tense as much as possible. It avoids problems with consequences and time related communications, and is the easiest tense for translation.

Chapter 3. Design

3.1. Overall Book Design

This section describes a general approach to the overall layout and design of technical documentation. This design was developed specifically for technical documentation and may not suit content produced by other groups.
This section covers the following topics:
  • Titles and subtitles
  • Prefaces
  • Abstracts
  • Introductions
  • Unused heading titles

3.1.1. Titles and Subtitles

The title should be a combination of the complete product name, its version, and the name of the book. For example, "Red Hat Satellite 5.6 Installation Guide", or "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Deployment Guide".
The subtitle should be a single, succinct phrase that describes the intent of the book; an abstract of the abstract. For example, "Installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 for all architectures".

3.1.2. Prefaces

The brands that form part of Publican contain a preface as part of the common content. Whether your publication is for external Red Hat customers, JBoss customers, internal customers, or whomever, the brand you choose should provide a suitable preface. Try to use the standard preface to help maintain consistency, reduce overhead and maintenance, and also to reduce translation costs. If you feel that the preface fails to meet your needs, consider whether or not you are using the correct brand, or if the brand itself requires an update.

3.1.3. Abstracts

Abstracts for Red Hat technical documentation typically fall under the heading of a "descriptive abstract." From Wikipedia, "The descriptive abstract, also known as the limited abstract or the indicative abstract, provides a description of what the paper covers without delving into its substance. A descriptive abstract is akin to a table of contents in paragraph form."[2]
A suitable abstract covers the high-level topics of the book, and is probably a good place to mention the audience. It should cover the following basics:
  • What: What is the purpose of the book or document? A brief summary, for example, "The Red Hat Satellite 5.6 API Guide is a full reference for Satellite's XMRPC API."
  • How: How does the book convey its content? That is, is it task-based? Example-driven? A reference guide? For example, "The guide explains each API method and demonstrates examples of data models for input and output."
  • Why (and possibly Who): A basic rationale for why this book exists, and its audience (and elaborate on the target audience inside the book). For example, "This provides a basis for administrators and developers to write custom scripts and integrate Red Hat Satellite with third-party applications."
Drawing these basics together might produce the following example abstract:
"The Red Hat Satellite 5.6 API Guide is a full reference for Satellite's XMRPC API. The guide explains each API method and demonstrates examples of data models for input and output. This provides a basis for administrators and developers to write custom scripts and integrate Red Hat Satellite with third-party applications."
Update or modify each component according to the type of book you are writing.

3.1.4. Introductions

The term "introduction" on its own is sufficiently vague, and raises enough questions in translation and with translation memory (TM) tools, that Red Hat technical documentation does not use this term on its own. Instead, use the phrase "Introduction to $productname" near the beginning of the book to introduce the reader to the product. Do not use "Introduction" to introduce the book; that is the task of the Abstract. A further benefit of this usage is that the same introduction can be used across various books to introduce the same product.

3.1.5. Unused Heading Titles

This section lists various heading titles that have been used in Red Hat technical documentation, but should be avoided except in specific circumstances.
Do not use "overview" as a title. No justification was found for using this as a title; anywhere that it might be considered is already covered by either better or more common titles.
Do not use "about" or "about $topic" as a title. The same reasoning applies here as to "overview."
Chapter and Section Introductions
Do not create separate introductions for chapters and sections. Use any material that would constitute an introductory section to form body text following the chapter or section title.

3.2. Heading Styles

This section covers various aspects of heading styles and design. If your company or organization has specific requirements in this regard, follow those requirements first.
The standard for all Red Hat technical documentation is title case for all headings and titles. Diagram labels, table headings, procedure, and formal paragraph titles all fall under this heading, and consequently, standard title case capitalization rules apply. The currently accepted reference for determining title case is
Use sentence case for table column headers. These are not classified as titles.

Marketing and Brand Capitalization Guide

The Red Hat Marketing and Brand groups use sentence case for most titles and headings, with some exceptions, for example, when referencing an externally produced resource's title.
Be frugal with punctuation. In most cases, avoid semicolons, colons, dashes, and similar punctuation unless part of the actual subject, or a proper name. Do not use terminating periods.
Avoid Imperative Form
Use the gerund form (noun form of verb) for titles, not the imperative form.
See The IBM Style Guide for more information.


Gerunds should be avoided elsewhere. Refer to Section 2.4, “Sentence Structure”.
File Names, Commands, and Related Terms
When creating chapter and section titles, do not include file, command, or similar names, and do not include DocBook elements. Instead, focus on the task at hand and introduce the required file and command names in the text. Including such objects in titles is generally considered poor technical writing practice. Depending on how your documentation is built and delivered, including these object types can result in unpredictable results and even cause failed builds.

3.3. Documenting Fonts

The preferred way to refer to each type of postscript font is "PostScript Type x," substituting "x" with either 1, 2, or 3, if the problem is specific to a particular type.

3.4. Documenting the User Interface

In all cases, see The IBM Style Guide for initial guidance. The following sections highlight exceptions or cases that might otherwise cause confusion.

3.4.1. GUI Elements and Punctuation

Do not include punctuation that appears on GUI elements, unless omission of that punctuation might lead to confusion.
For example, for a button labeled Save As..., do not include the ellipsis in the documentation.
See the Computer Interfaces chapter in The IBM Style Guide for more information. Navigating Through Multiple GUI Options

Use "Navigate to" when moving through multiple GUI options because it covers all cases where you might have to click, point to, select, or otherwise make a series of selections to initiate an action.
From example, "From the OpenShift web console, navigate to Monitoring → Alerting."

3.4.2. Starting Applications from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 introduces a new approach to starting applications from the desktop. In an effort to maintain consistency and to make translation easier, Red Hat documentation assumes the customer is using GNOME Classic, the default user interface, and prefers a consistent approach to instructing customers how to start applications.
The preferred approach is to use the Super key to enter the Activities Overview, enter the name of the required application, and to press Enter. The Super key appears in a variety of guises, depending on the keyboard and other hardware, but often as either the Windows or Command key, and typically to the left of the Spacebar. For example:

Example 3.1. Preferred Approach to Starting Applications from the Desktop

To start gedit, press the Super key to enter the Activities Overview, type gedit, and then press Enter.

3.4.3. Documenting Command Terminology and Syntax

Sufficient variation exists in the terminology used to describe commands, options, arguments, and so on that only general advice is provided here.
When referring to the command line as specified by Bash and POSIX, follow the terminology that the software uses. Never use "flag" when referring to command-line options in POSIX, even though Microsoft often uses the term "flag" when referring to single-character options in Microsoft Windows.
The following extract from info libc is of particular interest here:
"POSIX recommends these conventions for command line arguments. [...] Arguments are options if they begin with a hyphen delimiter (‘-’). Multiple options may follow a hyphen delimiter in a single token if the options do not take arguments. Thus, ‘-abc’ is equivalent to ‘-a -b -c’. [...] Certain options require an argument. For example, the ‘-o’ option of the ‘ld’ command requires an argument—an output file name." and so on.
See info libc argument syntax for the full discussion.
See info bash and the Computer Interfaces chapter of The IBM Style Guide for further guidance.
The following examples are intended to highlight correct usage.

Example 3.2. Cloning a Git Repository

$ git clone [username@]hostname:/repository_filename [directory]
In Example 3.2, “Cloning a Git Repository” the entire command consists of the following components:
The prompt ($)
Indicates that a normal user can run the command, as compared to the root user, indicated by the number sign (#).
The command (git clone)
The actual command to run, without any optional or replaceable values. This must be typed as is.
Source options [username@]hostname:/repository_filename)
The optional user name, indicated by brackets ([]), followed by the host name and path to the repository. All aspects of this component must be replaced with valid values.
Target options [directory]
The optional directory into which the repository will be cloned. This must be replaced with a valid value, or omitted.

Example 3.3. Securely Copying a File Between Hosts

$ scp filename [username@]hostname:/directory
In Example 3.3, “Securely Copying a File Between Hosts” the entire command consists of the following components:
The command prompt ($)
Indicates that a normal user can run the command, as compared to the root user, which is indicated by the number sign (#).
The command (scp)
The actual command to run, without any optional or replaceable values. This must be typed as is.
Source options (filename)
The file name to copy. This must be replaced with a valid value.
Target options ([username@]hostname:/directory)
The optional user name, indicated by brackets ([]), followed by the host name and path to the target directory. All aspects of this component must be replaced with valid values.


Avoid using the --force (-f) and --assumeyes (-y) options on most commands, especially when logged in as the root user. This can lead to unintended consequences, such as removing files or directories by mistake or installing packages or other software that may not suit your system. Refer to the following examples:
[root@serverc pam.d]# rm -f system-auth password-auth
[root@serverc ~]# yum install -y new-package
In the examples shown above, omit the -f and -y options, respectively.
In some cases, such as in Ansible Playbooks or other automation scripts, it may be necessary to use these options. Documenting Multiple or Long Commands

Sometimes you need to demonstrate how to use very long commands that extend over two or more lines, or include several commands in a single example. If the commands are relatively short and straightforward, include the commands on consecutive lines:

Example 3.4. Documenting Multiple Commands

$ cd Documents
$ vi myFile.txt
If the commands are long, complex, or wrap over multiple lines, two design options are available.
  • Use line continuation characters and the associated PS2 prompts. If you are documenting commands on a different operating system, update the prompts and line continuation characters to suit.
  • Use neither line continuation characters nor the associated PS2 prompts.


Do not mix these two styles. Maintain the same style throughout your document or book.
You can also indent the second and subsequent lines of such commands to assist in clarity and readability if required. You can use this option for either of the two designs mentioned above.

Example 3.5. Wrapping Long Commands with Continuation Characters

This example uses both continuation characters and PS2 prompts. These indicators are always used together.
# tar --selinux -czvf config_files.tar.gz  /etc/katello \
> /etc/elasticsearch /etc/candlepin /etc/pulp /etc/gofer \
> /etc/grinder /etc/pki/katello /etc/pki/pulp /etc/qpidd.conf \
> /etc/sysconfig/katello /etc/sysconfig/elasticsearch \
> /root/ssl–build /var/www/html/pub/* /var/lib/katello

Example 3.6. Wrapping Long Commands Without Continuation Characters

This example uses neither continuation characters nor PS2 prompts, but it does demonstrate how to use line indentation to help clarify long commands.
# cd /var/lib/katello

# myCommand --option funky --color=true
  --output_file=<replaceable>/home/user/output.txt</replaceable> Referring to Replaceable Paths

To refer to a path that users need to replace with something specific to their system, use <replaceable> tags, the correct syntax for the system and object in question, and an indicative name. Use a leading slash if the absolute path is required.

Example 3.7. Referring to Replaceable Paths on Linux Systems

"Mount the ISO file in <filename><replaceable>/path/to/iso/file</replaceable></filename>."
Remember to use the syntax appropriate to the system that you are documenting or describing.

Example 3.8. Referring to Replaceable Paths on Microsoft Windows Systems

"Mount the ISO file in <filename><replaceable>C:\path\to\iso\file</replaceable></filename>."
If you are referring to a different object class or type with different delimiters, use the appropriate delimiters. For example:
A PATH variable for Bash might appear as <replaceable>/usr/bin:/usr/local/bin</replaceable>.
A package path in Lua might appear as <replaceable>local.share.lua</replaceable>.

3.4.4. Describing How to View and Edit Files

To describe how to view and edit files, such as configuration files, scripts, and so on, do not include editor names as part of the guidance, unless the topic is about a specific editor, or is otherwise necessary to achieve a desired result.
For example, do not refer to cat or vi if you need to tell readers to "View the my-script file." If you need to tell readers to edit a file and add or remove content, write "Edit the my-script file and add the following content:" and then include the required content in a <screen> block. Use <code> tags to highlight the text that needs to be changed. Include some surrounding text in the file for context. Do not use line numbers as a reference point because they can change.
If the file that you need to edit is empty or does not exist, do not use <code> tags to highlight any content that needs to be added.
You can also use here documents to describe how to create a file with required content. The syntax of here documents varies by system, shell, language, and so on, but a simple example is shown below. This example creates the my-script file in the current directory, using the example content.
$ cat << EOF > my-script
> # The first line of text
> # The second line
> # Start adding variables after this line
In some cases it is necessary to indicate which tool to use to view a file. This is especially true of log files and other very long files. In these cases, suggest a viewer based on the operating system or environment in which you are working, such as tail, head, less, or journalctl.

3.4.5. Using Host and User Names Correctly

Many examples in Red Hat documentation require the use of user names, host names, IP addresses, and similar information. In an effort to reduce security risks, to minimize translation overhead, and to maintain consistency, Red Hat recommends the following.


All names are lowercase. Do not use white space in any part of the name.
  • Use RFC 2606 to determine suitable domain names. For documentation and example purposes, this is typically,,, and


    Do not use valid, public IP addresses in any examples.
  • As much as possible, use user, username, root, admin, or similar names to identify classes of users.
    Use these generic names when you refer to users outside of a case study. This helps students identify which part of a command can and should be replaced by establishing a consistent format for names of users and system items. For example:
    [root@fedora ~]# setfacl -m u:user1:rw /project/file1
    The following list provides further alternatives:
    • operator1 to operator9
    • developer1 to developer9
    • architect1 to architect9 Using Extended User and Group Names

Sometimes, the recommended list of user and group names is too restrictive for the scope of a book or article. In such cases, the following extended model is acceptable.
Using Realistic User Names
When you are writing a detailed case study, such as training exercises, reviews, and similar material, use realistic names. These names should not be real people. In other words, do not use the name of an employee, a well-known person, or your neighbor.
For example, you are the system administrator at Global Banking and you have been asked to set up permissions to the accounting directory for the following users: John Doe, Sunni Koning, Huong Sabo, and Jerlene Paluch. John is a department manager and needs to be able to read from the accounting directory, Sunni is the lead accountant and needs both read and write access.
Choosing a Realistic Name
Consider the following when choosing a realistic name: [3]
  • In examples or scenarios, you can use a person's name and then use a gender-specific pronoun to refer to that name. Vary the use of proper names in documentation. Use names that represent various ethnic backgrounds, genders, and locations.
  • Do not use copyrighted fictional characters in examples, and do not use real people.
  • Include a diverse set of names in your examples to reflect the diversity of the real world. For example, use male, female, and culturally diverse names that suggest a variety of backgrounds in examples to avoid implying that only certain groups have specific skills.
Sourcing Realistic Names
You can use any of the following name generators to create realistic names for users:
Group Names
Use any lowercase name that is a logical extension of the accepted user names, without the numerical suffix. For example, architects, developers, operators.

3.5. Documenting Currencies

Use local currency symbols wherever possible. If symbol clash occurs (USD vs AUD, for example), disambiguate with the 2-character country code. For example, US$, AU$.


Do not provide currency conversions.

3.6. Using Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms Correctly

This section describes how to use abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms correctly in Red Hat documentation.
An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. For example, Pty. and Inc. are abbreviations for "proprietary" and "incorporated," respectively. Read them as the word for which they are an abbreviation.
What are acronyms anyway? They are similar to abbreviations and initialisms but they are pronounced as an actual word. For example, COBOL is the acronym for Common Business-oriented Language, and POP is the acronym for Post Office Protocol.
Bear pronunciation in mind when using articles. For example, use "an RTS (real-time strategy)," because RTS is an initialism and you pronounce the first character as an "R" (är). Conversely, use "a RAM upgrade," because RAM is an acronym and you pronounce it as a word (răm).
Be sure to use correct capitalization for acronyms. Not all acronyms are capitalized (for example, "spool"); see The IBM Style Guide or another suitable reference if you are unsure.
An initialism is an abbreviation that consists of the first letters of words in a phrase, syllables, or some combination thereof. Each character is pronounced separately. For example, FTP is an initialism for File Transfer Protocol.
Bear pronunciation in mind when using articles. See acronyms for more information.

3.7. Using Company, Product, and Brand Names Correctly

A number of restrictions apply to using company, product, and brand names in Red Hat documentation. Refer to internal sources for further conditions that might apply to your own products.


In the following sections, "first use" refers to the first use of a name in body text. Titles, banners, and similar objects are not classified as "first use."
  • Restrictions apply to abbreviating Red Hat product or solution names in public-facing documents. Always use the full name on first use. For some products, for example Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, you can omit "Red Hat" after the first use.
  • Further restrictions apply to using acronyms and initialisms. In this same example, and only in technical documentation, "RHOCP" is acceptable after the first use of the full product name.
  • Do not include "Inc." when referring to Red Hat except in legal documents.
  • Use non-breaking spaces to avoid breaking the company name over multiple lines. This also applies to product names and their versions. For example, use a non-breaking space between "Red" and "Hat," and also between "Enterprise," "Linux," and the version number.
    If you are working with images or other objects where space is especially tight, this rule is more flexible, but "Red Hat" should never be broken over two lines.
  • Do not use non-breaking spaces between "Red Hat" and any product name. Consider the following examples:
    • Standardize on Red&nbsp;Hat Enterprise&nbsp;Linux.
    • The latest version is Red&nbsp;Hat Enterprise&nbsp;Linux&nbsp;7.0
  • Do not use non-breaking spaces between extended components of Red Hat product names. For example, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform" does not require a non-breaking space between "Linux" and "OpenStack" nor between "OpenStack" and "Platform."
  • Do not use non-breaking spaces with other companies' product names.
  • Do not use articles in front of product names. For example, do not write "the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform was..."


    In this case, "Platform" is part of the product name. In other cases, words like "platform," "manager," and so on may not be part of the product name, in which case an article is acceptable, if not necessary.

3.8. Using Version Numbers Correctly

The preferred format for product names includes only the major version number. For example:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7
  • JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 3
When writing about a product line, product release, or product family, use major version numbers. This includes all the releases (past, present, and future) of that major version.
Only use minor version numbers when you are referring to a specific minor release, or to a feature that is specific to that minor release. For example:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 was released on October 12, 2010.
  • <Application name> was first included in JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 3.2.
In most cases, major changes take place in major version releases, and are carried through any minor updates to that release. If you are referring to a major change, or to the first appearance of a new technology, it is therefore most accurate to refer to the major release.
Avoid using the "dot-oh" release number. For example, do not use Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0. Use instead Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.


This rule only applies to Red Hat products. Refer to other companies' products and use their version numbers as they use them.

3.9. Using Admonitions

To call attention to a statement, use an admonition. Red Hat technical documentation currently uses Note, Important, and Warning admonitions.
Admonitions automatically include a suitable title according to the type of admonition. Do not use a phrase or anything else for the title. Keep the following in mind if using admonitions:
  • Keep the statements as brief and to the point as possible.
  • Use admonitions sparingly so that they do not lose their effectiveness.
  • Use a Note admonition to bring additional information to the user's attention.
  • Use an Important admonition to show the user a piece of information that should not be overlooked. While this information may not change anything the user is doing, it should show the user that this piece of information could be vital.
  • Use a Warning admonition to alert the reader that the current setup will change or be altered, such as files being removed, and not to perform the operation unless fully aware of the consequences.

3.10. Making Recommendations

When making a recommendation, the preferred verbiage is "Red Hat recommends..." instead of the common but indirect "It is recommended...". Recommendations can include best practices, recommended practices, and product-specific suggestions. Refer to Section 4.1, “Avoiding Misleading or Confusing Language” for information on using the terms "best practices" and "recommended practices" in Red Hat documentation.

Example 3.9.  (incorrect)

"Although the attack surface is reduced to the same-project traffic, it is recommended to create multiple service accounts within a project."
"It is recommended to generate a service account for each microservice in your project."

Example 3.10.  (correct)

"Although the attack surface is reduced to the same-project traffic, Red Hat recommends creating multiple service accounts within a project."
"Red Hat recommends that you generate a service account for each microservice in your project."

3.11. Citing Other Works

Referencing Other Books
When referencing another book, either internal or external to Red Hat, use the following format:
<citetitle>Book Title</citetitle> by <author><firstname>First name</firstname><surname>Surname</surname></author>; Publisher.
For example, Maximum RPM by Edward Bailey ; Red Hat Press.
Referencing Other Internet Sites
When referencing another internet site, use the following guidelines:
  • Do not link words within the body text. That is, do not use structures such as "Go here for more information," where "here" is a link.
  • Short URLs, such as are OK to use in body text at your discretion.
  • If the URL is excessively long, or complex, create a link using the title of the destination as a label, and put the actual URL in a footnote. For example: See the Classification of Species[4] page for more information.

3.12. Citing Other Authors

DocBook provides the <blockquote> and <attribution> tags for this purpose, but how they should be rendered is currently being discussed. For example:
Why use two words when one will do?
 --Thomas Jefferson

[3] Examples taken from The IBM Style Guide and the Google Developer Documentation Style Guide.

Chapter 4. Avoiding Jargon, Slang, Metaphors, and Misleading Language

Red Hat produces documentation for a global audience, and in many cases this documentation is translated into many languages. To reach the widest possible audience, and to make the task of translation as straightforward as possible, avoid slang and other culture-specific terminology. This section attempts to identify commonly used slang terms and phraseology, and to provide alternatives.
If you find slang terms or other difficult-to-understand passages in our documentation, use this page to search for alternatives.

4.1. Avoiding Misleading or Confusing Language

Some terms, phrases, and general language can be confusing if you are not a native speaker or if the phraseology has regional significance. Sometimes spelling changes are introduced over time and regions, based purely on differences in pronunciation. Some phrases can carry hidden or unintentional meanings. This section attempts to introduce a few examples.
best practices
This is a commonly understood phrase, and despite some concerns about using superlatives without statistics to back them up, Red Hat does not actively discourage its use. It is also a more common search term than most alternatives. If you are in any doubt, the preferred alternative is "recommended practices."
See the section Section 3.10, “Making Recommendations” for additional information about recommendations in Red Hat documentation.
first come, first served
Indicates that customers will be attended to in the order that they arrive. The phrase abbreviates the sentence "The first to come is the first to be served," so use "served" instead of "serve" to keep the verb function the same. This phrase is an idiom, so avoid using it when content will be translated. When you use this phrase as an adjective, it is hyphenated as follows: Admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis.

4.2. Identifying and Avoiding Slang

Examples of slang terms:
Not a word. Do not use.
anything you/they like
This is probably readily understood but should not appear in Red Hat documentation.
  • "They can also use the slapi_register_plugin() call to register any kind of plug-in they like."
    Rephrase to something more suitable, such as " register any other kind of plug-in."
ask (as a noun), make the ask
Ask is a verb. Do not use it as a noun.
at this point in time
Do not use. In most cases, use "now." In some cases it is acceptable to use "at this point," for example, when you have reached a specific point in a procedure.
Also, automagical. Both terms are slang. Do not use.
Jargon. Say exactly what you mean, for example, "the best product in its class" or "the best product of its type." Other alternatives include best, foremost, most advanced, optimum. The category is usually implied. Be wary of using superlatives without data to back up any claims.
bleeding edge
Do not use.
bottom line
Traditionally used in financial contexts; avoid overuse.
Not a word. Try "categorize" or "organize into logical groups."
center of competency
Do not use.
check this site
Understood to mean "have a look at this website." The preferred phraseology is "See for more information." It is better to avoid "check" because it has so many meanings.
Not a word. Do not use.
core competency
Jargon, cold and impersonal. Better choices include "specialization," "skill," "strength," "expertise," etc. The De-Jargonator says: "'Competent' means 'adequate but not exceptional.' Why would you describe what you do best as 'competence'? Try instead: What your organization does best; competitive advantage; special or unique expertise or ability; specialty."
eat your own dogfood
Developer-speak. It means to use your own products. You can get a detailed description at
data point
Do not use.
dig deeper, delve deeper
"Visit the following web link to dig deeper into [subject]..." Using "dig deeper" may translate awkwardly. Consider rewording: "For detailed information regarding [subject], see [link]."
double-edged sword, double-bladed sword
If something is described as a double-edged sword, it indicates that it has two opposing behaviors or consequences. Instead, state that it can have unexpected consequences, or that the positive result might be offset by the negative result.
Although we used to use this term to emphasize our products' enterprise readiness, it is not as necessary now, especially when talking about a product with "Enterprise" in its name, unless you're calling this out as a key selling point.
exceed your expectations
Vague. Clarify with specifics, for example, "The movie made more money on the opening weekend than anyone expected." instead of "The movie exceeded our expectations."
A fib is a "small lie," also known as a "white lie." This appeared in one of the GLS books: "this command tells fibs." Use something like "The output of this command can be misleading."
flying by the seat of your pants
Generally understood to mean "reacting to events as they occur." Difficult to offer alternatives without context.
frame it up
Do not use.
frown upon
"To frown upon" means to hold in low regard, not to approve of, etc. This appeared in the Seam guide: "...we generally frown on the use of session context...". This translates to (and should have been written as) "...the use of session context is not recommended..." (or words to that effect).
fuzzy (search)
Even though "fuzzy" is slang, it is common when referring to searches, especially in databases. This example came from the Directory Server documentation:
  • In Directory Server, if you do a fuzzy search for "Smith" you will probably also get "Smyth," because it sounds the same.
The use of "fuzzy" is valid in this context.
Note the difference between this and "wildcard" searches: "Sm?th" could return "Smith," "Smyth," "Smeth," or even "Smrth."
Do not use "fuzzy" to describe something that is not clear, such as an image, a concept, an idea, and so on. For example, "He was a bit fuzzy on the details" is not valid.
going-forward basis
Jargon. Say "from now on," "in the future," or something similar.
happy path
Do not use. Often understood to mean "a path or method of least resistance" or "the preferred way to solve the current issue", this is very localized slang and could easily be misunderstood. It could also produce problems for translation.
harness the power
Do not use.
have a crack at/jump right in
Have a crack at and jump right in are closely related in meaning as they imply to "get started or give it a try." Alternatives to these are "start," "try," and "begin," and will depend on the context of what is being discussed.
if you want, if you wish
Do not use. For example, instead of saying "If you want to perform an action,..." say "To perform an action,..."
in concert with
Do not use. Instead, say "with." For example, change "Use gcov in concert with GCC to analyze..." to "Use gcov with GNU CC to analyze..."
improve, enhance
Vague. Try to be more specific.
in a pinch
Under a tight schedule, hard pressed to achieve something.
Not a word. Do not use.
is designed to
Avoid this and similar phrases when describing products and services. Instead, state what the product does.
  • Incorrect: SSH is designed to work with almost any kind of public key algorithm or encoding format.
  • Correct: SSH works with almost any kind of public key algorithm or encoding format.
kettle of fish
Commonly used in the expression "a different kettle of fish," meaning "that's a different matter (altogether)." Depending on the context, try to use "topic," "subject," "matter," or something similar.
Avoid. Alternatives include "use" and "take advantage of".
lights on, lights-on
Avoid using this term, because 1) it is jargon, 2) not everyone knows what it means, and 3) the meaning could be lost or confused in translation to other languages.
Typically used to mean maintaining the status quo or just doing what is required to keep things up and running (versus being proactive and innovative). For example, "A cloud can deliver strategic advantages to the business by redirecting resources from lights-on to innovation."
low-hanging fruit
Metaphor. Do not use.
Not a word. Do not use.
meet your needs
Vague. Try to be more specific, for example, "lower your middleware costs."
Overused and jargony. Unless the topic is actually critical to a mission, use a factual term or phrase, for example, "Make sure you have the applications you need to help your customers." vs. "Make sure you have the mission-critical applications your customers demand."
Jargon. Use "in summary," "the end result," or something similar.
niche focus
Do not use.
over the wire
Commonly used in expressions such as "password information is sent in plain text over the wire," meaning "sent unencrypted through the transmission medium" (whether it is a wired or wireless network, the internet, or whatever). The phrase is probably not required at all. "Sent/transmitted in plain text" is fine.
pain in the backside
Nobody should ever write this or anything like it in any Red Hat documentation. Most people should know what it means. Use "problematic," "difficult," or something similar.
Avoid. Use "model," "standard," or something similar.
In the technical industry context, it means "performs as expected" or "well-performing." It is not necessarily a word everyone knows (and technically, it means "a performer," as in a play, according to most dictionaries), so use an alternative if possible.
Not a word. Do not use.
Slang. Do not use.
Means "prepared beforehand." Choose a suitable alternative, such as "preconfigured," depending on the context.
Not a word. Find another way to say "modify something to become suitable as a commercial product." [wiktionary]
ready to rumble
"Let's get ready to rumble!" is a trademarked catchphrase used to introduce televised boxing or wrestling events. In US English slang, being "ready to rumble" means you are "ready to go ahead" or "ready to start."
rest on your laurels
Do not use.
right before doing something
Preferred phrase would be "immediately before doing something." Otherwise, write around the phrase.
root your server in the /serverRoot directory
This is not very elegant. Be aware of the multiple meanings of words. Try something like "Use the /serverRoot directory as the root directory for your server." This example came from the Directory Server documentation, but it could apply to Web Servers or any other type of server.
shoot yourself in the foot
To "shoot yourself in the foot" indicates that you have done something to harm your own cause, or acting against your own best interests. Remove the sentence - it should be self-evident from the surrounding information. (Found this statement alongside the "double-edged sword" comment with an added note about "preserving all your toes.")
shy of
Apart from the "normal" meaning of shy, it is also found in such phrases as "he was just shy of the mark," meaning that he didn't quite succeed. Also, to be "a few items shy of what's required" means to have less than the minimum number required. Avoid this terminology and use more easily understood terms; it will help our translators and also those reading our English documentation who are unfamiliar with such slang.
silo, siloed
Useful in farming, but in business it is jargon. Use "stand-alone," "confined," "separated," "segregated," or something similar.
Not a word. Lazy version of "creating a solution."
Do not use.
solution stack
Do not use.
Jargon. In business, related to lack of cross-organizational communication, similar to "silo."
synergistic, synergy
Jargon. Use "cooperative," "working together," "collaborative," "harmonious," or something similar.
synergical connectivity
to think outside the box
1990 called and wants its jargon back. How about "(think) creatively" or "(think) unconventionally"?
tunnel vision
Do not use.
under the covers
This refers to something being out of plain sight or not immediately obvious. For example, you might only see the results of some action or command, but what happens "under the covers" is what is going on in the background, that you can't see or are not aware of, to make that action of command possible.
Jargon. Say "added value" or "valuable." Or be more specific, for example, "adds value by improving productivity."
Use with caution. For example, there is little value in saying "very cost-effective" vs. "cost-effective."
virtual elephants
This refers to a group of blind-folded people all touching different parts of an elephant and trying to describe what it is. Nobody sees the "big picture." Curiously, it appeared in an STC article about working in global and virtual teams and using effective communication. It falls into the same category as "skeletons in the closet," "dark horse," "black sheep," and so on. Use descriptions and adjectives that are not specific to a particular culture or locale. See for more information.

4.3. Neologisms (Invented Words)

The English language is full of these. Some of them are useful, some of them are less so, others are just painful, difficult to translate, and should be avoided. Many of them are the result of creating nouns from verbs, verbs from nouns, and adjectives from just about anything. Unless a particular word has been in use for some time and has been generally accepted into common English, try to avoid these neologisms. If necessary, reword or restructure your sentences.


  • "This feature allows synchronization of adds, deletes, and changes ..."
    • This sentence has converted three verbs to nouns. A better structure might be, "This feature allows the synchronization of add, delete, and change operations..."

4.4. Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is applying human qualities to non-human things or animals. Avoid this in your writing.


  • The computer will think for a brief period.
    • Computers do not actually think but they might take a while to "process" commands.
  • The Proxy Server is talking to either RHN Hosted or a Satellite Server.
    • It is quite common to say "talk to" in this context, but "communicate with," "connected to," "registered with," or something similar would be better.

Chapter 5. Writing Clearly and Succinctly

This chapter provides guidelines, tips, and techniques to help make your writing easier to read and understand, and also to translate.

5.1. Sentence Structure

This section helps to describe how to construct your content for clarity and readability. A full discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this guide.

5.1.1. Using and Formatting Lists

Lists appear in a range of formats, such as series, ordered, unordered (itemized), and so on. Avoid using itemized lists to format a single sentence. Some translation tools display list items and the introductory sentence (or sentence stem) as individual sentences for translation. If these are not complete sentences, they can be difficult to translate.
The following general guidelines apply to lists:
Itemized lists
These appear as a bulleted list. Use this list type for three or more entries where order is not important, or in a demonstration section when students are encouraged to not perform steps but to watch the instructor instead. Titles are optional.
Ordered lists
These appear as a numbered list. Use this list type for multiple entries if you need to refer to one of the entries from elsewhere in your document, or where order is important. For example, if you need to list the order of operations required to prepare for an installation, or list a sequence of events that occurs. Titles are optional.
Variable lists
These appear as a list of terms followed by definitions. Use this list type to list and describe a series of terms, such as variables, command options or arguments, and similar items. Titles are optional. (This list is written as a variable list.) A variable list is often preferable to a table, because tables have the additional overhead of calculating column width for every translation. Tables are best reserved for information that relies upon, or benefits greatly from, a grid layout.
These appear as a list of numbered steps. Procedures always include a title, and are used to list the steps required to achieve a task.
You can nest lists, but try to keep the number of levels to two or fewer. To nest procedures in DocBook, use <substep> elements. Formatting Lists for Readability

It is important to provide sufficient spacing between elements in your documents to facilitate reading and comprehension. You can include a lot of information in a few short paragraphs but readers need to be able to process that information in chunks. The same applies to lists. If you use DocBook to build itemized, ordered, or variable (definition) lists, you can use the compact or normal attributes to specify the spacing between list items. DocBook uses the normal spacing attribute by default.
Use a list with normal spacing if any list item contains the following:
  • Nested lists. Note that nested lists themselves can use the compact attribute if they fall outside the bounds of these recommendations.
  • Navigation or similar instructions (such as "Navigate to Menu -> Submenu").
  • Multiple paragraphs, or sentences that wrap to two or more lines.
Use a list with compact spacing in all other cases.


The use of all but very simple graphics in lists is strongly discouraged.
The following discussion provides some initial insight into using lists correctly. See The IBM Style Guide for a full discussion.

Table 5.1. 

Example Improvement
Before you start the installation, make sure you have
  • enough free storage on your system
  • backed up any data that you want to keep
to ensure a smooth installation.
Before you start the installation, follow these steps to ensure a smooth installation:
  • Ensure you have enough free storage on your system.
  • Back up any data that you want to keep.

5.1.2. Noun Stacking

Modifier strings (modifier + noun + noun sentence format), over-modified nouns (or noun stacks), are especially difficult to translate, particularly when several different combinations could make sense.

Table 5.2. 

Example Improvement
Plastic tubing and syringe tips. Plastic tubing and plastic syringe tips.
Set default printer configuration parameters for new users. Enter the maximum length of time that you want to keep the automatic synchronization address list updates in days and press ENTER. For new users, set the parameters to the default printer configuration. Enter the maximum length of time, in number of days, that you want to keep the address lists updated by automatic synchronization. Then press ENTER.

5.2. Grammatical Genders

When using ambiguous pronouns such as "they" or "it" it is not always clear what they refer to. For languages that have different genders for nouns, it is important to know exactly what each pronoun refers to. For example, the word "it" can be translated in several different ways and may require other grammatical adjustments.
Further, an initialism such as RPM might refer to the package or the package manager. In German, manager is a masculine noun, and so RPM requires the masculine article "der" when it refers to the RPM Package Manager. Package is a neuter noun, and requires the neuter article "das" when it refers to an RPM package.

Table 5.3. 

Example Improvement
Set the parameter XYZ to 1 in the configuration file /etc/config.conf. It configures the way the Gateway application handles incoming network traffic. Set the XYZ parameter to 1 in the configuration /etc/config.conf file. This parameter configures how the Gateway application handles incoming network traffic.
The RPM is useful. The RPM package is useful. OR The RPM Package Manager is useful.

5.3. DocBook Elements

Use the correct DocBook elements to help translators understand the meaning of and to identify translatable and non-translatable terms.
Tagged Terms in Sentences
Many tagged terms are not translatable, and so they should not be used as structural parts of a sentence. Otherwise, translators have to fill in the blanks or tag terms themselves.

Table 5.4. 

Example Improvement
In /some/path/, grep for XYZ. In the /some/path/ directory, use the grep command to search for "XYZ".
param-2 contains a reference to the hostname return value from instance-2. The param-2 parameter contains a reference to the hostname return value from your second server instance, instance-2.
Troubleshooting Glance. Troubleshooting the Glance image service.
Installing the maven-changelog-plugin. Installing the maven-changelog-plugin package.

5.4. Code Blocks

Avoid including commentary within the same box as command input or output. These might be confused with part of the output, and during translation might be accidentally overlooked and left in English.
For example, consider the word "Usage" in the following:
Usage: rhevm-iso-uploader [options] list
rhevm-iso-uploader [options] upload [file1] [file2] [file3]

5.5. Entities

An entity is a primitive data type, which associates a string with either a unique alias (such as a user-specified name) or an SGML reserved word (such as #DEFAULT)[5]. Entities are called by reference, and take the form &name; (both the ampersand and the semicolon are required).
Entities can be helpful in some cases, but they are more of a hindrance when used for terms that need translation. Translators need to compare the string with the built document to determine what the entity stands for. These entities might even be overlooked and not translated at all.
To avoid issues with incorrect or outdated entity values, problems with translation, and so on, only include the entities required to actually build your books. If you use Publican ( to create and maintain your documentation, it creates and populates the required entities with default values when you create a book. Required entities vary by brand, but only the following are required for a standard book:
  • YEAR
Do not include entities such as &PRODNAME; or &VERSION; and so on, or things like &BIBLE; to represent "The St. James Bible". To learn more about entities, see the relevant chapter in

Chapter 6. Using Cross-references Effectively

This section contains suggestions on how to use cross-references in the most effective way. That is, so that it works for the reader, rather than the author. In DocBook XML, cross-references are formatted according to the style sheets; at this point no references are available that describe how they should be formatted in other media. Formatting is not described in this section.
In the days of print-only documentation, cross-references referred readers to additional or related information that existed elsewhere in the physical printed book; on other pages. The readers had to physically turn pages to find the referenced page, so authors, editors, and proofreaders developed a certain caution about scattering cross-references through the text. Despite the ease of use and creation of cross-references and links in online documents today, the author must still do the work for the reader. It is still the author who must do the heavy lifting and arrange the information so that the reader can absorb it in the smoothest possible fashion. Forcing the reader to leap from link to link could indicate that the author is writing for their own ease, and not for the good of the reader.

6.1. The Additional Information Test

Is the cross-reference pointing to vital information or additional information?
A cross-reference should always point to additional information, not core information that the reader needs to perform the task at hand. For example, in a procedure to configure an application, do not merely provide a link to the appendix where the correct naming conventions are described. Give the reader examples and explanations of a valid file name, and at the end of the procedure provide the link to the appendix.

6.2. The Information/Link Ratio

Does the paragraph or section consist largely of links?
In running text, there should not be more than a couple of links per paragraph. There should not be links in every paragraph, and there certainly must not be links in titles, subheadings, figure or table captions. Cross-references interrupt the flow of thought, and can actively interfere with the absorption of information. If the reader needs a lot of additional information, rethink the structure of the section, and enrich the quality of the information. Do not let the cross-references overpower the message. A solution is to add a sentence to the end of the section indicating where more information is available.


Lists can be an exception, but try to provide the reader with a descriptive phrase or sentence for each cross-referenced item, as well as a lead-in and concluding sentence for the paragraph that contains the list.

6.3. The Repeatability Test

Does the information have to be repeated?
This is a hard one, and one that many authors abhor. Often the answer is yes. If the information is vital, and needs to appear in multiple places, it just has to be done. It's not a crime. In some circumstances, like online help, the reader wants the answer immediately. Do not force even one extra click on them. In a safety situation, it may be the only chance the reader has to find critical information quickly. Any vital information, that is not more than a couple of paragraphs, (or half a page, or 5 rows of a table) can be repeated rather than cross-referenced to.
Cross-referencing is a good servant but a poor master. Content still rules!

Chapter 7. Resources

This section lists some books and websites for you to consult on your quest to create the perfect document.
The guides that you refer to first are generally dictated by the type of material you are writing. It is important to establish this first because the guidelines in the following references sometimes contradict each other. This does not mean they are wrong; different audiences require different writing styles, and different references are sometimes required when you change styles. The following documentation types are recognized:
  • Technical content: software manuals and documentation, user guides
  • Technical collateral: white papers and technology briefs
  • Marketing content: advertising, promotions, articles
  • Corporate collateral: related to company or products
  • Press releases

7.1. References for Technical Content and Collateral

  • IBM Style Guide, Sixth Edition. IBM Corp, 2004.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
    Visit for subscription options.
  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
    An online edition is accessible free of charge through

7.2. References for Marketing and Corporate Collateral

7.3. Secondary References

The following references may provide guidance when the primary references cannot provide a suitable solution.
  • Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, Third Edition. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2004.
  • Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry. Mountain View, CA: Sun Microsystems, Inc, 1996.
  • A Dictionary of Computing, Sixth Edition Market House Books, 2008
  • A Dictionary of the Internet Darrell Ince, 2009
    These two titles are available online as part of the Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection.

Part II. Usage Dictionary

The Usage Dictionary provides guidelines for the correct use of common terms in Red Hat documentation, which terms to avoid, and the preferred spelling if variations exist.

Chapter 8. 0-9

24x7, 24x7x365
adj. Use "24x7" in most instances. Use "24x7x365" only to differentiate from others or highlight specifically that a service is offered every day of the year, for example, providing 24x7x365 phone support.
2-track (IT)
adj. A less common way to refer to bimodal or hybrid IT. See bimodal IT
adj., n.. Correct. Do not use 3D, 3-d, or other variations.

Chapter 9. A

"&" and "+"
Ampersands or plus signs can be used in design elements and graphics when space is limited, and when either referring to or quoting third-party content that uses them. Do not use them in original body copy.
agile, agile development
adj. Use only as an adjective. It is not a proper noun, nor is it owned or trademarked and should not be capitalized.
air gap, air wall
n. Use "air gap" to describe systems that are separated, not by software, but physically. Do not use "air wall." "Air gap" is preferred in technical publications because there is no actual wall that you need to breach, but rather a gap that you need to bridge. You cannot break through something that does not exist.
a.m., am
Correct. Use the lowercase form and include the periods, and use a preceding space.
See also p.m..
See The IBM Style Guide for a full discussion of how to represent times.
all-in-one, allinone
n., adj. Correct. Hyphenate in both cases. Do not use "allinone" or other variations.
Correct. Do not use "Hammer," "x86_64," "x86-64," "x64," "64-bit x86" or other variations as the name of this architecture.
The correct term for AMD's implementation of this architecture is "AMD64." When discussing the architecture generally, reference both AMD64 and Intel 64 implementations specifically.
See also Intel 64.


The AMD64 logo is trademarked; the term "AMD64" is not. For more information about AMD trademarks, see the AMD Trademark Information page at
Initialism for Asynchronous Transfer Mode, a network technology based on transferring data in cells or packets of a fixed size. The cell size used with ATM is relatively small compared to units used with older technologies.
Do not use to refer to information mentioned previously. When documents are converted to online format, the information may no longer be "above." Use a cross-reference if the referenced material is sufficiently removed, or write "as mentioned previously" instead.
An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as ROM for Read Only Memory, or by combining initial letters or part of a series of words, such as LILO for LInux LOader. Note that an acronym is pronounced as a word. Compare this to an initialism, which is also formed in a similar fashion to an acronym, but in which each letter is pronounced separately.
Spell out most acronyms and initialisms before using them in text, such as "The Embedded DevKit (EDK)..." Unless the acronym or initialism stands for a proper noun, use sentence case for the spelled out version - for example, "central processing unit (CPU)." Unless required for the audience or the topic, do not spell out well-known abbreviations, such as HTML.
To form the plural of an acronym, add a trailing, lowercase "s," or "es," for example, ROMs, PINs, BIOSes.
vb. "Alternate" as a verb means to change between two states or options.
See also alternative.
adj. Used to describe another way or method of doing something. "Alternate" (vb.) means to change between two states or options. If you mean "another way of doing something," use "an alternative method is to..."
See also alternate.
Avoid if possible. Try to rewrite to make the available options explicit and clear. Do not write this and/or that. Write this or that or both.
When used as a proper name, use the capitalization of the product, such as GNUPro, Source-Navigator, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. When used as a command, use lowercase as appropriate, such as "To start GCC, type gcc."


"vi" is always lowercase.
Applixware, Applix, ApplixWare
Correct. Do not use "Applix" or "ApplixWare."
Do not use as a verb. Even though it might make sense in the correct context, using it as a verb can be jargon or unclear for your audience. Use "design," "build," "create," or another descriptive verb instead. Before replacing the verb form of "architect" during the editing process, check with the writer to find out the intended meaning. For example, a sentence that mentions rearchitecting might require "refactoring" as a replacement rather than "rebuilding."
as well as
Not interchangeable with "and." "As well as" used in a series places more emphasis on the items preceding it, whereas "and" places equal weight on all items in the series. For example, "We sell kitchen electronics and china, as well as some gourmet foods." But "We sell kitchen electronics, china, and silverware."
Be aware that there is a great deal of overlap in as-a-Service acronyms. To avoid confusion, always spell out the full term on first use.
  • DRaaS (Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service)
  • CaaS (Cloud-as-a-Service, Communications-as-a-Service, Containers-as-a-Service)
  • UCaaS (Unified Communications-as-a-Service)
  • FaaS (Function[s]-as-a-Service)
  • SaaS (Search-as-a-Service, Security-as-a-Service, Storage-as-a-Service, or Software-as-a-Service)
  • PaaS (Payments-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service)
  • MaaS (Messaging-as-a-Service)
  • SECaaS (Security-as-a-Service)
  • TDBaaS (Time-series Database-as-a-Service)
When using as-a-Service acronyms:
  • Capitalize the noun (e.g., Platform, Software, Infrastructure) and Service, both when abbreviated and written out.
  • When in all capitals, such as a title or headline, the "aa" in the acronym remains lowercase (e.g., INTRODUCTION TO PaaS SOLUTIONS).
  • Hyphenate when written out: Thing-as-a-Service. For two-word prefixes, do not include a hyphen between the first and second words: Mobile Backend-as-a-Service. Can be used as an adjective to describe multiple (e.g., when referring to an IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, use as-a-Service offerings, as-a-Service products, or similar wording).
  • Avoid an acronym if it could stand for more than one term in a single asset (e.g., if you're writing content that discusses both Cloud-as-a-Service and Containers-as-a-Service).
Always lowercase. This refers to the kernel-based automount utility. No other forms are recognized.

Chapter 10. B

back end, back-end
n. Two words. Refers to software that performs the final stages of a process, or tasks that are not visible to the user. For example, "each back end provides a set of calls."
adj. Hyphenate. For example, "when the back-end database processes a search operation…"
Do not use "backend."
backup, back up
Depending on usage, this could appear in either of two ways:
  • adj. One word. For example, "store the backup copies of important files in a secure location."
  • n. One word. For example, "create a backup of your important files."
  • v. Two words. For example, "always back up important files."
Do not use the hyphenated form, "back-up."
n. "Backtrace" is the most common term used to refer to a stack trace (or stack backtrace), which is a report of the active stack frames (that is, function calls) at a certain point in time during the execution of a program. In contrast, the Python programming language calls its stack trace a "traceback," possibly because the stack frames are printed in the opposite order of those presented by gdb, the GNU Debugger. "Traceback" is the preferred term when referring to a Python stack trace.
Avoid using "backwards" unless you are stating that something has "backwards compatibility."
backwards compatible
Correct. Use to refer to something that is compatible with older equipment or previous versions of software. See also forwards compatible.
Correct. Bandwidth can refer to a range within a band of frequencies or wavelengths, or the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time.
bare metal, bare-metal
n. Two words.
adj. Hyphenate.
Do not use. For example, removing the word "basically" in the following sentence strengthens it: "This is how it is basically done." See also simply.
because, since, as
Do not use "since" or "as" to mean "because"; it is ambiguous. Use "because" to refer to a reason. Use "since" and "as" to indicate the passage of time.
Do not use to refer to information mentioned "below," or later in a document. When documents are converted to online format, the information may no longer be "below." Use a cross-reference instead.
big data
n., adj. Always use lowercase. Do not capitalize except at the beginning of a sentence, or if it is part of a Red Hat product, service, solution, or business unit name. See also cloud. Big data is also never hyphenated, per AP style, even when used as a complex adjective.
bimodal IT
Gartner phrase for the combination of traditional (mode 1 or type 1) and modern (mode 2 or type 2) IT infrastructure and resources. There are many ways to talk about this combination approach; be sure you use the right phrase for your audience. Using only the Gartner term can alienate other analysts or those not familiar with Gartner's phrasing.
The practice of having both modes together is often referred to as hybrid, agile, or modern IT.


Hybrid IT is a more general term, e.g. it could mean on-premise plus public cloud. Agile and modern IT can both carry an implication of "mode 2", so when using those terms, be specific about the exact technology combination you mean.
bimonthly, biweekly, semiweekly, semimonthly
People have trouble remembering if biweekly means "every two weeks" or "twice a week." Semiweekly has a similar problem. Even though both terms have clear dictionary definitions, we recommend that you avoid them in favor of clear communication.
Instead of biweekly, write "every two weeks" or "every other week."
Instead of semiweekly or semimonthly, write "twice a week."
This is correct when referring to the DNS software. Do not use Bind.
Correct. The plural form is BIOSes.
bit rate
Correct. Do not use "bitrate."
Correct. Named after George Boole, who first developed the concept.
According to The IBM Style Guide, it is acceptable to use "boolean" in API programming information when it refers to a primitive return type.
v. To load the first piece of software that starts a computer. Because the operating system is essential for running all other programs, it is usually the first piece of software loaded during the boot process.
n. Refers to the starting-up of a computer, which involves loading the operating system and other basic software. A cold boot refers to starting a computer that is turned off. A warm boot refers to resetting a computer that is already running.
Boot is an abbreviation of bootstrap, which in olden days was a strap attached to the top of your boot that you could pull to help get your boot on. Hence, the expression "pull oneself up by the bootstraps." Similarly, bootstrap utilities help the computer get started.
boot disk
Two words. Do not use "boot diskette."
boot loader
Two words. Do not use "bootloader."
One word. Do not use "bottle neck" or "bottle-neck."
A bottleneck refers to the delay in transmission of data through the circuits of a computer's microprocessor or over a TCP/IP network. The delay typically occurs when a system's bandwidth cannot support the amount of information being relayed at the speed it is being processed. There are, however, many factors that can create a bottleneck in a system.
Initialism for bits per pixel. All letters are lowercase, unless at the beginning of a sentence. Use a non-breaking space between the numeral and the units. For example, "16 bpp," not "16bpp."
Bps, bps
The abbreviation of bytes per second is Bps. The abbreviation of bits per second is bps. To avoid confusion, do not use at the beginning of a sentence. See also bandwidth.
breadcrumb trail
See The IBM Style Guide for initial guidance on how to use this term.


Do not confuse the breadcrumb trail with the name of the actual page in a user interface. The final breadcrumb in the trail is the name of the page, unless the page itself offers a distinct title. The breadcrumb trail indicates the path taken to reach the current page.
Example breadcrumb trail, showing Disks as the actual name of the page.
Example breadcrumb trail, showing Disks as the actual name of the page.
(v.) Do not use to mean "break the system" or similar. For example, "applying an unapproved patch might break the system." Choose an alternative such "cause the system to fail."
bring up
Do not use. Use "open" instead.
If referring to the language, say "English." If referring to the country, say the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or the UK. Using Britain or British is usually wrong and to some implies a specific subjective statement about the state of Northern Ireland.
To simultaneously send the same message to multiple recipients. Broadcasting is a useful feature in email systems. It is also supported by some fax systems.
In networking, a distinction is made between broadcasting and multicasting. Broadcasting sends a message to everyone on the network whereas multicasting sends a message to a select list of recipients.
A copy-on-write file system for Linux. Use a capital "B" when referring to the file system. When referring to tools, commands, and other utilities related to the file system, be faithful to those utilities.
See for more information on this file system.
See for a list of file system names and how to present them.
bug fix
Two words. Do not use "bugfix."
adj. Hyphenate. Do not use "builtin" unless referring specifically to "Bash builtins" or if it is otherwise a proper noun.
bunches of
Do not use, unless "bunch" is a specific term used in the software being documented. Use "many" or some other alternative instead.
Describe a GUI button as a "button," not a "pushbutton" or "push-button."
Ordinarily you would not include the text "button" in a procedure or description. For example, "Click OK to continue" is perfectly acceptable. It may be necessary to distinguish between buttons and links; for example, "Click the Unload button."

Chapter 11. C

can, may
Use "can" to describe actions or conditions that are possible. Use "may" only to describe situations where permission is being given. If either "can," "could," or "may" apply, use "can" - it is less tentative.
Correct, when used in the negative form. For example, "you cannot end a sentence with a preposition." Do not use "can not." When used as an additive, use two words. For example, "you can not only end a sentence with a preposition, but you can also start a sentence with a conjunction."
CapEx, OpEx
Correct. These stand for "capital expenditures" and "operating expenses" respectively. Do not use alternative capitalization.
cd, CD
When referring to the change directory command, use cd.
When referring to a compact disk, use "CD." For example, "Insert the CD into the CD drive." The plural is "CDs."
See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide for more information.
CD #1
When referring to a specific CD in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux CD set, it is correct to refer to it as: Red Hat Enterprise Linux CD #1. Avoid using Red Hat Enterprise Linux CD 1
Correct. Ceph is a distributed storage platform that provides object, block, and file storage.[6] Do not use alternative capitalization.
Correct (all lowercase) when referring to the kernel-based technology. This is a contraction of control group, and not a proper noun in itself; proper nouns use initial caps. This being the case, it is permissible to capitalize if used at the beginning of a sentence.
Where cgroup refers to something else, for example, a package name, file name, and so on, use a literal rendition.
Do not use "characters" when you should use "bytes." In English, bytes and characters can be used interchangeably; in other languages a single character may consist of multiple bytes.
In computer software, any symbol that requires one byte of storage. This includes all the ASCII and extended ASCII characters, including the space character. In character-based software, everything that appears on the screen, including graphics symbols, is considered to be a character. In graphics-based applications, the term character is generally reserved for letters, numbers, and punctuation.
Avoid. Use "verify," "make sure," "ensure," or "read," depending on the context.
check box
n. Two words. Do not use "checkbox" or "check-box."
n. One word. Do not use "chip set" or "chip-set."
Define on first use; generally continuous integration/continuous delivery. This is not continuous development, a term with questionable usefulness and only marginal adoption.
n. One word. Do not use "cipher text" or "cipher-text" or other variants.
v. Use when referring to a GUI control button, for example, "Click OK."
See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide for more information.
client-side, client side
adj. Use the hyphenated form as an adjective. For example: "Winbind is a client-side service used to connect to Windows NT servers."
n. Use the two-word form as a noun. For example: "Winbind runs on the client side of a client/server Samba implementation."
clobber or clobbered
Avoid these and similar terms unless they are the actual name of something. Use "altered," "invalidated," or "overwritten," or whatever is appropriate in the specific context.
Although cloud is important to our business, it is not a proper noun. Do not capitalize, unless it is part of a Red Hat product, service, solution, or business unit name. Use a lowercase “c” when referring to cloud or cloud computing in a general sense. Use a capitalized “C” when referring to the full name of official products, such as Red Hat CloudForms or Red Hat Cloud Foundations. See also "big data."
Define briefly on first use.
Refers to the event where a private cloud exceeds its capacity and "bursts" into and uses public cloud resources. The advantage of such a hybrid cloud deployment is that an organization only pays for extra compute resources when they are needed.[7]
Define briefly on first use.
Refers to the process of rebranding legacy products to include the term "cloud" to increase their appeal to the cloud market, even if such inclusion is not completely justified.
n. Use only as a noun, not a verb. Use "write" for a verb.
Do not use as an abbreviation for "combination box." See the relevant entry in The IBM Style Guide for further usage information.
adj. Correct (compound adjective). A data format in which each piece of data is separated by a comma. This is a popular format for transferring data from one application to another, because most database systems are able to import and export comma-delimited data.
comma-separated values (CSV)
Use this in preference to "comma-delimited values" whenever possible. The initialism CSV is widely used to denote information broken up through use of commas. Often used to share data between different, but similar applications, wherein the comma is a translator of the data.
command button
Use "button" instead.
adj. Correct (compound adjective). Do not use "command driven" or "commanddriven."
Refers to programs and operating systems that accept commands in the form of special words or letters. In contrast, programs that provide a list of options in a menu are said to be menu-driven.
command language
n. The programming language through which a user communicates with the operating system or an application. For example, the DOS command language includes the commands DIR, COPY, and DEL, to name a few. The part of an operating system that responds to operating system commands is called the command processor.
With graphical user interfaces, the command language consists of operations you perform with a mouse or similar input device.
command line, command prompt, command-line
See the appropriate entries in The IBM Style Guide for an explanation of how to use these terms.
Avoid using "commodity" when referring to hardware, including servers or storage, because it implies that the hardware is undifferentiated and can make conservative readers think it is cheap. Use instead:
  • Volume
  • Industry-standard
communication service provider (CSP)
Another way to refer to a telecommunications provider. See also telco.
The term "Containers-as-a-Service" is owned by Docker and should only be used when referring to that company's offering. See also as-a-Service.
Used to refer to more complex applications made up of multiple services that are distributed in containers. More common than "containerized."
Used to refer to an application or service that is distributed in a container or packed in a container.
continuous delivery (CD)
A software implementation architecture that ensures all approved code can be easily pushed to production.
continuous deployment
A special case of continuous delivery, where approved code is automatically pushed to production. Do not use "CD" to refer to this practice.
continuous integration (CI)
A software development architecture where the developer code branch is synchronized with the main code branch or master multiple times per day. Development always works with the current code base.
Do not use. Contractions are a mark of informal writing, and should be avoided when writing policy manuals or other more formal types of manuals. They also cause problems for translation.
control character
A special, non-printing character that begins, modifies, or ends a function, event, operation or control operation. The ASCII character set defines 32 control characters. Originally, these codes were designed to control teletype machines. Now, however, they are often used to control display monitors, printers, and other modern devices.
control key
Use Ctrl instead, such as "To save the program, press Ctrl+S."
control program
A program that enhances an operating system by creating an environment in which you can run other programs. Control programs generally provide a graphical interface and enable you to run several programs at once in different windows.
Control programs are also called operating environments.
n. A message given to a web browser by a web server. The browser stores the message in a text file called cookie.txt. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.
Use if referring to code, such as "Type CR at the end of each line..." If referring to the keyboard key, use either Enter or Return, depending upon the platform.
IBM recommends the use of "fail" rather than "crash." The latter is not outlawed, but you would have to justify its use; that is, indicate why "fail" is inadequate.
adj. Hyphenate. Do not use "crossplatform" or "cross platform."
Refers to the capability of software or hardware to run identically on different platforms.
cross-site scripting
Correct. When referring to cross-site scripting attacks, use "cross-site scripting attack." Acceptable use is also "cross-site scripting (XSS) attack."
n. CVE stands for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures and should be capitalized as shown. See for more information.
Correct. Do not use "CygMon," "cygmon," or "CYGMON." An exception is if a command is being typed (such as cygmon).
Refer to it as "Cygmon: a ROM monitor," not "Cygmon: the Cygnus ROM monitor," or "Cygmon: the ROM monitor."

Chapter 12. D

daisy chain
Noun: A hardware configuration in which devices are connected to each other in a series. The SCSI interface, for example, supports a daisy chain of up to seven devices.
Verb: To connect devices in a daisy chain pattern.
In technical publications, The IBM Style Guide recommends not to use em dashes or en dashes at all. Use a colon or other suitable punctuation.
data center, datacenter
n. Use the two-word form unless referring to a product name or other proper noun where the one-word form is used.

Marketing Publications Exception

In marketing publications, use the one-word form of this term unless referring to a product name or other proper noun where the two-word form is used.
data mirroring
The act of copying data from one location to a storage device in real time. Because the data is copied in real time, the information stored from the original location is always an exact copy of the data from the production device. Data mirroring is useful in the speedy recovery of critical data after a disaster. Data mirroring can be implemented locally or offsite at a completely different location.
data sheet, datasheet
n. Use the two-word form.

Marketing Publications Exception

In marketing publications, the one-word form is recommended.
data source
n. Use the two-word form unless referring to a proper noun, argument, variable, or other case where the one-word form is required.
data store, datastore
n. Use the two-word form.

Marketing Publications Exception

In marketing publications, the one-word form is recommended.
data type
n. Do not use "datatype" or "data-type" unless they are actually variable names or some other literal value.
When presenting specific dates and times numerically, see ISO Standard 8601. For dates, this means YYYMDD is the recommended representation.
To find and remove errors (bugs) from a program or design.
denial of service (DoS)
Correct. Do not use "denial-of-service" or "Denial of Service."
Correct. Do not use "desk top" or "desk-top."
Any machine or component that attaches to a computer. Examples of devices include disk drives, printers, mice, and modems. These particular devices fall into the category of peripheral devices because they are separate from the main computer.
Most devices, whether peripheral or not, require a program called a device driver that acts as a translator, converting general commands from an application into specific commands that the device understands.
n., adj. A portmanteau that combines "development" and "operations." It refers to a specific method or organizational approach where developers and IT operations work together to create the applications that run the business. DevOps may also refer to the engineers and developers who work within these modern IT organizations.
dialog box
See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide for usage information related to this and similar terms.
Use "different from" rather than "different than" when the next part of the sentence is a noun or pronoun (that is, two things are being compared). For example: "Form 123 is different from Form 124."
digital transformation
Avoid this phrase. It is vague and could mean using digital technology to do something faster, to do something differently, or to do a completely new thing. The word "transform" implies a process with a beginning and an end. Some people use the phrase "digital leadership" to describe the ongoing adoption of digital technologies to advance their organization. If you must discuss the concepts of digital transformation or digital leadership, briefly define what you mean on the first occurrence. Describe, rather than label.
Disk Druid
Correct. Do not use "Disk druid," "disk druid," or "diskdruid." This is a partitioning tool incorporated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
disk, disc
Use "compact disc," but "diskette" or "hard disk." See The IBM Style Guide for more information and example use cases.
disk label
Correct. Do not use "disklabel" or any other variations.
Initialism of Domain Name System (or Service), an internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses.
When referring to the current manual set, use "documentation." For example, "This manual is also available as part of our online documentation." When referring to another manual, quote the title of the manual, for example, "See the Getting Started Guide for further information."
domain name
Correct. Do not use "domainname" or "domain-name."
A name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular web pages. For example, in the URL, the domain name is
v. Do not use "double click."
Correct. Use the one-word form for both the nominal and adjectival forms. See also upstream. Do not use "down-stream" or "down stream."
Correct. Refers to the period during which a server, service, or other resource is unavailable. Do not use "down-time" or "down time."
v., n. Do not use "down load" or "down-load."
adj. Do not use "dualboot" or "dual boot."
DVD writer
Correct. Do not use the colloquial terms "DVD burner" or "CD burner" (use CD writer in the latter case).

Chapter 13. E

e-book, e-business, e-commerce, e-learning, email
Refer to the primary reference for the type of copy you are creating, either AP or IBM.
e.g., i.e.
Red Hat technical documentation always expands these abbreviations.
Use to refer to earlier releases of products. Do not use "older" or related terms. See also later.
If referring to the program, use "Emacs." For example, "Source-Navigator supports Emacs or vi commands." If referring to the shell prompt command, use "emacs." For example, "At the prompt, type emacs." The complete and correct name is "GNU Emacs."
Used (informally) to indicate a pause or abrupt change in thought; for emphasis; or to set off a series in a phrase. See dash for more information.
When referring to the keyboard key, use Enter. If referring to the keyboard key on Solaris, use Return.
When referring to typing a command, use "type" instead, such as "To open Source-Navigator from the command line, type snavigator."
When typing information into a single-field dialog box, "enter" means "type and press Enter." An example is "enter the license number." For multi-field dialog boxes, see "type."
The state of a computer, usually determined by which programs are running and basic hardware and software characteristics. For example, when one speaks of running a program in a UNIX environment, it means running a program on a computer that has the UNIX operating system.
One ingredient of an environment, therefore, is the operating system. But operating systems include a number of different parameters. For example, many operating systems allow you to choose your command prompt or a default command path. All these parameters taken together constitute the environment.
Another term for environment in this sense is platform.
adj. Initialism for "end-of-line"
n. Initialism for "end of line"
Always use uppercase for the initialism. Do not capitalize the expansion except at the beginning of a sentence. When documenting GUI objects, use the same capitalization as that shown in the GUI.
Do not use.
n. Uppercase "E" at all times.
An action or occurrence detected by a program. Events can be user actions, such as clicking a mouse button or pressing a key, or system occurrences, such as running out of memory.
exclamation points (!)
Do not use at the end of sentences. An exclamation point can be used when referring to a command, such as the bang (!) command.
Exec-Shield is a security-enhancing modification to the Linux kernel that makes large parts of specially marked programs including their stack not executable.
Has the same meaning as run. Execute means to perform an action, as in executing a program or a command.
Correct. Do not use "EXIF." Exif is an image file format specification that enables metadata tags to be added to existing JPEG, TIFF and RIFF files. Sometimes to referred to as "Exif Print."
Refers to an intranet that is partially accessible to authorized outsiders. Whereas an intranet resides behind a firewall and is accessible only to people who are members of the same company or organization, an extranet provides various levels of accessibility to outsiders. You can access an extranet only if you have a valid user name and password, and your identity determines which parts of the extranet you can view.
Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence.

Chapter 14. F

fail back, failback
vb. Use the 2-word form.
n. Use the 1-word form.
No hyphenated form is currently recognized.
fail over, failover
vb. Use the 2-word form.
n., adj. Use the 1-word form.
No hyphenated form is currently recognized.
When referring to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of content, refer to it as "an FAQ" (to be read as "an Q") not "a FAQ." The plural form is "FAQs."
fault tolerance (n.), fault-tolerant (adj.)
The ability of a system to respond gracefully to an unexpected hardware or software failure. There are many levels of fault tolerance, the lowest being the ability to continue operation in the event of a power failure. Many fault-tolerant computer systems mirror all operations; that is, every operation is performed on two or more duplicate systems, so if one fails the other can take over.
Fedora™ Project
Correct. Despite the alternative spelling used in Fibre Channel, "fiber" is the correct form to use in all other cases.
Fibre Channel
A serial data transfer architecture developed by a consortium of computer and mass storage device manufacturers and now being standardized by ANSI. The most prominent Fibre Channel standard is Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FAL).
FAL was designed for new mass storage devices and other peripheral devices that require very high bandwidth. Using optical fiber to connect devices, FAL supports full-duplex data transfer rates of 100MBps. FAL is compatible with, and is expected to eventually replace, SCSI for high-performance storage systems.
file extensions (general usage)
See File names, file types, and directory names in The IBM Style Guide.
file mode, file name, file system, file type
n. Write as shown, two words, unless used as a variable. See The IBM Style Guide for more information.
adj. Hyphenate when used as a compound adjective. For example, "file-system attributes."
Correct. Do not use "Firewire" or "firewire." Although FireWire is a trademark of Apple Computer, it does not need to be listed with a trademark symbol when mentioned. Only when talking about Apple's FireWire software license or specific logos should the symbol be used (which is almost never). See http :// for full details.
n. Do not use "firm ware" or "firm-ware."
Software (programs or data) that has been written onto read-only memory (ROM). Firmware is a combination of software and hardware. ROMs, PROMs, and EPROMs that have data or programs recorded on them are firmware.
floating point
Correct. Do not hyphenate.
floppy disk
Do not use. Use "diskette," and also state the size of the diskette, such as "3.5 in. diskette."
floppy drive
Do not use. Use "diskette drive."
vb. Refers to the use of the -f (--follow) option to various commands, such as tail, so that output is appended as the file grows.
  • In multiprocessing systems, the process that is currently accepting input from the keyboard or other input device is sometimes called the foreground process.
  • On display screens, the foreground consists of the characters and pictures that appear on the screen. The background is the uniform canvas behind the characters and pictures.
A period of two weeks (14 nights). Avoid using. This term is not common in American English and may also be unfamiliar to non-native speakers.
Correct. Do not use "Fortran."
Correct. Avoid using "forwards."
forwards compatible
Do not use. Instead, use "compatible with later versions." See also backwards compatible.
A fully qualified domain name consists of a list of domain labels representing the hierarchy from the lowest relevant level in the DNS to the top-level domain (TLD). The domain labels are concatenated using the full stop (.) character (dot or period) as a separator between labels.[8]
For example, is a fully qualified domain name, where www is the host, redhat is the second-level domain, and com is the top-level domain.
A FQDN always starts with a host name and continues all the way up to the top-level domain name; consequently is also a FQDN.
Avoid. This term is (a) jargon and (b) inaccurate. Nothing is ever really frictionless. Instead, talk about actual improvement in speed or time. See also bimodal IT.
front end, front-end
n. Two words. For example, "PRCS is a front end for a version control toolset."
adj. Hyphenate. For example, "This chapter explains how to use the front-end API functions."
Do not use "frontend" as a noun or adjective.
Use all caps when referring to the protocol. Use lowercase when referring to the command-line program.
Correct. "Futex" is an abbreviation of "fast user-space mutex." Consequently, "futexes" is the correct plural form.
Correct only when referring to fuzzy searches. See Chapter 4, Avoiding Jargon, Slang, Metaphors, and Misleading Language for details and examples.


Chapter 15. G

g++, G++
When referring to the command, use g++. When referring to the program, use G++.
gas, GAS
When referring to the command, use gas. When referring to the program, use GAS.
Abbreviation of gigabyte. Depending on the type of content you are writing, refer either to The AP Style Guide or The IBM Style Guide.
AP style: Do not use a space between the value and the abbreviation. For example, "a 2GB file."
IBM style: Use a non-breaking space between the value and the abbreviation. For example, "a 2 GB file."
Correct. Approved abbreviation of Gigabit Ethernet. Do not use GigE or any other variations. Use a non-breaking space between the unit and any value to prevent widows and orphans.
Abbreviation of Gigabits per second, a data transfer speed measurement for high-speed networks such as Gigabit Ethernet. When used to describe data transfer rates, a gigabit equals 1,000,000,000 bits. Use a non-breaking space between the unit and any value to prevent widows and orphans.
gcc, GCC
When referring to the command, use gcc. When referring to the program, use GCC.
gcj, GCJ
When referring to the command, use gcj. When referring to the program, use GCJ.
gdb, GDB
When referring to the command, use gdb. When referring to the program, use GDB.
Do not use. Use "Insight" instead. GDBTK is an obsolete name for the GNU debugger.
Do not use. Use "region" or "geographical location" according to your needs.
As of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, this is known as the Resilient Storage Add-On. Ensure you use the correct term.
Acronym for Group ID. Do not use "gid."
See GbE.
2 to the 30th power (1,073,741,824) bytes. One gigabyte is equal to 1,024 megabytes. When abbreviating "gigabyte," use "GB." Use a non-breaking space between the unit and any value to prevent widows and orphans.
Acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Do not use "Gimp" or "gimp."
Correct. Do not use "gnome," "Gnome," or other variants. See also GNOME Classic
GNOME Classic
Correct. Although the desktop team tends to refer to GNOME Classic (technically, GNOME Shell with the classic mode extensions enabled) as "classic mode" in internal and developer-oriented community documents, we should stay consistent with what is exposed to the user on the GDM login screen, that is, "GNOME Classic". The GNOME "modern mode" (technically, GNOME Shell with the classic mode extensions disabled) is referred to as "GNOME" (on the login screen and elsewhere).
Recursive initialism for "GNU's Not UNIX." Do not use "Gnu" or "gnu."
When referring to the Red Hat product, use GNUPro.
Do not use.
Initialism for General Public License. Do not use "Gpl" or "gpl."
n. Correct. Do not use "gray-scale" or "gray scale." Only the noun form is currently recognized.
Correct. All caps. Do not use "Grub."
Initialism for GIMP Tool Kit. Do not use "GTK," "Gtk," or "gtk."
guest operating system
Refers to the operating system that is installed in a virtual machine. Do not use "guest" by itself because it is ambiguous.

Chapter 16. H

hard code, hard-coded
v. Two words.
adj. Hyphenate.
Do not use the one-word form. No nominal form is currently recognized.
hard copy
Do not use. Use "printed".
hard disk
n. Correct. Do not use "harddisk" or "hard-disk."
hard disk drive
n. Correct. Do not use "harddrive" or "hard-drive."
he, she
Do not use. Reword to avoid. In most cases, "they" is acceptable as a singular pronoun.
help desk
Typically two words, but use the term accepted by your organization.
health check
n. Two words. This is a change from the previous style standard (one word) to take advantage of the better search ranking of the two-word variation, and is used in product names that are similar to competitive offerings in the same space.
This term is only capitalized when part of a product name, for example:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server Health Check
  • JBoss Middleware Health Check
Do not capitalize when referring to those services in a general way. For example: "A health check ensures your systems perform at their best."
n. Correct. Capitalize the "H" only at the beginning of a sentence. The correct abbreviation is "Hz."
high-availability, high availability
adj. Hyphenate. For example, "high-availability cluster." Do not use "high availability."
n. Two words. For example, "Support is available 24x7 to help maintain high availability."
high-performance computing (HPC)
n. Use standard hyphenation guidelines to maintain clarity.
home page
n. Two words. Capitalize the "H" at the beginning of a sentence. If part of a proper noun, capitalize accordingly. See The IBM Style Guide for more information.
host group
n. Two words. Capitalize the "H" at the beginning of a sentence. See RFC 966 for more details.
host name
n. Two words in most cases. Capitalize the "H" at the beginning of a sentence. See The IBM Style Guide for more information.
hot add
v. Two words, lowercase. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence. Do not use "hotadd" or "hot-add."
n. One word, lowercase. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence.
hot plug
v. Two words, lowercase. Capitalize when used at the beginning of a sentence only. Do not use "hotplug" or "hot-plug."
hot swap
v. Two words, lowercase. Capitalize when used at the beginning of a sentence only. Do not use "hotswap" or "hot-swap."
hover help
HP ProLiant
Correct. Do not use any other variations.
When referring to the language, use "HTML," such as "To see the HTML version of this documentation..." When referring to a web page extension, use "html," such as "The main page is index.html."
huge-page, huge page
adj. Hyphenate. Normal hyphenation rules apply.
n. Use the two-word version in all cases. Capitalize "huge" at the beginning of a sentence, and capitalize both words in titles. If you are documenting a user interface, use the capitalization used in that interface.
hybrid IT
The preferred term when talking about IT that spans both traditional and modern infrastructure, or private and public environments, or some combination of these. Because hybrid can indicate either infrastructure or environment or both, be specific about the underlying combination. See also bimodal IT.
n. Hyper-Threading is Intel's implementation of simultaneous multithreading. Do not use hyperthreading or hyper-threading. If you are not referring specifically to Intel's implementation, use "simultaneous multithreading" or "SMT" instead.
n. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence or as part of Red Hat Virtualization Hypervisor. Do not use "HyperVisor" or "Hyperviser."

Chapter 17. I

IA64 or ia64
Do not use. Always use the term Itanium instead. It can be used in file names because they are not visible in the content.
Correct. This is the correct abbreviation for "Infrastructure-as-a-Service." See also PaaS.
IBM eServer System p
"IBM eServer System p" is correct for the first reference in a manual. Use "IBM System p" or "System p" for subsequent references. Do not use "pSeries."
IBM Z is a family name used by IBM for all of its mainframe computers from the Z900 on. In July 2017, with another generation of products, the official family was changed to IBM Z from IBM z Systems.
Illegal means "prohibited by law," not "incorrect" or "not permitted." Use "invalid" or a related word.
InfiniBand is a switched fabric network topology used in high-performance computing. The term is both a service mark and a trademark of the InfiniBand Trade Association. Their rules for using the mark are standard ones: append the ™ symbol the first time it is used and respect the capitalization (including the inter-capped "B") from then on. In ASCII-only circumstances, the "(TM)" string is the acceptable alternative.
"Open InfiniBand" is deprecated and should not be used.
adj. Always one word. Do not hyphenate.
adj. Correct. Do not use "nonsecure" or "non-secure."
installation program
n. Correct. Do not use "installer" unless it is a formal part of the product or technology.
Intel 64
Correct. Do not use "Hammer," "x86_64," "x86-64," "x64," "64-bit x86" or other variations as the name of this architecture.
The correct term for Intel's implementation of this architecture is "Intel® 64." Until late 2006, Intel's official name for the architecture was "Intel EM64T" (for Extended Memory 64 Technology). They have since changed the name to "Intel® 64" however, and Red Hat documentation should reflect this change. When discussing the architecture generally, reference both AMD64 and Intel 64 implementations specifically.
See also AMD64.


The AMD64 logo is trademarked; the term "AMD64" is not. For more information about AMD trademarks, see the AMD Trademark Information page at
Intel® CoreTM
Intel Tolapai / Intel® EP80579 Integrated Processor
Do not use the code-name, "Tolapai." Use the official brand name "Intel® EP80579 Integrated Processor."
Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT)
Correct. The first and all prominent uses of the name should be fully spelled out, immediately followed by the initialism. For example, "Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) for Intel 64 or Itanium architecture (Intel Vi). Subsequent uses can be abbreviated to "Intel Vi."
Always write the initialism in uppercase, accompanied by the "Intel" mark. Do not use "Vi" or "VT." Do not use the initialism in any prominent places, such as in titles or paragraph headings, nor include any trademark symbols, such as ™ or "(TM)."
Intel® Xeon®
Avoid this term, because it is a substitute for showing the reader why something is of interest. For example, instead of writing "It is interesting to note...", consider using a "Note" admonition.
n. Always lowercase except in some specific exceptions, for example Internet of Things (IoT).
Internet of Things (IoT)
Correct. Capitalize as shown, spell out on the first occurrence, and use the initialism thereafter.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure.[9]
Intranet, intranet
See the "Word usage" appendix of The IBM Style Guide for guidance.
Correct. Stands for input/output (pronounced "eye-oh"). The term I/O is used to describe any program, operation or device that transfers data to or from a computer and to or from a peripheral device. Every transfer is an output from one device and an input into another. Devices such as keyboards and mice are input-only devices, while devices such as printers are output-only. A writable CD is both an input and an output device.
The term I/O is a non-countable noun. Append "operations" in order to refer to multiple units of I/O. For example: I/O operations could not be recovered in situations where I/O should have been temporarily queued, such as when paths were unavailable.
Correct. All caps. Stands for input/output operations per second.
Correct. Stands for Internet Protocol. Capitalize both letters.
IP Masquerade
A Linux networking function. IP Masquerade, also called IPMASQ or MASQ, allows one or more computers in a network without assigned IP addresses to communicate with the internet using the Linux server's assigned IP address. The IPMASQ server acts as a gateway, and the other devices are invisible behind it, so to other machines on the internet the outgoing traffic appears to be coming from the IPMASQ server and not the internal PCs.
Because IPMASQ is a generic technology, the server can be connected to other computers through LAN technologies such as Ethernet, Token Ring, and FDDI, as well as dial-up connections such as PPP or SLIP.
IPsec stands for Internet Protocol security. According to its RFC, IPsec should be used. Do not use "IPSec."
IP switching
A new type of IP routing developed by Ipsilon Networks, Inc. Unlike conventional routers, IP switching routers use ATM hardware to speed packets through networks. Although the technology is new, it appears to be considerably faster than older router techniques.
Short for independent software vendor, a company that produces software.
Use "I.T." (with periods) only in headlines or subheadings where all caps are used, in order to clarify that the word is "IT" vs. "it."
A member of Intel's Merced family of processors, Itanium is a 64-bit RISC microprocessor. Based on the EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) design philosophy, which states that the compiler should decide which instructions be executed together, Itanium has the highest FPU power available.
In 64-bit mode, Itanium is able to calculate two bundles of a maximum of three instructions at a time. In 32-bit mode, it is much slower. Decoders must first translate 32-bit instruction sets into 64-bit instruction sets, which results in extra-clock cycle use.
Itanium's primary use is driving large applications that require more than 4 GB of memory, such as databases, ERP, and future internet applications.
Do not use the term IA64. It can be used in file names because they are not printed in the content.
Itanium 2
Itanium 2 is correct. Do not use "Itanium2" and always use a non-breaking space between "Itanium" and "2."
IBM eServer System i is correct for the first reference in a manual; use IBM System i or System i for subsequent references. Do not use "iSeries."

Chapter 18. J

"JavaScript" is a trademark of Oracle Corporation, and should be used when referring to the scripting language. When referring to a file written using this language, use all lowercase; for example, "...copy the IPA javascript file to the /temp directory."
JBoss Community
No longer referred to as "" Use when referring to the community of users and contributors.
A task performed by a computer system. For example, printing a file is a job. Jobs can be performed by a single program or by a collection of programs.
The Apache Commons Daemon jsvc is a set of libraries and applications for making Java applications run on UNIX more easily. At the beginning of a sentence, use "Jsvc", otherwise all lowercase.
Use sparingly. In the phrase, "Just open the file...", omit the word "just."
Initialism for Java Virtual Machine, and a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. Due to this registration, rather than using "JVM" as a noun when referring to the virtual machine, use the full phrase "Java Virtual Machine," or "Java VM," or only the noun itself, "virtual machine." You can include "JVM" for clarity, because most people know it as such, for example, "Java Virtual Machine (JVM)." Do not use Jvm or jvm.

Chapter 19. K

KB, kB
Refer to The IBM Style Guide for the correct abbreviation to use for specific use cases.
kbps, KBps, kBps
kbps is the accepted abbreviation for kilobit per second, or 1000 bits per second.
KBps and kBps are accepted abbreviations for kilobyte per second, or 1000 bytes per second.
Incorrect. Do not use "kerberize," "kerberized," or other variants to refer to applications or services that use Kerberos authentication. Refer to such applications as "Kerberos-aware" or "Kerberos-enabled," or rewrite the sentence.
The central module of an operating system. It is the part of the operating system that loads first, and it remains in main memory. Because it stays in memory, it is important for the kernel to be as small as possible while still providing all the essential services required by other parts of the operating system and applications. Typically, the kernel is responsible for memory management, process and task management, and disk management.
Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)
Spell out on first use, capitalized. Use the initialism (KVM) thereafter. It is an industry standard, and a proper noun.
kernel panic
Correct. Numerous circumstances may cause a kernel panic, but unlike a kernel oops, when confronted with a kernel panic the operating system shuts down to prevent the possibility of further damage or security breaches.
kernel space, kernel-space
n. Two words when used as a noun.
adj. Hyphenate as an adjective, "kernel-space." Do not use "kernelspace."
keyboard key
When referring to a keyboard key, it is uppercase, singular, and the word "key" is not necessary, such as "To exit, press X." When the Ctrl or Alt keys are needed, use a plus sign between the keys, such as "To save the file, press "Ctrl+S."
See also Spacebar.
key ring
n. Use the two-word form as a noun. For example, "add your new key to the key ring."
adj. Use the hyphenated form as an adjective. For example, "copy the key-ring file to the server."
Only use the one-word form, "keyring," if it is the actual name of a command, package, or other proper noun.
n. (Kerberos) Correct. A keytab (short for "key table") stores long-term keys for one or more principals. See for full details.
adj. Correct when referring to a data representation in computing systems and applications, for example a "key-value pair." Do not use "key/value" or any other variations.
adj. A network installation system for some Linux distributions. [10]
If terminating a UNIX process, use "kill." For example, to terminate the process, type kill <PID>. If terminating a Windows process, use "terminate." For example, "To terminate the process, press Q."
knowledge base
Correct. Use the two-word form unless referring specifically to the "Red Hat Knowledgebase." In this case, use the one-word form and capitalize the "K." Do not capitalize the "b."

Chapter 20. L

Correct. This is an acronym for Local Area Network. Do not use Lan or lan.
  • In general, the period of time that one component in a system is spinning its wheels waiting for another component. Latency, therefore, is wasted time. For example, in accessing data on a disk, latency is defined as the time it takes to position the proper sector under the read/write head.
  • In networking, the amount of time it takes a packet to travel from source to destination. Together, latency and bandwidth define the speed and capacity of a network.
Use to refer to later or more recent releases of products. Do not use "newer" or related terms. See also earlier.
leave out
Do not use. Use "omit" instead.
v. Do not use "left click" or "leftclick."
A Linux desktop suite. Do not use "Libre," "Libreoffice," or "Libre Office."
See also OpenOffice
n., v. Use this form for both the noun and the verb.
life cycle, life-cycle, lifecycle
n. Two words. Only use the one-word form if it is an established part of a software interface, part of a proper noun, or an external standard.
adj. Hyphenate.
See The IBM Style Guide for more information.
Correct. Do not use "LINUX" or "linux" unless referring to a command, such as "To start Linux, type linux."
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Use a registered trademark symbol on first use.
  • To copy a program from a storage device into memory. Every program must be loaded into memory before it can be executed. Usually the loading process is performed invisibly by a part of the operating system called the loader.
  • v. In programming, "to load" means to move from one storage type to another storage type for use.
  • n. The measurement of how any finite resource is being used. For example, the amount of data (traffic) being carried by the network, or the amount of CPU being used at any given time.
load balancing
Distributing processing and communications activity evenly across a computer network so that no single device is overwhelmed. Load balancing is especially important for networks where it is difficult to predict the number of requests that will be issued to a server. Busy websites typically employ two or more web servers in a load balancing scheme. If one server starts to get swamped, requests are forwarded to another server with more capacity. Load balancing can also refer to the communications channels themselves.
logical topology
Also called signal topology. Every LAN has a topology, or the way that the devices on a network are arranged and how they communicate with each other. The physical topology is the way that the workstations are connected to the network through the actual cables that transmit data - the physical structure of the network. The logical topology, in contrast, is the way that the signals act on the network media, or the way that the data passes through the network from one device to the next without regard to the physical interconnection of the devices.
lookup, look-up, look up
n. Use the one-word form.
v. Use the two-word form.
adj. Hyphenate when used as a modifier. For example, "a look-up table."
look at
Do not use. Use "examine" or "inspect" or some other more precise term instead.
loopback address
The loopback address is a special IP address ( for IPv4, ::1 for IPv6) that is designated for the software loopback interface of a machine. The loopback interface has no hardware associated with it, and it is not physically connected to a network.
The loopback interface allows IT professionals to test IP software without worrying about broken or corrupted drivers or hardware.
lots of
Do not use. Use "many" instead.
Abbreviation of logical partitioning, a system of taking a computer's total resources, such as processors, memory, and storage, and splitting them into smaller units that can be run with their own instance of the operating system and applications. Logical partitioning, which requires specialized hardware circuits, is typically used to separate different functions of a system, such as web serving, database functions, client/server actions, or systems that serve multiple time zones or languages. Logical partitioning can also be used to keep testing environments separated from production environments. Because the partitions act as separate physical machines, they can communicate with each other. Logical partitioning was first used in 1976 by IBM.

Chapter 21. M

In 2016, Apple rebranded OS X to macOS, adopting the nomenclature that it uses for their other operating systems: iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The latest version of macOS is macOS 10.12 Sierra, which was publicly released in September 2016.
make sure
This means "be careful to remember, attend to, or find out something." For example, "make sure the rhedk group is listed in the output."
You may be able to use "verify" or "ensure" instead.
manual/man page
Correct. Two words. Do not use "manpage."
Correct. This is the correct plural form for U.S. English spelling. Do not use "matrices."
  • When written as MB, stands for megabyte (1,000,000 or 1,048,576 bytes, depending on the context).
  • When written as Mb, stands for megabit.
Initialism for megabytes per second, a measure of data transfer speed. Mass storage devices are generally measured in MBps.
Initialism for Master Boot Record, a small program that is executed when a computer boots up. Typically, the MBR resides on the first sector of the hard disk. The program begins the boot process by looking up the partition table to determine which partition to use for booting. It then transfers program control to the boot sector of that partition, which continues the boot process. In DOS and Windows systems, you can create the MBR with the FDISK /MBR command.
  • Objects on which data can be stored. These include hard disks, diskettes, CDs, and tapes.
  • In computer networks, media refers to the cables linking workstations together. There are many different types of transmission media, the most popular being twisted-pair wire (normal electrical wire), coaxial cable (the type of cable used for cable television), and fibre optic cable (cables made out of glass).
  • The form and technology used to communicate information. Multimedia presentations, for example, combine sound, pictures, and videos, all of which are different types of media.
adj. Correct. Do not use "menu driven" or "menudriven."
Refers to programs whose user interface employs menus. The antithesis of a menu-driven program is a command-driven program.
n. Write "the system displays a message" or "send an instant message."
adj. For example, "A messaging system."
Do not use as a verb.
Correct. Do not use "meta data" or "meta-data."
n. Correct. One word, common noun. Do not use "micro-service" or "micro service". Only capitalize at the beginning of a sentence or in a title. See for a definition.
Correct. Do not use "MS," "MSFT," or "MicroSoft."
v. This term is in common use and does appear in some dictionaries, but try to avoid it if possible. Do not hyphenate.
Do not use. This is a code name for the "Intel Itanium Processor 9000 Sequence." This latter phrase should be used instead.
  1. To make a mass storage device available. In Linux environments, for example, inserting a floppy disk into the drive is called mounting the floppy.
  2. To install a device, such as a disk drive or expansion board.
mouse button
n. Two words. Do not use "mouse-button" or "mousebutton." If you need to indicate which mouse button, use "right," "left," or "center," such as "right mouse button." Do not hyphenate.
Mozilla Firefox
Correct. First reference must be "Mozilla Firefox." Subsequent references can be "Firefox."
Mozilla Thunderbird
Correct. First reference must be "Mozilla Thunderbird." Subsequent references can be "Thunderbird."
Correct. Do not use "ms-dos," "MSDOS," or "msdos."
Correct. Do not use "multi-processing."
Use when referring to a task that a user is required to do. For example, "You must make a backup" is a requirement, but "You should make a backup" is a suggestion.
Correct. "Mutex" is an abbreviation of "mutual exclusion." Consequently, "mutexes" is the correct plural form.
Common open source database server and client package. Do not use "MYSQL" or "mySQL." Mark the first mention of MySQL in body text with an ball (®) to denote a registered trademark.

Chapter 22. N

navigate to
Use "Navigate to" when moving through multiple GUI options because it covers all cases where you might have to click, point to, select, or otherwise make a series of selections to initiate an action. For example, "From the OpenShift web console, navigate to Monitoring → Alerting."
Do not use "Go to" or "point to" or other variations.
Use "need" instead of "desire" and "wish." Use "want" when the reader's actions are optional (that is, they may not "need" something but may still "want" something).
needs, needs to be, need to
Avoid when possible. Suggested alternatives include "must," "required," or "should."
The Microsoft .NET Framework is a software framework for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It includes a large library, and supports several programming languages.
"Microsoft .NET" is correct for the first reference, and ".NET" for all following references.
network transparency
A condition in which an operating system or other service allows the user access to a remote resource through a network without needing to know if the resource is remote or local. For example, Sun Microsystems" NFS, which has become a de facto industry standard, provides access to shared files through an interface called the Virtual File System (VFS) that runs on top of the TCP/IP stack. Users can manipulate shared files as if they were stored locally on the user's own hard disk.
Abbreviation of Network File System, a client/server application designed by Sun Microsystems that allows all network users to access shared files stored on computers of different types. NFS provides access to shared files through an interface called the Virtual File System (VFS) that runs in a layer above TCP/IP. Users can manipulate shared files as if they were stored locally on the user's own hard disk.
With NFS, computers connected to a network operate as clients while accessing remote files, and as servers while providing remote users access to local shared files. The NFS standards are publicly available and widely used.
  1. In networks, a processing location. A node can be a computer or some other device, such as a printer. Every node has a unique network address, sometimes called a Data Link Control (DLC) address or Media Access Control (MAC) address.
  2. In tree structures, a point where two or more lines meet.
Do not use. Use "insecure" instead.
NULL or null
When a command or value is stated, use NULL. When stating that something is null, use "null," all lowercase.
Spell out numbers zero through nine, any number that begins a sentence, a number that precedes another number (four 6-pound bags; eleven 20-pound bags), approximations (thousands of...), and very large values. Use numerals for numbers 10 and greater and for numbers less than 10 if they appear in the same paragraph as numbers of 10 or greater (for example, "You answered 8 out of 14 questions correctly"). Use numerals for negative numbers, fractions, percentages, decimals, measurements, and references to book sections (Chapter 3, Table 5, Page 11). Also use numerals when referring to registers (such as R1), code (such as x = 6), and release versions (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Source-Navigator 4.5).
Do not use commas in numbers with four digits (use 1000 rather than 1,000). Do use commas in numbers with five or more digits (10,000; 123,456,789; 1,000,000,000).
See The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition for detailed information on numbering formats.

Chapter 23. O

Objective C
Correct. Do not use "Objective-C."
Correct. Do not use "object oriented" or "objectoriented." This is a modifier, such as "Java is an object-oriented language."
n. Stands for original equipment manufacturer, which is a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer producers. OEMs buy computers in bulk and customize them for a particular application. They then sell the customized computer under their own name. The term is really a misnomer because OEMs are not the original manufacturers - they are the customizers.
To provide equipment to another company, an OEM, which customizes and markets the equipment.
adj. Do not use "off-line."
offline backup
Correct. Use this term to refer to backing up a database while the database is not being accessed by applications. Do not use "cold backup" or any other variations.
The counterpart to this term is "online backup," to refer to the process of backing up a database while it is being accessed by other applications. Do not use "hot backup" or any other variations.[11]
When referring to the OK button, it is not necessary to use "button" in the sentence. For example, "Click OK to close the dialog box."
adj, tr.v. Use the one-word form in all cases.
Use only to mean "one time." Do not use as a conjunction to mean "after" or "when."
Correct. Do not use "on-line."
adj. Hyphenate when used as an adjective, as in "on-site labs."
Do not use. Avoid using idioms, as this saying is not globally known. In this case, for example, "real time" is both non-idiomatic and more technically accurate.
A kernel oops is an error message generated as a result of a bug in the kernel. Do not use "oops" on its own. Also, avoid using "kernel oops" at the beginning of a sentence. See also "kernel panic."
Correct. Do not use "op-codes."
The OpenJDK trademark is owned by Oracle with a fair-use clause, so be very careful about how you use this term.
open architecture
An architecture whose specifications are public. This includes officially approved standards as well as privately designed architectures whose specifications are made public by the designers. The opposite of open is closed or proprietary.
Open InfiniBand
"Open InfiniBand" is deprecated and should not be used. See "InfiniBand" for usage rules regarding the current preferred term for this switched fabric network topology.
A Linux desktop suite. Do not use "Openoffice," "Open Office," or "ooo."
See also LibreOffice
open source
Correct. Do not use "OpenSource," "opensource," or "open-source." Only capitalize the "o" in "open source" at the beginning of a sentence.
open source way
A phrase coined by the Red Hat community and adopted by in 2009. It is a reference to an "open source method", as in "Let's develop this the open source way."
Do not use to suggest that something is being done only in the "spirit" of open source without actually having an open source policy as defined by Open Source Initiative to avoid diluting the legal meaning of the term "open source".
operating system
Correct. Do not use Operating System, or OS.
Do not use. A user becomes "oriented" to an environment. Try a synonym such as "familiarize," as in "This section helps familiarize you with the environment."
output device
Any machine capable of representing information from a computer. This includes display screens, printers, plotters, and synthesizers.
n. Always lowercase. This is a concept, not a technology or product name. Being a common noun, this requires an article in most cases. See also undercloud.
Correct. Do not use "over-ride" or "over ride."

Chapter 24. P

n. This is the correct abbreviation for "Platform-as-a-Service." In the spelled-out version of this and its variants (for example, Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service), hyphens are always used.

Marketing, Brand, Customer Portal Usage

For all-caps text, such as banners, use "<VARIANT>-ASERVICE" for the spelled-out version. The same abbreviation is used across all groups.
n. Use to refer to a personal computer. See The IBM Style Guide for further information.
vb. Do not use as a verb to mean "store" or "save," for example, when referring to persistent storage.
n. Use PHP when referring to the language in general. Use php when referring to the specific command or some other literal use.
See for specific PHP language information. See for more general information.
Pico, pico
n, adj. Capitalize when referring to the text editor or to the programming language. Do not capitalize when referring to the SI prefix.
plain text
n. Two words. In most cases, do not use "plaintext," "cleartext" or other variants.
Cryptographers distinguish between "cleartext" (unencrypted data) and "plaintext" (unencrypted data as input to an encryption algorithm). Red Hat uses "plain text" as a plain English denotation of all unencrypted information, whether it is sitting about just being stored or is being fed to an encryption algorithm. Unless it is necessary to make the cryptographer's distinction, do not use "plaintext" or "cleartext."
Do not use. Instead of saying "Please refer to the Getting Started Guide," use "See the Getting Started Guide."
adj. Something that is capable of being plugged in, especially in terms of (for example) software modules. "Hot-pluggable" is also widely used with respect to hardware to indicate that it can be connected and recognized without powering down the system.
n. Do not use "plugin."
A hardware or software module that adds a specific feature or service to a larger system. For example, a number of plug-ins are available for the Netscape Navigator browser that enable it to display different types of audio or video messages. Navigator plug-ins are based on MIME file types.
Correct. Use the lowercase form and include the periods, and use a preceding space.
See also a.m..
See The IBM Style Guide for a full discussion of how to represent times.
n, adj. Do not use "popup" or "pop up."
n. This is a registered trademark of Adobe. Do not use "Postscript."
n. The name of the Power architecture is "Power", but the designation of individual chips tend to be either "PowerPC" or "POWER". Refer to IBM marketing or the Open Power Foundation if unsure.
Do not use the "PPC64" or "ppc64le" shorthand. Depending on context either "64-bit PowerPC" (which covers most 64-bit PowerPC implementations) or "64-bit IBM Power Series" (which covers the IBM POWER2 and IBM POWER8 and POWER9 series) is correct. Additional ABI features are important, but are not officially part of the Power architecture name, so use them as descriptors, such as "64-bit IBM Power Series in little-endian mode".
NB: the PowerPC version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs on 64-bit IBM Power Series hardware in almost all cases.
n. Do not use "Posix," "posix," or variations thereof.
An acronym for "Portable Operating System Interface for UNIX."
n. Do not use "ppp" or "Ppp."
An initialism for Point-to-Point Protocol.
vb. Use for keyboard instructions. For example: "Press the Enter key" or more succinctly "Press Enter."
proof of concept
Use the following rules to form the plural of this phrase:
  • Use "proofs of concept" when there are multiple proofs, only one concept.
  • Use "proofs of concepts" when there are multiple proofs and multiple concepts.
  • Do not use "proof of concepts."
Correct. Do not use "pseudo ops" or "pseudoops."
n. "IBM eServer System p" is correct for the first reference in a manual; use IBM System p or System p for subsequent references. Do not use "pSeries."
adj. Use only if you must specify the type of menu or list. Do not use "pulldown."
push-button automation, turn-key automation
Metaphorical language (literally, push a button or turn a key to begin automation), and difficult to translate. Often used to refer to easy or hands-off automation, but human intervention is required, so this use is not accurate. Instead, use language accurate to the situation being described, such as:
  • User-triggered automation.
  • Ready-to-use/ready-to-deploy.
  • Self-service/self-provisioned.
  • Single-step automation.
  • On-demand automation.
Short for Pre-Boot Execution Environment. Pronounced "pixie," PXE is one of the components of Intel's Wired for Management (WfM) specification. It allows a workstation to boot from a server on a network in preference to booting the operating system on the local hard drive.
PXE is a mandatory element of the WfM specification. To be considered compliant, PXE must be supported by the computer's BIOS and its NIC.

Chapter 25. Q

Q and A
n. Abbreviation for "Question and Answer," this format is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary.


In DocBook XML, the title is defined by the DocBook style sheets for the <qandadiv> element. The relevant generated text in English is "Q & A" and is localized automatically.
Lowercase at all times.[12]
quiesce, quiescent
Use with caution. This term is readily understood in the context of databases and stateful systems, but in other contexts another term might be more suitable.

[12] Based on information from Linux on System z: Device Drivers, Features and Commands at

Chapter 26. R

Correct. Do not use "Ram" or any other variations. This is an acronym for "random access memory."
RAM disk
Correct. Do not use "RAMdisk," "ramdisk," or "RAdisk."
Refers to RAM that has been configured to simulate a disk drive. You can access files on a RAM disk as you would access files on a real disk. RAM disks, however, are approximately a thousand times faster than hard disk drives. They are particularly useful, therefore, for applications that require frequent disk accesses.
Unprocessed. The term refers to data that is passed to an I/O device without being interpreted. In contrast, cooked refers to data that is processed before being passed to the I/O device.
The term comes from UNIX, which supports cooked and raw modes for data output to a terminal. In cooked mode, special characters, such as erase and kill, are processed by the device driver before being sent to the output device.
raw data
Information that has not been organized, formatted, or analyzed.
v. To copy data to a place where it can be used by a program. The term is commonly used to describe copying data from a storage medium, such as a disk, to main memory. Also used to refer to the act of determining the contents of a variable or parameter.
n. The act of reading. For example, a fast disk drive performs 100 reads per second.
Capable of being displayed, but not modified or deleted. All operating systems allow you to protect objects (disks, files, directories) with a read-only attribute that prevents other users from modifying the object.
Capable of being displayed (read) and modified (written to). Most objects (disks, files, directories) are read/write, but operating systems also allow you to protect objects with a read-only attribute that prevents other users from modifying the object.
real time/real-time
n. The actual time during which something takes place. For example, "The computer may partly analyze the data in real time (as it comes in) -- R. H. March."
adj. Use the hyphenated version. For example, "XEmacs is a self-documenting, customizable, extensible, real-time display editor."
Correct. Do not use "re-boot."
Correct. Do not use "Redboot" or "Red Boot."
refer to
Do not use to indicate a reference (within a manual) or a cross-reference (to another manual or documentation source). Use "See."
remote access
The ability to log onto a network from a distant location. Generally, this implies a computer, a modem, and some remote access software to connect to the network. Whereas remote control refers to taking control of another computer, remote access means that the remote computer actually becomes a full-fledged host on the network. The remote access software dials in directly to the network server. The only difference between a remote host and workstations connected directly to the network is slower data transfer speeds.
remote access server
A server that is dedicated to handling users that are not on a LAN but need remote access to it. The remote access server allows users to gain access to files and print services on the LAN from a remote location. For example, a user who dials into a network from home using an analog modem or an ISDN connection will dial into a remote access server. After the user is authenticated they can access shared drives and printers as if they were physically connected to the office LAN.
See must.
When referring to the keyboard key on Solaris or Mac, use Return or return, respectively. See enter for other platforms.
v. Correct. Do not use "right click."
right now
Use "now" instead.
Acronym for read-only memory, computer memory on which data has been prerecorded. After data has been written onto a ROM chip, it cannot be removed and can only be read.
A variation of a ROM is a PROM (programmable read-only memory). PROMs are manufactured as blank chips on which data can be written with a device called a PROM programmer.
roundtable, round table
v. Use the one-word form to refer to a type of event or gathering.
n. Use the two-word form to refer to a circular table.
Initialism for the RPM Package Manager. RPM manages files in the RPM format, known as RPM packages. Note: RPM packages are known informally as rpm files, but this informal usage is not used in Red Hat documentation in order to avoid confusion with the command name. Files in RPM format are referred to as "RPM packages."
Correct. Do not use "run level" or "run-level."

Chapter 27. S

Use the full description "IBM S/390." Do not use "s390," "S390," or any other variations.
Correct. This is the correct abbreviation for "Software-as-a-Service." See also SaaS.
Correct. Do not use "samba" or "SAMBA."
Correct. Do not use "s-record," "Record," "s-Record," or any other variations.
screen capture
n. Do not use "screen shot," "screenshot," or other terms or variations. See the relevant entry in The IBM Style Guide.
screen saver
n. Do not use "screensaver."
n. Do not use "scroll bar" or "scroll-bar."
n., vb. Due to potential legal ramifications, do not use without a qualifier. See Table 27.1, “Using Qualifiers with Sensitive Terms” for examples.

Table 27.1. Using Qualifiers with Sensitive Terms

Original textImprovement
With this new version, the application is running on a secure, gateway-protected endpoint.With this new version, the application is running on a more secure, gateway-protected endpoint.
This functionality secures your connection.This functionality improves the security of your connection.
Developers can easily change the code to implement secured access.Developers can easily change the code to make access more secure.
Use to refer readers to another resource. Avoid using "refer to" in this context.
segmentation fault
n. Only use the abbreviation "segfault" if absolutely necessary, and never use it as a verb.
See also "What is a segfault?" on the Red Hat Customer Portal for more information.
Abbreviation of Security-Enhanced Linux. SELinux uses Linux Security Modules (LSM) in the Linux kernel to provide a range of minimum-privilege-required security policies. Do not use any other alternatives.
sends out
Do not use. Instead, use "emits" or "issues."
server farm
Also referred to as server cluster, computer farm or ranch. A server farm is a group of networked servers that are housed in one location. A server farm streamlines internal processes by distributing the workload between the individual components of the farm and expedites computing processes by harnessing the power of multiple servers. The farms rely on load-balancing software that accomplishes such tasks as tracking demand for processing power from different machines, prioritizing the tasks and scheduling and rescheduling them depending on priority and demand that users put on the network. When one server in the farm fails, another can step in as a backup.
server-side/server side
Use "setup" as a noun, "set up" as a verb, and "set-up" as an adjective. For example:
  • Each setup provides different features.
  • You need to set up a user profile as part of the registration process.
  • Follow the set-up instructions included with the hardware.
SHA-1, SHA-2
Pronounced "shä" and thus requires "an" as the indefinite article.
SHA stands for Secure Hash Algorithm; each is a cryptographic hash function. SHA2 variants are often specified using their digest size, in bits, as the trailing number, in lieu of "2." Thus "SHA224," "SHA256," "SHA384," and "SHA512" are considered correct when referring to these specific hash functions.
Correct. Do not use "Shadow Man" or "ShadowMan." The Red Hat Shadowman logo is a trademark of Red Hat, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries.
shadow passwords
Not a proper noun, so capitalize "Shadow" at the beginning of a sentence only.
Shadow passwords are a method of improving system security by moving the encrypted passwords (normally found in /etc/passwd) to /etc/shadow, which is readable only by root. This option is available during installation and is part of the shadow utilities package.
shadow utilities
Not a proper noun, so capitalize "Shadow" at the beginning of a sentence only.
share name
Correct. Do not use "sharename" or "Sharename" unless you are quoting the output of commands, such as "smbclient -L."
n. Refers to the character sequence consisting of the number sign and exclamation mark (#!) at the beginning of a script. Do not use hashbang or pound-bang or other variations.
A "shell" is a software application, for example, /bin/bash or /bin/sh, which provides an interface to a computer. Do not use this term to describe where to type commands.
shell prompt
Refers to the character at the beginning of the command line, and indicates that the shell is ready to accept commands. Do not use "command prompt," "terminal," or "shell."
Do not use if it is something the user must do. For example, "You should make a backup" is a suggestion, while "You must make a backup" is a requirement. See also must.
shut down
v. Correct. Do not use "shut-down." Only use "shutdown" when referring to the /sbin/shutdown system command.
Do not use. See also basically.
since, as, because
Do not use "since" or "as" to mean "because," it is ambiguous. Use "because" to refer to a reason. Use "since" or "as" to refer to the passage of time.
skill set, skills, knowledge
n. Avoid using "skill set" as much as possible; use "skills" or "knowledge" instead. Do not use "skill set" or "skill-set" as an adjective. Do not use "skill-set knowledge;" it is redundant. See the following examples:

Example 27.1. Example Use of Term "Skillset" Versus "Skills"

Incorrect: Do you have the right skillset to be an RHCE?
Correct: Do you have the right skills to be an RHCE?

Example 27.2. Example Use of Term "Knowledge"

Incorrect: This course gives you the skill-set knowledge to complete your RHCT exam successfully.
Correct: This course gives you the knowledge to complete your RHCT exam successfully.
n. SLA stands for Service Level agreement. The phrase itself is not normally capitalized but official SLA defect ratings, such as Low, Moderate, and Critical, carry initial caps. This distinguishes the SLA-defined ratings from the severity of general issues and identifies them as requiring a predetermined response time and level of support according to agreements.
smart card
n. Do not use smartcard or smart-card.
Correct. Do not use "socks." When specifying a SOCKS version, use "SOCKSv4" or "SOCKSv5."
Do not use. Instead, use "online." For example, "To view the online documentation..."
sound card
n. Do not use "soundcard" or "sound-card."
Correct. Do not use "Source Navigator." Source-Navigator™ is a trademark of Red Hat.
v. In addition to the generic use of this term as a noun and verb, in a programming and technical sense this also means "Run the source command against the named file."
Use when referring to white space, such as "Ensure there is a space between each command." Use "Spacebar" when referring to the keyboard key.
n. Use when referring to the keyboard key, such as "Press the Spacebar key to continue."
spec file
n. Use to refer to an RPM spec file. Do not use "specfile."
When used as a modifier, put a hyphen before "specific," such as "MIP-specific," "Linux-specific," and "chip-specific."
Correct. Do not use "spelt."
"Spelt" is the standard spelling in Commonwealth English. US English prefers "spelled," although "spelt" is occasionally seen.
When referring to the ISO standard (ISO 9075 and its descendants), this is pronounced as an initialism: ĕs kyü ĕl. Consequently, it takes "an" as an indefinite article.
When referring to Microsoft's proprietary product, SQL Server, pronounce it as a word: "sequel." In this case, it takes "a" as an indefinite article.
NB: Oracle also pronounces its SQL-based products (such as PL/SQL) as "sequel."
More generally, avoid using "SQL" as a generic marker if at all possible. When discussing MySQL, write "MySQL." When discussing Microsoft SQL Server, write "Microsoft SQL Server." When discussing PostgreSQL (which is pronounced pŏstgrĕs kyü ĕl), write "PostgreSQL."
Correct. SR-IOV stands for Single Root I/O Virtualization. It is a virtualization specification that allows a PCIe device to appear to be multiple separate physical PCIe devices. Do not use SR/IOV.
Initialism for Secure Shell, a network protocol that allows data exchange using a secure channel. When referring to the protocol, do not use "ssh," "Ssh," or other variants. When referring to the command, use ssh.
Do not use as a verb.

Example 27.3.  Example Use of "SSH"

Incorrect: To begin, "ssh to the remote server."
Correct: "Use SSH to connect to the remote server," "Open an SSH connection," or something similar.
Initialism for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents over the internet. SSL uses a public key to encrypt data that is transferred over the SSL connection. The majority of web browsers support SSL, and many websites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. By convention, URLs that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http:.
adj. Correct. Do not use "standalone."
Refers to something that is self-contained, or that does not require any other devices to function. For example, a fax machine is a stand-alone device because it does not require a computer, printer, modem, or other device. A printer, on the other hand, is not a stand-alone device because it requires a computer to feed it data.
A legacy Linux desktop suite. Do not use "Star," "Staroffice," or "Star Office."
The successors of StarOffice are LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
starts up
Do not use. Instead, use "activates" or "invokes."
Correct. Do not use StartX or other variants.
adj., adv. Accepted references prescribe the use of the one-word form in all cases. Do not use "straight-forward."
Correct. The Linux command to change to a named user. Do not use SU (all caps).
Correct. Do not use "sub-command" or "verb." A subcommand refers to a secondary or even tertiary command used with a primary command. Not to be confused with options or arguments, subcommands operate on ever more focused objects or entities. For example:
hammer import organization --help
In this example, "hammer" is the main or primary command, and "import" and "organization" are subcommands. --help is an option.
Correct. Do not use "sub-directory." See also Hyphenate Double Prefixes.
Correct. Do not use "sub-menu." See also Hyphenate Double Prefixes.
Correct. Do not use "sub-package."
This word has a specific, specialized meaning in Red Hat products. An RPM spec file can define more than one package: these additional packages are called "subpackages."
Any other use of this word is strongly discouraged.
NB: subpackages are not the same as dependencies and should not be treated as such.
A synonym for the root user. More common in Solaris documentation than Linux. If and when used, this is the correct spelling. Do not use "super user" or "super-user."
swap space
Correct. Do not use "swapspace." Capitalize at the beginning of a sentence only.
Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE)
Use SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) in the first instance. Subsequent entries can use the abbreviation "Sybase ASE." If discussing the high-availability version, use "Sybase ASE and High Availability."
Correct. Do not use Sys V or System V.
symmetric encryption
A type of encryption where the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the message. This differs from asymmetric (or public-key) encryption, which uses one key to encrypt a message and another to decrypt the message.

Chapter 28. T

n. One word. Do not use "task bar."
tar, tarball
n. See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide.
Preferred abbreviation for "telecommunications company." Do not use "telecom." See also communication service provider (CSP).
Use "telecommunications service provider" on first use. Subsequent uses can be "telco" or "telco service provider"; only use "telco" when the context makes it clear that the industry is engaged in providing telecommunications services. Use in URLs. See telecommunications service provider.
telecommunications service provider
Expand fully on first use, after which "telco" is the preferred abbreviation. "Service provider" is also acceptable as an abbreviation, but be careful in content that mentions different industries or types of services. Do not use in URLs. See telco.
Vertical for communication service providers. Preferred abbreviation is "telco."
telephone numbers
Use spaces, not dashes or dots, to punctuate phone numbers. When indicating a number for international use, include the country code (+1 555 555 5555 for a US number, for example). US 800 numbers are not accessible from outside the country, so do not precede them with a country code (800 555 5555). Phone numbers beginning with 0 are not for international use. Make these numbers ready for international by dropping the zero and adding the appropriate country code. For example, (055) 12345 would be for use in Italy only; change it to +39 (55) 12345 for international use.
n. Do not use to describe where to type commands. Use "command line" instead.
See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide for more information.
terminal emulation
Refers to making a computer respond like a particular type of terminal. Terminal emulation programs allow you to access a mainframe computer or bulletin board service with a personal computer.
text mode
Correct. Do not use "textmode" or "text-mode."
A video mode in which a display screen is divided into rows and columns of boxes. Each box can contain one character. Text mode is also called character mode.
adj. Correct. Do not use "text based."
third-party (adj.), third party (n.)
adj., n. Use "third-party" as the adjectival form. Use "third party" as the nominal form. Consult a dictionary for more examples.
Correct. Do not use "thru" and do not use the hyphen or any other type of dash.
n. The amount of data transferred from one place to another or processed in a specified amount of time. Data transfer rates for disk drives and networks are measured in terms of throughput. Typically, throughput is measured in kbps, Mbps, or Gbps. See The IBM Style Guide for more information about using measurements and abbreviations.
adj. Always use a numeral, and always hyphenate. Follow standard capitalization guidelines.
time frame (n.)
Correct. Do not use "timeframe" or "time-frame."
time zone (n.)
Correct. Do not use "timezone" or "time-zone."
token ring (n.)
When capitalized, Token Ring refers to the PC network architecture developed by IBM. The IBM Token-Ring specification has been standardized by the IEEE as the IEEE 802.5 standard. See The IBM Style Guide for further uses of this term.
toolbar (n.)
Correct. Do not use "tool bar" or "tool-bar."
tooltip (n.)
Correct. One word. Use the term "tooltip" to refer to a brief, textual description that is displayed when a cursor is moved over a graphical image, such as an icon or button. Do not use the term "hover help".
Do not use. See "basically."
troubleshoot (v.)
Correct. Do not use "trouble shoot" or "trouble-shoot."
Initialism for "time to live" (n.) and "time-to-live" (adj.)
Neither the noun nor the adjective should be capitalized unless you are documenting a GUI field, label, or similar element, in which case you should use the same capitalization. Capitalization at the beginning of a sentence is acceptable. The initialism is always uppercase.
Type can be used as either a verb or noun. You can write "Print the data type of init" or "To start Source-Navigator, type snavigator."

Chapter 29. U

n. UID and user ID are abbreviations of user identifier. Do not use "uid" or "User ID" or other variations unless specifically referring to a variable, argument, parameter, UI label, or similar.
Correct. Do not use "ULTRASPARC," "UltraSparc," or other variations.
UltraSPARC is a trademark of SPARC International, Inc., and is used under license by Sun Microsystems, Inc. Products bearing the SPARC trademarks are based upon an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.
n. Always lowercase. This is a concept, not a technology or product name. Being a common noun, this requires an article in most cases. See also overcloud.
adj. Despite not appearing in the American Heritage Dictionary, this term does appear in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, and is considered acceptable in Red Hat documentation, especially in the context of "uninterruptible power supply (UPS)."
Correct. Do not use "Unix" or "unix."
UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group.
Do not use "UNIX-like." Use an expression such as "Linux, UNIX, and similar operating systems" instead.
Incorrect. Use "Clear" instead.
To disable the Wobbly Widget application, clear the Enable Wobbly Widget check box.
This rule only matches TCP packets that have the SYN flag set and the ACK flag cleared.
Use only in the context of security relationships. For example, web browsers often indicate that a site is "untrusted" if it cannot verify that site's security certificate.
v. Correct. Do not use "up-grade" or "up grade."
Abbreviation of uninterruptible power supply, a power supply that includes a battery to maintain power in the event of a power outage.
upsell (v.), upselling (n.)

Marketing Use Only

"The practice of offering customers additional or more expensive products or services after they have already agreed to buy something.[13]"
Do not hyphenate or use as two words. No adjectival form is currently recognized.
Correct. Use the one-word form for both the nominal and adjectival forms. See also downstream. Do not use "up-stream" or "up stream."
n. Correct. Do not use "up-time" or "up time."
n. Include the appropriate protocol, such as http, ftp, or https, at the beginning of URLs. That is, use and not
See Referencing Other Internet Sites for more information.
n. When referring to the reader, use "you" instead of "user." For example, "The user must..." is incorrect. Use "You must..." instead.
If referring to more than one user, calling the collection "users" is acceptable, such as "Other users may want to access your database."
user interface
n. Correct. Do not use "user-interface" or "userinterface."
The junction between a user and a computer program. An interface is a set of commands or menus through which a user communicates with a program. A command-driven interface is one in which you enter commands. A menu-driven interface is one in which you select command choices from various menus displayed on the screen.
user name
n. Correct. Do not use "username" unless you are using it as a variable.
user space
n. Correct when used as a noun. When used as a modifier, use the hyphenated form, "user-space." Do not use "userspace."
Avoid this term. Write "use" instead.


Chapter 30. V

Acronym for value-added reseller. Same as OEM (original equipment manufacturer).
Initialism for Virtual Desktop Server Management. DO NOT spell out this initialism. Using the term "virtual desktop" in this context has negative marketing implications. Use VDSM without expansion.
Correct. Use all lowercase letters. Do not use "VI" (all caps).
Correct when referring to the application. Do not use "VIM" (all caps). Only use "vim" (all lowercase) when referring to the command to start the application.
Vim is an acronym, derived from Vi IMproved. (In the original 1991 release for the Amiga platform, the acronym was derived from Vi IMitation. It became Vi IMproved when ported to various UNIX-based operating systems in 1992.) Despite being an acronym, and despite the first word of the "About" text that appears when you start the editor, the standard, proper noun-derived, mixed-case spelling has been in use since its release on the Amiga.
video mode
Correct. Do not use "video-mode" or "videomode."
The setting of a video adapter. Most video adapters can run in either text mode or graphics mode. In text mode, a monitor can display only ASCII characters. In graphics mode, a monitor can display any bit-mapped image. In addition to the text and graphics modes, video adapters offer different modes of resolution and color depth.
virtual console
Correct. Do not use "virtual-console" or "Virtual Console" for general use.
This can be abbreviated to "VC" as long as the term has been introduced in the same content in its full version first, such as "A virtual console (VC) is a shell prompt in a non-graphical environment. Multiple VCs can be accessed simultaneously."
virtual machine, VM
Refers to virtual hardware that consists of virtual CPUs, memory, devices, and so on. Do not use "guest virtual machine" unless you want to specifically emphasize the fact that it is a guest.
This can be abbreviated to "VM" as long as the term has been introduced in the same content in its full version first, and provided there is no possibility of confusion with other terms, such as "virtual memory." Author discretion is recommended.
virtualized guest
The term "virtualized guest" should be used only when comparing a "fully virtualized guest" with a "paravirtualized guest."
See also "guest operating system."
virtual router
An abstract object managed by VRRP (virtual router redundancy protocol) that acts as a default router for hosts on a shared LAN. It consists of a Virtual Router Identifier and a set of associated IP addresses across a common LAN.
Abbreviation for virtual network interface card. Use all uppercase characters for the abbreviation, but all lowercase for the expansion, except at the beginning of a sentence.
Initialism for virtual private network, a network that is constructed by using public wires to connect nodes. For example, there are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the internet as the medium for transporting data. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.

Chapter 31. W

A computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs).
Computers connected to a wide-area network are often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites. The largest WAN in existence is the internet.
An abbreviation of "web clipping application," an application that allows users to extract static information from a web server and load that data onto a web-enabled PDA.
WCAs are also called "query applications."
Use instead of "wish" or "would like." Rephrase to avoid whenever possible. For example, "If you want to use the debugger..." can be rewritten as "To use the debugger..."
we suggest
Do not use. Use a more direct construction, or use "recommend." For example, instead of "We suggest that you make a backup of your data disk," write "Back up your data disk."
n. One word. Common noun. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence. Use alternative capitalization only if it appears as a proper noun.
web UI
Correct. Use this term to refer to a browser-based interface to a software application, even if that application has no connection to the web. Do not hyphenate the abbreviation or use the one-word form.
Use the pronoun "who" as a subject. Use the pronoun "whom" as a direct object, an indirect object, or the object of a preposition.
For example: Who owns this? To whom does this belong?
Do not use future tense unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, do not write "The next section will describe the process in detail." Instead, write "The next section describes the process in detail."
Window Maker
Correct. Do not combine into one word or hyphenate. This is a window manager for the "X Window System."

Chapter 32. XYZ

An alternative reference to the "X Window System." Do not use X by itself when referring to "XEmacs."
Correct. Do not use "Xemacs." Use "xemacs" only when referring to a command, such as "To start XEmacs, type xemacs."
Use where it accurately refers to the original Xen version of the package. If the Xen package we distribute is for all practical purposes the same as the upstream code, we can refer to the package we distribute as "Xen" in a referential way.
A referential use is one that describes another entity's goods or services, not our own, such as referring to Microsoft Windows as a technology we compete and integrate with. When referring to another entity's trademark, always use good trademark practices; that is, only use the trademark as an adjective followed by the noun, do not use a logo form of the trademark, do not make it more prominent than our own marks, and do not incorporate the trademark into our own product names. Here, the proper use would be "Xen hypervisor."
The Xen Trademark Policy is available at
Correct. Do not use "Xterm" unless the word is used at the beginning of a sentence.
X Windows
Do not use. This is an incorrect reference to the X Window System (or X).
X Window System
Also referred to as X. When making multiple references to the X Window System, the complete reference must appear first, with shortened references following. For example, "Reinstalling the X Window System, or X, is not necessary if... To start an X session, from the shell prompt..."
Recursive acronym for "YAML Ain't Markup Language." Expand on first use only.
Correct. Do not use "I," "he," or "she."
you may
Avoid. For example, "you may" can be eliminated from the following: "You may double-click the desktop..."
See the Word Usage appendix of The IBM Style Guide.
Zip Code
Correct. Do not use "zip code," "Zip code," or any other variation.
"IBM System z" is correct for the first reference in a manual; use "System z" for subsequent references. Do not use "S/390x," "s390x," "IBM zSeries," or "zSeries."