Writing guidelines

Amnesty’s house style, advice on using words

Amnesty International house style sets out the operational policy of Amnesty International’s International Secretariat for English language and now provides guidance relevant for all languages.

What’s in the house style:

  • Consult Chapter 2 for the “Essentials” of house style as applicable across all languages.
  • Consult Chapter 6 for the “Essentials” of house style as applicable to the use of English only.
  • Use hyperlinks to find more detailed advice on the same topics in later chapters.

Amnesty International’s house style should be adhered to in all outputs issued by Amnesty International’s International Secretariat.

National entities of Amnesty International may have their own house style in English to reflect, in particular, national preferences, but should find the advice useful, and we recommending checking the advice and following it wherever relevant

The policy, updated April 2023, sets out house style as applicable across all languages (Part A). This includes universal rules and guidance regarding abbreviations (in languages where this is applicable), captions, footnotes, figures, maps, the naming of places, people and entities (such as organizations) and international legal instruments, and references (or citations), as well as mentions of disability and illness. Chapter 2 provides the “Essentials” for these issues.

It then sets out house style as applicable to the use of English only (Part B). This contains rules and guidance on spelling, punctuation and certain other aspects of grammar. It does not seek to provide a comprehensive guide to these aspects of language, but rather to codify the International Secretariat preferences when multiple accepted options exist in English. It uses the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as a reference for house style spelling in English. Chapter 6 provides the “Essentials” for these issues.