Neocityle Guide

This is an alternative style guide for English. As with all style guides, it aims to improve readability and consistency in long form written English text. It deviates significantly from standard English typographic practice. The main influences are typographic conventions in American English and French, with minor influences by other European languages such as Finnish. Its primary focus is reflowable text on the web and web-based platforms.

For additions or changes, please send an email.

Line spacing

Lines are 1.5 spaced. This can be adjusted depending on the metrics of the font. Lines are never single spaced, and they are double spaced only when notes are meant to be inserted between them, e.g. during editing a draft.

Paragraph spacing

Paragraphs are spaced in one of two ways, depending on the type of layout.

Case 1 : the document is expanded vertically, so the user is scrolling downwards. This is the typical web page.

In this case, paragraphs are separated by an empty line.

Case 2 : the document is paginated, or it is expanded horizontally, so the user is scrolling rightwards. This is the case for printed documents and horizontal web pages.

In this case, paragraphs are not separated by an empty line. The spacing between them is the same as any other line. However the first line of the paragraph is indented right by one step.

The first paragraph immediately following a heading or a section break is not indented.


For reflowable text on the web, text is aligned to the left. The right side is ragged.

Text is only justified with paginated media, or when automatic microtypography and hyphenation can be applied in reflowable text. This is currently not the case in the web platform.

Sentence spacing

Sentences are separated by a regular space, not a en or em space. While larger sentence spacing improves readability for text with more horizontal space, text typeset in tight columns, as is often the case for smartphones, ends up looking weird.


Narrow no break spaces are inserted before the exclamation mark, the question mark, and the semicolon. No break spaces are inserted before colon, after an opening quotation, and before a closing quotation.


The preferred way to quote is through a quotation dash. A quotation dash is an em or en dash, followed by a non breaking space. Quotations are introduced with a dash. They end like any sentence, or with a comma. After that, a reporting clause may follow without any special rules. If the quote continues after the reporting clause, another dash is used to introduce it.

Quotations may also be typeset with guillemets, which replace English curly marks. The guillemets fully enclose the sentence, including the final punctuation mark. Guillemets can be either double or single.

Nested quotations may be signified with italics, or by nesting guillemets. Do not alternate guillemets to signify quotation nesting.


Apostrophe is always typographic (curly).

Section breaks

The preferred section break is the asterism. Headings do not follow a section break. If the section has a name, use a heading instead.

Parenthetical statements

Parenthetical statements may be surrounded by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Commas or dashes are the preferred format. Dashes are either em or en dashes. To prevent confusion with quotation dashes, it is suggested different lengths are used for them. Commas have a space following them. Dashes have a space following and preceding them. Parentheses have a space before opening and after closing, but not within them.

Nested parenthetical statements are typeset with nested parentheses. Brackets and braces are not used.


A sentence that ends abruptly or is interrupted may be signified with an em or en dash. A space is inserted before and after the dash.

Trailing off

A sentence that trails off may be signified with ellipsis. Ellipsis has a space preceding and following it.


If a part of a document had been omitted, e.g. for brevity, this may be signified with ellipsis. In this case, em or en spaces both precede and follow the ellipsis.


Large numbers may be separated on the thousand mark with narrow no break spaces.


So as not to distract from the rest of the text, initialisms are typeset with small caps.


For loanwords, diacritics are preserved to the largest extent possible.

Diaeresis is used to indicate two consecutive vowels are pronounced separately, e.g. preëmptive.

Compound words

Compound words are connected with a hyphen. Exceptions are very common compound words, which are written as a single word, and compound words formed using dedicated prefixes and suffixes, such as meta, pre, or extra.


British spelling is preferred to US spelling.


Indentation is performed with a horizontal tab, not multiple spaces.


Hyperlinks must have a different colour than surrounding body text and must have an underline or overline.


Emphasised text is in italics.


Short labels, which one does not want to render as headings, and usually inline with a paragraph, are typeset in bold.


The names of works or sections are typeset as hyperlinks. Mentions to the same items after the first time may be typeset with italics instead.

In print, the first citation is in italics, with a reference number to an appendix or a footnote as a superscript following the italicised text and enclosed in parentheses.

Code references

References to code within a paragraph, e.g. a variable name, are typeset with a monospace font.

Appendix : Punctuation spacing

Before Symbol After
No space Full stop Word space
No space Comma Word space
Narrow no break space Exclamation Word space
Narrow no break space Question Word space
Word space Opening quotation No break space
No break space Closing quotation Word space
Word space Quotation dash No break space
Narrow no break space Semicolon Word space
No break space Colon Word space
Word space Ellipsis Word space
Word space Parenthetical dash Word space
Word space Opening parenthesis No space
No space Closing parenthesis Word space

Appendix : Special characters

Name Character Code point
Em space  
En space  
Non breaking space    
Narrow non breaking space  
Em dash —
En dash —
Apostrophe ’
Opening guillemet « «
Closing guillemet » »