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Dates, numbers and addresses
- Day month (full name) year - no commas!
15 April 2014
- Abbreviations for months - without a period:
- In footnotes or to save space, you may also write the months numerically:
Days of the week
- are capitalized:
on Monday, Tuesday….
- Three letter abbreviations without a period may be used:
- 24-hour clock
Office hours: Mon – Fri 12:00 – 17:00
The lecture starts at 15:15
- are written out as:
200 dollars/50 euros/120 Swiss francs
- The currency symbol (followed by a space) is placed before the amount:
€ 120/$ 70
- ISO-Code is used for contracts and similar documents, i.e. the capitalized abbreviation followed by a space:
EUR 300/USD 210
- are in international format: +49 7531 12345
Numbers: When to write them out
Numbers up to and including 12 are usually written out, numbers from 13 upwards may be given as a number.
Commas and periods used in numbers
Important: Commas and periods in numbers are used differently in English than in German:
- in German, the period marks the thousands place; the comma is used for decimals.
- in English, the comma marks the thousands place; the period is used for decimals.
Example: One hundred thousand euros and 40 cents:
- German: € 100.000,40
- English: € 100,000.40
Millions - billions: How to abbreviate large units?
1,000 -> thousand -> k
1,000,000 -> million -> m
1,000,000,000 -> billion -> bn
- German umlauts and the “ß” should be split up, since these special characters are not well-known internationally and, for example, can easily be misread as a “b”.
University of Konstanz, Universitaetsstrasse 10, 78457 Konstanz, GERMANY
- Specific names of university institutions like the “Studentische Abteilung”, the “Personalabteilung”, etc. can be left in the original German to assure the mail can be delivered easier by our in-house mail service.
1. Quotation marks
We generally use double quotation marks: "x".
We place punctuation marks like commas and full stops outside the quotation marks.
Example: "The research results indicate that...", he said.
Exception: Question or exclamation marks at the end of a sentence.
Example: She asked: "How are you?"
Generally, we do not capitalize the first letter of the first word following a colon.
Example: Please submit the following: three copies of your application, a passport photo and a CV.
Complete, independent sentences following a colon may be capitalized. This also applies when a colon is followed by several sentences.
Example: Please consider the following questions: What do I want to research? Who will participate? How much will it cost?
Names and titles
- German academic degrees (e.g. Habilitation, Diplom, Magister, etc.) should be left in German, but italicised.
Megan just earned her Habilitation.
Diplom-Ingenieur Sebastian Heu (Dipl.-Ing. abbreviation may be used for business cards, etc.)
- Bachelor of Arts = BA
- Master of Arts = MA
- Bachelor of Science = BSc
- Master of Science = MSc
- Master of Business Administration = MBA
Dr Sanders, PhD
- The following are generally written lower-case:
bachelor’s programme/a master’s degree
- Please note: the following are capitalised if they are a proper name :
the Master’s Programme Chemistry
- are capitalised when written directly in front of a person’s name:
Professor J. Lewis
- otherwise they are written lower-case:
J. Lewis is professor of law.
- Only the highest title is used, and not every title (as is often the case in German):
Professor H. Schmidt (German: Prof. Dr. H. Schmidt)
- Important: no period is used after the abbreviated title!
Dr Müller (NOT „Dr. Müller“)
- are generally written lower-case:
You can study biology at the University of Konstanz.
- However, they are capitalised when they are used as a proper name for a course or study programme:
The study programme Biological Sciences at the University of Konstanz...
- Universität Konstanz = University of Konstanz (NOT: „University of Constance“)
- Stadt Konstanz = City of Konstanz (NOT: „City of Constance“)
- However: the German “Bodensee”: translates as Lake Constance in English.
German names (e.g. for organisations)
- If an official English name exists: please use it! You can usually find it on the English version of the website. After the first mention of the name, the (German) acronym can be used.
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: German Research Foundation (DFG)
- If no official English name exists (e.g. for an association, institution, society): please use the German name in italics and explain or translate the name in parenthesis. After the first mention of the name, the explanation/translation can be omitted. The Bundesministerium für Gesundheit (Federal Ministry of Health)
- If necessary, please include an English explanation along with the first mention of the acronym.
The SPD (the German Social Democratic Party)
English-speaking countries have a long tradition of using terms for positions that apply to both men and women. It is thus considered good style to use gender-equitable wording in your writing .
Reaching your audience
- Address your readers directly, and use simple, friendly language:
Please send your application... (instead of “The student can send his application to...“)
- Use the plural form:
Students can send their applications...
- Use the singular and both genders - this is a little longer but also correct:
The lecturer is required to teach 39 hours per week. He or she is also expected to hold office hours.
Use gender-neutral nouns
|Instead of||Please use|
|chairman||chairperson / chair|
Email / correspondence: Salutations and closing a letter
Although we generally use British English, correspondence with recipients in the United States may be written according to American English standards.
A letter’s complimentary close must mirror its salutation in British English!
- Addressee unknown:
Dear Sir or Madam
- Formal correspondence, addressee known:
Dear Mr Smith
- „Dear" + first name for friends/business friends approximately the equivalent of using a first name while continuing to use the formal German „Sie” (you):
Yours sincerely/Best wishes/Best regards
- American English Correspondence, for (close) personal contacts:
Sincerely/Sincerely yours/Kind regards/Best regards/Best wishes
Addressing Letters and Emails
- It is best to simply use Mr for men and Ms for women, since the latter is always correct, regardless of marital status.
- “Mrs” is used to address a married woman. “Miss” is used for an unmarried (young) woman, the approximate of the seldom used German “Fräulein”.
- Important: The abbreviations are used without a period in British English (Mr) and with a period in American English (Mr.).
- Titles, like Professor, can replace Ms/Mr, if desired - however, only the highest title is used.
Dr Stein (NOT “Ms Dr Stein”)
Professor R. Stein
After the salutation
- British English generally uses no punctuation after a salutation (occasionally a comma is used).
Dear Mr Stone
Thank you very much for your letter of 5 September 2014.
- American English uses a colon after a salutation.
- The first word of the letter’s body after the salutation is capitalised.