More Points for Style

Richard Wilhelm

Revisiting Part G of ASTM Form and Style

Way back in the September/October 2010 issue of SN, a Rules&Regs column was devoted to subsections of Part G of Form and Style for ASTM Standards. We haven't been back to Part G since then, but like all interesting places, it's worth revisiting.

Let's face it: while it is the substance of the standard that is most important, getting the style right - the first time around - will help keep a proposed standard moving smoothly through the review and balloting process. With this in mind, let's walk through some sections of Part G that didn't make it into the 2010 column.

G4. Alloy Designations. G4 provides examples for alloy designations. More information on the unified numbering system for alloys can be found in E527, Practice for Numbering Metals and Alloys in the Unified Numbering System (UNS).

G5. And/Or. Do not use "and/or."The preferred option is "A or B, or both."

G6. Capitalization. Capital letters should be used sparingly in ASTM standards. Here are some general rules contained in G6:

  • In headings and titles, capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and other words of five or more letters.
  • Use a capital when referring to a specific committee, for example "Committee A01." Otherwise lower case the word committee ("the committee recommends...")
  • Use initial cap on Society, Staff and Headquarters when referring to ASTM International, its Staff and its Headquarters.

G7. Chemical Formulas. Chemical formulas should be used freely in tables and figures. However, in text that mentions formulas infrequently, names should be spelled out. If a certain chemical is mentioned frequently in the text, the formula can be used, provided that the chemical is called by name followed by the formula in parentheses on first reference.

G8. Contractual Parties. Terms describing contractual parties shall be limited to "Party of First Part" (producer, supplier, seller or manufacturer) and "Party of Second Part" (purchaser or user).

G11. Dilution Ratio. The form "9+1" should be used, rather than "9:1" for dilution ratios. Also, it is important to specify whether volumes or weights are being used, for example "volume/volume," "volume/weight," etc.

G13. Footnotes. Use superior italic capital letters for footnotes in tables, beginning the letters anew with each table. Footnotes are located below the table. Use superior numbers for footnotes throughout the text. Do not use footnotes in figure captions.

Finally, a look at G14. Hyphens. G14.1 cuts to the chase: "The hyphen seems to be the most troublesome punctuation mark." With all due respect to the complexities of the semicolon, when to use and not use a hyphen does seems to be a nagging question. Here are some hyphen tips:

  • Hyphenate compound adjectives, such as "50-mm gauge," and "low-alloy steel."
  • Write expressions such as the following with the hyphen after the first word: "high- and low-temperature tests."
  • When numerals are being listed, omit all but the last hyphen: "50, 100 and 150-mm specimens."
  • Do not hyphenate chemical compounds or the phrases "stainless steel" and "cast iron."
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