Writing in English

On this page, we have gathered a few pointers on writing in English, with the aim of providing a common resource for producing English texts that are not only correct, but also consistent in cases where several alternatives are possible. If you have suggestions for additions or improvements to the page, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Communications Office’s language resource!

Language variety

At Linnaeus University, we use standard British English (BrE). BrE differs in a number of ways from the other main variety – American English (AmE) – most notably in terms of spelling and vocabulary.

Recurring differences in spelling include the following (BrE spelling first):

-our/or (labour/labor; colour/color)
-isation/ization (organisation/organization; capitalisation/capitalization)
-ise, -yse/ize, -yze (organise/organize; analyse/analyze)
-e/- (programme/program; annexe/annex)
-re/-er (centre/center; metre/meter)
-ae-/-e- (archaeologist/archeologist; aesthetic/esthetic)
-ence/-ense (defence/defense; licence/license)

Note that the -ence spelling appears only with nouns; when the word is used as a verb (e.g., to license), the spelling with s is used in BrE as well as in AmE.

BrE and AmE differ quite a bit when it comes to vocabulary. The following are examples of differences that are particularly relevant in a university context (BrE word first):

Autumn/fall – ‘höst’
Timetable/schedule – ‘schema’
Vice-chancellor/rector – ‘rektor (vid universitet)’
Professor/full professor – ‘professor’
Senior lecturer/professor – ‘lektor’

Yet another word pair of relevance in a university context is term/semester. It should be noted, though, that in this particular case, we use the AmE word semester rather than the BrE word term. This is because these words don’t just reflect a difference in regional variety, but also a difference in meaning, where semester corresponds more closely to the intended Swedish phenomenon than term does.


There are several accepted formats for writing dates in English. At Linnaeus University, we use only the following two BrE formats:

3 October 2022 (in running text)
03/10/2022 (in headers/footers etc.)

If you want to add the name of the day, it goes before the date and is separated by a comma:

She was born on Sunday, 22 April 2001.


At Linnaeus University, we use the 12-hour clock, in which the abbreviations am and pm are added after the time, to indicate which half of the day we’re referring to (am = ante meridiem = ‘before midday’; pm = post meridiem = ‘after midday’). We always use lower case letters in am and pm, and hours are always separated from minutes with a full stop: 7am6.30pm. There should be no space between the hour and am/pm; do not write 1 am, rather use 1am. For noon use only noon rather than 12pm or 12 noon, and for midnight use only midnight rather than 12am or 12 midnight.


In most cases, English and Swedish are the same when it comes to capitalisation. There are, however, certain instances where we capitalise in English, whereas in Swedish we don’t:

Weekdays: Monday; Saturday
Months: January; July
Public holidays: Christmas; Easter
Languages: Swedish; English
Nationalities: Swedish; English
Religions: Buddhism; Islam

In English, we also capitalise the first letter of all content words in names of offices, departments etc; for more information on this, please see our staff page “What we are called at Linnaeus University”.

Numerical information

Words or numerals?
There are no hard and fast rules as to when to use words and when to use numerals for numbers. A general rule of thumb – and the approach that we recommend – is, however, that in running text, numbers one–nine are spelt out as words, whereas numbers higher than nine are written as numerals. But most importantly, don’t mix numerals and letters in the same sentence, that is:

Do not write It will take five–10 days.
Write instead It will take 5–10 days, or It will take five–ten days.

Decimal comma vs decimal point
Swedish and English differ in terms of how they separate the integer part from the fractional part of a number written in decimal form: whereas Swedish uses a decimal comma, English uses a decimal point. That is, whereas, for instance, ‘three and a half’ is written as 3,5 in Swedish, it is written as 3.5 in English.

Digit grouping
Traditionally, Swedish and English differ in terms of which symbol (point or comma) is used for digit grouping. To avoid confusion, the general recommendation is now to use spaces instead of a specific symbol; consequently, in Swedish and English alike, we use the following format:

10 000
100 000
1 000 000

We use the percent sign (%) with numerals, and the word percent with numbers written as words. That is, we write 50% but fifty percent. Note also that unlike Swedish, English has no space between the numeral and the percent sign.

Quoting speech

In Swedish, we have two ways of marking spoken language: by means of a dash, or by means of double quotation marks. In English, on the other hand, the only possible option is to use quotation marks.

Do not write: – I really like this programme and just love campus.
Instead write: “I really like this programme and just love campus”.

Note that punctuation marks that are not specifically part of the quote go after the quotation mark.


Abbreviations should be kept to a minimum. In headings, they should not be used at all, whereas in running text, they may be used when a long word or phrase recurs through the text. In such cases the abbreviation should always be introduced together with the full word or phrase the first time it appears. You find an example of this towards the top of this page, repeated below, where we introduce the abbreviations BrE and AmE:

At Linnaeus University, we use standard British English (BrE). BrE differs in a number of ways from the other main variety – American English (AmE) – most notably in terms of spelling and vocabulary.

Abbreviations such as LNU, KOM, FEH etc., which are established within the university, should only be used in internal communication.


Contractions (don’t, haven’t, we’re etc.) have traditionally been restricted to informal language only, but this is gradually changing. There are both pros and cons with using contractions – on the one hand, they make the text more easy-going and relatable, but on the other hand, they may give a less serious and/or professional impression. To help ensure consistency, we recommend that you follow the guide below – and that you stick to the same approach throughout your text (that is, don’t mix contracted and full forms in the same text).

Do not use contractions in

  • policy/governing documents
  • agreements and contracts
  • formal/technical academic texts (unless you’re required to use a specific style guide that says otherwise)

Choose one or the other (and stick to your choice!)

  • in popular scientific academic texts
  • emails
  • posts on social media
  • interpersonal communication via social media

In the latter kind of texts, you should go with no contractions if seriousness and professionalism is more important than relatability, inclusion, and connection – and vice versa.