oasis, oases

obscenities, profanities, vulgarities Do not use them in stories unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them.

When a profanity, obscenity or vulgarity is used, flag the story at the top:

Editors: Language in 4th graf may be offensive to some readers.

Then confine the offending language, in quotation marks, to a separate paragraph that can be deleted easily by editors who do not want it.

In reporting profanity that normally would use the words damn or god, lowercase god and use the following forms: damn, damn it, goddamn it. Do not, however, change the offending words to euphemisms. Do not, for example, change damn it to darn it.

If a full quote that contains profanity, obscenity or vulgarity cannot be dropped but there is no compelling reason for the offensive language, replace letters of an offensive word with a hyphen. The word damn, for example, would become d - - - or - - - -.

When the subject matter of a story may be considered offensive, but the story does not contain quoted profanity, obscenities or vulgarities, flag the story at the top:

Editors: The contents may be offensive to some readers.

For guidelines on racial or ethnic slurs, see the nationalities and races entry.

Occident, Occidental Capitalize when referring to Europe, the Western Hemisphere or an inhabitant of these regions.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. Headquarters is in Los Angeles.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA is acceptable on second reference.

occupational titles They are always lowercase. See titles.

occur, occurred, occurring Also: occurrence.


ocean The five, from the largest to the smallest: Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Antarctic Ocean, Arctic Ocean.

Lowercase ocean standing alone or in plural uses: the ocean, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

October See months.

odd- Follow with a hyphen:

odd-looking odd-numbered

See betting odds.


off-, -off Follow Webster’s New World Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

Some commonly used combinations with a hyphen:

off-color off-white

off-peak send-off

off-season stop-off

Some combinations without a hyphen:

cutoff offside

liftoff offstage

offhand playoff

offset standoff

offshore takeoff

off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway See the Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway entry.

office Capitalize office when it is part of an agency’s formal name: Office of Management and Budget.

Lowercase all other uses, including phrases such as: the office of the attorney general, the U.S. attorney’s office.

See Oval Office.


off of The of is unnecessary: He fell off the bed. Not: He fell off of the bed.

Ohio Do not abbreviate. See state names.

oil In shipping, oil and oil products normally are measured by the ton. For news stories, convert these tonnage figures to gallons.

There are 42 gallons to each barrel of oil. The number of barrels per ton varies, depending on the type of oil product.

To convert tonnage to gallons:

—Determine the type of oil.

—Consult the table below to find out how many barrels per ton for that type of oil.

—Multiply the number of tons by the number of barrels per ton. The result is the number of barrels in the shipment.

—Multiply the number of barrels by 42. The result is the number of gallons.

EXAMPLE: A tanker spills 20,000 metric tons of foreign crude petroleum. The table shows 6.998 barrels of foreign crude petroleum per metric ton. Multiply 6.998 x 20,000 equals 139,960 barrels. Multiply 139,960 x 42 is 5,878,320 gallons.

TABLE: The table below is based on figures supplied by the American Petroleum Institute:

Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union The shortened forms Oil Workers union, Chemical Workers union and Atomic Workers union are acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Denver.

OK, OK’d, OK’ing, OKs Do not use okay.

Oklahoma Abbrev.: Okla. See state names.

Oklahoma City Stands alone in datelines.

Old City of Jerusalem The walled part of the city.

Old South The South before the Civil War. See New South.

Old Testament See Bible.

old-time, old-timer, old times

Old West The American West as it was being settled in the 19th century.

Old World The Eastern Hemisphere: Asia, Europe, Africa. The term also may be an allusion to European culture and customs.

Olympic Airways Headquarters is in Athens, Greece.

olympics Capitalize all references to the international athletic contests: the Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the Olympic Games, the Games, an Olympic-size pool.

An Olympic-size pool is 50 meters long by 25 meters wide.

Lowercase other uses: a beer-drinking olympics.

on Do not use on before a date or day of the week when its absence would not lead to confusion: The meeting will be held Monday. He will be inaugurated Jan. 20.

Use on to avoid an awkward juxtaposition of a date and a proper name: John met Mary on Monday. He told Reagan on Thursday that the bill was doomed.

Use on also to avoid any suggestion that a date is the object of a transitive verb: The House killed on Tuesday a bid to raise taxes. The Senate postponed on Wednesday its consideration of a bill to reduce import duties.

one- Hyphenate when used in writing fractions:

one-half one-third

Use phrases such as a half or a third if precision is not intended.

See fractions.

one another See the each other, one another entry.

one person, one vote The adjective form: one-person, one-vote. He supports the principle of one person, one vote. The one-man, one-vote rule.

Supreme Court rulings all use the phrase one person, one vote, not one man, one vote.


one time, one-time He did it one time. He is a one-time winner. She is a one-time friend.

online One word in all cases for the computer connection term.

Ontario This Canadian province is the nation’s first in total population and second to Quebec in area. Do not abbreviate.

See datelines.

operas See composition titles.

opinion polls See the polls and surveys entry.

opossum The only North American marsupial. No apostrophe is needed to indicate missing letters in a phrase such as playing possum.

oral, verbal, written Use oral to refer to spoken words: He gave an oral promise.

Use written to refer to words committed to paper: We had a written agreement.

Use verbal to compare words with some other form of communication: His tears revealed the sentiments that his poor verbal skills could not express.

ordinal numbers See numerals.

Oregon Abbrev.: Ore. See state names.

Oreo A trademark for a brand of chocolate sandwich cookie held together by a white filling.

The use of the word by blacks indicates belief that another black is “black outside but white inside.”

Organization of American States OAS is acceptable on second reference. Headquarters is in Washington.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Use the full name for most first references. OPEC may be used on first reference in business oriented copy, but the body of the story should identify it as the shortened form of the name.

The 11 OPEC members: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.

Headquarters is in Vienna, Austria.

organizations and institutions Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions: the American Medical Association; First Presbyterian Church; General Motors Corp.; Harvard University, Harvard University Medical School; the Procrastinators Club; the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi.

Retain capitalization if Co., Corp. or a similar word is deleted from the full proper name: General Motors. See company; corporation; and incorporated.

SUBSIDIARIES: Capitalize the names of major subdivisions: the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors.

INTERNAL ELEMENTS: Use lowercase for internal elements of an organization when they have names that are widely used generic terms: the board of directors of General Motors, the board of trustees of Columbia University, the history department of Harvard University, the sports department of the Daily Citizen-Leader.

Capitalize internal elements of an organization when they have names that are not widely used generic terms: the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association, the House of Bishops and House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church.

FLIP-FLOPPED NAMES: Retain capital letters when commonly accepted practice flops a name to delete the word of: College of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross College; Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Dental School.

Do not, however, flop formal names that are known to the public with the word of: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, not Massachusetts Technology Institute.

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS: Some organizations and institutions are widely recognized by their abbreviations: Alcoa, GOP, NAACP, NATO. For guidelines on when such abbreviations may be used, see the individual listings and the entries under abbreviations and acronyms and second reference.

Orient, Oriental Capitalize when referring to the Far East nations of Asia and nearby islands. Asian is the preferred term for an inhabitant of these regions.

Also: Oriental rug, Oriental cuisine.

Orlon A trademark for a form of acrylic fiber similar to nylon.

orthodox Capitalize when referring to membership in or the activities of an Eastern Orthodox church. See Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Capitalize also in phrases such as Orthodox Judaism or Orthodox Jew. See Jewish congregations.

Do not describe a member of an Eastern Orthodox church as a Protestant. Use a phrase such as Orthodox Christian instead.

Lowercase orthodox in nonreligious uses: an orthodox procedure.

Orthodox Church in America See Eastern Orthodox churches.

Oscar, Oscars See Academy Awards.

oscillating theory See big-bang theory.

Ottawa The capital of Canada stands alone in datelines.

Ouija A trademark for a board used in seances.

ounce (dry) Units of dry volume are not customarily carried to this level.

See pint (dry).

ounce (liquid) See fluid ounce.

ounce (weight) It is defined as 437.5 grains.

The metric equivalent is approximately 28 grams.

To convert to grams, multiply by 28 (5 ounces x 28 = 140 grams).

See grain and gram.

out- Follow Webster’s New World. Hyphenate if not listed there.

Some frequently used words:

outargue outpost

outbox output

outdated outscore

outfield outstrip

outfox outtalk

outpatient (n., adj.)

-out Follow Webster’s New World. Hyphenate nouns and adjectives not listed there.

Some frequently used words (all nouns):

cop-out hide-out

fade-out pullout

fallout walkout

flameout washout

Two words for verbs:

fade out walk out

hide out wash out

pull out

Outer Banks The sandy islands along the North Carolina coast.

out of bounds But as a modifier: out-of-bounds. The ball went out of bounds. He took an out-of-bounds pass.

out of court, out-of-court They settled out of court. He accepted an out-of-court settlement.

Oval Office The White House office of the president.

over It generally refers to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the city.

Over can, at times, be used with numerals: She is over 30. I paid over $200 for this suit. But more than may be better: Their salaries went up more than $20 a week. Let your ear be your guide.

over- Follow Webster’s New World. A hyphen seldom is used. Some frequently used words:

overbuy overrate

overexert override

See the overall entry.

-over Follow Webster’s New World Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

Some frequently used words (all are nouns, some also are used as adjectives):

carry-over stopover

holdover walkover


Use two words when any of these occurs as a verb.

See suffixes.

overall A single word in adjectival and adverbial use: Overall, the Demo-crats succeeded. Overall policy.

The word for the garment is overalls.

owner Not a formal title. Always lowercase: Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner.

Oyez Not oyes. The cry of court and public officials to command silence.

Ozark Mountains Or simply: the Ozarks.