Media article style

JTS Style Conventions for
Newspaper and Magazine Article Translations

Overview

A major proportion of JTS’s work consists of translating newspaper and magazine articles. Please use reporting style in them (e.g., dispense with titles of respect like “Mr.,” “Ms.,” etc., before people’s names), and try to conform to the following conventions. Refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition for more detailed explanations. Visit this page for further references.

  • Use American rather than British spellings and avoid localisms (for example, Brits say it all the time but North Americans usually don’t know what a creche is). Also, avoid unnecessary doubling of consonants in gerunds and the past tense. Check a dictionary—preferably Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition—if you’re unsure.
  • Punctuation should also follow standard American practice. Particularly, keep all commas and periods within quotation marks; place colons and semi-colons outside them. If you’re unsure about something, check the style guide in your nearest dictionary or avail yourself of the aforementioned reference.
  • In forming the plural of numerals and acronyms, dispense with the apostrophe and simply add “s”: the 1980s, during the 60s, three 340Mb HDDs.

Publication names

Please head each article with the name of the publication (unless you don’t know it) followed by the date in the mm/dd/yy format; except on rare occasions, such as when several articles from the same publication are being translated at once, page numbers are not needed:

Asahi Shimbun 10/12/93

  • Italicize the publication name (but not the date).
  • No comma after the publication name
  • Do not spell out the date.
  • Do not include the day.
  • Do not translate the publication name.

Personal titles

Don’t capitalize professional, corporate, or governmental titles unless they immediately precede the person’s name, i.e., unless they are part of the name, and don’t capitalize them when the person’s name is used appositively:

No Yes
Widgets Galore’s president Rich A. Dickens said that... Widgets Galore’s president, Rich A. Dickens, said that...
Widgets Galore president Rich A. Dickens said that... Widgets Galore President Rich A. Dickens said that...
...president Rich A. Dickens of Widgets Galore said today that... ...President Rich A. Dickens of Widgets Galore said today that...
...the President of Widgets Galore said ... ...the president of Widgets Galore said...
...Second I. Command, a Vice President at Widgets Galore... ...Second I. Command, a vice president at Widgets Galore...

Other capitalization

Don’t capitalize headquarters (or other words with similar function) or titles unless they’re part of a proper noun, especially in by-lines and parenthetic explanations:

Widgets Galore (headquarters: Nakano-ku, Tokyo; president: Rich A. Dickens) announced today that...

Numbers and figures

General

Spell out numbers one to nine, use numerals for 10 and above; this also applies for ordinal numbers. Reconstruct sentences that would otherwise begin with numerals so that the numeral comes in the body of the text. Write out million, billion, and trillion (but not thousand) when they are preceded by whole numbers between one and 100; in other words, “1,553,678” is fine, but express “1,000,000” as “1 million,” “12,800,000” as “12.8 million,” etc.

Monetary figures

  • Use “nn.nn billion/million,” but never “nn.nnn million” unless the original figure is precise to the last digit and the precision is indispensable: “¥15.757 million,” otherwise: “¥1.5 billion”; “£1.25 billion,” never “$25,120 million.” Use the Yen sign (¥). It's ASCII/ANSI character number 0165 or Unicode 00A5. The Euro character is 20AC; in MS-Word, pressing Alt+Ctrl+E will also usually display it.
  • Don’t forget to shift the decimal point of numbers, especially in tabular material, when a transition is necessary from East-Asian notation (万→億→兆) to western notation (百万→十億→兆, i.e., million, billion, trillion). Don’t write “figures in 100 millions” (単位:億円) when you should be writing millions or billions and shifting the decimal point a place or two!

Dates

In body text, use the month-day-year (November 1, 1997) style for dates; place a comma after the year in prose: “B Corp. announced on November 1, 1997, that it would…”. Always use a cardinal numeral for the day (i.e., don’t add “st,” “nd,” or “rd” after the date: in common American practice, “November 1” is read “November first”): “…the exhbition runs until November 8.”

Company Names

Use companies’ full names (“Widgets Galore Limited”; “Hitachi, Ltd.”; “Daiei Inc.”; “the Coca-Cola (Japan) Company”) on first mention only; use their short (most common) form on subsequent mention (“Widgets Galore”; “Hitachi,” “IBM Japan,” “CCJC,” etc.). A great reference for company names is the Company Handbook series put out by Toyo Keizai Inc. These books contain both the long and short forms of many companies’ names.

  • Don’t guess at or literally translate company names. If you don’t know an official English name, put down the romanized Japanese and mark it with an embedded comment. This applies to organization-unit names and official positions as well.

Acronyms and uncommon abbreviations

Spell out the full word or name on first mention with the acronym or abbreviation in parentheses following; thereafter, use the acronym or abbreviation alone:

first mention

Widgets Galore’s shares have been traded on the over-the-counter (OTC) market since...

subsequent mention

Since making its shares available on the OTC market, Widgets Galore has...

  • Do not write an acronym or abbreviation first and then explain it in parenthesis.
  • Don’t use Japanese-invented acronyms and abbreviations in English: expand them, or use the proper English acronym.
  • Use discretion when abbreviating units of measure. As a rule of thumb, spell out units in general-interest stories, but use abbreviations for articles intended for a technically informed audience. When using abbreviations for metric, ISO, and technical units, place a non-breaking space between the abbreviation and the preceding numeral; if you don’t know how to or cannot do this, place the abbreviation flush against the numeral: 5km, 80m (meters), 50kg, 25km², 5m³, 14.4bps, 14ft/sec, etc. Do not add an “s” to the abbreviations of units of measure to indicate plural!

Symbols

Brackets and parentheses

Use square brackets ([ ]) to enclose editorial comments and expansions that you make on the original for clarity, and to mark extra-textual material such as keys for captions, tables, and manuscript page numbers:

[caption]
This photo shows....

[table, upper left]

[p2]

  • Do not use square brackets to imitate Japanese quotation marks ( 「引用符」 ), much less leave them in English text! The practice looks amateurish and could confuse your readers (since they expect brackets to mean something else and most likely won’t even know what Japanese quotation marks are). Use English quotation marks (“quote”) around direct quotations or for emphasis. If the material is not a direct quotation, don’t make it look like one even if it’s in quotation marks in the Japanese. Use scare quotes sparingly.
  • Do not use the kome-jirushi (   ) in English, and don’t merely replace it with an asterisk: Asterisks generally tell the reader to look for a footnote, whereas the kome-jirushi is usually used as an attention getter, not a footnote marker. Decide what its purpose is in your document and use the appropriate English device (e.g., the word Note: or an index-finger dingbat like ☞) in your translation.
  • Mark footnotes and endnotes with the appropriate English symbols, either a superscript number (do not precede it with an asterisk or kome-jirushi!) or the conventional footnote markers (*, †, ‡, §); see CMoS 16th Ed., §14.44, p. 677. Another good approach for running text is to just use Word’s footnotes feature.
  • Japanese documents frequently use all kinds of brackets, including parentheses, to express emphasis or otherwise offset text. Don’t imitate the Japanese practice; instead, use the customary English means for achieving the same effect (bold, italics, quotation marks, or a typeface variation). Parentheses and square brackets, in particular, have specific functions in standard English usage, deviation from which should be avoided so as not to confuse the English reader.

Dollars, yen, pounds, degrees, &c

Use appropriate symbols unless your software is incapable of producing them: $1.00 (“U.S.” is not necessary for U.S. dollars, but use C$, A$, HK$, etc.), ¥800, £50, –36°C, 12A, 15µ. Use the per-cent sign (%) in financial reporting. The multiplication sign (×), if you ever need it, is character number 215 if you’re using the Windows environment (hold down the alt key and punch out 0-2-1-5 on the ten-key pad). Spell out Greek characters except in mathematical notation and for units of measure (micron, µ; Ohm, Ω): it is not common English practice to write “β-version” for “beta version” or “γ rays” when you mean “gamma rays”; “plus α” is, shall we say, a Japalogism, so say “and a little something extra” or “and some.” Don’t use mathematical symbols in text where they would not be normally used in English; instead, write out what the original means.

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