Catholic Style Guide

At the beginning of the year, I pass out a Catholic Style Guide. It’s based on the Catholic News Service Style Guide. I add in some helpful information like the Guidelines to Receive Communion.

I also like putting some commonly misspelled “churchy” words on it like altar, anoint, apostle, divine, sacrifice, canon law, disciple, priest, alleluia, confirmation.

My Style Guide is, of course, mine. I made the choices of what to include. The CNS Style Guide is long. I picked out what I thought would be helpful or items that would address my own pet peeves. Here’s some of what’s on it:

When writing Catholic, a lowercase “c” means “universal” while a capital “C” refers to the Church or members of it, for example, “I am a Catholic.” This is true of all religions: Protestant, Orthodox, Islam, Christianity.

When writing church, use a capital “C” when it’s part of a proper name: Saint Mary’s Church. Use a lowercase “c” for other uses.

When referring to the deity, capitalize God. When referring to idols, do not. For example, “He treated his car like a god.” When making a reference to polytheism, use “gods.” Lowercase all personal pronouns that refer to God (e.g., he, him, his). Use uppercase when referring to the Trinity or the individual persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

When writing the names of the sacraments, they should begin with a lowercase letter except for the Eucharist. The “s” in baptism changes to a “z” when it is used as “baptized.”

Communion: Capitalize all references to the sacrament, but not adjectives modifying it or nouns it modifies (first Communion, holy Communion, Communion service). Lowercase communion for all uses outside the church service.

Mass: Capitalize Mass. Use the verb “celebrate” when referring to the Mass.

Places and concepts such as kingdom of God, purgatory, heaven, and hell are lowercase.

Capitalize Bible and Scriptures since they refer to a book.

Here’s a PDF version of my Style Guide. Feel free to include your thoughts in the comments below.


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