About this guide

This style guide is for writers and editors of publications produced in Buddhist monasteries of the Ajahn Chah lineage which are part of the European Elders’ Council, who look to the Sangha Publications Network (SPN) for guidance. The agreed-upon publications standards to use are outlined in detail in a manual called Sangha Words: a Manual for Forest Sangha Publications (download the latest edition), which covers writing, editing, designing, and publishing. You’re encouraged to refer to that book for more comprehensive guidance. This web-based compliment attempts to do three things:

  1. Provide a quick reference style guide in line with Sangha Words and available on the Web
  2. Add to the word lists (“glossaries”) in Sangha Words
  3. Include an American English style guide based on Sangha Words (which was produced for the British monasteries)*

SPN protocols for sangha members of Elders’ Council monasteries publishing anything, in print or on the Web – that is, who needs to check what, and how, etc. – are posted here on a private web page. Sangha members can ask their abbot or any SPN member for the password to access this page.

About this style

Forest Sangha Style (FS Style) for the most part adopts Oxford University Press (OUP) house style. Therefore, sangha writers and editors should use ‘Oxford Style’, which is outlined in two books: New Oxford Style Manual** and New Oxford Spelling Dictionary. You can often find these books available as online references through your local library service, and each of the British monasteries has a set. Alternatively, it may be easiest to refer to these free OUP websites:

Spelling and hyphenation

Spelling and hyphenation should be consistent throughout a publication. Use the Word List, and one of the following dictionaries:

Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd Ed. (ODE)*** – for UK/World English (or New Oxford Spelling Dictionary)
New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd Ed. (NOAD) – for US English

N.B. These dictionaries are available for free, on the Web (choose ‘Dictionary’ for the ODE, or ‘Dictionary (US)’ for the NOAD). These two dictionaries also happen to be included on all Apple computers and devices.****  [Windows too?] Also, note that each of these dictionaries includes UK/US spelling differences, so one of them may be enough to serve as a reference for both forms of English.

Differences from Oxford Style

FS Style will occasionally differ from Oxford Style. Always prefer FS Style recommendations, i.e. those listed here and in Sangha Words. In this guide these differences are noted in the following way:

[FSS] The notation ‘[FSS]’ (Forest Sangha Style) indicates that Oxford Style gives advice which either differs from that here, or provides various options on the matter – and that you should follow the FS Style choice outlined in this guide.

Differences from Sangha Words

This guide aims to present style guidelines entirely consistent with those in Sangha Words. At this early stage of SPN discussions on matters of style and the publication of these evolving documents, there may be some differences between the two. These are inadvertent, or they may be the result of unintentional differences between Sangha Words and Oxford Style which were overlooked before its publication, or other yet-to-be-discussed spelling or style choices included in the first edition of Sangha Words. These matters will be considered by the SPN and agreed over the next year or two; in the meantime, they are noted in the following way:

[≠SW] The notation ‘[≠SW]’ (different from Sangha Words) indicates that the advice given here differs in some way from that in Sangha Words, and awaits the consideration of the SPN.

Yet to be considered

Other items may not yet have been included in Sangha Words, and are yet to be considered and agreed by the SPN. Much of the content in the Word List qualifies in this regard as of autumn 2016, and hopefully most of that will be agreed by summer 2017. Some such items which await consideration and are important are noted in the following way:

[TBC] The notation ‘[TBC]’ (To be considered) indicates the matter is yet to be discussed and agreed by the SPN.


While this website is written in American English, both UK and US usage are fully represented in this guide to FS Style.

** Formerly published in two volumes, called New Hart’s Rules and New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors. The New Oxford Spelling Dictionary is simply a list of all the words from the ODE, without their definitions.

*** Not to be confused with the famous OED (Oxford English Dictionary), also published by Oxford University Press, but which uses a different philosophy for deciding its word inclusions and spelling conventions. We use the ODE.

**** On a Mac, open Dictionary > Preferences and check on the ODE and/or NOAD to make them available. On iOS, tap on a word to activate the pop-up, tap Define to call up the dictionary, tap Manage to download the ODE or NOAD if they are not already loaded on your device (tap on their iCloud button).


This guide was last updated on 2017-2-9