IRA Style Guide

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M - N - O


MANOVA = Multivariate analysis of variance

mark up / markup / marked-up
1. mark up is a verb: The conferees met to mark up the legislation. Our dealership does not mark up the price of new automobiles.

2. The noun form is markup: The conferees have completed their markup of the legislation. The dealership tried to convince customers that their pricing of new automobiles contained no hidden markup.

3. The hyphenated form marked-up is correct for an adjective preceding the noun it modifies. The marked-up legislation will be introduced on the floor of the House. The marked-up prices were advertised as dealer costs.

marketplace/Marketplace (see Online Marketplace)

Bill Martin Jr
(Note: no period after Jr, except at the end of sentence or in reference list; no comma between Martin and Jr)

Master of Science (MS)
master’s degree
MasterCard (According to EEI, we should not be using the .)
MBD = minimal brain dysfunction
member of the Board, Board member
member of Congress
meta tag

Compounds with the prefix meta- are usually closed (CMS 6.1):
metacognition metadiscourse metacognitive metaphysics
but meta-analysis (not metanalysis)

A figure of speech in which one object or activity is defined as if it were another. Common examples: ideas as seeds, planted in the fertile soil of a child’s imagination; skills as tools that need to be honed or kept sharp; reading as a journey into new territory, and so on. See mixed metaphor.

Mexican American (no hyphen)
midcentury (but mid–19th century)
midday (Closed as adj. or noun. We didn’t believe this one, but our dictionaries were agreed.)
middle class

middle school
This phrase, like high school and elementary school, should not be hyphenated, even when used as an adjective. Thus, She is a teacher of high school English and middle school language arts.

milieus (preferred plural form of milieu)
mind-set (noun)

Compounds formed with the prefix mini- are normally closed (CMS 6.1):
miniconference minilesson minicourse minisession minigrant
but mini-unit

mixed metaphor
An error in coherence that occurs when illogical, inconsistent, or inappropriate metaphorical characteristics are ascribed to an object or action. Example:

  • This groundbreaking study covers only the tip of the iceberg, but it gives us all something to build on. By leaving no stone unturned, the author sheds light on a slippery topic, giving us plenty of food for thought along the way.
  • Sometimes, even a single metaphor can be used in an incoherent or illogical manner. Consider the following title, for example: “Unlocking the Keys to Success.”

moneys / monies Both forms are acceptable.
MOO = MUD, Object Oriented

more than / over
A distinction was formerly made between more than and over, in which more than was used with countable items and over with noncountable amounts. But according to NYPL (p. 82), most dictionaries, commentators, and writers now consider the two interchangeable. Use whichever you prefer.

MS degree
MUD = multi-user domain

Compounds beginning with the prefix multi- are normally closed (CMS 6.1):
multicultural multilevel multiethnic multimedia multifaceted multiphase

multiple intelligences (MI)

1. Of all the reflexive pronouns, myself is the most commonly misused. As a reflexive pronoun, myself cannot be used as the subject of a clause or a sentence (although it can be used as an appositive of the subject). Use “I” instead:

incorrect: The other investigators and myself visited the classroom frequently.
correct: The other investigators and I visited . . . .
correct: As lead investigator, I, myself, rarely visited . . . .

2. Myself and other reflexive pronouns cannot be used as direct objects, indirect objects, or objects of prepositions, unless the subject refers to the same person. Use “me” instead:

incorrect: The university honored my coworkers and myself for our achievement.
correct: The university honored my coworkers and me . . . .
correct: I surprised even myself with that accomplishment.

incorrect: No one will know your score but myself.
correct: No one will know your score but me.


n and N
According to APA 3.58, an italic capital N is used to indicate the total number of subjects in an experiment. The lowercase italic n refers to the number of subjects in a limited portion of the sample. Thus, “The entire class (N = 33) participated in the study. Nearly twice as many students passed the test (n = 21) as failed it (n = 12).

NAA = Newspaper Association of America
NAEP = National Assessment of Educational Progress
NAESP = National Association of Elementary School Principals <>
NAEYC = National Association for the Education of Young Children


NALS = National Adult Literacy Survey (1992)
NAS = National Academy of Sciences <>
national affiliate

Native Americans
(see indigenous peoples)

NCAL = National Center on Adult Literacy
NCATE = National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
NCES = National Center for Education Statistics <>
NCLB = No Child Left Behind
NCTE = National Council of Teachers of English <>
n.d. = no date of publication given (be sure to include the periods)
NEA = National Education Association
the Netherlands (preferred over The Netherlands)

Newbery Medal / Honor / award
The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. Newbery Honor Books are runners-up in that competition. Authors and editors are advised to use the terms “Newbery Medal” and “Newbery Honor” accurately in referring to particular books, and to avoid the term “Newbery award” whenever possible. A list of Medal- and Honor-winning titles may be found at the ALA Web site, See also Caldecott Medal.

newspapers, titles
From “Copy Editor’s Guide to Major U.S. Daily Newspapers,” (n.d.). When in doubt, follow the style presented on the newspaper’s masthead.

The Atlanta Constitution
The Atlanta Journal
The Boston Globe
Boston Herald
The Charlotte Observer
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
Daily News
(New York)
The Denver Post
Le Monde
Los Angeles Times
The Miami Herald
The New York Times
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The News Journal
(Wilmington, Del.)
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Sun
The Times (London)
USA Today
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post

New York
New York City (n.)
New York state (n.)

NGO = nongovernmental organization
NICHD = National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
NIE = National Institute of Education (of U.S. Dept. of Education)
NIEW = Newspapers in Education Week
NIH = National Institutes of Health

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush in January 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 sets U.S. federal policy on education. The reading component of this law is called Reading First.

Compounds formed with the prefix non- are usually closed (CMS 6.1):
nonessential, nonphonetic, nonformal, nonreader,
noninstructional, nonsequential, nonliterate, nonsignificant,
nonnative, nonstandard, nonprofit

non-Czech (hyphenate if second part of the compound begins with a capital letter)
non–English proficient (use en-dash to connect non- to an already-existing compound)
non–Indo-European (first mark is an en-dash; second is a hyphen)
non sequitur

north / North, northern / Northern (see directional terms)

not only. . . but also. . .
The word group not only... but also... is a correlative conjunction, used to join two sentence elements of equal grammatical weight: a word to a word, a phrase to a phrase, a clause to a clause, etc. (See correlative conjunctions.)

note (i.e., using the word note in tables)
IRA policy here follows APA:
• If the note that follows a table is a general note (i.e., it refers to the entire table or to several sections), insert the word Note. (italic, with period, not hyphen) at the beginning of the note.
• If the note refers only to a particular column, row, cell, or cells within the table, it is a specific note. In these cases, do not include the word note. Instead, begin with the superscript lowercase letter a, b, c, or other symbol ( &, °) that denotes its referent in the table.
• The probability note is a variety of specific note. It usually begins with an asterisk followed by an italic p (*p).

note-taking (noun and adj.)

NRC = National Reading Conference
NRC = National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences)
NRRC = National Reading Research Center

no. / #
If it is ever necessary to abbreviate the word number in running text, the preferred abbreviation is no., not #.

numbers (spelled out) and numerals (APA 3.42–3.49, pp. 99–105; CMS chap. 8)
Follow APA style wherever possible. Follow CMS style when APA is silent.

General Rules:
1. Use numerals to express numbers 10 and above. Spell out numbers below 10.

  • spell out numbers below 10 that appear with units of time. (This is a departure from earlier IRA style). Examples: two months, four years, three hours, 64 years, 21 months. Also, ninth century, 14th century, ninth grade, 11th grade.

Special Cases / Exceptions:

2. Use numerals

  • for numbers under 10 that are grouped or compared with numbers over 10 (and appear in the same paragraph): members receive 9 to 12 new publications each year; a list of 7 nouns and 14 verbs; of 26 students in the sample, only 3 failed to qualify.
  • for specific quantities and precise measurements: a score of 6 out of a possible 9;
    multiply by 2; a factor of 4; x = 7.03; 5.61 grams; a gain of less than 1 grade level
  • for dates: April 18, 1775
  • Use numerals to denote ages, even those below 10. Theresa is 8 years old; Bonnie is 18. She taught a class of 4-year-olds.
  • for numbers that denote a place in a numbered series: steps 1 through 4; group 2;
    page 8; Table 1; grade 7, grades 1–3; Part 4, Vol. 2. (See APA 3.42f, p. 101;
    CMS 8.32). NOTE: Chapter 7 (capital “c” is a departure from earlier IRA style—see book parts or sections).

3. Spell out numbers

  • at the beginning of a sentence: Ninety-one publications appear on the censors’ list, including 24 that have won major prizes for literature.
  • for common fractions: one eighth of the population; over half the class; a two-thirds majority (use hyphen if fraction is an adjective preceding the noun it modifies).

4. Combine numerals and spelled out forms

  • in broad approximations (1 million or more): expected sales of over 2 million copies;
    a state budget of $2.8 billion; the U.S. population will surpass 265 million
  • for back-to-back modifiers: a class of 21 six-year-olds (APA 3.44, p. 103)

numerals and numbers, forming plurals
Do not use apostrophes to form plurals of numbers and numerals. Simply add s or es:
twos and threes; fifties and hundreds; 1980s and 1990s; Gay ’90s, Roaring ’20s


OCIRA= Ohio Council of the International Reading Association
OCLC = Online Computer Library Center (information/cataloging system)
occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence

ODBC = Open Database Connectivity. A standard method of sharing data between databases and other programs.

OERI = Office of Educational Research and Improvement (of U.S. Dept. of Education)
OISE = Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
OK (preferred over okay in WNWD)
one-on-one (hyphenate as adjective preceding its noun; otherwise open)

online (preferred over the hyphenated form on-line)
APA, WNWD, CMS, and RH 1 specify on-line as the proper form of an adjective preceding its noun. However, RH and NCTE journals use the closed form, online. IRA writers and editors should use online for the sake of consistency with our electronic journal, Reading Online. This position is defended by Copy Editor, 4/5 1997, p. 6.

online bookstore
Note this change in IRA style: "online bookstore" will no longer routinely be capitalized.

online directory

Added 09-05-03:

Online Marketplace

1. The term Online Marketplace constitutes the name of IRA's e-commerce site and should therefore be capitalized in most applications. The phrase is lowercased only when used explicitly as a generic term: IRA's Online Marketplace, like any other online marketplace, invites users to choose among a wide variety of products.

2. The term Marketplace, when used as a shortened form of Online Marketplace, should also be capitalized.

on-screen (adj. preceding noun)

on site / on-site
This term is hyphenated as an adjective preceding the noun it modifies (an on-site inspection, on-site services). In other uses it is left open (the services are delivered on site). Thus, “Attendees who fail to preregister by March 3 must register on site. On-site registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, April 30, 1999.”

ORA = Oklahoma Reading Association or Oregon Reading Association
OSI = Open Society Institute (Soros)

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