IRA Style Guide

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V - W - X - Y - Z


Vacca, Jo Anne L.
Venn diagram (capitalize name, after John Venn [1834–1923], British logician.)
vice president (see capitalization rules for president)
vice versa
videocassette (closed, according to WNWD and RH)
videotape (noun and verb)
Visa (the ® should be omitted.)
visual-motor skills

Added 7-17-03:

vs. (note the period)
Since versus is a preposition, when vs. appears in a title it should be lowercased.


Added 7-17-03:

Washington, DC
Washington state (not Washington State)

a web of interconnected information

the Web (the World Wide Web)

website, parts and sections
• When referring to the name of a part or section of a website (i.e., a part or section consisting of one full page or more), use title case and put quotation marks around the name (e.g., “Focus on Issues in Reading.”)
• When referring to a feature of the site (Quick Links, navigation bar) or a part of the site that consists of less than one full page, use no quotation marks.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)

well + adjective or participle (CMS 6.1)
Compounds consisting of well plus a participle or adjective are hyphenated before the noun (well-known person); open after the noun (That person is well known); open if preceded by an adverb (fairly well known).


west / West, western / Western (see directional terms)

whether / whether or not
The word whether implies two alternatives, “whether so,” and “whether not.” Thus, or not is redundant and “usually unnecessary” (NYPL). However, M-WDEU testifies to the use of whether or not by authoritative writers for over a century and insists that the usage is legitimate. IRA authors are urged to avoid the unnecessary “or not.” Editors should use discretion in deciding whether (or not?) to delete the phrase.

which / that (see also restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers)
1. Use which to introduce a nonrestrictive modifier (i.e., one that is nonessential to the meaning of the sentence). Note also that a “which” clause should almost always be set off from the main sentence by a comma. Example: This Bible, which has been in my family for generations, is over 200 years old.

2. Use that to introduce a restrictive modifier (i.e., one that is essential to proper understanding of the sentence because it limits or restricts the word it modifies). Note that a restrictive modifier should not be separated (e.g., by a comma) from the word it modifies. Example: A Bible that is over 200 years old may require careful handling.

while / although
1. In its standard usage, while is a preposition or subordinating conjunction that means “during the time that.” Examples: “While reading a particularly dull passage, Roger fell asleep.” or “While he was reading, Roger fell asleep.”

2. In another common but problematic usage, while is used to mean “although” (“While the book has been considered a classic, it is very dull reading.”). Because this usage can result in ambiguity (during the time that the book has been considered a classic? or although the book has been considered a classic?), IRA authors and editors should avoid it. Choose although instead.

who / whom
1. Who is a pronoun in the nominative (subjective) case. Most often, it functions as the subject of a question (Who am I? Who has not read The Last of the Mohicans?) or of a relative clause (I am the only one who has not read the book). Who can also serve as a predicate nominative, i.e., the complement of a linking verb (She is not who she seems to be). Who can never be a direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, or object of a verbal (gerund, infinitive, or participle).

2. Whom is a pronoun in the objective case. Most often, it serves as the object of a preposition (...the person of whom we spoke; ...the man to whom the insult was directed; ...a woman for whom the most difficult tasks seem easy). Whom can also serve as the direct object of a verb (Whom did you see? Is she the person whom you told?). Less often, whom may serve as the object of a verbal (...the person concerning whom I have already written). Whom can never function as a subject or predicate nominative.

3. Do not use the word that as a substitute for who or whom; reserve that for references to impersonal objects. Thus, the sentence “She is someone that I know well” is nonstandard. Write instead, “She is someone whom I know well” or, less formally, “She is someone I know well.”

whole language (noun or adjective)
whole-word (adj.)

Added 7-17-03:

"-wide" constructions
Some adjective phrases ending in "wide" are closed (citywide, statewide). Others are hyphenated (office-wide, university-wide). IRA style generally follows WNWD on this; if the dictionary says the word is closed, we will close it. In most cases, the absence of a word from the dictionary means we should hyphenate it (organization-wide); however, exceptions may be made for words that are very common in the context of reading instruction (e.g., schoolwide).

WISC = Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
WISC-III (third edition) (Use a hyphen, rather than an en-dash.)
WISC-R (revised) Use a hyphen, rather than an en-dash.)
WJ-R = Woodcock–Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised
word-association test
word bank
word-by-word reading
word calling

word division (APA 4.04; CMS 6.43–6.58)
Use a hyphen to mark a word break at the end of a line of type. The following are general rules about when and how to use word breaks. See CMS Chap. 6.43–6.58 for a more detailed discussion.

1. Divide words between syllables, never within syllables. Any standard American dictionary will indicate correct syllabification of words. (British syllabification [demo-/cracy] will not always agree with American [democ-/racy]. In IRA publications, use the American system.

2. The following line breaks are not permissible:
a. a break that leaves a single letter at the end of a line: a-/bility, a-/gain, i-/tem, u-/nite

b. a break that starts the next line with a one-letter word-ending: might-/y, nois-/y, bus-/y

3. Avoid the following if you can:
a. Starting a line with a two-letter word-ending: wat-/er, wonderful-/ly, mon-/ey, loss-/es

b. Breaking a compound word at any place other than the original junction: pov-/erty-stricken, moth-/er-in-law, self-re-/spect, semico-/lon, pseu-/doscientific

c. Breaking words so that the result is misleading or confusing: bum-/blebee, reap-/pear

d. Breaking a person’s name (Fred-/erick L. Anderson), or breaking before an initial (T./ S. Eliot; Robert/ E. Lee) (see CMS 6.53)

word-frequency count
wordplay (one word, closed, per WNWD and RH; contra The Literacy Dictionary)
word-processing (hyphenate as adjective preceding its noun; otherwise, leave open)
word processor (two words, open, per WNWD and RH; contra The Literacy Dictionary)

word spacing
When preparing copy that will be typeset, avoid double spaces after a period or colon and between the state and zip code in a U.S. address. When editing copy that will be typeset, search and replace double spaces with single spaces.

workplace literacy

work sheet / worksheet
Although both WNWD and RH prefer “work sheet,” IRA authors seem overwhelmingly to prefer “worksheet.” Our official spelling is thus be the closed compound, worksheet, on the analogy of workbook.


work study / work-study
When used as an adjective preceding the noun it modifies, work-study is hyphenated. Thus, “a work-study student,” “a work-study program,” “a work-study experience.” In all other cases, the phrase is left open, not hyphenated.

world congress / World Congress on Reading
1. Capitalize as part of full formal name: the 18th World Congress on Reading.

2. Capitalize in promotional materials, publications, correspondence, and memoranda directed to an IRA audience: the World Congress. Otherwise, lowercase.: a congress, the next world congress .

World Wide Web (the Web)
writer’s block
writers’ workshop


As a registered trade name, this word cannot be used as a verb (instead, use to photocopy) or as a common noun or adjective (instead, use a photocopy). See trade names.

XML = Extensible Markup Language


YALS = Young Adult Literacy Survey (1985)
YALSA = Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association (ALA)

year round / year-round
(hyphenate as adj. preceding its noun; otherwise, open): Her teaching is a year-round committment. She teaches year round.


zip codes
U.S. zip+4 codes are listed online at To speed delivery of mail to U.S. addresses, use zip+4 codes.

zone of proximal development (ZPD; associated with L. Vygotsky. Note change in capitalization of this term.)

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