Introducing the Cybersecurity Style Guide: V1.1

Many thanks for the tweet by Yoel Strimling (@reb_yoel), editor of Corrigo, the Official Publication of the STC Technical Editing SIG (@stc_te_sig), for the post "From Around the Web: The Cybersecurity Style Guide".

The latest version of the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide by Brianne Hughes and her team is now available. Download Version 1.1 According to Brianne's post, the revised style guide covers common tools for security research, angles of attack, corporate jargon, and pop culture. A new Appendix B is about using progressive language, and most terms include parts of speech.

This is a living reference work and we welcome your feedback. If you have suggestions for future improvement, please let us know at

Brianne Hughes

Note: Brianne Hughes (@E_Briannica) is a Technical Editor at Bishop Fox, a security consulting firm providing services to the Fortune 500, global financial institutions, and high-tech startups. Brianne holds a Master of Linguistics from the University of York. She continues to pursue her research on compound morphology and has shared her linguistic findings with Ignite Portland, SHEL/DSNA, and Odd Salon.

Redundant Acronym Phrases (RAP) Project

2011-4 parrot in Strasbourg
Nandy Parakeet by J. Patrick Fischer (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes you can find useful technical communication information in the most unlikely places. The RAP Project is hidden in the Nandy Conure Page website. Birders will know that a nanday conure is a beautiful medium-small mostly green Neotropical parrot (also known as the black-hooded parakeet). This website has a gallery of fan pages devoted to individual birds in addition to FAQ and a forum for nandy conure lovers.

The Nandy website also provides links to other items of interest to nandy conure lovers and an odd assortment of helpful resources such as:

  • A page which will automatically Balance Chemical Equations and calculate product/reactant mass relationships for you.
  • A Vegetarian Cookbook and message board.
  • A page to help technical writers and editors avoid the redundant acronym phrase (RAP) syndrome. is the official home of the Redundant Acronym Phrase (RAP) project.

A RAP is a phrase containing an acronym plus a word or phrase such that, when the acronym is expanded, the phrase would contain a redundancy. This is best illustrated by an example: ATM machine. ATM is an acronym for automated teller machine. Thus, ATM machine really means automated teller machine machine.

Clearing redundant acronym phrases from your writing will help with translations of your writing and will improve accessibility when screen readers read the full spelled out meaning of an acronym for visually disabled users who would be puzzled hearing "machine machine".

See the Redundant Acronym Phrases (RAP) Project page for a complete current list of phrases in the project.

You are invited to suggest more possible redundant acronym phrases (must be actually used—not made up) using the contact form at

NWS Wants Your Comments on a Proposed Alternative to Simplify Winter Hazard Headlines

Here is an opportunity for technical communicators and usability experts to help improve weather-related public service announcements by the National Weather Service (NWS): "NWS Wants Your Comments on a Proposed Alternative to Simplify Winter Hazard Headlines" with a PowerPoint audiocast demonstration.  Updated

The National Weather Service (NWS) uses the terms Watch, Warning and Advisory (WWA) to describe how likely we believe a weather or flooding event is, how bad we think the associated impacts will be, and when the impacts will occur. Results from surveys, service assessments and feedback from some of our partners indicate many people may not fully understand what these terms mean or how to properly respond to stay safe and protect property. The public may also be confused on the distinction between WWA headlines for specific hazards, called hazard products. Examples of similar sounding hazard products include Winter Storm Warning, Winter Storm Watch, and Winter Weather Advisory.

In support of our Weather-Ready Nation initiative, NWS wants to start a conversation on how we might simplify and clarify our products. For this demonstration, we are proposing an alternative way to express headlines within our hazard messages, with winter hazard messages as a focus. If you have other ideas for simplifying and clarifying these messages, we want to hear them.

This demonstration, which will run through March 31, 2013, will provide you with the opportunity to compare headline text from a shortened version of our official WWA messages for winter weather hazards with a proposed alternative. These alternative messages are being created at selected locations (see map below) for demonstration purposes only. Also, the alternative messages will only be accessible via this Web page and via special links from the NWS Home Page and the Home Pages of participating NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). These messages are not being disseminated. All official NWS winter weather hazard messages will be disseminated as usual, including all computer-readable header information, e.g., Valid Time Event Code (VTEC). For more information, see the official Product Description Document (.pdf).

NWS is demonstrating this proposed alternative approach to hazard message simplification at 26 NWS WFOs this winter. For these sites, we are creating a side-by-side display to allow you to compare our current official headline text with proposed alternative text. These displays will be created continuously in real time based on our official products; however, these displays are being created for demonstration purposes only. We will continue to produce and disseminate all our official WWA products per current policy.

Our team has worked to translate every combination of winter WWA products that we could identify from our records. You can access the Translation Guide here for reference. We will continually monitor and, if necessary, add to the guide during the demonstration.

Based on an analysis of your comments, we will work with our partners and social scientists to determine next steps. If there is support for a simplified approach to winter hazards messaging, NWS will refine the concept based on the comments we receive. We also will work with our partners to determine the best way for their systems to ingest and process information contained in the new message formats.

Comment Now!

Please share your opinions on the overall hazard simplification concept via our standard survey form, used by NWS for all experimental products. For this demonstration, please focus on the following questions:

Question 3: Let us know what you like about the proposed alternative

Question 4: Let us know what you do not like about the proposed alternative

Question 9: Comment on the current WWA system and suggest alternatives to this proposal

Thanks for completing this short survey.

To ask general questions about this demonstration, or share comments about a specific dated WFO message, please email the team at We will answer as many questions as possible, depending on volume, and will add responses to frequently asked questions to the FAQ section.

Feel free to reply more than once as you review multiple products during the demonstration.

Center for Plain Language 2013 ClearMark and WonderMark Awards

What are the ClearMark and WonderMark awards?

Since 2010, the Center for Plain Language gives

  • ClearMark awards to the best examples of plain language in several categories
  • WonderMark awards to the worst examples

Join us in celebrating the best- and lampooning the worst—examples of communication.

Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2013

Who may nominate an entry?

Any individual, team, company, or agency may nominate an entry for either the ClearMark award (best example) or the WonderMark award (worst example). You can be the author, the office or organization, or a reader or user.

What is eligible? (categories)

ClearMark Awards

Use the 2013 Entry Form for ClearMark Awards

WonderMark Awards

Use the 2013 Entry Form for WonderMark Awards

How to submit a nomination for a ClearMark award

Nominations for the 2013 ClearMark awards are open until January 31, 2013. Winners will be announced at the awards banquet on April 16 at the National Press Club.

To plan your nomination for a ClearMark award:

  • Prepare the information for the nomination entry form
  • Read the award rules
  • Read the judging criteria

There is a fee to cover processing and handling for each entry:

  • $75 for public sector and member entries,
  • $130 for all entries from non-members, or
  • $115 to become a Center member and submit your nomination.

How will the Center judge the entries?

A panel of plain language experts will judge the entries according to these criteria.

When is the ClearMark Award ceremony?

Plan to join us whether you have an entry in the competition or not.

Save the date!
April 16, 2013
National Press Club
Washington DC