Planets Magazine Style Guide

We have a large library of articles on Planets Mag now, and it’s become very time-consuming to go through and edit each one of them. Since there are so many authors, we’ve come to a point where we need to agree on some uniformity. This not only will keep the quality of our content consistent, but it also will make the Mag easier to read.

A lot of articles currently on the Mag will need to be updated to match this style guide, including all of my own. From now on, it will really help if authors refer to the style guide while writing. Feel free to ask questions, and we will add to or modify the style guide as needed.

General Guidelines

Planets Mag is different than other VGA Planets informational sites because (1) the Mag is specifically tailored for Nu players and (2) all content is peer-reviewed and goes through a rigorous editing process for accuracy and quality.

All content on Planets Mag is expected to be accurate and intended for Nu players. Because of the shortcomings of the documentation on Nu, please avoid linking to pages on Nu unless you are certain that they are completely accurate. Also please avoid links to Donovan’s, the VGA Planets Wiki, or other VGA Planets sites, as they typically do not hold to the same peer-reviewed editorial quality standards as Planets Mag.

Site and Game Names

  • Use Planets Mag, Planets Magazine, or planetsmagazine.com to identify Planets Mag.
  • Use Planets (or VGA Planets) when referring to all versions of the game.
  • Use Planets.Nu or just Nu to refer to the new game.
  • Do not use VGAP or other abbreviations.

Spelling

Prefer American spelling (color, organize, dialog) as opposed to British (colour, organise, dialogue). Regional differences/preferences in spelling are acceptable.

Special words:

  • Use torpedoes not torpedos
  • Use leaderboard not leader board, and do not capitalize.
  • Use the word uncloak when referring to a ship coming out of cloak.
  • Use the word decloak when talking about a ship being removed from cloak by a Loki or by other means.
  • Do not use “fc” as an abbreviation for anything! Please spell out the words Firecloud, friendly code, Falcon.

Some names have been spelled incorrectly in some versions of the game. It is acceptable to use either these correct spellings or the spelling from the game.

  • Guardian Class Destroyer
  • Topaz Class Gunboat
  • Madonzilla Class Carrier
  • Reptilian
  • Ghipsoidal

Minefields and Mineral Mines

  • Minefield is written as one word.
  • Use web instead of “webminefield”.
  • Never use the word “mine” by itself if there is any ambiguity as to its meaning.
    • Prefer minefield or deep space mines when referring to the kind out in space.
    • Prefer mineral mines when referring to the planetary structure.
  • Minesweep can be written as one word.

Capitalization

Within titles and sub-headers, important words are capitalized. The beginning word of a sentence is always capitalized. Beyond these, only proper names are capitalized. Names of ships, playable races, and native races are proper names. Under normal circumstances, verbs are not capitalized.

Examples of words capitalized: Echo Cluster, Thin Lizzy, Loki Class Destroyer, Treaty of Nimbus 7, Amphibians, Cyborg, Imperial Assault, Stellar Cartography.

Examples of words not capitalized: planet, starbase, engine, minefield, ion storm, glory device, warp well, chunnel, molybdenum, pre-tribal, friendly code, beam weapon, gamma bombs, heavy phasers, campaign game.

Because the different grades of engines are stylized in the game as quasi-brand names, they should be considered proper nouns and capitalized as in the game. ex. Transwarp Drive, Hyper Drive 8, Quantam (sic) Drive 7, HeavyNova Drive 6, Nova Drive 5, SuperStarDrive 4, StarDrive 3, etc.

The word Emperor is always capitalized when referring to a present, past, or future Emperor of the Echo Cluster. ex. “Future Emperors will impart much wisdom to the Nu community.”

The DIE HARD league uses all capitals for its name.

Punctuation

  • Use full stop, comma, interrogation point, exclamation point as commonly used in all varieties of English.
  • Colon (:) indicates an introduction of a list or an illustration of the clause preceeding.
  • Semicolon (;) is used between two independent clauses.
  • Use a hyphen (-) in compound adjectives (in common use this is obligatory in Britain and optional in America). ex. “This is the first article in a three-part series.”
  • Typing the hyphen twice while editing will make an emdash — if you use this punctuation mark in your writing, please use an emdash and not a hyphen, and put spaces on both sides of it.
  • Use one space (not two) after a full stop. (WordPress messes up line breaks when there are two spaces. This will be a difficult habit for me to break.)

Names of Races

Use only the official VGA Planets names for races. Do not use the name of a race’s counterpart in science fiction. Names of races are always capitalized, regardless of whether they are being used as a noun or adjective.

Short Name Full Name (Use Sparingly) As adjective
Feds The Solar Federation Fed
Lizards The Lizard Alliance Lizard
Birdmen or Birds The Empire of the Birds Bird
Fascists The Fascist Empire Fascist
Privateers The Privateer Bands Privateer
Cyborg The Cyborg Cyborg
Crystals The Crystal Confederation Crystalline
Empire The Evil Empire Imperial
Robots The Robotic Imperium Robotic
Rebels The Rebel Confederation Rebel
Colonies The Missing Colonies of Man Colonial

Example: The Colonies attacked an Imperial freighter. While the Crystal Confederation watched the Colonial assault, they laid Crystalline webs in Robotic space.

Incorrect: The Colonials attacked an Empire freighter.  While the Crystallines watched the Colony’s assault, they laid Crystal webminefields in Robot space.

Abbreviations for Units

  • kt = kiloton. May be used with a number without a space.  ex. 25kt of neutronium
  • ly = light year. May be used with a number without a space.  ex. 340-360ly
  • MC = megacredits.  This requires a space.  ex. 10.000 MC

Numbers

  • Use a comma (,) as the decimal placeholder. ex. The ship’s waypoint is 81,2ly away.
  • Use a dot (.) as the thousands separator when needed. ex. 10.000 MC.
  • Four-digit numbers do not need a thousands separator.
  • Numbers between zero and one require a zero to the left of the decimal placeholder. ex. 0,49 = 49/100.

Math and Formulas

  • Use = + – * / ^ ( ) > < symbols as in computer science.
  • Ordered pairs and map coordinates go in parentheses with a comma separator (x,y).
  • Use sqrt(x) for square root.
  • For trig functions use sin(x), etc.
  • Use pi or π for 3,1416.
  • Add spaces inside any math formula if it makes it easier to read.

Miscellaneous

  • It is always acceptable to use “fuel” instead of “neutronium”.
  • Never refer to engines simply by their speed or tech level. Use the stylized name from the game (refer to the list under “Capitalization” above).
  • Use “Host 3.22.047” instead of “THost”.

Formatting Style

  • Lists should be made using the bulleted or numbering lists tool.
  • Titles of sections within an article should be formatted in bold, but not italicized, underlined, or written in all capital letters.  The font size should remain the same as the body of the text.  No punctuation is necessary for titles of sections.
  • An extra line break is not necessary between sections.
  • Avoid using multiple emphasis devices when one is sufficient (for example, it is usually not necessary to combine bold and italic print).

Appendix: The Massive Editing Project

I’m in the process of going through and editing every post on the site one by one. My goal is one per day. If you are an author and want me not to touch your article, you can edit it yourself to conform with the style guide.

The following posts now conform to the style guide:

  • Minefields: Behind the Host (veldan)
  • Who’s On First? Combat Order and Battle Value (gnerphk)
  • Cloak Intercept: A Feature Badly In Need of a New Name (ecv)
  • Advanced Combat: Left vs. Right (gnerphk)
  • Virgos: Worryingly Powerful or Powerfully Worrying? (ksb)
  • The Nine Attributes of Space Mines (veldan)
  • The Inside Scoop: Tenacity (gnerphk)
  • The Firecloud Class Cruiser and the Art of the Chunnel (gnerphk)
  • Honor In Warfare? A Dissent (ecv)
  • Blitz Tournament 0029 (csy)
  • DIE HARD 2 finishes (big beefer)
  • Deep Space Mine Probabilities (thin)
  • Planets Magazine Style Guide (ecv)
  • Priority Build Points (ecv)
  • The Amazing Small Deep Space Freighter (ecv)
  • Chasing Carriers (thin)
  • Friendly Codes (space)
  • Capturing High-Value Ships (space)

These posts are next in line to be edited for style:

  • Hearts of Space (ecv)
  • The Importance of Staying Hidden (bacchus)
  • Straight Talk About the Tractor Beam (ecv)
  • Loki Logic (big beefer)
  • Early Construction (ecv)
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15 thoughts on “Planets Magazine Style Guide

  1. I approve of the concept of our adopting a uniform style. I’d also highly recommend that most excellent work by Strunk & White, “The Elements Of Style”, as a uniform guide wherever questions may arise.

    I dislike change in general, but these seem reasonable.

    It does seem odd that we’re using English as our common language but a Continental style in our numbering conventions. Still, if that is the consensus opinion, I shall endeavour to comply.

    (Apologies; I mean “endeavor”.)

  2. Hehehehe. Well said, G.

    This game is played by a large number of Europeans who watch Hollywood movies. We will do the numbering their way and they talk/spell our way :D

    There wasn’t exactly a consensus opinion – this document represents compromises between different ideas. I like how it came out.

    Dammit, I’m still putting 2 spaces after a period. Crud, did it again. Better quit while I’m ahead :P

  3. You know, we could simply modify the standard font, mate.

    In the depths of my anarchic soul, I’ve determined to at least try to insert 24-point single spaces after my periods and see how it works.

    In the mean while, I’m doing single-sentence paragraphs where practicable; I find that if one uses sufficient clause extensors and employs a liberal approach to the art of sesquipedalianism, one can easily achieve a respectable paragraphinatory length in both words and print lines… though I’ll confess, it does play Hob with my usual approach to the avoidance of unnecessary adverbs.

  4. BAHAHAHA! My friend Roget and I can out-sesquip you any day, bro!

    Do I need to make an extra column for adverbial forms of race names, just for you?

    Federally, Lizardly, Birdly, Fascistically, Privateeresquely, Hive-mindedly, Crystallographically, Imperially, Robotically, …….

  5. May i suggest:
    – using space after comma when specifying coords, like (1027, 2031);
    – using emdash when specifying intervals, like 340–360 ly (note the lack of spaces around the emdash – that is intentional).

    Eventually we’ll run beyond square root and trig (trig? – i’ve always thought of them as of trigonometric – after all, that is a style guide, let’s be stylish) functions. Maybe we need some special formatting to denote functions (and maintain functions list, perhaps?)

    On capitalization – what if section’s title contains something usually written capitalized – like, DIE HARD league?

    And.. do we really need that thousand separator? Please?

  6. Hi fkite, thanks for the response. The space in an ordered pair is optional. The emdash does look nice for intervals, but I don’t want to make that obligatory for everybody.

    I’m very open to the idea of having universally defined functions and a list maintained separate from here.

    If a section’s title contains DIE HARD, then of course those two words are written in all caps. I don’t know anything else in our common use that would apply to, but yes.

    The thousands separator is optional. We will not be adding thousands separators if you choose to leave them out.

  7. Updated the text to clarify the numbers section.

    Fkite, on second thought I don’t like the emdash in intervals, as you proposed. To me it begins to look like a minus sign.

  8. I fink w3 shud b aloud 2 right wateva w3 want 2 innit cos puncushon iz 4 noobs n old peepz.

    Big up ya ECV!

  9. On emdash: a ‘minus’ sign in math is produced by a single hyphen, though emdash is produced by two hyphens, resulting in quite different symbols. Alas, WordPress behaves strangely – at least, out of a hyphen surrounded by spaces, sometimes it produces a short dash (a hyphen?), while sometimes – longer dash (emdash?).
    Btw, i don’t want to be a DTP-nazi here, but we need to set a distinct ‘minus’ sign to be used. And quotation marks – or these could make texts motley. And maths – for some strange reasons, mathematicians like their maths italicized, maybe, we should conform?

  10. FKite: No. Not “no” to any one thing in particular. “No” wholesale.
    KSB: This is grammar, not spelling.

    In general: Let’s try and keep the limitations to a reasonable minimum. Otherwise, we’re apt to find ourselves writing less in general; moreover, we’ll end up removing any individuality — and therefore flavour — from articles.

    Standardized style is an excellent tool in just exactly that way that a hammer is. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that not everything is a nail (metaphorically speaking).

  11. A job half-done is job undone. Either reasonable style guide, covering the most aspects, or we have none at all. Worst thing is when an author is plunged into something like that: “this is how i do that, that is how i do this, but how in the world should i do another that?”. Partial standard is an obstacle – most of the time. I think i can understand some of the reason of your “no” (at least, to some extent) – being a writer you should feel uncomfortable restricted by bounds of a standard. While i, being a programmer, feel most comfortable when everything follows a well-developed standard. After all, no chance i could hear your “no” without a helluva lot of standards. And individuality? In VGAP (style guide doesn’t cover comments, huh?) you are quite restricted – don’t tell me your individuality is suppressed. Standard serves two tasks: first – to let an author to concentrate on _what_ he is writing instead of _how_ he does it, and second – to let readers to uniformally understand what is written. The are two kinds of standards – those what really do both tasks, and those what are products of a job half-done.
    Still, i do not believe i can change your mind.

  12. I’m a firm believer in the power of a well-reasoned argument. Failing that, humour and irony are often powerful persuasive tools. Sarcasm, of course, is best reserved for those who are unable to understand the milder forms; it persuades many, but only rarely does the target receive the benefit.

    In this case, for instance, I’d suggest that if one desires a more comprehensive standard, one ought certainly to have it; however, it seems unreasonable to impose such on those that desire less. The introduction of a “Dual Standard” therefore seems appropriate: the optional versus the merely encouraged. One example of this would be the three-sentence paragraph model; it’s usually a more readable format, but I’ve seen highly effective single-sentence standalone statements or even dare I say fragments that deserve paragraphs to themselves.

    Speaking more generally, I find that limitation tends to stifle creativity when employed injudiciously, whereas when used to channel creation it is a powerful – nay, essential – tool. After all, where would C be without the semicolon? How productive is a garden without rows? And why the duck-billed platypus?

    (Not why it is anything, just why it is.)

    Speaking of fragmentary sentences and insequential writing patterns, I would again heartily recommend Strunk & White. That style guide provides an excellent pattern for the creation of powerful communication. It should (but doesn’t, for some reason) go without saying that I disobey some of the strictures they impose; the general structure they propose, however, is an admirable one.

    It’s available at fine booksellers everywhere. If you can’t find one of those, let me know; I also do mail-order.

  13. No. It’s good as is. I’m not going to split hairs. Each author has the freedom to do whatever he wants, and I don’t care if they use a dash or a minus. We just want things to look consistent and somewhat uniform.

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