USS Zion Documentation Center

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Writing Style Guide


Please be aware of the use of apostrophes. Contractions like can’t, let’s, you’re, wouldn’t, and don’t require the use of apostrophes. Please use them.

An apostrophe is also used to indicate possessives such as, “the captain’s ready room.”

To show possession by more than one person you must make the word plural first, and then add the apostrophe. For example, the statement, “It’s the Ferengis’ home world” would show that you are talking about the planet of more than one Ferengi, whereas, the statement, “It’s the Ferengi’s home world,” would indicate that you were referring to the home planet of a single Ferengi.

One common mistake is the use of the word its. If you are using the word to say “it is,” then you should use the apostrophe “it’s.” If, on the other hand, you are using the word to show a possession like, “The computer has lost its mind.” Then you would not use an apostrophe.

Please do not omit apostrophes, they are important. If you are not sure please ask someone.


When you are writing please use capital letters for the following: ·

  • Capitalize the first letter of each sentence. ·
  • Capitalize all major words in a title. ·
  • A person’s title is capitalized when it precedes their name.
    Captain Hunter
    Lieutenant Silvio ·
  • Capitalize any title when used as a direct form of address.
    “I feel sick Doctor,” said Hunter.
    “Have a great day Captain.”
    “Right away Chief,” said Whitmore.
    “I hate to break this up,” said
    Whitmore, “But lunch is over, we
    better get back to work before the chief finds us.” Note: In the last example, chief is not capitalized because it is not being used to address the chief engineer
  • Capitalize proper nouns (names).
  • Capitalize the first letter of quoted material.

Dialog & Quotation Marks

Dialog between characters in your posts should be enclosed in quotation marks. In general, the rule of thumb is that dialog between two or more character alternate paragraphs.

Good Example:
“Good morning Captain,” said Wright, “May I have a word with you?”

“Yes, of course Number One,“ replied Hunter, “Let’s go to my ready room.”

Incorrect Example:
“Good morning Captain,” said Wright, “May I have a word with you?” “Yes, of course Number One, “replied Hunter, “Let’s go to my ready room.”

You will notice that the first example is much less confusing.

It is also a good idea to break up long dialog with some non quoted narrative that described how your character is acting while he is talking. This can convey just how your character really feels. For example, if your character is telling someone about a new idea he might be nodding his head and smiling with excitement.

In regard to punctuation, commas and periods are always inside the quotation marks. Other punctuation marks depend on the nature of the quoted material.

“Where do you want to go tonight?” asked Silvio.
Seeing a crew member Hunter asked, “Have you seen my cat?”
“That is incredible!” said Dane.
“Set a course for Risa,” ordered Wright.

Examples to Avoid:

Please avoid using the following methods of dialog.
“That is good.” said Wright.

In this example, using a period inside the quote here is not correct as the "said Wright." actually finishes the sentence. Use a comma instead. "That is good," said Wright.

Do not write dialog in script format:
WRIGHT: “Good morning Sir!”
HUNTER: “Good morning Number One.”

Person and Tense

The story of the USS Zion is written in third person, past tense. This means that it is written like most novels, with a third unknown person telling the story. Reference to people are usually made with words like, he, she, they, their, his, hers, him, her, and so on.

Example: Wright entered the mess hall and was surprised to find that it was a disaster area. It appeared to him that there had been a large food fight.

Incorrect example: I walked into the mess hall and I was surprised to find a huge mess. I think that someone had a food fight in there.

Another incorrect example: Wright walks into the mess hall and sees that it is in a mess. He is surprised. It appears to him as if someone has had a food fight in here.

While the last example is in the third person it is incorrect because it is in the present tense and not the past tense. We tell our story from the time perspective of the past.


The invention of the Internet has caused writers to become lazy. They take shortcuts in their writing. For example, many people use the letter “u” to replace the word “you”. Capital letters and punctuation marks have almost disappeared in everyday Internet communications. We discourage these practices here. Please use proper grammar and punctuation to the best of your ability. If you are not sure about something you have written please ask for help.

One shortcut that we have used in the past on this SIM is to type the symbol =/= to indicate we were using the ships communications system. We would like to discontinue this practice going forward. Instead, when you are accessing the ships communication system describe in your writing what is happening.


Melissa’s thoughts were interrupted by the soft beep of the ship’s communication system. The captain’s voice filled the room, “Lieutenant Jarvis, please report to my ready room.”

Also, using all capitial letters to indicate tha someone is shouting or excited should be avoided. You will find that the quality of your writing will be stronger if you take the time to describe what is happening rather than relying on the capital letters shortcut.

Spell Checkers

Most email clients these days are equipped with a spell checker. Please run your posts though a spell checker prior to posting it. You would be surprised how many typing mistakes and misspelled words can be caught by a good spell check.


Posts should be submitted in plain text only. Please do not submit them in HTML, RTF, or any other format. Your post should be single spaced with a carriage return between each paragraph. Paragraphs should not be indented.

In order to be submitted to our automatic posting system your posts need to be emailed in a certain manner. Please see: Posting Format