RNLI house style

As part of the RNLI brand, house style will help you write to a high standard, inspiring confidence and credibility. By following the house style you can get messages across more effectively.

The RNLI's house style includes both specialist RNLI terminology and more wide-ranging language. It gives guidance on correct use, spelling and formatting, including capitalisation, italicisation, hyphenation and punctuation.

If there are any queries please contact Editor Bethany Hope.


  • Use no full stops or spaces in an abbreviation.
  • Eliminate full stops wherever possible:
    • UK, US
    • Mr, Ms, Dr
    • Hon, Rev
    • MJ Smith
    • am, pm
    • PS
    • Co Durham, Co Limerick
    • St (Street or Saint)
    • Rd
    • Ltd
  • Do not use shortened forms for months or days of the year: January, Monday, except in opening hours/listings where space is tight.
  • See capitals (days; months).
  • Use the full forms rather than abbreviations if space allows for:
  • ie that is
  • eg for example.
  • Avoid the use of etc. Use 'and so on' if necessary.
  • Abbreviations of job titles and organisations should always be spelled out in full the first time they appear.
  • Therefore, in the first instance, use:
  • Chief Executive (CE)
  • International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF)
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)
  • but
  • CE, IMRF afterwards.
  • There is no need to give the abbreviation if the term is not referred to again.
  • The UK does not need to be spelled out, except when used in the charity statement. See charity status.
  • Write Republic of Ireland in full, not RoI.
  • Write the RNLI, not just RNLI. See also RNLI and capitals (services). Write an RNLI badge, not a RNLI badge.
  • See RNLI and lifeboats.

Abbreviations for internal or specialist use only:

RNLI emails and memos are often full of abbreviations and acronyms. Be aware that this can reach a point where the text looks encrypted.

Do not use RNLI-specific abbreviations if you are writing for an external audience or department-specific abbreviations for those outside your team or department.

If it is really cumbersome to use an often-repeated specialist term in full, for example health and safety or public rescue equipment, then use the acronym H&S, PRE after introducing it in full.

Here's a selection of RNLI abbreviations to help translate:

ALB – all-weather lifeboat

ALC – All-weather Lifeboat Centre

AX – Dynamics AX (use in full the first time and AX after, part of the Business Systems Modernisation programme)

BSMP – Business Systems Modernisation programme

CI – continuous improvement

COACS – call out and communications system (pager system for crew)

CoBT – competence-based training

CRM – customer relationship management

CPRS – confidential position reporting system

DAM – digital asset management (RNLI photo and video library, also called the Source)

DoDo – drive-on drive-off (see also DoDo and drive-on drive-off)

EAM – engineering and asset management

EPIRB – emergency position indicating radio beacon

ESA – enabling stream analysis, part of continuous improvement

ETA – estimated time of arrival

FRT – Flood Rescue Team

H&S – health and safety

ILB – inshore lifeboat

ILC – Inshore Lifeboat Centre

IRH – inshore rescue hovercraft

LMA – lifeboat medical adviser

LMC – Lifeboat Maintenance Centre

LOM – lifeboat operations manager

LRC – Learning Resources Centre

LSAR – lifesaving activity reporting (was returns of service)

LSC – Lifeboat Support Centre

M&M or MM – Marketing and Media

MRM – marketing resource management, a workflow management system

PLB – personal locator beacon

PPE – protective personal equipment

PRE – public rescue equipment

RADAR – the RNLI's appraisal system

RIE – rapid improvement event, part of continuous improvement

RWC – rescue watercraft

SAP – systems, applications and products (now Dynamics AX)

SAR – search and rescue

SGOB – Safety Get Onboard

SHE – safety, health and environment

SIMS – systems and information management system (computer software onboard lifeboats)

SLRS – Shannon launch and recovery system

TBPSE – team-based problem solving event

VSA – value stream analysis.

See capitals (titles) for use of initial capitals when using the terms in full.

  • We are committed to making RNLI communications accessible to everyone, online and offline.
  • The Equality Act 2010 requires the RNLI as a service provider to take reasonable steps to ensure that all printed material and marketing activities are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • We can make RNLI communications more accessible to people with visual impairment and to people who have hearing loss at little, or no, additional cost.
  • For greater accessibility use plain English and avoid acronyms and jargon.

See diversity.

see capitals (titles)

Addresses should not be punctuated when written in blocks. Always include the postcode/Eircode on a separate line:


West Quay Road



BH15 1HZ

Punctuate addresses when written in lines, including before the postcode: Arklow Lifeboat Station, South Quay, Arklow, Co Wicklow, Y14 HW11.

No comma following the figure in a road or street address:

116 The High Street

not adrenalin

(noun) advise (verb)

This housestyle can offer you some practical advice.

The Creative Services Team will advise you on how to use this house style.

See also practice and practise.

an RNLI personal, face-to-face safety advice service that takes place onboard.

not advisor


To act upon, to change or to cause a change, to make a difference to, to have an effect on.

  • I was greatly affected by the roll of the waves.


  • The roll of the waves had an effect on me.

See effect.

Remember, people can be sensitive about their age, so check before using. Format as follows:

  • 4-year-old boy

  • 11-year-old girl

  • The 20-year-old said ...

  • Teresa (36) was shocked ...

  • John, who was 43 years old ...

  • Robert, aged 91, fundraised for the RNLI.

See numbers and measurements (time).

not air bag

All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC), Poole

See capitals (buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues) and abbreviations.

not all weather lifeboat

not alot

  • RNLI Ambassador (note initial capital)

  • Ambassador Wainwright

  • the French Ambassador.

See capitals – titles.

See capitals (buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues).

not amongst

and And

  • Avoid the use of ampersands (&):

    • Midsomer Norton and Radstock Branch, not Midsomer Norton & Radstock Branch.

  • Only use ampersands if it is part of the company name:

    • M&S, Tate & Lyle, or with certain abbreviations including P&D and H&S.

  • 'And' can be used at the start of sentences but use it sparingly and correctly for special effect.

not a historical

Use 'he' or 'she' if the animal has a name, like Barney the dog or Nellie the elephant, and 'it' if it doesn't have a name.

see capitals (anniversaries)

Annual Report and Accounts

Note use of italics and capitals. See capitals (titles).

Apostrophes are used in two ways:

To denote a possessive – the crew member's Gold Medal

  • With a plural possessive, the apostrophe goes after the s – the boys' school.
  • When the noun itself is plural, the apostrophe appears before the s – the crew's gear, the children's laughter.
  • With a singular possessive, the apostrophe goes before the s – the girl's ball.
  • When using apostrophes possessively after an s, add another s: Charles's, Thomas's, unless the last syllable of the name is pronounced iz as in Bridges' and Moses', or the word itself is plural: members'.
  • Father's Day, Mother's Day
  • goat's cheese, sheep's cheese

To indicate that letters have been left out (contractions) - don't tell me what to do.

  • It's – short for it is or it has. It's surprisingly common to make this mistake.
  • but its – a possessive word (like my, your). Every country has its traditions.
  • Use contractions – such as it's, can't, shouldn't, I'll – in more informal publications or letters or if quoting somebody but avoid overuse.

Do not use apostrophes in the plural forms of dates or abbreviations.

  • For example: ILBs, 1990s, dos and don'ts (not ILB's, 1990's, do's and don't's).

see capitals (appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes)

plural appendices

Use inshore rescue boat (IRB) rather than Arancia, which is a trade name. See inshore rescue boat and abbreviations.

(initial capital)

This is not a class of lifeboat. A type of rigid inflatable lifeboat named after Atlantic College. Include the relevant type number where space allows: Atlantic 75 or 85. The Atlantic is a B class lifeboat. See lifeboat class.

See capitals (buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/ venues).

No initial capitals for generic use:

  • local authority funding

  • local authorities.

See also local and government/Government.

Formerly known as auxiliary coastguards, now known as volunteer coastguard rescue officers. See Coastguard.

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