Uncommonly Fussy Writing Rules Now Rule House of Commons

If you wanted to put together a list of writing rules for an organization you run, there would be nothing wrong with that.

“OK , team. Let’s make it a policy to always include ‘Inc.’ with our company name. Let’s use serial commas. Let’s make ‘healthcare’ one word, and let’s follow the American punctuation style of always putting a period or comma before a closing quotation mark.” No problem here.

Note that none of these are universal rules. You could pick the opposite in every instance and be just as correct. Either way, it’s perfectly reasonable to lay out guidelines for how your subordinates should write official correspondence. No one will be offended. The odds you’ll make national news headlines are slim to none.

No, if you want your style guide to draw international media attention and tons of scornful commentary, you need to be a real jerk about it.

Pick some just-for-control-freak’s-sake style imperatives, toss in a few throwbacks to another century, then add just a pinch of narrow-minded isolationism and you have the style rules just imposed on the subordinates of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the newly appointed leader of Britain’s House of Commons.

“The Conservative Party politician, who is an Old Etonian and stickler for tradition, has outlined an extensive list of words that his staff are banned from using in correspondences with his constituents and fellow MPs,” writes CNN.

Here are some writing rules the U.K. politician seems to have pulled out of his ear.


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