ICC content style guide

Style points

Follow The Oxford Style Manual, Oxford University Press if a point is not covered here.

Abbreviations and acronyms

Use the full name with the abbreviation in brackets on first use on a page unless it is well known. Use the initials subsequently on the page. Only include the initials in brackets if you are going to use them later.

Example - Use the “Assembly of States Parties (ASP)” at first mention. Use the “ASP” subsequently.
- Use the “Assembly of States Parties” if it is only mentioned once.

Don’t use full stops except for: - B.C., A.D. - B.A. and other academic degrees - H.E. for His/Her Excellency


Prefer the possessive form with an apostrophe to “of”, e.g. “the witness’s testimony” rather than “the testimony of the witness”.

Use “of” in a higher register or when a dependent clause follows, e.g. “the testimony of the witness whose child was abducted”.

Use the possessive ending ’s after singular words and plural nouns not ending in s. The exception is where extra s is not pronounced, in which case, none is written.

Examples - the Court’s view - Judge Pikis’s dissenting opinion - Alex’s e-mail - for goodness’ sake

For plural nouns ending in s, an apostrophe follows the s, e.g. “the witness’s testimony”, but “the witnesses’ testimony”


Use curly brackets (like this) rather than square brackets [not like this].

Use parentheses, without a space, to enclose numbered paragraphs from legal instruments: article 3(1), rule 53(4)(a), etc. Note that in the final website text, most references such as this will be linked to the legal text rather than spelled out.

Only use square brackets to make amendments to quoted material and to provide translations or explanations of titles left in another language.

Bullet points

Use bullet points and lists to break up text and make it easier to read.

Start with an introductory sentence which ends in a colon: - begin with a lower-case letter and end with a semi-colon; - end the last item in a full stop, unless the sentence continues below it.

If the list items are complete sentences begin with an upper-case letter and end with a full stop.

Capital letters

Use lower case for some terms — the parties and participants in proceedings, for example — in general references but capitalised in specific references.

Don’t capitise the letter after a colon.

Examples - Use “the accused” for general references, but “the Accused” when referring to a specific accused person or persons, and “the rights of the defence” (as a general concept), but: “the rights of the Defence for Thomas Lubanga”. - Use “a statement from the deceased victim’s family”, but “a statement from the family of deceased Victim a/0051/08”. - Titles of Court filings should have only the initial letter capitalised. - Capitalise “state” for States Parties and references to a specific country or government. Use lower case in most other instances. - Article, rule, regulation, page, paragraph, chapter and note are not capitalised. - Surnames use initial capital (not all capitals), e.g. Jean-Pierre Bemba not Jean-Pierre BEMBA. - Capitalise The Hague but not the Netherlands.


Use the currency symbol before the amount without a space, e.g. €120,000; $25.86

Currency names are lower case, e.g. pound, dollar, euro

Dates and times

Use day month year, in that order, with no commas and no additions to the day. Don’t use the numbers-only date format.

Use military time: From 09:00 to 15:00 (The Hague local time).

E.g., etc., and i.e.

Use full stops between and after these terms. Abbreviate only if it doesn’t disrupt the sentence: “for example“ and “specifically“ can be clearer and less jarring.

Email addresses

Use links for email addresses and write them in full.

Gender-neutral language

Don’t use the generic “he” or “they” instead of “he or she”. Use plural forms of nouns where possible. If not, use “he or she”, “his or her” and “his or hers” but avoid repetition, which can quickly make sentences clumsy.

Headings and sub-headings

The page heading is important. It tells users and search engines what the page is about:

Judgment not judgement

No middle “e” (“judgment”) for a legal ruling. Don’t change the spelling (“judgement”) in a direct quotation or the title of a judgment from another court.

Hyphens and dashes

Hyphens join words and have no spaces on either side, e.g. “Pre-Trial Chamber”.

Use an en dash with a space either side to – like this – to break up a sentence. Don’t use a hyphen.


Italicise Latin and other foreign-language expressions. Don’t use inverted commas.

Don’t italicise “ad hoc”, “per capita”, “per se”, “amicus curiae” as they are in common use.

When refering to articles, rules or regulations from the Court’s basic texts, the numbers and letters of sub-paragraphs are separated by brackets with a space between the word “article” etc. and the number, e.g. article 90(2)(a), rule 119(1)(a), regulation 58(3).

Avoid repeating large chunks of legal text. For example, don’t include a long section from the Rome Statute; link to the article instead.

Links are the fundamental basis of the web. Internal links (ones between different parts of our website) help to create a rich experience, prevent repeating large chunks of text and help improve rankings with search engines.

Don’t use “More”, “Further Information”, “Visit”, “Watch Now”, “Download” or “Click Here”. for links. Make the link descriptive – explaining what the link offers - preferably matching the title of the document you are linking to and make sense when read out of context.

Instead of “For more information on the structure of the ICC, click here” write “See who’s who at the International Criminal Court for more information”.


Numbers up to and including ten should be written out. Try not to begin a sentence with a number, but if you do write the number in words.

Separate big numbers with commas not spaces, e.g. 2,500,000.

Quotes and speech marks

Quotation marks and apostrophes should be smart (“…”), not straight (" … ").

Single quotes

Use single quotation marks for quotations within a quotation.

Double quotes

Use double quotation marks for first-level quotations.


One space after a full stop, not two.


Use British English rather than American English.

Examples - —eable/—able British English tends not to omit the silent e when forming adjectives with this suffix. - —ce/—se In British English the verb that relates to a noun ending in -ce is sometimes given the ending -se, e.g. advice (noun) / advise (verb), practice/practise. - —our/—or British English words ending in -our often lose the u in American English.
- —re/—er British English words ending in -re often end in -er in American English, e.g. centre/center.


No punctuation after Mr, Ms, or Dr.

Use “Ms” rather than “Mrs” unless specifically requested otherwise.