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Roundel Magazine Style and Policies

Stylistic Conventions

All publications have some sort of style in regard to their uses of language and textual formats, even if their style is to have no recognizable consistency. Since English is an evolving, flexible, quirky language, there is no single "proper" style, but instead there is usually a set of standards particular to any specific publication if it is to present a regular, familiar appearance to the reader. Newspaper reporters soon get used to the AP Style Book, and the Roundel style book has the same purpose, although a much narrower scope: to establish consistency in certain areas of spelling, usage, and typographic conventions. In fact, you may wish to use the AP guide for items not covered by Roundel style.

Roundel text is generally set in 9.5-point Times and conforms to the rules of Standard Written American English. There are certain preferred conventions in spelling and other areas, and there are BMW-specific terms which should be used in a consistent fashion.

BMW conventions

BMW AG and BMW NA should have a space after BMW; we use the same convention for BMW CCA. By early 2000 we should be clear in regard to whether BMW AG has disappeared entirely, replaced by BMW Group. The Spartanburg facility is formally known as BMW Manufacturing Corp., or BMW MC.

BMW model ranges should be referred to as follows: 5 Series, not 5 series or 5-Series. Familiar derivations of these models are composed of a digit and a suffix: 5er, 3er, etc. But we prefer the written words Fiver, Sixer, which should be capitalized. Owners of 7 Series cars seem to refer to them as Sevens, not Seveners.

Plurals: In English, most words become plurals with the addition of an s: BMWs, 2002s, Porsche 911s, etc. But an apostrophe may be used to help distinguish a plural from a model designation: 325i's for a non-sport 325, tii's, and so on.

The inclusion of a space in model designations was once BMW policy, which they scrapped. For the sake of consistency, Roundel eliminates the space even in the earlier models. Here is the list of model designations and their capitalization:








2000TI/tilux (we use 2000ti)


2002ti (also 2002TI, but not by us)


1600TI (we use 1600ti), 1600-2 TI


2002 turbo

BMW Touring 2000tii  

633CSi all later models were small "i" with no space:









328is (both lower case on E30/E36/E46 cars)

We have quietly thrown in the towel in regard to BMW's designation for the M coupe and roadster: That is, we use the lower-case C and R following the capital M. Using the same logic, however, we refuse to capitalize 'convertible' or 'sedan' for the M3 convertible or the M3 sedan. We also use BMW's lower-case convention for their wagons: sport wagons, not Sport wagons, Sport Wagons, or Sportwagons.

When we abbreviate the 2002, we use an apostrophe: '02. Please note that most word-processing programs require additional operator input to produce an apostrophe instead of a single opening quotation mark. (For this reason we may eventually discard the '02 apostrophe entirely---but not yet.)

Our style is to use Bimmer when referring informally to BMW cars and Beemer when referring to motorcycles; both terms are capitalized. (There remains some disagreement regarding Beamer and Beemer. The latter is probably the original reference, deriving from motorcyclists' reference to British BSA motorcycles as Beezers. But too much digression down this lane, while it leads us to the fascinating revelation that BSA stands for British Small Arms, does little to resolve the Beamer/Bimmer issue. One CCA chapter calls them Beamers in their newsletter title. The LA Times calls the cars Beemers. What do they know?)

Other BMW-related conventions:

Baur convertible, not Bauer

Alpina (not Alpine) is an aftermarket tuner.

Club conventions

BMW CCA is often abbreviated CCA. Writers also refer to it as the Club, where we allow a capital C to denote this specific organization. Do not capitalize titles or positions unless they come before a name. Thus you may say Editor Emeritus Yale Rachlin is the editor emeritus. (You might also argue that the Latin phrase should be italicized.) BMW CCA Club Racing is capitalized because it is the specific name of an organization; driving school is not. Use driving school(s), not driver schools, drivers schools, driver's schools, or drivers' schools.

Roundel conventions

Roundel is always Roundel, or Roundel Magazine, not The Roundel. The word 'Roundel' when referring to the magazine (as opposed to the literal badge, the roundel on the hood or trunk) is always capitalized as a title and italicized in body text, normal text when used within italicized text. The magazine Bimmer is italicized, as are all other magazine, newspaper, and movie titles. When referring to Car and Driver or Road & Track, remember which one gets the ampersand. We also italicize foreign words and phrases except those which have become entrenched in English, such as naive. (If we used the more pretentious French spelling, naïve, it would be italicized.)

On the subject of commas, Roundel style when punctuating words in a series is what is often called 'the Oxford comma,' which has not been taught to several generations; that is, there is a comma after each word in the series except the last one: There were red, green, yellow, and taupe cars on display. It can be argued that in this instance the comma replaces the word 'and,' and that therefore the final comma is redundant; but it also serves to clearly separate the penultimate from the final item, which makes it useful.

Numbers and digits:Write out numbers, including ordinal numbers, from one through twenty. (This includes numbers as part of combined terms: four-speed, six-speed, second-generation, and so on.) Numbers beyond twenty are written as numerals unless they begin a sentence. Exceptions abound, including uncommon fractions (17/64), metric fractions (1.5 instead of one-point-five), and percentages. We use the comma to separate the thousands from the hundreds (1,000) but we may eventually be persuaded to abandon it for numbers below 10,000.

Phone numbers will not have area codes in parentheses since they have become necessary even for local calls in many areas, but we will separate them with a space: 907 345-1195.

Abbreviations: Abbreviated words and phrases should refer to words and phrases which have been written out in their first instance unless they are commonly understood as abbreviations: rpm, mph. Thus once we have mentioned the National Association of Manufacturers, other references in the same article may be abbreviated NAM. We prefer lower-case abbreviations, without periods, in most cases of common automotive terms: 65 mph, 80 kph, 7500 rpm. The jury has not returned on the matter of periods for times of day, but for now these will be a.m. and p.m. with no space. When referring to air conditioning, a/c should be lower case. Avoid abbreviations which would not be vocalized: seven-liter Mustang is preferable to 7.0-l Mustang. Generally, we try not to abbreviate at all---and never use & for and---unless the abbreviation is commonly used in speech as well as writing: the a/c unit failed. Less common abbreviations are usually capitalized---OBC for on-board computer, for example---but in that case, as mentioned before, the first use of the phrase should be written out as a proper antecedent for the abbreviation.

In most cases we do not use periods with abbreviations. We had used them in U.S.---though not in USA---but beginning in 2001 we will eliminate them from US as well.

We abbreviate Oktoberfest as O'Fest.

Driver JJ Lehto no longer receives any periods after his first initials; incidentally, driver Jörg Müller has two umlauts.

Other Roundel conventions: We use the Anglicized liter, not litre.

We refer to electronic messages as e-mail, not email or E-mail. We write okay instead of OK.

We try never to use 'fun' as an adjective, 'hopefully' in anything but the adverbial sense, and 'contact' as a verb, though we realize these are losing battles. We will continue to wage the never-ending war against 'utilize,' 'lastly,' 'firstly,' 'functionality,' and other such stuff, as well as such horrors as 'alot' and 'alright.'

Common errors

Probably the most common error plaguing the copy editor is the misuse of apostrophes that arises from a confusion of its and it's or your and you're. Remember that possessive pronouns never use an apostrophe to indicate possession, as nouns do: his, hers, my, mine, her, hers, their, theirs, ours, your, yours, its---not an apostrophe in the bunch. It's is a contraction of 'it is.' You're is a contraction of 'you are.' You'll is a contraction of 'you will' or 'you shall.' Y'all is a contraction of 'you all,' and is a colloquialism quite common in the South.

The preceding paragraph contains several sentences illustrating the placement of end punctuation within quotes. Generally, all punctuation falls within the quotes when dialogue is being quoted. Commas and periods fall within the quotes when single words or short phrases are surrounded by quotes; semicolons, question marks, and colons fall outside the quotes.

Due to the odd nature of word-processing programs, most programs assume any 'quote mark' in front of a word is, indeed, the beginning of a quotation, and they set a typographer's single opening quote: ‘ . Unfortunately, in America, we are far more likely to want an apostrophe ('), as is the case when we are discussing model years of cars: a '72 tii, a '67 Camaro. The same problem occurs with abbreviated years: left over from the '60s, disco in the '70s, etc. (Note that these do not use an apostrophe to form plurals.) As with '02, you may have to take extra steps in order to produce an apostrophe in your word-processing program.

Most writers understand the need for a comma and a conjunction between independent clauses, but there is an alarming tendency to add a superfluous comma after the conjunction. Remember that related independent clauses or sentences may also be connected with a semicolon, but not a lone comma.

Finally, there seems to be an increase in the use of reflexive pronouns as subjects, especially in compound subjects: Bill and Dave and myself went to dinner. Reflexive pronouns are always used in the objective case, never the nominative; the simple test is to eliminate the other subjects and look at the sentence again: Myself went to dinner sounds wrong because it is wrong. The same sort of simple test will also keep you from carelessly using the nominative 'I' where you really want the objective 'me.' They gave the keys to a brand-new M3 to Dan and I may seem correct at first glance, but eliminating Dan creates another construction that sounds wrong because it is.


Computers allow us to do what our English teachers forbade: the use of the dash as a parenthetical device. On typewriters, these were indicated by two or three hyphens, but a hyphen is not a dash. In fact, we use what is called an em dash (the width of the widest typesetter's letter, the M) in Roundel, but even though computers understand em dashes these days, translation through several platforms can be taxing, so in your raw copy it is best to use a triple hyphen---no spaces at the ends of the dash, remember---which will be properly understood by the final typesetter.

Meanwhile, the lowly hyphen is quite useful when combining two or more words to make one adjective: five-liter Mustang, 1.7-liter engine, high-beam switch, etc.

Just as it works best to use three hyphens as an em dash in your raw copy---like this---we also use a similar convention to create an ellipsis. The true ellipsis is a single character of three dots, but to make sure your intention is clear, it is best to create an ellipsis in your raw copy like this. . . that is, period-space-period-space-period-space. (If it comes at the end of a sentence, of course, it gets a final period, for a total of four dots.)

Tabs are unnecessary (and indeed must be stripped out somewhere along the line) when preparing your copy. Paragraphs should not be indented by spaces, nor should there be an extra space between sentences nor an extra line between paragraphs. Instead, set the paragraph style on your machine however you like, so you can read it comfortably; when the file is opened by an editor, it is a simple matter to discard those formats and replace them with a different viewing style. This is just for viewing convenience, first for you and then for the editor; the final copy will be further set in a style that works for the art department for final layout. Because tabs, paragraph returns, and spaces are actual characters in a file, however, if you have used them to make your copy 'look right' when you originally prepared it, they must be hunted down and eliminated before the copy is set. (Fortunately, this is usually not usually a difficult task with appropriate macros---but it is just as easy to catch these things in preparation to keep from making extra work for the staff on down the line.)

Writing Styles

Names: When referring to people by name, use the full name in the first instance and the last name thereafter. Articles in which persons are quoted in a general time sense, especially in an interview setting, should be written in the present tense: Olivier Gendebien disputes the Ferrari legend. 'They call him the maestro of Maranello,' says Gendebien. 'I call him the murderer of Maranello.'

Use the past tense, however, when tying the conversation unless tied to a specific past event:

In conversation at a cocktail party at Palazzo Maggi, Olivier Gendebien disputed the Ferrari legend. 'They call him the maestro of Maranello,' he said. 'I call him the murderer of Maranello.'

The proper spelling of names, of course, must be checked and double-checked; it is the writer's responsibility to make sure all names are spelled correctly. It is the photographer's responsibility to identify every person in a photograph---with their names spelled correctly, of course.

Presentation: It is generally a good idea to avoid passive constructions. Readability is highest when sentences are written in the active voice. Quotations make most materials seem much more fresh and lively than a staid recitation of facts. You may find it helpful to 'brainstorm' your story, jotting down key phrases and ideas to see if they present a cohesive form that will help the flow of information. Generally, if a story is presented in a linear fashion, it will follow familiar lines of introduction, explication, conflict, and resolution. Journalists (other than columnists) are rarely given any latitude to experiment with form and style; their goals are clarity and accuracy.

Editorial writing---that is, anything calculated to effect an opinion in the reader---is best handled in three distinct parts: presentation of an issue, analysis and history of the issue, and a suggested resolution of the issue.

Language: There may be no such thing as 'bad language,' but your readers have standards of acceptable language---whether they know it or not. These may not be your standards; it is entirely possible to shock and offend a reader without intending to, or even realizing the offense.

Language is a complex process. Writing is an attempt to feed language to the reader in an uninterrupted flow. Anything that interrupts that flow should be avoided; these 'interruptors' may be words with which the reader is unfamiliar---which is why newspapers are generally written at a twelve-year-old's reading level---non-standard creations dreamed up by the writer, misspelled words or typographical errors, or words which the reader finds offensive. In any case, the writer should be aware that deliberately provocative language should always be contextually valid: If something must be stated in a specific way or lose its intrinsic meaning, then that's the only way it should be written, even if it is bound to interrupt some readers.

Colloquialisms: There are several schools of journalistic thought in regard to the translation of oral speech into written English---including the Roundel version of Standard Written American English. One school of thought says your search for Truth means you should try to duplicate the exact sounds of the spoken words. This is absolute and utter hogwash: Oral speech and written speech are not the same. It is the writer's job to translate accurately---and the reader will then translate the written text back into an internal version of the language. How people talk is every bit as important as what they say, and our written language includes devices such as punctuation and italic emphasis to trigger the reader's translation. But spoken words carry other freight as well, from cultural clues to regional identification to educational status. For this reason, writers must be very careful if they attempt to render a speaker's dialect and inflection into written copy. This is an alley fraught with peril, and it should be avoided whenever possible.

Sensitivity: In America, we have fairly short memories, though the Civil War seems to be the rather immediate past in some parts of the country. Europeans have not forgotten World War II, however, and may be sensitive to careless remarks that seem innocuous to most of us Yanks. While we do not ignore or whitewash the past, neither do we dwell on the war years. We try to focus on the present and avoid stereotypical representations of any group. A guiding consideration in the matter of offensive language or terms is the matter of simple human courtesy; if you use a term without knowing it will offend someone, you learn something when they take offense. If you use it knowing it will offend someone, then you are rude.

Preparation of Materials

File-naming conventions: In ancient times, only the Applophiles enjoyed the luxury of long file names, so most Windows users were forced to create terse file names of eight characters---which are still required by some applications. For the most part, however, the MS Office PC environment now allows more reasonable naming conventions. Roundel body copy files are named with the author's name first and then the title or topic, separated by a hyphen: Erwin-revenge.doc

Columnists enjoy an exception: Columns are filed by column name and publication date, e.g. 02Cents-May99.doc

The 'doc' extension is the default extension used by Microsoft Word to identify Word and WordPerfect document files. If you save your work as a text-only file, it will probably have a txt extension---and all your italics and bold-face emphasis will be lost. To preserve those styles, even if you are working across platforms and categories, you can save a document in Rich Text Format, in which case it will have a default extension of rtf.

Titles and subtitles: Roundel article titles are usually labels---short descriptive phrases that are somehow keyed to the article. These are usually followed by a subhead which is a complete sentence, although our current style is to leave the end punctuation off the subhead. Column titles refer to the topical heading, not the name of the column; column titles should also be sentences. They usually give a brief synopsis of the column.

Photo captions: All Roundel photo captions should be complete sentences; thus they will all have end-punctuation. A caption should identify the people in the photograph as well as telling the reader what's going on. Captions should included in the main story document file and keyed to codes written on slides or contact sheets. Photographers hoping for a return of their materials must clearly identify them, and all such materials should clearly indicate who is to be credited for them.

General photographic considerations: Slides are preferable to prints; anything grainier than 100 ASA film looks terrible if printed at a decent size.

Cars should be framed in such a way that there is space in front of them. Moving cars can of course be 'frozen' by high shutter speeds, but the impression of movement is thereby destroyed. Panning at shutter speeds of around 100/sec will usually blur the background and spinning wheels; slower speeds almost invariably blur the car as well.

For concours shots, a small aperture and slow shutter speed usually produces the most accurate color. Film preferences vary; Fuji Provia and Velvia produce very accurate colors even in odd purple shades. Kodachrome is a wonderful archival film but its processing is inconvenient; journalists generally prefer the fast turn-around of E6 processing (Ektachrome, Fujichrome, Agfachrome, etc.)

Photographs of people, especially close-ups near enough to be considered portraiture, should generally not be taken with a lens shorter than 100mm or longer than 200mm. Wide-angle lenses---anything under 50mm---should never be used for portraiture.

Roundel General Policies

Submissions and assignments

We run a mixture of articles and features assigned to regular staff members as well as those which are submitted 'over the transom' for our consideration. While our masthead lists a great number of staff writers, photographers, and others, the bulk of feature writing falls to a few individuals. Generally the individual writer proposes a story and then follows up when it has been approved. Major stories may also be assigned to a specific writer or a story team. Multi-element events such as Oktoberfest will usually have one overall coordinator who will make assignments for the specific elements of the event, collecting and collating the group effort and submitting it as one opus.


We try to print all the letters we receive---but there are some obvious limitations. As our readership grows, the response increases, to the point where the letters form an endlessly renewed column of materials; that which does not run one month moves up in the queue for the next. The letters editor must therefore move items of greater importance or timeliness to the head of the stack each month. Letters which are redundant---that is, which substantially duplicate the import of another letter---may be discarded.

We may shorten, correct, or edit the content of any letter. We maintain the same standards of grammar and syntax with letters as with body copy. We will not print unsigned letters, though we may withhold the writer's identity if so requested. Handwritten letters will usually not be transcribed and published. E-mail written entirely in capital letters may be deleted upon arrival.

We do not run letters which consist of personal attacks on anyone, though we may print letters critical of a writer's point of view or disagreeing with a writer's statements. After a sufficient airing of any particular debate, however, further discussion may be redundant. We do not print letters reporting negative experiences with specific dealers, but we reserve the right to print this information without identifying the dealership or its location. We may also run letters praising dealerships, at the discretion of the letters editor.

Any other question regarding which letters run and when they are published will be resolved by the letters editor and the editor-in-chief.


During the writing and editorial process, materials may be examined by any number of sources for various reasons. When an article is complete it may be quoted or shown to various sources in order to elicit reaction or comment, but such materials are never subject to approval or revision by outside agents. Once materials have been edited, revised, and placed into the production process, they are not to be shared with anybody outside Roundel until after the publication date.BMW grievances

When there is a clear and direct benefit either to the Club as a whole or a significant block of members, we may take an editorial stand opposing the policies of BMW AG and/or BMW NA, though we do not go out of our way looking for controversy or trying to stir up issues that are insignificant or which could better be resolved by Club ombudsmen or other avenues of mediation. These issues usually involve something technical or mechanical in nature, such as cracked six-cylinder heads, E42 profile gaskets, and E36 subframe failures. Our focus is on the reality of the issue and its general effect on the membership, not the circumstances of one individual - though of course we may document an individual Club member's exchanges with BMW NA and the efforts of various CCA Special Interest Groups to resolve the dispute.

Generally, unless we are subpoenaed, it is not good policy for journalists to volunteer assistance in matters involving litigation. Unless you are supported by a full research staff, it is difficult to make reliable judgment calls in most of these cases.

General grievances

We do not fear legitimate error, but we do not like to see the same mistake repeated. When we are in error of fact, it is Roundel policy to acknowledge and correct the error as quickly as possible.

Legitimate differences of opinion are the fabric of our profession; we try to air all sides of any issues under discussion. We acknowledge disagreement with our writers and we accept criticism of our efforts. Whenever possible, we try to find positive ways to improve our work by considering all criticism. But we remain loyal to each other as members of the Roundel staff; any criticism of individual staff members should be answered by strong support from the editor.