Today’s Grammar Time post is meant to help content writers know how to spell or mention SARS-CoV-2. Remember, these kinds of posts are meant to remind writers that publications have their own style guides, and they’ll likely supersede whatever we advise here. Other countries might use different standards, too. But no matter who you write for, consistency is king, and it can really strengthen your writing.
First of all, the virus itself is the coronavirus — all lowercase, all one word. According to our standards, anything else (e.g. Coronavirus) would be counted as a minor grammar error. If you want to get super technical, the actual specific virus that has turned our lives upside down is SARS-CoV-2. Being hyper-specific would be ideal for technical writing but might not work for web content for the average reader.
As writers and readers, we tend to shorten things so they’re easier to say or spell. With this, we’ve introduced a lot of capitalization and hyphenation questions. Overall, we generally shorten the name to COVID-19 or Covid-19. This latter choice was made by the New York Times — here’s an example of a style guide making a choice based on preference and consistency within their style guide.
Here at WritersDomain, we consider the following handlings as minor errors: covid-19, covid 19, Covid 19, or COVID 19. It’s especially considered an error if the capitalization/hyphen usage isn’t consistent throughout the content.
You can learn more about handling terms related to the coronavirus by reading posts from various major style guide institutions.
Usage for this topic is easy to second-guess because COVID-19 is a relatively new term and everyone tends to write it based on personal preferences. But we hope this post helps you feel more confident as you mention this virus in your content.
WritersDomain is a team of in-house writers, editors, and support staff.
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