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Style guidelines

See the following sections for stylistic conventions used on the Afrikaans Taalportaal:


  • Multiple authors are arranged according to authorship primacy.
    Software-specific: ling.dita 2.4 in oXygen (XML)

    • Format: AuthorName AuthorInitial AuthorSurname, e.g. Adri Breed or Gerhard B van Huyssteen
    • Multiple authors are separated by comma, e.g. Adri Breed, Gerhard B van Huyssteen
    • Moderators are only added as second authors in cases where their contributions consisted of co-writing or re-writing substantial parts of a topic.
    • Dutch and Frisian authors are not listed as co-authors, even if large parts of a topic were taken over verbatim. In such cases, acknowledge Dutch or Frisian topics in an <Extra> block by stating: "This topic is based on the Dutch topic here" (and provide a cross-reference to the topic).

  • Keywords are always written without any capital letters, except for proper names and terms that are conventionally written with capital letters (e.g. Right-hand Headed Rule). A keyword is always a lemma (i.e. without inflection).
  • In titles and headers, always use sentence case (e.g. "Style guidelines" instead of "Style Guidelines"). This also applies to "noun phrase" (with the acronym NP), "verb phrase" (VP), and so forth.
  • Language names are written in capital letters (also when using colour adjectives), e.g. Black South African English.
  • When referring to racial groups, don’t use capital letters for colour adjectives. E.g.:
    • Not: We see this among *White, *Black, *Coloured and Indian speakers …
    • Rather: We see this among white, black, coloured and Indian speakers …
    • NEVER use “brown” to refer to racial groups; it is always “coloured”.
  • Choices between variant morphological forms (e.g. classic vs. classical) are based on relative frequencies: the form with the most hits in a Google search is used. See this table for a list of common words.
  • Avoid using “I” and “we” when writing.
  • Use "as follows" instead of "as follow".
  • Usage of tenses depends, of course, on the argumentation, but the simple past tense is used as a "general", rule-of-thumb tense when discussing literature., e.g.:
    • Wissing (1989) argued that ... (instead of "Wissing (1989) argues that ...", or "Wissing (1989) has argued that ...")
  • The Afrikaans indefinite article is represented by the letter n, preceded by a straight single quote ('n), and neither by a smart quote (*’n), nor by the Unicode character ().
  • Avoid examples in sentence initial position. E.g.:
    • Avoid: Swembad is a noun.
    • Rather: The word swembad is a noun.
  • Use hyphens sparingly. E.g.:
    • */r/-deletion
    • Rather: /r/ deletion
    • *Afrikaans-speakers
    • Rather: Afrikaans speakers
    • Correct: Afrikaans-speaking people and Afrikaans-related words
    • *word-form
    • Rather: word form and word formation and word formation process
  • Avoid ending paragraphs with colons (typically before an <ilexample>). Rather make reference to the example number, or just assume that the reader will know that the paragraph relates to the example that follows.
    • If a paragraph ends with an abbreviation like e.g., i.e., or viz., it is always followed by a colon.
  • Forward slash
    There are either no spaces surrounding forward slashes (typically when separating single words, e.g. he/she/it), or spaces on both sides of a forward slash (typically when separating word groups, e.g. he is / we are).
  • Spelling variation
    Preference is given to spelling forms in AWS-11. In cases where AWS-11 gives preference to a certain form (e.g. no capital letters for words derived with -isme, as in darwinisme), use the AWS’s spelling form of preference as it appears in the word list section.

Software-specific: ling.dita 2.4 in oXygen (XML)

  • When cross-referencing other topics in running text, don't use capital letters for the topic name. When cross-referencing other topics between parentheses only with "see …", use a capital letter for the topic name.
  • PLEASE REMEMBER: When cross-referencing topics that has already been published on Taalportaal (either in Afrikaans, Dutch or Frisian), do NOT use the URL of those topics for cross-references. You should use the normal way to find the topic in the SVN repository, and then refer to that topic.

[+]Formatting and mark-up

The following special formatting and mark-up are used in the Afrikaans section of Taalportaal:

  • Bibliographic references, e.g. (Wissing 1989)
  • Linguistic terms, e.g. compound
    • As a general principle, a specific linguistic term is only marked the first time it occurs on a particular page.
  • Abbreviations, e.g. RSG
    • As a general principle, a specific abbreviation is only marked the first time it occurs on a particular page.
    • Highly conventionalised abbreviations, like those for parts-of speech (e.g. N, ADJ), phrase structures (e.g. NP, VP) and glosses (e.g. PL, DIM), are never marked as abbreviations.
    • As a reference, see the comprehensive list of abbreviations used in the Afrikaans section of Taalportaal.

[+]References and bibliography

  • The Harvard method is used for in-line references, while the bibliographic information is provided in a pop-up.
  • When quoting examples from corpora, only the abbreviation of the corpus is given. See this list of abbreviations.
  • When quoting an example from a specific novel, magazine, newspaper, etc., the following general format is used: (InitialAuthor. SurnameAuthor: Title, yyyy/mm/dd, PageNumber). See the following examples:
    • (A.J. Jordaan: Huisg., 1965/03/05, 52)
    • (H. Mulder: Gister, 1970, 13)
    • (Die Kerkbode, 2005/08, E)
    • (Die Bybel, 1983, 2 Konings 13:2)

Software-specific: ling.dita 2.4 in oXygen (XML)

  • Don't use <cite>; only use Bibref, i.e. <xref>
  • In principle, only the parenthesis (i.e. the brackets and text between them) is included within the <Bibref> tags. In other words:
    • Correct: Wissing (1989) argued that ...
    • Correct: Vowels are different from consonants (Wissing 1989).
    • Note that this is correct: … vowels (Conradie 1995; Roux and Wissing 1996; Wissing 1989).
    • Note that this is correct: … vowels (also see Conradie 1995; Roux and Wissing 1996; Wissing 1989).
    • WRONG: Wissing (1989) argued that … (Author's surname should be outside of <xref>)
    • WRONG: Wissing (1989) argued that … (Parentheses not included in <xref>)
    • WRONG: Vowels are different from consonants (Wissing 1989). (Author's surname, plus parentheses should be included in <xref>)
  • In-line references must be formatted as in an ordinary academic text (i.e. using the Harvard method), plus hyperlink (using BibRef). E.g.:
    • It is argued by Wissing (1989) that bla-bla-bla …
    • Vowels are different from consonants (Wissing 1989).
  • Note that white spaces are before and after the <xref> tags, and that a sentence full-stop or comma will also be outside of the <xref> tags.
  • When referencing page numbers, there should be no spacing between the colon and the page number, e.g. Conradie (1995:50), or Conradie (1995:Ch. 2) (and not Conradie (1995: 50), or Conradie (1995: Ch. 2)).
  • Don’t use ampersands in in-line references.
    • Roux and Wissing (1996) argued that ... (and not: "Roux & Wissing (1996) argued that ...")

[+]Change log

If you have any question or suggestions about these general guidelines, please contact Gerhard van Huyssteen.


  • 2020/04/03: Added guidelines for using abbreviations before a list of examples; added guidelines regarding spaces when using slashes.
  • 2020/03/09: Added remarks regarding capitalisation in titles, also for "noun phrase", "verb phrase", etc.
  • 2020/02/18: Section added on formatting and mark-up. Note specifically the bullet point on abbreviations.
  • 2020/02/12: Added note on how to reference online dictionaries
  • 2020/02/10: Note added on <lexterm><word> for Afrikaans examples allowed in headers (but nowhere else, as has always been the case)
  • 2020/01/25: Irrelevant information moved to "Manuals"
  • 2019/12/29: Added rules for handling of multiple references in parentheses.
  • 2019/12/20: Made matters regarding cross-referencing of Taalportaal topics, and using (sub)headings explicit; Added second bullet under "References and bibliography", to elaborate on the change already made on 2019/09/19 (see change log below).
  • 2019/10/06: Added section on tables, figures and diagrams.
  • 2019/10/05: "Neoclassical" instead of "neoclassic" added under "Style".
  • 2019/09/25: Last bullet added under "Presenting examples". This deals with referencing example numbers in running text.
  • 2019/09/19: Under Bibliography: Removed option to include whole reference between <bibref> when using references in a sentences. ONLY acceptable now:
    • It is argued by Wissing (1989) that bla-bla-bla … (NOT: It is argued by Wissing (1989) that bla-bla-bla …)
    • Vowels are different from consonants (Wissing 1989).
    • PLEASE do this from now on; not necessary to correct former versions.
  • 2019/06/12: Bullet point added on NOT using capital letters when cross-referencing other topics in running text
  • 2019/06/10: Voorbeeld bygevoeg: "word form" eerder as "wordform" of "word-form"; <syntacticalAnalysis> added to sequence of linguistic material
  • 2019/05/20: Information added on presenting interfixes and circumfixes (under Formatting and mark-up)
  • 2019/05/17: Images added for steps to change Table of Contents ("toc").
  • 2019/03/06: Several sections added (e.g. Structure) and/or edited and/or refined. No previous rules have been changed/altered. PLEASE read the whole document.
  • 2018/10/31: Inligting bygevoeg oor die hantering van grammatikale oordele in <innerExample> (in die afdeling Style).
  • 2018/10/01: Kolpunt 5 onder "Presenting examples" is bygevoeg, ten einde leiding te gee oor aanduiding van woordklemtoon in ortografiese vorme.
  • 2018/10/01: Kolpunt 6 onder "Style" verander, ten einde korrekte riglyne te gee oor aanduiding van ongrammatikaliteit.
  • 2018/08/11: Punt 4 (oor voorbeelde in lopende teks) bygevoeg in die afdeling Presenting examples.
  • 2018/07/13: Niks nuuts bygevoeg nie; slegs opgeskoon.

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