Il manuale di stile della Cia


Not too long ago, the CIA’s style guide, called the Style Manual and Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications, was posted online. “Good intelligence depends in large measure on clear, concise writing,” writes Fran Moore, Director of Intelligence in the foreword. And considering the agency’s deftness with the written word, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s remarkably good. Some highlights:

  • The guide likes the Oxford or serial comma. “Most authorities on English usage recommend [the serial comma], and it is the rule for CIA publications.”
  • It favors using adjectives and adverbs sparingly. “Let nouns and verbs show their power.”
  • In all cases, it favors American over British spellings, even proper names. Thus, “Labor Party” not “Labour Party.” And for that matter, the guide isn’t terribly keen on using phrases like “apropos” and “faux pas.” “Foreign expressions should be avoided because they sound hackneyed.”
  • It wisely discourages writers, or anyone really, from ever using the word “enthused.”
  • And they caution against using exclamation points. “Because intelligence reports are expected to be dispassionate, this punctuation mark should rarely, if ever, be used.”


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