Need some Halloween word help? Here's a short style guide.
- The style for jack-o'-lantern is just so. The o’ comes from of.
- Don’t use the archaic form of Halloween, i.e., Hallowe’en. (Fun fact: The een comes from even, as in evening.)
- Be sparing in your use of holiday clichés – you don’t want to scare away readers. Yes, that’s a good example of what not to do too often.
- Most Halloween-related creatures do not get their names capitalized. For exampled, werewolf, ghost, poltergeist, witch, zombie, griffin and demon are all lowercase. Specific characters would be capped, however - e.g., Dracula and the Grim Reaper.
- Frankenstein also would be capitalized. Note that Frankenstein is not the monster’s name – it’s the creator. The monster is typically just called Frankenstein’s monster.
- Words such as occult and labyrinth are not capitalized either. And be on the alert for homonym mix-ups when writing about corn mazes – you wouldn’t want to write about a corn maize.
- Words containing super are almost always one word: superhero, superstition.
- The dictionary accepts two spellings for boogeyman – bogyman being the other – but use boogeyman, as it’s the preferred style.
- Don’t capitalize happy when you write happy Halloween.
- The phrase trick or treat is technically a question. Kids ask, “Trick or treat?” (Though it’s spoken more with an exclamation point.)
- Trick or treat doesn’t need hyphens, but include them in trick-or-treating.
- Use all caps and periods if you write R.I.P. (Another fun fact: The English and Latin words both work with this acronym – rest in peace and requiescat in pace.)
- The Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos is not the same as Halloween. Dia de los Muertos is observed on Nov. 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to add anything to this list.