About Religion Stylebook

About the Stylebook

The Religion Stylebook is an easy-to-use, authoritative guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media. This is a service of Religion Newswriters Foundation, the nonprofit arm of  Religion Newswriters Association. RNA is the only global association for professional journalists writing about religion with accuracy, balance and insight.

The Stylebook includes entries on:

  • The major religions, denominations and religious organizations journalists often encounter.
  • Preferred spellings, capitalizations, some definitions and usage guidelines for religious terms.
  • Accurate titles for religious leaders in different traditions.
  • Selected pronunciation guides.
  • Entries on terms used in stories on current topics in the news, such as abortion and homosexuality.
  • Entries on religion terms that are not included in The Associated Press Stylebook.

What it is not

This stylebook is written for journalists. As such, it is not a dictionary or encyclopedia of religion. Many religious terms are not included.

This guide addresses the most common style-related concerns in today’s newsrooms. Some definitions and explanations are included to help journalists with the proper use of terms.

Religion is not an exact science. Many religious terms are hotly debated. Translations into English of Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Pali and other languages create many alternative spellings, even within a tradition.

After extensive consultation and research, we’ve selected the style guidelines that are recommended by other authorities or that make the most sense as we seek to encourage accuracy and credibility in the journalism profession.

This stylebook is a service of Religion Newswriters Association, compiled by members of the stylebook advisory board and originally funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Please submit comments, corrections or kudos via our contact page. In general, the stylebook staff is unable to respond to individual questions about style matters, but suggestions for terms to add may be submitted for consideration.


“Reporting on Religion 2: A Stylebook on Journalism’s Best Beat” is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

About Religion Newswriters Association

Religion Newswriters Association was founded in 1949 to support excellence in the coverage of religion in mainstream media. RNA encourages excellence by helping journalists cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight. It does so by providing tools and training. RNA’s charitable foundation, created in 1999, serves to improve the public’s understanding of religion. Its projects and services reach more than 3,500 journalists each week. The Stylebook was a project of the foundation.

Visit RNA’s website for more information. Reporters, be sure to also visit ReligionLink for religion story ideas and sources.