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Rating System

Many words and phrases in this style guide have dollar signs assoicated with them. The dollar signs, based on a five-level scale, make it easy for a business journalist to decide whether the term or phrase needs defining for his or her audience.

A term or phrase with no dollar sign assoicated with it means that it does not need to be defined in any media form. A term or phrase with a $$$$$ next to it means that it should be defined in all media.

Here is how we've delineated the different levels of this five-point scale:

Daily newspaper business page or section.
Weekly business newspapers, such as those operated by Crain Communications and American City Business Journals, as well as trade publications, such as Nation's Restaurant News or Beverage Digest.
Television networks or shows devoted to business news, such as "Nightly Business Report" on PBS or CNBC and Fox Business Network, as well as websites and blogs that focus on business and financial news, such as,, and
Personal finance publications such as Money, SmartMoney and Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and weekly and semi-weekly business magazines such as Forbes, and Fortune.
Daily business newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily and The Financial Times, as well as publications designed for the hard-core investor, such as Institutional Investor and Bond Buyer.

In other words, if a term or phrase is rated a $$$$, and The Wall Street Journal is a $$$$$, then every media outlet that falls into a category rated at or below $$$$ should define the term or phrase, but The Journal need not.

When ranking words and phrases, we've taken into consideration how these are currently being used in business publications, as well as where we think improvements could be made for the benefit of the readers.