Style guide

1. Writing Style

Language General Style

Use of Foreign Words

Use of foreign words is allowed if there is no equivalent valid translation in Malay. Naturally, there are many borrowed words from the English language in Malay, the transliteration of certain words have been used widely and become a norm. Example:

folder, format, entri, edit

folder, format, entri, edit


There is no tense in Malay; however, adpositions are used in Malay to show the time difference. Example:

receive, receiving, received

terima, sedang menerima, telah terima

2. Language Rules

Capitalization Rules

Capitalization follows the capitalization of the English source. There are also specific rules for the Malay language which governs religious matters, which is considered as compulsory capitalization even if the English source is not capitalized:

  • Sentence Capitalization
  • Proper Names
  • Words Related to Religious Matters (i.e. Allah, Yang Maha Kuasa, Alkitab and Quran)
  • Names of Days, Months, Years, Holy Days and Historical Days (i.e. hari Ahad, bulan Januari, Hari Raya and Tahun Baru Cina)
  • Geographical Names (i.e. Kuala Lumpur, Singapura, Jepun, Asia Pasifik and Asia Tenggara)

Numbers, Date and Address Formats


For Malay the decimal separator is a period. For numbers smaller than 1, you must always put 0 before the decimal period. The thousands separator is a comma (1,200).

Standard Date Format

The date format is “dd/mm/yyyy” as stated in the ISO for Malay language and Malaysia Example:

English: April 28, 2011

Malay: 28 April 2011

English: 04/28/11

Malay: 28/04/11

Currency and Units of Measurement


The value is put after the symbol and there should be a space in between, exp: RM 1,200.00. When it is spelled out, it is Ringgit Malaysia 1,200.

Units of Measurement

Unit of measurement should be localized into Malay. The usage of space after the value is optional but preferably follows the source.

Malay uses the metric system which uses the following abbreviations:

kilometer = kilometer / km

mile = batu / ba

meter = meter / m

centimeter = sentimeter / cm

millimeter = milimeter / mm

Speed is measured in;

Km/h (kilometer per hour) = km/j or kmj (kilometer per jam)

m/h (mile per hour) = b/j or bpj (batu per jam)

Other units:

gigabyte = gigabait / GB

megabyte = megabit/ MB

kilobyte = kilobait/ kB

byte = bait / byte

Punctuation Rules

In typography, commas, periods, colons, semicolons, exclamation points, question marks and ellipsis immediately follow the word and are not preceded by a blank space. Malay style does not allow two spaces after a period or any other punctuation mark.


Incorrect:  Adakah anda ingin menghantar mesej ini ?

Correct:  Adakah anda ingin menghantar mesej ini?

Quotation Marks

Malay typographical quotation marks follow the English source. There are no special rules for quotation marks in Malay.

Parentheses and Brackets

When a whole sentence is between parentheses, quotation marks or brackets, the period is placed inside. If only part of the sentence is between parentheses or quotation marks, the period is placed outside.

Periods and commas are followed by one space, not two.

Hyphen, En Dash, Em Dash

Hyphenation follows the source language; there is no specific rule for Malay.


There should be no comma before the word ‘dan’ (‘and’). Example:

EN: to delete, edit, and save the data

Incorrect: untuk memadam, mengedit, dan menyimpan data

Correct: untuk memadam, mengedit dan menyimpan data

Abbreviation Rules

Malay abbreviation does not have a specific rule under the Malay Grammar book (Tatabahasa Dewan). In general, to abbreviate a word, the vowels are removed first. Another type is to shorten the words but removing certain parts and ending it with a period. Example:

Removing Vowels: TetapanTtpn; Untukutk

Ending with Period: AplikasiAplik.

Day and Month Abbreviation

The names of days and months are capitalized following the source English. The Malaysian week starts on Mondays.

Abbreviations are as follows:

Month: Jan, Feb, Mac, Apr, Mei, Jun, Jul, Ogos, Sep, Okt, Nov and Dis

Day: Isn, Sel, Rab, Kha, Jum, Sab and Ahd

3. References

  1. Client Style Guides – please refer to the specific instructions of the project, which should contain information on how to obtain client-specific style guides for the target language.
  2. Platform Glossaries: