Writing about Taekwondo: Style Guide

I’ve written a lot on various topics within Taekwondo, in the form of books and blog posts and worksheets. Over time I’ve developed a number of rules for styling and formatting which are useful for presenting information clearly. If you’re someone who also writes about Taekwondo, here are the style conventions that I use, which you may find useful.

Korean Text

If I want to give a single word or phrase in Korean, within a block of otherwise English text, I will first write the hangeul, followed by the romanised form of the word according to the Revised Romanisation of Korean. For the romanised text I will use an italic font, to differentiate it from the surrounding English:

도장 dojang

For example:

The Korean for ‘training hall’ is 도장 dojang, which literally means ‘hall of the way’ or ‘place of the way’.

If I think that also giving the McCune-Reischauer Romanisation of the word would also be useful, I will distinguish the Revised and McCune-Reischauer romanisations with the abbreviations R and MR:

도장 dojang (R), tojang (MR)

If I want to give the translation of the word, I will write it within quote marks:

도장 dojang, meaning ‘training hall’

If I use a Korean word more than once within a document, I will only give the hangeul for that word on the first time. Every time after that, I will just give the romanised text.

And if I think giving the hanja would also be useful, I will write it after the hangeul:

도장 道場 dojang, meaning ‘training hall’

‘Anglicised’ Words

For some romanised words, it looks odd to use an italic font, because the word has become very common in English. For example, if you make the word Taekwondo or Karate italic everywhere it appears in a blog post, it looks a bit odd.

These words I consider to be Anglicised, and so I don’t write them in an italic font. I generally consider all martial art names to be Anglicised – Judo, Jujutsu, Kendo, Aikido – but not style names – Changheon-yu, Cheongdo-kwan.

Korean Names

I also do not use an italic font for Korean names – e.g. Choi Hong-hi. This is so that I can use those names in a possessive case (i.e., Choi’s) without it looking odd. (If I were to put the romanisation in italics, it would be: Choi‘s – which looks odd.)