GDPRhub style guide
We try to keep articles and pages on GDPRhub as consistent and understandable as possible. Given the very different national traditions on citation and formatting in legal writing, we have tried to develop a middle ground that ensures that all readers can fully understand the articles on GDPRhub. Please follow this guide when editing GDRPhub.
General hints when editing GDPRhub
GDPRhub aims at making legal texts from across the EU accessible to everyone. At the same time the legal culture has very local traditions, customs and styles. We therefore ask all editors to follow these basic principles for the sake of consistency:
- Use Simple English, as English is not the first language for most readers.
- Try to use English formatting (e.g. 1,000 or 1000 instead of "1.000"), but not American formatting (28.5.2018, not 5/28/2018).
- Use British English, instead of American English (e.g. "organisation" instead of "organization, and "honour" instead of honor).
- Provide the necessary context, so that a foreign reader (that may not know the local procedure or facts) can follow you.
- Use our templates when you create a new page.
- Use the text editor (not the visual editor) when possible, to ensure you can include all necessary code.
- Check that a new page is categorized properly, so that readers can find it.
Constructing your sentences
Start with the subject, the verb, and the object
Legal sentences have a tendency to become rather complicated, especially when they contain a lot of detail and separate the key words. Help your readers by putting the subject and the verb towards the beginning of the sentence, and avoiding abundant qualifiers or conditions before the subject and verb.
Example: The DPA found a violation of Article 32 GDPR because the controller failed to take technical and organisational measures to protect the website visitors.
Because of the lack of technical and organisational measures of the controller to protect the website visitors, the DPA found a violation of Article 32 GDPR.
Use the active voice rather than the passive
The active voice can make the reading easier, as it respects the expectation that the subject of the sentence will perform the action of the verb. It can also make the writing more lively and generally requires fewer words.
Example: The court found a violation of Article 6(1)(a) GDPR.
A violation of Article 6(1)(a) GDPR was found by the court.
Use the past simple tense
When writing the summary, use the past simple tense in order to be consistent between decisions and in order to be consistent in the GDPRtoday newsletter.
Example: The Spanish DPA held that fingerprint clock-in systems are not acceptable under Article 5(1)(c).
The Spanish DPA has held that fingerprint clocking systems are not acceptable under Article 5(1)(c).
The Spanish DPA holds that fingerprint clocking systems are not acceptable under Article 5(1)(c).
Use the € symbol, but the official codes for other currencies
When talking about money, use the € symbol, but the official codes for other currencies. Put them always before the number. The € symbol is not followed by a space, but the codes are.
Use a comma if the number is 10,000 or bigger, don't use a comma if it's smaller.
Example: The Romanian DPA fined Facebook Romania €5000 (RON 25,000).
Consistent indication of dates
When indicating dates, use the following format.
Example: On 28 February 2022, the data subject filed an access request.
On 28.02.2022, the data subject filed an access request.
On February 28, 2022, the data subject filed an access request.
The summary section
The brief (200-250 characters) summary of the GDPRhub decisions is particularly important for the GDPRtoday newsletter. The aim is to automatically extract this text and use it for the weekly newsletter. Therefore, consistency and conciseness are even more important for this section than for the other parts of the summary. Please try to always follow the subsequent structure when drafting the summary, and reserve more detailed sentences for the following sections of the summary.
Also please convert the fine amount to euros if in another currency (any online currency converter is fine). Remember to use the € symbol with no space before the amount, like written below.
Example: The 'X' DPA fined 'Y' €50,000 for violating Article 'Z' GDPR by illegally processing the image of a data subject.
When gender is unknown, use the gender-neutral "they" as a singular pronoun
Singular "they" is the use in English of the pronoun "they" or its inflected or derivative forms, them, their, theirs, and themselves (or themself), as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Try to only use this when referring to a data subject of unknown gender so that you can avoid using the binary "his or her."
Example: The data subject asked the controller to delete their data.
The data subject asked the controller to delete his or her data.
References within GDPRhub
All Articles are called "Article X GDPR". We do not use abbreviations like "Art." or "Art" as they are widely different in each jurisdiction.
Paragraphs and subparagraph are added in brackets, as there are different forms of naming them in the member states.
- Example: Article 6(1)(a) GDPR
- Example: Not
Art. 6 Abs 1 Lit a GDPRor Article 6 GDPRor GDPR Article 6, Sec 1(a)
Recitals are also not shortened.
- Example: Recital 47
- Example: Not
R 47or Recital 47 GDPR
Other EU Laws
Other EU laws follow the same system for naming the articles, but have the name of the legal act (e.g. regulation, directive) after the Article.
- Example: Article 5 of the ePrivacy Directive should be cited as "Article 5 Directive 2002/58/EC."
When there is a common name for an act that allows the reader to understand the content of the act quicker, you should put the common name between the Article and the official number of the legal act. Keep the official number to ensure that the reader can still identify the act.
- Example: Article 5 of the ePrivacy Directive should be cited as "Article 5 ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC."
National laws are cited as usual in each country, but paragraphs and subparagraph follow the system of brackets as explained above for GDPR Articles, as they are widely different in each national jurisdiction. In other words: the national name for the Paragraph (§), Article or Section is used, but the numbering then follows the GDPRhub logic.
- Example: § 6 Abs 4 Lit c) of an Austrian law becomes § 6(4)(c) on GDPRhub.
- Example: Section 1 para 1(c) of an Irish law becomes Section 1(1)(c) on GDPRhub.
Linking to laws
When you cite a law for the first time on a page, you should always also link to the original text of the law, so that the reader can easily follow and verify your work.
Linking to GDPR Articles
GDPRhub has a page for each GDPR Article. It includes the text, the relevant recitals and a commentary on the Article. Ideally you should link to the actual subparagraph of each Article, as GDPRhub is using these subparagraphs to find the right cases.
- Example: A case about consent as a legal basis should always use Article 6(1)(a) GDPR, not only Article 6 GDPR.
You can link to each page in the text editor by putting two square brackets before and after the Article.
- Example: [[Article 6 GDPR]] will become Article 6 GDPR on a page.
You can show another name for the link (e.g. to only name it "Article 6" and not repeat "GDPR" within a text more than necessary.
- Example: [[Article 6 GDPR|Article 6]] will be visible as Article 6.
You should always link to the exact part of the Article, which can be done by adding the subparagraph at the end of the link. For technical reasons, brackets are not possible here. Subparagraph (1)(b) therefore has to be written as #1b!
- Example: [[Article 6 GDPR#1b|Article 6(1)(b)]] becomes Article 6(1)(b) and links to Article 6, section (1), subsection (b) of the relevant page.
Linking to other national and EU laws
For other national or EU laws you should link to the official publication of the law with a hyperlink.
- Example: § 9 of the Austrian Data Protection Act (DSG) is linked as § 9 DSG to redirect to the external source.
References (e.g. to books, laws, cases or other documents) within a text can be added by using the wiki-function "Reference".
In the text editor you can just put the reference/footnote between an"<ref>" and "</ref>" element. It will generate a footnote and move the link to the text (your reference) between the two tags to the bottom of the page.
In the visual editor, you can click on "cite" to include a reference/footnote. It will generate a footnote and move the link to the reference to the bottom of the page.
Consistent names on GDPRhub
Naming DPA and court cases
On GDPRhub all cases are named by Court/DPA, a hyphen and the case number or the case name. If a case number is available, always use the case number. If no case name or number is available, you may use a description of the case as a title.
- Example: Decision FS50819531 of the Information Commissioner's Office is called "ICO - FS50819531".
Naming DPAs and courts in page titles
The names of DPAs are mostly the abbreviation in the national language and the country name in brackets. Abbreviations of all DPAs can be found in the DPA overview.
- Example: The UK Information Commissioner's Office can be found as ICO (UK).
Courts are named by the abbreviation and the country name in brackets.
- Example: A case of the Den Haag Court of First Instance (Rechtbank) can be found as Rb. Den Haag - C/09/581973/KG ZA 19/1024.
Local names of laws and institutions
Names of many non-English elements (e.g. names of a court or a law in the local language) can be very confusing and hard to follow. To ensure that the reader can follow the articles, an English translation and the original name are used on GDPRhub.
Always use an English translation (or description) and add the local name in brackets so that the reader can follow you. Local abbreviations are used and may be added in the brackets, separated with a hyphen. When further citing the element or using it in a title of a page, you may use the national abbreviation.
- Example: The German "Oberlandesgericht Köln" becomes the "High Regional Court Cologne (Oberlandesgericht Köln - OLG Köln)".
- Example: The German "Oberlandesgericht Köln" becomes the "OLG Cologne" when used in a page title.
- Example: The German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG) becomes the "German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz - BDSG)". Once this abbreviation is established on a page, you may later simply refer to the BDSG in your article.
Consistently referring to "controller" and "data subject"
A good summary immediately gives the reader a clear overview of the facts and reasoning. In this regard, it is important to consistently refer to the roles of the the parties, to prevent that the reader has to look up the original.
Therefore, it is important to prevent wording like "complainant", "claimant", "plaintiff", "defendant", etc., and stick to the roles that are assigned under the GDPR: "data subject", "controller", "processor", and "DPA". After all, it depends on the circumstances whether the "defendant" is the controller, or perhaps the DPA.
Specific elements on GDPRhub
Examples can be added by including ::<u>Example:</u> before a paragraph in the text editor.
- Example: This is an example.
GDPRhub commentary style guide
The GDPRhub Commentary features relatively short analysis regarding a GDPR Article. Commentaries should not exceed 4000 words total (including abstract, main text, references and figure legends). They should have an abstract of 50 words or less ("Overview") and no more than 35 references.
Commentary begins with an introductory paragraph that immediately presents the issues under discussion in a way that captures the reader's interest. The Overview should be general enough to orient the reader not familiar with the specifics of the field being discussed. Here, and throughout the article, the author should avoid the jargon and special terms of his or her field or system.
Body of the text
The body of the text should, in the limited space available, develop the discussion in a lively manner. By "lively" we don't mean hype and oversimplification. Rather, the editors seek clear, declarative writing that avoids the passive tense, tangled constructions, and needless detail. Avoid asides that interrupt the flow of the text.
In general, the commentary should follow the structure of the Article. We prefer an analytical approach. This means that, if possible, we analyse the meaning of the most important sentences included in each paragraph of the Article, and then we move on to the next one, with the same approach. That said in general terms, it is also true that we don't need to be that analytical all the time. In other words, if a paragraph is terribly boring or does not deserve more than five minutes of your time, you don't need to split hairs. A general headline will work just fine.
Article 12 makes a good example. The provision is made of 8 paragraphs and each one of them is commented (check the index of contents, here). However, certain paragraphs (for example 1 and 5) require deeper analysis while others can be grouped in a more general "issue", without further analysis.
The Wiki automatically numbers paragraphs once they are given a hierarchy value ("Heading", "Sub-heading 1", "Sub-heading 2", etc). Therefore, there is no need to give a number to each paragraph. If doing so helps you in visualising the structure of the Commentary, do it. Please, remember that no numbers should be given to the paragraphs once the commentary is uploaded on the GDPRhub.
- Books (monographies)
- surname(s) of author(s),
- full title,
- publisher and year in brackets.
Example: Endicott, Administrative Law, p. 10 (OUP 2009).
- surname of author(s) in italics. (if applicable), in
- editor(s) (if applicable),
- full title,
- margin number (or page if applicable)
- publisher and year in brackets (you may need to also cite 'Edition')
- (if online, provide date of access)
Example (paper): Leupold, Schrems, in Knyrim, Der Datkomm, Article 80 GDPR, margin number 49 (Manz 2018)
Example (paper): Docksey, in Kuner, Bygrave, Docksey, The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary, Article 68 GDPR, p. 1046 (Oxford University Press 2020).
Example (online): Klabunde, in Ehman, Selmayr, Datenschutz-Grundverordnung, Article 67 GDPR, margin number 16 (C.H. Beck 2018, 2nd Edition).
- Journal papers
- surname(s) author(s),
- full title, in
- full name of the journal,
- volume number (if available),
- page or page numbers.
- (if online, provide link and date of access)
Example: Young, In Defence of Due Deference, in Modern Language Review, 72 (2009), p. 554.
- EDPB/DPAs guidelines, opinions --> name of the authority (EDPB, CNIL, etc.), title, date, page number, link to the document
- Example: EDPB, 'Guidelines 05/2020 on consent under Regulation 2016/679', 4 May 2020 (Version 1.1), p. 12 (available here).
- Exception for WP29 guidelines, opinions --> WP29, 'title', version number, date, page number, link to the document
- Example: WP29, ‘Guidelines on Transparency under Regulation 2016/679’, 17/EN WP260 rev.01, 11 April 2018, p. 29 (available here).
- EDPB, DPA, Court decisions --> name of the authority, case + case number, name, date, parties, relevant paragraphs (if possible) + link to the GDPRhub summary (if available) [if not available, link to the official decision or reference to the book or journal that features the decision]
- Example: CJEU, Case C-403/03, Schempp, 12 July 2005, margin number 19 (available here).
- Please, always cite the full work in each footnote. In other words, do not use "op. cit", "ibid", "Idem" and similar;
- Where there are two authors, both should be named; with three or more only the first author's name plus "et al." need be given.
- Do not use footnotes in your word draft. It will be easier for you to upload the file in the Hub and use the "Cite" feature on the Wiki.
Example: "Articles 39(1)(d) and (e) lay down the DPO’s obligations in relation to the supervisory authorities. For example, the DPO could facilitate cooperation of the organisation in prior consultation procedures or DPA investigations. [6. Klabunde, in Ehman, Selmayr, Datenschutz-Grundverordnung, Article 67, margin number 16 (C.H. Beck 2018, 2nd Edition).]