Bloomberg News is famous for financial coverage of everything from the markets to the Fed. Among journalists it is infamous for “banning” some words, such as but.

It is not true that there is an outright ban. But, it is discouraged.

The argument runs like this: When a reporter includes “but,” it is usually an indication that the important news comes second.

For example, “Widget Company posted record earnings, but the stock declined because of lawsuits claiming the company is a Ponzi scheme.”

The thinking behind the banning of but is more interesting than the actual banning.

A big part of the early success of Bloomberg News was the intensity and clarity of editorial direction provided by then Editor-in-Chief Matt Winkler. He wrote a style guide, The Bloomberg Way, that included scores of rigorous, specific rules.

In 2002 he explained the rationale for the ban on but in his weekly notes:

The Bloomberg Way discourages “but,” “although,” “however,” “though,” “while,” and their cousin “despite” because these words change the direction of a sentence, confusing more than clarifying. Why raise the expectation of the reader in the beginning of a sentence that they are getting important information only to tell them “but” this isn’t the real point? It’s better to focus on the part of the sentence you want to emphasize rather than to put it in opposition to another point. We said: “Tyco is based in Bermuda, but run from Exeter, New Hampshire.” Is there a point in setting these two ideas against each other? “And” works better.

Over the years the ban on but has been relaxed considerably.

It has, however, gotten lots of media coverage.

Business Insider wrote about the ban in 2014 when a new edition of the style guide, The Bloomberg Way, was published. The story emphasized the shock and horror: Read it here.

A 2012 piece from the Wharton business school at U Penn does a better job of putting the decision into the context of building a global news organization. Read it here.

If you want to have fun, read the Columbia Journalism Review article from 2009, which pokes fun at Matt for using “but” when he wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

What I love about the piece is the writer, Dean Starkman, did some reporting and found that the “but” was inserted by an editor at the Journal. Read it here.