When there is a code of ethics/conduct/etc, what do you call a single point in the code? For example, the IEEE code of ethics has a numbered list similar to this:

  1. Make sure you do this to follow the code of ethics
  2. Make sure you also do this other thing
  3. etc

If I wanted to talk about the first point, or nth point, what would I call it? I've been toying with "rule", "code", and "point":

The fourth rule/code/point is about rejecting bribery.

However, they don't feel quite right. What is a word for this?

  • "Instruction" being confusing in a coding context, you may use the word "directive" for a single point or "guideline" for a set of rules.
    – Graffito
    Dec 1, 2015 at 23:03
  • @Graffito No relation to programming in this. But that's a good idea.
    – Justin
    Dec 1, 2015 at 23:04
  • "Recommendation" (or preconisation) may also fit.
    – Graffito
    Dec 2, 2015 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


The US military has a "Code of Conduct"; each "point" of that code is an article:

The Code of the U.S. Fighting Force is a code of conduct that is an "ethical guide" and a United States Department of Defense directive consisting of six articles to members of the United States Armed Forces, addressing how they should act in combat when they must "evade capture, resist while a prisoner or escape from the enemy." (Wikipedia)

(Although Wikipedia doesn't offer an easy reference to prove "article" is valid, I can confirm from personal experience that these are in fact recited as "articles of the Code of Conduct.")

Similarly, the Uniform Commercial Code is comprised of articles:


  • U.C.C. - ARTICLE 2 - SALES (2002)

  • U.C.C. - ARTICLE 2A - LEASES (2002)


  • and so forth...

(Legal Information Institute)

The National Association of Realtors has a "Code of Ethics" made up of articles as well:

  • Article 1: REALTORS® protect and promote their clients’ interests while treating all parties honestly.

  • Article 2: REALTORS® refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.

  • (and so forth...)

(Realtor.org (PDF))

This use of article is in keeping with the third definition of the word in Oxford Dictionaries:

A separate clause or paragraph of a legal document or agreement, typically one outlining a single rule or regulation (OxfordDictionaries)


I'd say, precept.

a rule that says how people should behave M-W

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