Body copy style
Content is often created in Word, then “cleaned-up” before migrating to WordPress. We recommend using the free version of Grammerly to check your grammar and spelling.
All FDU content needs to follow the guidelines posted here in the Web Style Guide. These guidelines are intended to support the FDU brand, to align with legal requirements, to respect accepted standards of American English spelling, grammar, and style. Federal requirements include accessibility, copyright, and trademark law. Laws also exist at the state level that govern accessibility, identity theft, and the university’s tax-exemption requirements. Since this is the world-wide-web, our content must also comply with CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), among others.
Tools to assist in the migration …
- Always left-justify. Never center-, right-, or full-justify.
- Long sentences that are comma-separated lists of several items can usually be re-written as bulleted or numbered lists (nngroup.com).
- Break up long paragraphs into smaller blocks of text.
- Bulleted lists are for random collections of items.
- Numbered lists are for order, steps, counting, and reference.
- Items should be in agreement (grammatically parallel). Write either all sentences or all fragments. Don’t mix it up.
- Use sentence case with ending period for actual sentences.
- Use lower case with no punctuation for words and phrases (the bullet serves the purpose of punctuation).
- Always create lists with the list creation editor feature. Never use an asterisk or other characters and spaces.
- How users read on the web, Jakob Neilson (PDF at gmu.edu)
Boldface, italics, underline, quotes, and all capitals
Bold, italics, and underline. Use bold in the text sparingly to add emphasis to an occasional word or phrase. It is best to rewrite the body copy so the meaning is clear without visual effects. Avoid italics as it can be hard for some people to read. However, it is acceptable to use italics for titles of publications. Never bold or italicize an entire paragraph. Never underline, since underlining is reserved for links.
Quotation marks. Use double quotes for the title of chapters.
Caps. Avoid all capitals.
- Describe the content or title of the destination page.
- Never use the URL or the domain name as link-text.
- Never abbreviate common words. A screen reader will speak “m-g-m-t” if you write “mgmt” and other visitors may simply not understand (especially those who don’t speak English as a first language).
- Avoid internal FDU abbreviations, e.g., UG and GR for undergraduate and graduate, respectively.
- State names. Spell it out or use post office abbreviations: New Jersey and NJ.
- Spell out an abbreviation the first time you use it. e.g. Employee Tuition Grant (ETG) or ETG (Employee Tuition Grant)
- Spell out Canada and England when referring to Vancouver and Wroxton.
- Use spellcheck and proofread carefully. Have a colleague proofread your page before you publish it.
- Use an American English dictionary, not British or Canadian.
- All numbers below 10 should be spelled out, while those 10 or higher should be expressed in numerals.
- Avoid starting a sentence with a numeral, if possible.
- Spell out first, second … ninth. Never use 1st or 2nd unless space is very limited. (e.g. Room 2245, second floor.)
- When numbers need to be added up, like when you are referring to course credits, use digits.
- Dates. Always use Arabic figures without st, nd, rd, or th. Spell out months (unless space is limited). Examples: September 7, 2011, March 1999, etc. Use commas correctly, as in these two examples.
- Times. Use figures except for noon and midnight and always follow the figures with a space, then “AM” or “PM” without periods after each letter. Avoid the redundant “10 PM at night.” Examples: 10 AM, 11:15 AM, noon, 3 PM.
- Duration. Use the word “to” instead of a hyphen. A screen-reader will not speak the hypen. 10 AM – noon. would sound like “10 A M noon.” If “am” were lowercase it would say the word “am.” If we wrote a.m. or A.M. it would say “a dot m” and pause, because it would interpret the second dot as a period at the end of a sentence.
Signs and symbols Punctuation.
- Exclamation points. “AP Style tip: Avoid overuse of exclamation points. Use to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion. See the tweet from AP about exclamation points (twitter.com).
- Registered Trademark. Use ® for FDU registered trademarks. It is a violation of federal law to the registered trademark symbol on a phrase that is not officially registered.
- Copyright. All content on the FDU website is already copyright FDU.
- Use the special character within the CMS as opposed to copy-and-pasting Microsoft’s special characters. All browsers (not just MS) will display the desired character. Screen readers will properly read these aloud. e.g. “™” is read as “trademark.”
- Ampersands. Don’t use an ampersand (&) as a substitute for “and” unless it is part of a corporate brand (e.g. Crate & Barrel or AT&T).
- Parentheses usually initiate a pause from screen readers. Parentheses are for information that can be left out. If it is essential information use a comma instead, e.g., Degree Requirements, 18 credits not (18 credits). It is also less clutter for the visual reader.
- Slash vs hyphen. Slash means “or.” Hyphen means “and.” e.g. BA/BS-MAT means “BA or BS, and MAT.”
- M-dash and ellipses have space before and after — on the web. This is more readable and enables word-wrapping on web pages.
- Spell “at.” Do not use @. Reserve this for email and social media.
- Spell “number.” Do not use #, which many people only associate with social media as a hashtag.
Don’t use an asterisk to refer to notes at the bottom of the page. Embed notes at the point of the asterisk and leave out the asterisk. Figure a way to reword or organize the content so it flows with the surrounding text. Scrolling down to the bottom of a web page is not practical for those with or without impairments.