Voice and tone Formatting Graphics Audience

Formatting

Here is a break­down of how to approach the for­mat­ting of every­thing from abbre­vi­a­tions to zebras.

Our house style

We’re sticking to our Canadian roots, here, so jump in the canoe. We use Canadian English wherever possible and reference the Chicago Manual of Style. We use Urban Dictionary whenever possible. Just kidding. We use the Oxford Dictionary.

Citations

  • Books, major works, magazines, and newspapers are italicized when not linked.
  • Articles and short works are enclosed in quotation marks when not linked.

Commas

Stick with serial commas (they come before the “and” in the last list element) except in article titles. Article titles will take the ampersand and drop the serial comma.

Company & publication names

A name is your dignity. Pay attention, friend.

  • Note how companies capitalize and refer to their own names in digital examples (watch for compound words and unique capitalizations).
  • Don’t emphasize definite articles. E.g. It’s the Huffington Post, not The Huffington Post.

Quotations

Use Chicago style to determine quotation rules.

  • Periods go before quotations.
  • Block quotes are for long passages.
  • Double quotations are like air quotes: you don’t really “buy them” or they’re “special.”
  • Single quotations are used for quoting quotations.

Sentence case

For headlines, we stick to sentence case. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, any proper nouns. That’s it.

Spelling

Canadian spelling, please.

Technical specifications

We use Markdown as our markup language.

Abbreviations

YesNo

AKA

aka or a.k.a

i.e.,

ie or i.e.

PMP

P.M.P.

GIF (And it’s pronounced with a hard G, dammit)

gif

Article titles, headlines, and subheads

For title, headlines, and subheads, stick to sentence case.

  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word and proper nouns
  • No terminal punctuation unless it’s a question mark
  • No serial commas for article titles; use ampersands (&)
  • Serial commas for article headings; no ampersands
  • If no serial comma, use an ampersand in article headlines
Heading levelUsage

H1

Article titles

H2

Subheads and secondary headlines

H3–H6

Break your content into smaller, more readable chunks

Contractions

Wherever possible, we stick with informal contractions:

PreferredLess preferred

don’t

do not

won’t

will not

Punctuation

YesNo

Apostrophes

’tis
the ’80s
George’s summer
Several Georges
Delores’ purse

tis, 'tis, or ‘tis
the 80s, the ‘80s, or the 80’s
Georges summer
Several George’s
Delores’s purse

Divide

3 ÷ 5

3 / 5

Ellipses

... (three periods)

Em-dashes

Beans—and I don’t mean green ones.

Beans – and I don’t mean green ones.

En-dashes

Dec 1st–5th

Dec 1st — 5th

Minus

3 − 5

3 - 5 (dash), 3 – 5 (en dash), or 3 — 5 (em dash)

Multiply

3 × 5

3 x 5, 3 X 5, or 3 * 5

Numbered lists

1.

1 or 1.) or A.

Ordinals

1st, 2nd, 3rd

1st, 2nd, 3rd

Parenthesis

Whenever possible, put them inside a sentence (like a champ).

Don’t separate them. (Like this)

Pluralizing names

Seinfelds
Beneses (add ‘es’ when ending with s, x, z, ch, or sh)

Seinfield’s
Benes’

Serial commas (AKA the Oxford comma)

George, Elaine, and I

George, Elaine and I

Lists

Ordered or unordered.

  • Complete sentence? Apply sentence case.
  • Full sentences begin with a capital and end with terminal punctuation.
  • Incomplete sentences don’t have capitalization or terminal punctuation.
  • For a sentence featuring two or more list items, end each (except the last) with a semicolon (;), add an "and" to the final item. Finish off with terminal punctuation.

Linking

A link should contain a complete contextual clue for what it is referencing.

You can do with this hidden text if needed. Here’s more detail on hidden text.

Word capitalization

YesNo

internet

Internet

ecommerce

Ecommerce

Word choice

YesNo

email

e-mail or electronic mail

colour

color

sitemap

site map

website

web site

wireframes

wire frames

Talk to us.

Learn more about our programs or just say hi.