UITS editorial style guide: Style basics

The information here is part of the UITS Style Guide.

On this page:


Overview

Follow a consistent style scheme. Creating trustworthy internal and external communications relies, to a large extent, on the content's consistency. Inconsistency undermines your narrative authority.

Capitalization

  • Use sentence case, capitalizing first words and proper nouns (for example, names of individuals, places, agencies).
  • Capitalize the first words of list items.
  • Capitalize the first word after a colon only if what follows is a complete sentence or if the colon follows a list item with further text, for example:
    I have several favorite foods: apples, bananas, and naan chips.
    I have several favorite foods: Apples were my first favorite snack, but naan chips are a rising star in my life.
    *Naan chips: My favorite food
    *Apples: My previous favorite food
  • Some specifics:
    • Don't capitalize "agile".
    • Headlines in news releases follow AP style (for example, "Indiana University writes the book on successful eTexts programs").
    • "State" is capitalized only when referring to an official name. ("Secretary of State" is correct, as is "the state of Indiana").
Note:
Avoid using ALL CAPS, which causes some screen readers to treat the words as acronyms and say the individual letters. Use other methods, such as bold or italic text, to emphasize a point.

Numbers

  • Zero through nine, 10 and up
  • Spell out numbers that start sentences.
  • Phone numbers: Either (812) 123-4567 or 812-123-4567
  • Room numbers: CIB 107A (Add space between building code and room number)

    Use the designated code for all buildings except the ICTC. Students will know how to find ICTC 126, but may not know how to find IT 126 (the actual building code).

Date and time

Use standard order and abbreviations for dates, but compress times to minimize white space.

  • July 1 (add the year if date is more than one year before or after)
  • 8-9am, 11:30am-2:45pm, noon-3pm (12-3pm is acceptable when it would be clear enough from the context)
  • From 8 to 9am, 8am to 2pm

Punctuation

Quotations

For dialog text, place quotations outside punctuation, but when specifying something a user might see on a screen, place only the exact text and/or punctuation in quotation marks, for example:

"Would you like a naan chip?" he asked.
In the "Search domains:" field, enter your search term.

Periods

  • Don't use periods to abbreviate IU or its campuses.
  • Don't add a period to "Herman B Wells Library" (the "B" doesn't stand for anything).

Dashes and hyphens

Dashes separate; hyphens join.

  • En dash (–): Separates certain IU campuses, as well as dates, times, and unjoined words.
  • Em dash (—): Sets off parenthetical phrases to make an impact; Chicago closes spaces between em dashes, while AP style requires spaces. Try to be consistent in your usage.
  • Hyphen (-): Pairs compound adjectives preceding nouns and pre-noun modifiers (for example, "third-party vendor"); exceptions include 3D, eNews, eTexts, online, login credentials.
    Note:
    Buttons and links for logging into something can be tricky. Text for buttons should be "Log in", since that's what a user will do. Use two words, with no hyphen.

Slashes

Avoid using the slash symbol (/). Replace it with words or commas as appropriate.

Spaces

Sentences should always be separated by a single space, never two.

Percentages

Use the percent sign (%) in:

  • Tables and technical or scientific writing:
    Nearly 60% of participants reported experiencing negative side effects.
  • Headings and subheadings:
    Candidate Woof takes 7% lead in election for best dog
  • Interface labels
  • Captions and infographics

Acronyms

Before using an acronym, always spell out the phrase in its first use on a page with the acronym following, as in "Student Technology Center (STC)".

Note:
While the <abbr> tag can serve as an enhancement to make acronyms and abbreviations more clear to some users, inconsistent screen reader support means that the expanded abbreviations will not be available to all users, so it's important to make the same information available within the text of the page.

Storage and speed notation

Mistaking a bit for a byte can turn a powerful supercomputer into a dial-up modem. Be careful and precise with units of measure.

  • Bit (b): For transmission and data storage speeds
  • Byte (B): For storage capacity
  • Gigabit Ethernet (GbE): Supports one Gbps data transfer rates
  • Include a space between numbers and abbreviations.
  • Mind your acronyms (for example, "… 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) network").
Prefix Abbreviation Memory Bandwidth Storage Storage speed
Kilo K KB Kbps KB Kbit/s
Mega M MB Mbps B Mbit/s
Giga G GB Gbps GB Gbit/s
Tera T TB Tbps TB Tbit/x
Peta P PB Pbps PB Pbit/s
Exa E EB Ebps EB Ebit/s
Zetta A ZB Zbps ZB Zbit/s
Yotta Y YB Ybps YB Ybit/s

URLs in print

  • Remove http, https, www, and trailing slashes
  • Set apart with italics, bold, or colored words
  • Use link shorteners to mask ugly and long links, customize links, or get metrics:
    • Go.IU: Links with IU domains
    • iute.ch: Newsletters and promotional pieces
  • Period use:
    • To learn more, visit ncgas.org.
    • To learn more, visit: ncgas.org

Communicate no fee for customers

Use "no fee" or "available without fee", rather than "no cost".

Event messaging via email

When promoting an event, make sure to get directly to the point, starting with the subject line. Most email programs only show four or five words of text due to space. The body of the message should follow the same to-the-point format:

Email subject: Next Wednesday: Peebles Memorial Lecture

Please join us for the Peebles Memorial Lecture. Dr. David Crandall, Luddy Professor of Computer Science and Director of Center for Machine Learning at Indiana University, will present the 2022 lecture.

Date: Wednesday, September 28
Time: Noon-1:30pm
Location: Hazelbaker Lecture Hall, Herman B Wells Library, IU-Bloomington
Live stream: [go.iu URL]
Archive: [go.iu URL]

News releases

Write news releases in AP style, differing from Chicago as follows:

  • No serial commas
  • a.m. and p.m.: Lowercase with periods and a space after the number (for example, 5 a.m.)
  • Day and date: List in order of time, date, place
  • Abbreviate days: Mon., Tues., Weds., Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun.
  • Em dashes: Leave spaces between dashes and adjacent words
  • Use periods for U.S.

Finkbeiner test

The Finkbeiner test is a gender-bias checklist for articles about women in science. An article should not mention:

  • The fact that she's a woman
  • Her husband's job
  • Her child care arrangements
  • How she nurtures her underlings
  • How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
  • How she's such a role model for other women
  • How she's the "first woman to..."

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Last modified on 2023-08-09 14:09:32.