Punctuation

Ampersand

Unless in a title or referring to a title use 'and' rather than an '&', unless it's part of a trademark. Where it is used then it should be & and not &

Apostrophes

Used to indicate a missing letter or letters (can't, we'd) or a possessive (David's book).

Brackets

Use (round brackets), not [square brackets]. The only acceptable use for square brackets is to indicate that it is a placeholder eg [name] is replaced with the real name.

Bullet points (ul) and numbered steps (ol)

You can use bullet points to make text easier to read. Make sure that:

  • you always use an introductory line
  • the bullets make sense running on from the lead-in line
  • you use lower case at the start of the bullet
  • you don't use more than one sentence per bullet point – use commas, dashes or semicolons to expand on an item
  • you don't put 'or', 'and' after the bullets
  • if you add links they appear within the text and not as the whole bullet
  • there is no full stop after the last bullet point

Use numbered steps instead of bullet points to guide a user through a process. You don't need an introductory line and you can use links and downloads (with appropriate markup) in steps. Each step ends in a full stop because each step should be a complete sentence.

eg, etc and ie

Don't use full stops after or between these notations. User testing has shown that some people are not familiar with abbreviations such as eg, so consider your audience before abbreviating.

Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a set of three periods ( ... ) indicating an omission. The group of periods should have a single space on either side. Unless it is at the end of a string where there is no space or period after.
Example

  • Read more ...
  • Create some text ... add some pictures.

etc

  • See eg, etc and ie

full stop

  • See period

Hyphenation

Hyphenate:

  • 're-' words only if they start with 'e', eg re-evaluate
  • co-ordinate
  • co-operate

Don't hyphenate:

  • email
  • reuse
  • reinvent
  • reorder
  • reopen

If in doubt, don't use a hyphen

ie

  • See eg, etc and ie

Italics

Don't use italics. Use 'single quotation marks' if referring to a document, scheme or initiative.

Lists

See bullets and steps

Period

All sentences end with a period. All tooltips end with a period. Bullet points (ul) do not end with a period. Each Numbered step (ol) ends with a period.

Punctuation

For quotes, single quotes and speech marks use the character code not the keyboard. Order of precedence is HTML Name, HTML Decimal Code, Unicode Hexadecimal.

Oxford (or serial) comma.

We don't use the Oxford comma so the final item in a list before the 'and' does not have a comma.

Quotes and speech marks.

Use " " " at the beginning and end.

Single quotes

Use either ' ' at the beginning and end. Use single quotes:

  • in headlines
  • for unusual terms
  • when referring to words or publications, for example: Download the manual 'Understanding ACL' (PDF, 360KB)'

Slashes

A slash (/) should not have spaces around it eg show/hide not show / hide

Spaces

Use only one space after a full stop, not 2.