Website editorial style guide (version 28th June 2023)

This website between 2015–2023, has taken about 300 hours of work, and does not include the time to make the work shown. We estimate that ⅔ of the time was spent on writing, editing and proofreading the text… and is a reason for making this editorial style guide. It is based on more than 16 years of working with text and information, and is aimed at wide-spread usability and text comprehension. It is not complete, but will help us maintain text standards, and reduce time needed to clear-up issues. We also know that people have very personal, subjective and funny views about editorial style, punctuation and grammar, so it could be of interest for those with a penchant for syntax (forgive the gobbledygook). We hope you find it useful. Any issues or errors, please do contact us.

E, ed, edi, edit, editi, editin, editing, edit, edite, edited

Shortcuts to sub-sections

Bullet lists, punctuation, references and main editorial details

Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Bullet and number lists

Sentence case, start with a capital letter, and end with a full stop.
Semicolons or commas at the end of list entries, seem a bit unnecessary. A bullet list is basically like a sentence. Full stop is easy‑to‑maintain, clear, obvious and well structured.


Use as many as is needed, but no more.
Do not be shy to use as many commas as needed, they balance long sentences and help reinforce meaning. Long sentences with hardly any commas, are more difficult to read than sentences with a mild amount of commas. Can use Oxford comma before and or or (we are interested in the quality of writing, grammar and ease-to-understand, so preference-based or based on some historical tradition, is not valid here).

References (in main body text and reference lists)

Use the most recent version of the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Book, publication, journal and conference titles in reference lists are typeset sentence case, in main body text are typeset title case. Main body texts reference markers, either (Surname, Date), or Surname (Date), plus a hyperlink to the source, on that information (both surname and date).
American Psychological Association (APA) style is quite good, avoids abbreviations that are very difficult-to-understand and require much more time to format, like the American Medical Association (AMA), and is fairly logical, easy-to-format and maintain. All‑in‑all, not bad and usable. See for more information.

Referencing journals in body text

Use the same American Psychological Association (APA) style used in reference lists, but do not make the number or volume number italic.
Example Information Design Journal, 24(3), 2018. [Should probably format to how they are in a reference list, to save time… pending issue.]

Capitalisation of the 1st letter after a colon in a book, paper or publication title, in a list of references

Make uppercase.
Too complex and time consuming to work out if it should or should not be. Usually the letter or word after a colon in a book, paper or publication title, acts like a subtitle, rather than an actual colon. Make uppercase although double check, make a note of any obvious errors.

Quotation marks

Single quotation marks 1st, then double if inside the single.
Double quote marks to start with, tend to stick-out of the text too much, are overemphasised, and are overly noisy. Although may be clearer to use, for people with vision impairments, ageing eyesight or children learning to read [pending issue that needs to be looked into].

Percentage sign

Use the proper % sign rather than the words per cent.
Per cent is noisy, clogs the text and is not the correct sign. The actual % sign signals the value much quicker than words.

Punctuation after quotation marks

Put punctuation after quotation marks, not before.
Exception to the rule
If a whole sentence is within brackets, then the punctuation can go before the last bracket.


Always use http:// or https:// for the actual hyperlink and onscreen/in text hyperlink.
Easy-to-maintain, correct and does not need anymore editing. Delete the / that sometimes gets stuck at the end of the URL, only if it occurs after the main URL (not subfolders off the main URL). Does not matter if the URL works with or without the www., just use what works.

Forward slash

No word space either side.
It does not add much and is not correct. The forward slash is meant to bond and join 2 similar words, rather than split them apart, with extra space on the left and right.

Punctuation after URLs

Do not hyperlink a . (full stop), , (comma) or ; (semicolon) or : (colon) after a hyperlink.
The punctuation is part of the sentence, and not the hyperlink.

En and em dashes, and spacing

Use spaced en (–) dashes, not a hyphen/minus sign (-) or em (—) dash.
Unspaced em dashes are typically used in American texts and there is not that much clarity difference, between spaced en dashes and unspaced em dashes. However em dashes tend to be overly long, although may be better for people with vision impairments, ageing eyesight or children who are learning to read [pending issue that needs to be looked into]. Use spaced en dashes even in book or journal titles in American Psychological Association (APA) references, even if the original title uses an unspaced em dash, or something different.

Minus sign

Use the minus/hyphen sign (-).
Do not an en (–) dash, em (—) dash or double hyphen (--).

Measurements values, and spacing

No space between the abbreviated measurement indicator.
So 1mm and 1cm (not 1 mm, or 1 cm). [There was a justification, but cannot remember now, rethink.]

et al.

Do not bother making italic.
Is typically set in italic and not italic (roman), for easy and decreased work, just set without italic, making italic does not add much.

Spelling language

British (s) rather than American (z).
Check generally available American spelling lists for errors in the text [need to make a list]. Using z does not feel natural, although may sound okay or even more correct than s.


Write out the full unabbreviated text before, then have the abbreviation after in brackets. Do this everywhere, even though this increases the length of the text.
If the abbreviation is only described after the unabbreviated terms at the start of a document, or 1st use instance, users who find the abbreviation lower down the content, will not be able to unpack the abbreviation.

U.K., U.S.A and E.U.

Always use dots for any country abbreviation.
If US was used, it could look like and signal the word us (us and them or US AND THEM).

Old-hat abbreviated words

Use modern or known rephrase.

e.g. as for example.

i.e. as for example.

via as through.

vs. as versus.

Expand and use plain English, for old-hat abbreviations.

Date or measurement ranges

Use an en dash (–) with no space either side.
Even though the word to in between, would be more usable (GOV.UK, 2016) [pending issue that needs to be resolved].

Sentence case or title case

Use title case for book, publication, journal and conference names everywhere (although there are some exceptions).
This does not work well with the ‘Reading’ (city) ‘reading’ (activity) capitalisation issue, however, title case is more robust for these items.
Exception to the rule
Can use sentence case for navigation buttons/links, main H1 webpage titles, and entry/module titles in project case studies, where sentence case can override title case. Title case for publication, book, conference or paper names, is more robust and less prone to errors in more information environments. If sentence case was used, italics would have to be used to emphasise the quieter sentence case title and item, and italics are more easily lost, or not accepted when the information is reused, and when copying and pasting. [Difficult and complex area, but concluded this is the most usable and robust method.]

Job titles and position titles

Unsure how to handle job titles like Director, Managing Director, Manager, Assistant. Keep as lowercase for now [pending issue that needs to be looked into].

Capitalisation for publication, books, journals and conference titles

Use title case.
Use to reduce time and errors.

Lowercase or title case for names, items and things

Only use title case and italic if needed, for real actual things, and not to give false hierarchy to words, be very strict.
Words like Planning Committee, Government, Council, Governing Body, Manifesto or something like Local Development Framework, should not be made title case, be very strict about what is genuinely title case and what is not. In the example of Local Development Framework, if the Local Development Framework is referring to an actual publication, then it can be title case and italic, but if it is not a real/physical thing, then it is not different, to other lowercase words.
Exception to the rule
As previously noted with job and position titles [that remains unresolved].

Italics for publication, books, journals and conferences

Make italic, as they help to distinguish the item, do this even in headings like H1, H2, H3.
If the heading is italic, make roman (do the reverse).

Colon and semicolons

Try not to use.
The public or people with low-literacy, will not understand them.

Strikethrough for websites that no longer work

We have used strikethrough style for websites that used to link to a live/active website, especially on our books web area. Not totally happy with it, but needs to be looked at sometime in the future, and not ideal for legibility.

+ (plus) sign as a replacement for the word plus

Use the proper plus sign + around numbers. The plus sign is correct and communicates faster.
Exception to the rule
Do not use actual plus sign + sign for words, example: plus the other person.

Hyphenated words

Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Hyphenated words

1-mile area







British made

built to last














double-page spread

down time















filled in


full range

















in situ (originally)


lay (something down)


lay flat



lie (down)








major or majour














open access


page layout


picking up





printer ready











save out

saving out






setting up





single page




sort it out






subtitle (sub-title)


time to time






up-to-date bookshops



user productivity











zoomed in

Some words are typically hyphenated, and some are not (made a hyphenated word list, to check and keep the editorial style consistent). Adds better communication through reinforced meaning, although the time to check and maintain a hyphenated word list, is substantial! and maybe not worth it… [Maybe some errors in the list below, need to double-check.]


Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Punctuation and numerical splitters







Commas are specific to text and Latin text, although we will use commas in numbers after 10,000 (2 digit) and 100,000 (3 digit) higher numbers, to help split them. Then use a full stop to mark decimal numbers. Using word spaces can split the numbers 1 999 999, so they look like 3 sets of individual numbers… And 1999999 does not distinguish between 100 values, so is not as clear as it could be. Same for ISBN-13 numbers, so 978-0-9570712-2-3 (not 9780957071223).
Exception to the rule
Telephone numbers 077909 24159 (split either at 3 digits or 6 digits, or at other obvious dial/area code splits. This helps keep the long number usable and more digestible (Weinschenk, 2011, p. 48).

Punctuation in time formats

Use a decimal point to separate minute marker 1.15pm–5.45pm.
Seems okay for now, although some time formats use 8:30am–16:30pm [need to look at this again at some point].

Written numbers (nought/zero to nine) or Arabic numbers (0–9)

Use Arabic numbers (0–9) rather than written numbers.
Arabic numbers communicate much quicker than numbers as words, and are the proper sign for number values.
Exception to the rule
Phrases like ‘new typeface designs and similarity to existing ones’, or ‘similar to other ones’, one/s applying to a person or entity, where the one (1) Arabic number, has little benefit from being written as a 1 [there are some exceptions in this area, make a note of them, and is a slightly unclear area].

Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V) and so on

Do not use them.
Roman numerals are old-hat and are not easily understood by many readers. Use Arabic numbers (0–9).
Exception to the rule
Only use Roman numerals in an original and authentic sense, for instance in queens’ or kings’ names, like Elizabeth I.

1st (first), 2nd (second) or 3rd (third)

1st (not first), 2nd (not second) and 3rd (not third), and so on.
Do not use superiors for 1st, 2nd or 3rd, as it is not really necessary and does not add much.

Fraction signs, and fractions as words

Use the mathematical (Arabic) fraction sign (½, ¼, ¾, ⅓, ⅔).
Same reason as Arabic numbers, numerical fractions communicate much quicker than fractions as words, and are easier-to-identify and see, and are the proper sign for fraction values.

Overall strategy and tips

Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Editorial style is a mix of

  • Title Casing (Kinross, 2016).
  • 7th Edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2022).
  • Our own custom style (because we can and also to trial better ideas).

Main categories of users

Any obvious categories of users we are communicating and dealing with?
  1. Design, art, production, editing and marketing managers.
  2. Company, business, organisation directors.
  3. General non-expert people, curious in using our services.
  4. The public.

Try to use active voice rather than passive

Use active 90% of the time.
Passive is more cognitively demanding and requires catching-up, and does not sound direct and to the point, although is not always applicable (Heesen, 2019).


Use whenever needed and alright to do so.
Humour increases interest, engagement and motivation levels.

Relook and reread sentences and paragraphs, to see if they can be better and more logically ordered and constructed

Improves the structure and flow of information, and creates a more logical flow (Redish, 2014).

Try to start at the start (a beginning), and try and finish at the end (an ending)

Helps readers understand a story and narrative, so they can follow the process, from beginning to end.

Rambling, waffling and editing word count

Edit and delete as much as is necessary, to convey the whole meaning. No more words and writing, than is needed.
Less work for users, but do not cut actual meaning that needs to be written and communicated.

Plain English and clear language

Always use general strategies. Use the easiest‑to-understand words, so more people can understand the writing.
[Need to make a list and show references.]

Inclusive language and defining people with disabilities, or who fall into a category

Write with or without, not who are or who is (do not define).
So people with a vision impairment, not people who are vision impaired or who is vision impaired. When categorising people, refer to people who fall into a category, rather than types of people (Caroline Jarrett, personal communication, 2022). [Need to make a list and show references.]

Flow and smooth grammar

Write smooth and progress gradually.
Avoid clunky, bumpy and fragmented sentences, always go for a smooth start and finish. Start with something, and then gradually progress it along.


Do not use contractions.
They are not proper words, but can be retained in external quoted extracts and in publication titles. People who do not understand English well, will have extra difficulty understanding the contracted words. Hardest contraction to unpack is let’s [longer description and solution needed].

Use to double-check and catch any errors.


Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule


Use for any terms or technical jargon that would not be easily known by the public (or Joe Blogs in the street).

[Make a list here to copy from, so it is easier‑to‑reuse the code.]

Tooltips on a URL

Do not use a tooltip on top of a URL.
Need to have a solution for a tooltip on top of a URL, currently there is a clash of underlines styles (solid and dotted), no usable solution as of yet.


Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Typographic number style

Use proportional oldstyle numbers.
Exception to the rule
In tables where lining oldstyle numbers should be used. Also for headings in full/all capitals, then use proportional lining numbers, so the numbers align to the baseline and capital height.

Small caps

Use small caps for any sequence of capital letters of 2 or more. Also use in headings (like H1, H2, H3, and so on).
Type as capital letters to help retain knock‑outs. Small capitals are quieter and more in-keeping with the main body text than full capitals, and are a typographic enrichment.
Exception to the rule
If a URL has a sequence of 2 or more capital letters, do not use small capitals. Information like H1, H2, H3, where full capitals H1, H2, H3, look too large.

Small caps and Roman numerals

Use small caps for all Roman numerals, even if it is just 1, like Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth I was previously typeset without small caps, but looking back, maybe all Roman numerals should be small caps. Not using small caps for a single Roman numeral and then using small caps for 2 or more strings of Roman numerals, does not look right.


Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

Which or that

Use that.
Generally always use that rather than which, which (or should that be that?), is passive and indirect.

Onto or on to

Onto is the movement of something from a particular position or location to another. On to (as 2 words), is used when it is a part of a phrasal verb (a main verb and an adverb particle).

Lay or lie

Lay commonly means to put or set (something) down. Lie commonly means to be in or to assume a horizontal position.

Year’s or years’

I have 1 year of experience = I have 1 year’s experience. She has 12 years of experience = She has 12 years’ experience.

Anymore or any more, or something or some thing

[Need to look into.]

Ellipsis question mark..?

..? use it when needed (a new punctuation mark from us).
We use it like ..? although could be used like …?, or ??? (see Norris, 2012 for more).

All website check

Rule Justification, why and exceptions to the rule

All website check against editorial style guide

Not done as of June 2023.


Reusing information from our editorial style guide, and copyright

You can reuse any of the information copyright-free, but if you do, you must credit the source, options are:

Easy option

American Psychological Association (APA) option

Harvard option

Chicago Manual of Style option

Modern Language Association (MLA) option

Do you like writing, proofreading, editing, grammar and punctuation? If so, check-out our self-produced book Punctuation..?

|Cut|, |copy| and |paste| ][

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