Appendix: Style Guide

General Guidelines

  • Avoid overuse of bold, italics, capitalization and colons.
  • Use one space between sentences.
  • Ensure consistency within a document regarding all style formats.


  • Geographical locations take periods except if occurring without them as part of a proper noun or brand.
    • British Columbia is abbreviated as B.C. unless in a name such as BC Open Textbook Project or BCcampus.


  • Serial commas should be used consistently throughout BCcampus documents. This means putting commas between the elements of a series and before the final AND, OR, or NOR.
  • Commas should always follow “e.g.,” and “i.e.,” as well as, “for example,” and “for instance,”.


  • Capitalize all proper names, universities, agencies, ministries, associations, places and addresses.
  • Where a reasonable choice exists use lowercase.
  • Use lower case for “open education resources” (OER) and generic use of “open textbooks”.
  • Use lowercase for descriptive Internet terms such as “email”, “website”, and “online”. Uppercase for proper names such as “Internet”.
  • Capitalize all letters in abbreviations and acronyms: HTML, URL and RAM.
  • Use lower case for file extensions as appended to a file name: .pdf, .docx.
  • In main headings/titles capitalize the following:
  1. The first and the last word of the title
  2. Principal words such as nouns, pronouns (such as “you”), adjectives, verbs and adverbs
  3. Prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more
  4. Lowercase the “to” in an infinitive (e.g., I want to play guitar)
  • In sub headings use sentence case (only capitalize the first word).
  • Pressbooks sections (parts, chapter, main body, front and back matter) are not capitalized unless the term is used as a name (e.g. ‘Part 1’) or is referred to as a selected menu item (e.g. “Add New Front Matter”).
  • Pressbooks Views and Dashboard items are capitalized.

Lists / Bullets

  • Introductory phrase: If the statement introducing the list is not a complete sentence* (a dependent clause) then a colon at the end should be used. Otherwise end a complete sentence with a period.
  • List item punctuation:
    • If list items are complete sentences* use normal terminal punctuation (period, question mark etc.).
    • If items are sentence fragments or single words do not use terminal punctuation.
  • Start each point in the list with a capital.
  • Be consistent within a bulleted list for language and tense. All items should be syntactically and conceptually parallel. For example, start each bullet with a verb in present tense.
  • Do not use hanging indents.
  • Use a numbered list if documenting steps in a specific sequence otherwise use bullets.

*Note: Complete sentences require a subject, verb and complete thought. If one of these components is missing then it is a sentence fragment.


  • Bold the first use of a new key term and add it to the glossary.
  • Define the term upon first mention within the text.


  • Generic e-anything should be written with a lower case “e” and a hyphen before the word (e.g., e-reader) with exception for “email”.
  • “Post-secondary” is always hyphenated.

Procedural documentation

  • Limit the use of screen captures.
  • Make the steps as brief as possible.
  • Write in the present tense.
  • Use boldface only upon first use of key terms that will be defined in the glossary.
  • Use quotations to highlight names of menus, drop down selections and buttons.
  • Use italics for fields or items that will be replaced with user text.
  • Set off the text the user will insert with single quotes.
  • Avoid using characters such as angle brackets (<>) or square brackets ([ ]) to designate text substitutions.

Example: From the “File” menu, select “Open”. In the “Open” text box, enter the URL below, substituting either ‘’ for server-address, and your UT EID for eid.


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Appendix: Style Guide by Lauri M. Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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