Style Guide

Acronyms

Rule: Spell out on first use only if there will be a second use on the page.

  • Avoid apostrophes to make possessive. Usually not needed.
    • ex: DOE schools, not the DOE's schools.
  • When there is an NYC DOE logo on the page, use DOE. 
    • This is true of every page on the website

Addresses

  • Stack on three lines as you would on an envelope.
  • Use shift-enter instead of enter between lines.

Administration

Lowercase "a" when writing of a specific administration.

Ampersand (&)

Avoid--doesn't have the same meaning in all languages

Boroughs

  • Initial caps.
  • List in alphabetical order when listing all five.

Bullets

  • If complete sentences, use a period at the end.
  • All the bullets in a list must follow the same grammatical form.
  • You can use different formats, in different lists, on the same page. 

Capitalization

  • Headings should be in title case
    • each word initial cap
    • exceptions for prepositions, articles, etc.
  • Headings that are questions are sentence case.
  • Many of the things we habitually cap at the DOE should be lowercase.
  • When in doubt, check AP Style.

Chancellor

Lowercase, unless as the title of an individual

Citywide

Lowercase "c" unless it's in a heading.

Compound words

  • Use a hyphen to connect two modifiers preceding a noun
    • opt-out form
  • No hyphen when used as a verb
    • Joe chose to opt out.

Dashes

  • En dash for time spans
    • From 3PM – 5PM
  • Em dash for interrupted thought
    • Did you know—I forgot what I was going to ask
  • Hyphen for compound words

Follow these Instructions on how to make each of the above. 

Dates

  • Thursday May 1, 1999.
  • No ordinal numbers (th, rd).
  • In tables or other tight spaces you can use the two-letter abbreviations for days of the week. 

    Elementary

    Means grades K-4, but can vary from school to school. 

    • Why not just use the grade span you mean?
    • "Elementary school" does not take initial caps.

      Gender Pronouns

      Use gender neutral language

      Grade Levels

      • Write out first, second, third, etc. for individual mention.
      • Spans can be written in numerals: grades 6 – 9 (or grade 6 – 9).
      • Be consistent in the same sentence or paragraph.

      High School

      • Two words
      • Lower case, unless part of a school's proper name

              Internet, Intranet, Web

              No initial caps in running text

                Job Titles

                Not initial-capped unless directly preceding an individual's name:

                • Director of Special Projects Jane Doe
                • Jane Doe is our director of special projects.

                Kindergarten

                • Not capped unless part of a proper name/title or heading.
                • Use uppercase K when abbreviating.

                Languages

                Initial caps: French, Russian

                Large Numbers

                • Start with a numeral and write out the rest of the number. 
                  • They spent more than $5 billion on textbooks.
                • When possible, round up to the next whole number group
                  • City schools educate 1.1 million students.

                Middle School

                No initial caps in running text

                Money

                Start with the dollar symbol ($) and use numerals—even for figures lower than 10.

                • There is $3 million worth of funding.

                Round dollar amounts to the nearest whole number unless there is a reason the exact figure is necessary: 

                • $12 million

                Referencing millions? Keep it to two digits to the right of decimal.

                • $12.5 million
                • $12.25 million

                Numbers

                Rules:

                • Spell out under 10
                • No ordinal digits (3rd, 5th)
                • Never start a sentence with a digit
                • Spell out casual expressions: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a really good one is worth a thousand dollars. 

                Exceptions: You can use numerals for under ten if discussing a range (see "Grade Levels" above). You should also use digits with standard measures: 5 gallons, 10 minutes, 2 pixels.

                Percent

                Use digits and write out the word "percent". OK to use the symbol in tables and when space is at a premium.

                Phone Numbers

                222-222-2222.

                Pre-K/3-K

                The K is capital, even in running text (pre-K). There is always a hyphen between "pre" and "K." In "3K for All," there is no hyphen between 3 and K .

                School Names

                Use the initials PS, IS, or MS before a school number. Put a space between the initials and the number. Schools can have the same number and be in different boroughs. So include the borough: IS 285 Manhattan.

                Some school names include the words "elementary", "high school" "middle school" etc. Those words then take initial caps: LaGuardia High School.

                School Years

                Use four-digit years for both years: 2017– 2018 school year. 

                Seasons

                No initial cap unless in a title or heading.

                Special Education

                No initial caps in running text.

                States

                Initial capital for state names. Use two-letter postal abbreviations to specify city location: Omaha, NE. On the website, abbreviate New York State as NY State.

                Subjects

                No initial cap except for language names: math, science, English language arts.

                Time

                • Abbreviate the morning and afternoon/evening hours as “AM” and “PM” with no space between the digit and the abbreviation.
                • When indicating a time range, separate two times by an en dash. 
                • If the two times are both in the morning or afternoon, only write “AM” or “PM” after the second time: 8 – 9AM, 8AM – 12:30PM

                We

                Refers to the entire DOE, not individual departments or offices.

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