Style Guide


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
  • However if there is no logo, and the document is for an external audience, you should use NYC DOE. 


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


Lowercase "a" when writing of a specific administration.

Alt Text

  • Describes an image so that a screen reader can understand the picture's purpose.
  • Do not start with "An image of…" or "a photo of…" unless there is something important about the fact that it's in a certain medium.

Ampersand (&)

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


  • Use <strong> and </strong> tag to make it accessible.
  • Use sparingly, and for emphasis only.
  • Do not use for headings—use the h1, h2, h3 headings in the design ribbon. 


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


  • 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. 


  • 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.  


Lowercase, unless as the title of an individual:

  • Chancellor Carranza said… 
  • but: "...the chancellor attended a meeting". 

Charts and Diagrams

Must have alt text.


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.


  • 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. 


  • 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. 


  • The purpose of a standalone document is to be printed.
  • All other content should be on pages where it will be:
    • accessible to all,
    • can be searched and,
    • on the Family Website, translated.  

Document Naming

  • A document's filename should be as close as possible to the title of the document.
  • It should not include:
    • version numbers
    • code numbers
    • initials
    • dates
    • other extraneous information
  • Documents that are translations should include the name of the language as the last word in the filename
    • Middle School Report Card Urdu
    • The system will replace spaces with dashes


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.

Email Addresses

  • Avoid individual email addresses on the website and in public materials
    • What if that person leaves the DOE?
  • Make it clickable by making it a hyperlink

English Language Learners

Abbreviation is ELLs. 

Field Support Centers (FSCs)

Not Borough Field Support Centers (BFSCs) because they are not 1:1 per borough.

Gender Pronouns

Always refer to individuals by the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity. Some people may use gender-neutral pronouns such as they, ze, or other pronouns.

If you do not know a person's gender identity, use “they” as a singular pronoun, rather than defaulting to “he or she."

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.
  • In a perfect world, spans use an en-dash (see above). 


  • Use them in sequence, as you would in an outline.
    • Search engines look at the first 65 characters.
  • Initial capitals/title case
  • Headings that are questions are sentence case.

High School

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


Should tell people either:

  • why they should click on the link or
  • where they are going

Ideally, both. They should be:

  • at least five characters (or fingers won't be able to activate it on mobile),
  • but less than 30 characters in length.  


See "Compound Words," and "Dashes."

IEPs, Students with

Acceptable alternative to "Students with Disabilities"

Image Specs

  • Use standard rectangle formats (as in print photos).
  • Optimum width is 1220 pixels, file size not larger than 1 MB.
  • Single image in page content (left side) size is 906 x 402.


  • Use active verbs directing the reader. 
  • Number steps if more than two.
  • Always use the same names for screens, buttons, controls, etc. as appear on the document, application, or other processes.

Internet, Intranet, Web

No initial caps in running text


  • Avoid.
  • To emphasize an individual word use bold—but sparingly!

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.


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


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


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 – see also "Grade Levels"


  • 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.

Numbers – Amounts

 Use digits with standard measures, even if under ten: 5 gallons, 10 minutes. This is especially important if you are asking people to add, subtract, or estimate.


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

Phone Numbers



The K is capital, even in running text (pre-K). There is always a hyphen between "pre" and "K." 

School Names

You can (and should) 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. 


No initial cap unless in a title or heading. Be careful of ambiguity with the word "fall". Do not use "of" between season and year.

Sentence Spacing

One space only between sentences. 

Slash Marks

Close up spaces between words and slashes: either/or, middle/high school (not either / or). 

Special Education

No initial caps in running text.


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.


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

Three-K (3K for All)

The K is capital when used in a title or heading. In "3K for All," there is no hyphen between 3 and K (and we use the digit 3 instead of three).


  • 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


Only for hyperlinks!


Should match page titles.


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

ZIP Code

Use five-digit version on the website. The word ZIP is all caps. 


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