Style

Style refers to the mechanics of construction. It includes grammar and usage.

Acronyms

The first time you use an acronym on a page or in a section, if it’s new or unfamiliar, spell out the phrase and follow it with the acronym in parentheses. In subsequent uses, just use the acronym. Don’t put periods between the letters in an acronym. It’s always “USA,” no periods or spaces required.

As you evaluate whether an acronym may be new or unfamiliar, always consider the target audience of the content—or the multiple audiences that may see it. Applicants may be on a first-letter basis with FAN, the Furman Admission Network, while current students may have forgotten the term. At the same time, AKA may be a familiar reference for the Greek community, while the community beyond Furman might be left wondering what “AKA” is also known as.  

Bulleted lists

Bulleted lists are a great way to display web content with a few constraints:
  • Use a colon except after verbs and prepositions such as “of”, “to”, “including”;
  • Punctuate items as shown if they’re in a sentence, or not at all; and
  • Follow parallel construction, starting each item with the same part of speech.
When you’re introducing a list or series, don’t put a colon after a verb; between a verb and its object or series; or after phrases like “such as”, “including”, or “for example.”

Example:
On-brand:
  • The Modern Languages department offers many programs:
Off-brand:
  • Programs offered by the Modern Languages department are in:
    (Passive voice, colon after verb)

End punctuation is appropriate if the bullet ends a sentence, as in the introductory text under “Bulleted lists.”

Capitalization

Favor sentence case in page titles, headlines, and section headlines: capitalize the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns only, and omit end punctuation. Sentence case looks more modern, streamlined, and friendly; to underscore the approachable, welcoming nature of Furman, use sentence case for calls to action as well: capitalize just the first word and any proper nouns, and write the call to action as a sentence.

Example:
On-brand:
  • Financial Aid office (section title)
  • Apply for financial aid (link)
  • Furman University, the university
  • The Furman Biology department
  • Furman president Rod Smolla
Off-brand:
  • Financial aid, Financial Aid Office
  • Apply for Financial Aid
  • Furman university
  • The Biology Department
  • Smolla, President of the University

Contractions

Don’t waste time and space with more formal, extended forms of verbs (e.g., use “can’t” instead of “cannot” or “can not”). The contraction is more contemporary and concise.

Numbers

Unless you’re describing quantities in a list, spell out numbers zero through nine. Use numerals for 10 and above. Format phone numbers as 312-394-2876; if an extension is required, abbreviate as “ext.” followed by the number.

Example:
2,700 undergraduates call Furman home. Of that number, many participate in the four media organizations on campus.

Punctuation

In general, omit end punctuation in page titles, headlines, subheads, bullets, and calls to action.
Spaces: Use a single space after end punctuation.

Hyphens: An em dash ( — ) indicates a break in thought; an en dash ( – ) indicates a range of time or quantities.

Example:
Anticipate taking 35% – 65% of your classes within the music department—and prepare yourself for a more well-rounded education than you could ever imagine! 

Usage and terminology

In general, choose modern forms to underscore that Furman is a modern, world-class educational institution with modern business practices—but don’t embrace such trendy, cutting-edge jargon that you distance yourself from the school’s target audience and community.

Example: “email” has evolved from “e-mail” which is the newer, concatenated form of “electronic mail.” Use “email” as it’s the most advanced yet acceptable form of the term.
  • email, not e-mail
  • homepage, not home page
  • http://
  • https://
  • internet
  • sign in/sign out (verbs)
    • Example:
      Sign in with your username.
  • offline
  • pop up (verb)
  • pop-up (adjective)
    • Example:
      See the pop-up window for more ideas.
  • reuse, not re-use
  • URL
  • web-based
  • webpage, not web page
  • website, not web site
  • the web

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