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Style

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Related: W3C Manual of Style

Punctuation

  • comma before conjunction, e.g.: apples, oranges, and bananas.
  • punctuation outside quoted terms
    • e.g.: This accessibility requirement is sometimes called sufficient "color contrast"; however, that is incorrect — technically it's "luminosity contrast".
    • (Note: Many American-English style guides, including the Chicago Manual of Style, recommend periods and commas inside quotes. Most British-English style guides recommend punctuation outside quotes. Coding requires proper nesting. Because most of our audience is more focused on proper code syntax than on America-English syntax, we chose punctuation outside quoted terms.)
  • Commas after introductory prepositional clauses, especially in sentences that are a bit long or complex.
  • Comma (or colon) after "for example," and "e.g.,". Note: for Recommendations and other formal docs, probably better to use "for example" instead of "e.g.".
  • [open] "For example," OK as own sentence or not???
    Ensure that your design can accommodate visible alternatives for images and media as needed. For example, links to transcripts of audio, text with icons and buttons, and captions and descriptions for tables or complex graphs.
    Ensure that your design can accommodate visible alternatives for images and media as needed; for example, links to transcripts of audio, text with icons and buttons, and captions and descriptions for tables or complex graphs.

See Lists section for punctuation of list items.

Capitalization & Spelling

  • web/Web capitalization
    • web - lowercase as adjective
    • Web - can capitalize when referring to the World Wide Web, or leave lower case for consistency within a document
  • Working Groups, Task Forces
    • XYZ Working Group - capitalize when talking about a specific working group, including, "the Working Group" without the name of the WG in the phrase.
    • working groups - lowercase when talking generically about working groups. However, OK to capitalize if seems better for consistency within a doc.
    • if in doubt, capitalize.
    • same for Task Forces.
  • URI (not URL) - based on W3C Manual of Style

See Lists section for info on capitalization of list items.

Spelling: We generally use US spellings. One exception: "ageing".
Background from Judy:" This word is slightly different than others with different UK and US spelling--specifically, people who haven't see the "other" version previously sometimes don't seem to recognize the word, rather than just thinking that is is spelled oddly, like color and colour. So what we did for a while was to use one followed by the other in parentheses the first time.
In principle the solution should be to switch to the US spelling, but when we used only that we got complaints and a bit of derision from the Europeans, and then vice versa.
...If you want to swap back I just recommend putting the UK spelling in parens."

Lists

  • Punctuation — no punctuation after items that are not complete sentences. (except in very formal documents)

    This include things like:

    • People using assistive technology
    • People using adaptive strategies
    • People using other things

    instead of This includes things like:

    • People using assistive technology,
    • People using adaptive strategies,
    • People using other things.
  • Capitalization — can be either initial caps or lowercase, depending on the type of information.

    The sections below address:

    • Assistive technology that people use
    • Adaptive strategies that people use
    • Other things that people use

    This includes people using:

    • assistive technology
    • adaptive strategies
    • other things
  • Spacing — optionally, no space before lists, e.g., in Contacting Orgs
    Style the p and ul or ol like this:
    <p class="listintro">...such as:</p>
    <ul class="listwithp">

    to get:

    This includes people using:
       * assistive technology
       * adaptive strategies
       * other things
    

    instead of:

    This includes people using:
    
       * assistive technology
       * adaptive strategies
       * other things
    

One word, Two word, Hyphenation

  • website - one word
  • e-mail - hyphenated

Wording

  • "for example" instead of "for instance" usually

Document links in sentences

  • whenever feasible, put linked documents at the end of sentences. Several EOWG folks feel this improves reading flow for visual readers, makes it easier for screen reader users to know where the document title ends, etc. For example:
For guidance on making the whole Web accessible, see Awesome Document on Web Accessibility.
instead of: See Awesome Document on Web Accessibility for guidance on making the whole Web accessible.

Editorial style

Front-load conditional sentences

For example, instead of:

Use empty alternative text when an image is purely decorative.

Use:

For images that are just decorative, use empty alternative text.

Use strong action statements

For example, instead of:

Try to write link text so that it describes the content of the link target in a meaningful way.

Use:

Write link text so that it describes the content of the link target in a meaningful way.

Simplify sentence construction

For example, instead of:

Some audiences, such as in doctors or engineers, require complex terminology, but still seek opportunities to simplify.

Use:

Use language suited to your audience needs, especially where the topic might include complex terminology.

Remove superfluous words

For example, instead of:

Provide text alternatives for all images.

Use:

Provide text alternatives for images.

Avoid subjective adjectives

For example, instead of:

Policies will vary greatly across organizations.

Use:

Policies will vary across organizations.