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DAS Editorial Style Guide

Guidelines and Resources

The Department of Administrative Services adheres to the following editorial conventions for all written communications, including the website. Agencies are welcome to adopt these standards for their written products. 
When you encounter editorial issues not covered here, please refer to The Associated Press Stylebook, Merriam-Webster Online, or send an email to the DAS Communications Team.
     Acronym Directory (most commonly used acronyms at DAS)  
     Address Requirements for USPS mail

     DAS Guide to Better Writing:
          Use the Active Voice
          Use Short, Simple Sentences
          Do Not Use Nouns as Adjectives  
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Abbreviations and Acronyms

Use abbreviations and acronyms sparingly, only when nothing else works. Do not follow an organization’s full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or set off by dashes. If an acronym would not be clear to the intended audience on second reference without this arrangement, do not use it. Use division, program, office, unit, or section rather than program-specific acronyms. Use the project or the initiative rather than project acronyms. DAS is always appropriate on second reference.
Rarely use abbreviations or acronyms in headings.
The current trend is not to use periods in abbreviations. Here are some exceptions: U.S., Ms., Mr., etc., Co., Inc., a.m., p.m., Ph.D.
This entry updated March 2010 to reflect a change in AP style.

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To show possession, add an apostrophe and an s to singular words or abbreviations:
DAS promulgates the state’s administrative rules.
You can find all of 2003’s legislative measures online.
SEIU’s negotiators met with the DAS labor group.
To possessive nouns ending in s, add an apostrophe only:
DAS’ teams worked hard on the project.
All the teams’ efforts resulted in success.
Be careful not to confuse possessive adjectives, which do not take apostrophes, with contractions, which do:
PEBB revised its administrative rules.
It’s on the Web.
Omit the apostrophe from plurals that are not possessive:
Things changed in the 1990s.
All OARs are on the Web.

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These examples serve as a general guide to capitalization. Also see Internet Terms.

the state of Oregon* Brown administration
state government* Governor, Governor's Office
(an exception to AP style)
state Department of Administrative Services Lean Six Sigma (also cap the shorter
version, "Lean," but not adjoining words
such as Lean project or Lean manager)
state agency, agency, department, division, program, section, unit
legislator, legislative
board, commission, committee, council,
work group, team (DAS exception:
Legislatively created boards and commis-
sions may capitalize Board, Commission)
Legislature (lowercase in generic uses,
but capitalize when referring to the Oregon Legislature)
DAS Director Sally Jones Pacific Northwest
George Smith is the director of DAS. the Secretary of State
Oregon State University southern Oregon
city of Salem the West
Salem City Council ZIP code
*Minimize use of state of Oregon. The following choices will describe your meaning more accurately: state government, state agencies, Oregon.
Within a paragraph, capitalize the word after a colon if it is a proper name or if it begins a complete sentence. Also see Lists.   

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In a series, omit the comma before the conjunction:
We designed the site for customers, citizens and employees.
Exception: Use a comma if the last item in the series also contains a conjunction:
We received input from legislators, citizens, employees, and business and labor leaders.
Use a comma before a conjunction connecting two independent clauses:
An editor revises the page, and a publisher moves it to the Web.
As a general rule, do not use a comma before a conjunction connecting a compound predicate:
I reviewed the new page and decided not to publish it.
Use a comma to set off a nonrestrictive clause:
We met the deadline, which was last Thursday.
Do not use a comma before a restrictive clause:
We met every deadline that was scheduled.

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Also see Time Periods and Hyphens.
Use the dash (—), also known as the em dash, sparingly in government writing. In most cases, other punctuation will suffice. Use the dash to set off a long expression that might otherwise be a parenthetical statement.
Issuing new rules — a process that some have criticized for its complexity — has occupied the new director's attention.
In most software applications, a hyphen automatically changes to a dash when two hyphens are typed between two words, with no spaces. DAS adheres to the AP preference, which includes a space on either side of the dash, as in the example above.

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Abbreviate months with a specific date:
We met on Jan. 30, 2002.
Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June or July in any case.
Do not abbreviate months with no specific date:
We began operations in January 1999.
Enclose the year in commas when naming a specific date:
June 1, 2004, is our target date.
Do not enclose the year in commas when naming only the month and year:
We will complete the plan in August 2004.

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Within documents, use the following approved Serif and Sans Serif fonts. Select a font size that offers reasonable accessibility for the intended audience. For Sans Serif fonts, use no less than 10 points. For Serif fonts, use no less than 11 points.    
Sans Serif (use for headings, email, and text to be read online)
Serif (use for paragraph text in printed documents)
Book Antiqua
Century Schoolbook
Times New Roman
Within Web pages, always choose fonts from the ribbon choices offered by the software. This allows visitors to a Web page to control font size. If a Web editor manually enters a font choice, a visitor who attempts to enlarge the font on that Web page will see no change.  

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Write statements intended to apply to both sexes to avoid gender bias:
Bad: An employee should use his discretion.
Better: Employees should use their discretion.
Best: Employees should use discretion.
If necessary, use both pronouns with or. Do not use he/she or his/her:
An individual must sign her or his own ballot.

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Do not hyphenate words with prefixes or suffixes:
Exceptions: when the second element is capitalized, when the second element is a figure or to distinguish homonyms:
re-create; recreate
Many compounds that are spelled open as nouns are hyphenated as adjectives:
at a high level; high-level job
Compounds that begin with adverbs ending in ly are spelled open:
highly complex procedure
poorly designed form
Use this structure for serial compound hyphenation:
short- and long-term plans
Commonly used hyphenated words:
Web-based; fact-based
agency-wide (but statewide)
diversity-related; technology-related; procurement-related

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Internet Terms

Use the following formats:
e-government, e-commerce and other compounds in which e stands for electronic; but email.
Uppercase only in titles or at the beginning of a sentence: E-Government is the wave of the future; the state's E-Commerce program has grown significantly in the last few years.
home page
Internet, the Net
login, logon (n ); Example: I cannot access the login screen.
log in, log on (v); Example: I log in every day. Don't forget to log on.
user ID
World Wide Web, the Web, Web page; but combine website, webcam, webcast, webmaster

This entry updated August 2013 to reflect change to email.

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Use parallel construction and parallel punctuation in all lists. Make introductory statements complete thoughts. Statements must make sense even if the reader ignores bullets or numbered items. 
Use the following format for bulleted lists:
  • Indent bulleted lists as indicated here.
  • Use closing punctuation at the end of each item in the list when each item stands alone as an independent sentence, as in this list.
  • When using sub-bullets, end the introductory statement with a colon, and ensure that the punctuation of sub-bullets is parallel, as in the following example:
    • First item in the series
    • Second item in the series
    • Last item in the series
Use numbered rather than bulleted lists in the following three circumstances:
  1. When the preceding text names a specific number of items in the list that follows
  2. When the listed items must follow a specific sequence
  3. When the list sets a chronology
Use the following format for lists in paragraphs. Use numbers (1), letters (a) or neither according to the guidelines above. Use this format sparingly and only for short lists:
The team reviewed the overall processes, including: (1) overall board structure and official charter; (2) board member appointments, including emergency appointments; (3) roles and responsibilities; and (4) daily operations.

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Spell out numbers up to and including nine; use figures for 10 and more.
one, eight, nine
10, 21, 105, 2,436
Note: Numbers are mixed in the same sentence or paragraph.
The directory includes 10 folders, one index, six images and 800 PDF files.
second, ninth, 10th, 25th, 169th
Use figures for proper nouns, percentages, page numbers, measurements, decimal fractions, time and very large numbers:
Chapter 5
5 percent
4 feet 7 inches
1.34, 0.5
8 a.m.
$5 billion

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Phone Numbers

Use hyphens to separate phone numbers, not periods.
Use a comma to separate phone numbers from extensions. Abbreviate the word extension with ext. not an x.
541-333-1234, ext. 456
This entry updated March 2010 to reflect a change in AP style.

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Quotation Marks

With few exceptions, closing quotation marks enclose a sentence’s final punctuation. Always enclose commas and periods inside quotation marks. Two examples of the few exceptions:
Do you believe he said “shut up”?
Don’t tell me “I told you so”!
Use single quotation marks only within quoted material.

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Time Of Day

Also see Time Periods.
Use lowercase and periods:
7 a.m. and 8 p.m. (no colon or zeros, as in 7:00)
from 7 to 8:30 a.m.
When using from or between, use words, not dashes, to denote time of day:
My lunch hour is from noon to 1 p.m.
We will hold interviews between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Use noon and midnight. Do not use 12 noon, 12 midnight, 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.

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Time Periods

Use a hyphen with no space between years: 2007-09 (not 2007-2009)
Biennium: a period of two years; Oregon state government's fiscal year which begins July 1 in odd-numbered years and ends 24 months later on June 30
Bienniums or biennia
   The department will implement the project during the next two bienniums.
   Electronic government services increased during the last three biennia.   
Not to be
Biannual: occuring twice a year
Other Time Periods
Use an en dash (–)* with a space before and after periods of time when you might otherwise use to:
2001 – 2003 were wonderful years. (A lone exception to the rule that sentences do not begin with figures.)
The vacation season is June – August.
Meeting time: 1:30 – 3 p.m.     
When using from or between, use words, not dashes, to denote periods of time:
The agency launched several improvement projects between 1985 and 1990.
We vacation every year from August to October.
* In most software applications, a hyphen automatically changes to an en dash when a space is added before and after.

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Addressing USPS Mail

Ampersand (&)

Do not use an ampersand in place of and except when it is part of an organization's formal name. On the Web, use an ampersand only when template restrictions allow no alternative.

If you encounter older URLs, such as www.das.state.or.us, or egov.oregon.gov, or cms.oregon.gov, replace them with http://oregon.gov/DAS.


Use left justification for most paragraph formats. Text formatted with full justification is difficult to read.
One Word or Two? Also see Hyphens.
          bar code          healthcare (DAS preference)
          help desk         upload
          hot line            statewide
Slash ( / )
Avoid slashes.
Avoid and/or statements; or is generally sufficient.
Use red or brown.
Use red, brown or both.
Avoid overstating a point with a slash, as in these poor examples.
I am the manager/supervisor/boss.
We must develop/expand the program.
Spacing after Punctuation
Now that computers add proportional spacing, one space following punctuation is sufficient. The two-space rule is obsolete. The one-space rule applies to all punctuation: periods, commas, colons, semicolons, exclamation points, question marks and quotation marks.  

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