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  2. Woo grammar, punctuation, and capitalization guide

Woo grammar, punctuation, and capitalization guide

Following grammar, punctuation, and style guidelines helps keep our presentation consistent. Users have a better experience if they know what to expect and where to find the information they need.

Basics

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To ensure your content aligns with Woo to deliver helpful messages that reach the largest audience, we recommend adhering the following guidelines:

  • Be democratic. Some people read every word; some scan and search or prefer video. Help everyone.
  • Be focused. Lead with the most important information first in sentences, paragraphs, and sections.
  • Be concise. Use plain language and brief sentences.
  • Be consistent. Follow the guidelines and style tips below.
  • Be specific. Communicate clearly using fewer, simpler words whenever possible.

Guidelines

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Spelling and grammar

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Copy that is free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes is a sign of polish and professionalism. Great spelling and grammar also help with translation and compatibility with screen readers.

To ensure that your messaging is consistent and accessible:

Woo vs WooCommerce

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  • “Woo” is the name of our company and brand.
  • “WooCommerce” is the name of our beloved and popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress (AKA our core product).
  • When referring to the company or something the brand does, “Woo” should be used. But when referring to the platform — anything specifically done with or on the platform — it should be “WooCommerce.”

Note: We do sometimes use “Woo” as shorthand for “WooCommerce” in external communications. This should be done sparingly and intentionally, so as not to cause confusion between the brand and the platform.

Abbreviations and acronyms

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Write out the full version on the first mention, with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Use the short version for further mentions.

  • First use: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
  • Second use: PCI-DSS

If the abbreviation or acronym is widely known, use it as is. Some examples include but are not limited to:

  • API
  • FAQ
  • HTML
  • PHP
  • SQL
  • SSL

Active voice

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Use active voice at all times. Active voice has a direct, clear tone that allows users to better focus on the written material.

With active voice, the subject performs an action. With passive voice, the subject has an action done to it.

  • Active: Latoya downloaded her extension files.
  • Passive: The extension files were downloaded by Latoya.

Capitalization and case

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Capitalization should be done sparingly and only under certain circumstances.

  • Page titles: Use sentence case.
    • Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized in blog post and documentation articles.
    • This applies to headlines (h1s) as well as documentation headings (h2s).
  • Product names: Capitalize every word of a product name except prepositions and conjunctions.
    • Some product names use CamelCase, including but not limited to WordPress and WooCommerce.
  • Sentences: Capitalize the first word and proper nouns.
  • Unordered lists: Capitalize the first word of each entry and proper nouns.

Since capitalization should be used sparingly, here are some examples where we recommend using lowercase:

  • The word “ecommerce” (not “eCommerce”)
  • An email address (michael@thebluthcompany.com)
  • A website URL (leftorium.com)

Contractions

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Contractions — such as I’m and there’s — should be used with discretion or avoided completely. This is because contractions:

  • Give writing an informal and conversational feel, which may not suit the purpose of your content.
  • May not be translated correctly.

Emoji and emoticons

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Plain-text emoticons like 🙂 and Unicode emojis like 😊 should be used with discretion or avoided completely. They are informal and may not be universally interpreted in the way they are intended.

Do not use emoji on Marketplace product pages or in documentation.

Numbers

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Numbers can be written in many different forms. How they should be written depends on the context.

General guidance for numbers

If the number used represents a quantity of a subject or a number in a sequence, you should spell the number in the following instances:

  • The number is at the start of a sentence.
  • The number is one through nine — unless space is limited (e.g., on social media or email subject lines).
Examples
  • Ten products will launch in June.
  • Marta ran a marathon and won third place in her age group.
  • Shani bought five hammers and 21 types of nails for the building project.
  • There were four kinds of kombucha on tap.

Commas

Use a comma for numbers with more than three digits.

Examples
  • 41,500
  • 170,000
  • 1,000,000

Hyphens

Use a hyphen when spelling out compound numbers up to 100.

Examples
  • Fifty-two volunteers researchers collaborated on the groundbreaking study.
  • Thirty-nine students participated in the science fair competition yesterday.

Currency

  • Use currency codes and not just a currency symbol, as these symbols can be used across multiple currencies.
  • Whole amounts need not have a decimal and two places.
  • When writing about other currencies, use the appropriate currency symbol and currency code.
Examples
  • $20 USD
  • $19.99 CAD
  • $39.50 AUD
  • €995 EUR
  • ¥5,000 JPY
  • £18.99 GBP

Dates

Spell out the day of the week and month.

Examples
  • We hired Mayisha on Monday, January 29, 2024.
  • We will see you on November 1, 2077.
  • The promotion starts on December 1.

Decimals

Use decimal points when a number is difficult to convert to a fraction.

Examples
  • 3.141
  • 0.29
  • 2.57

Fractions

Spell out fractions, such as one-third.

Percentages

  • Spell out the word percent.
  • Do not use the % symbol unless space is limited (e.g., on social media or email subject lines).

Phone numbers

  • Use hyphens without spaces between numbers.
  • Avoid parentheses or periods.
  • Include a country code prefix for all countries.
Examples
  • +1-555-867-5309
  • +34-902-1899-00

Temperature

  • Use the degree symbol with either a capital C abbreviation for Celsius or a capital F abbreviation for Fahrenheit.
  • Do not add a space between the symbol and the abbreviation.
Examples
  • 27°C
  • 98°F

Times

  • Use numbers 0–12 with lowercase am or pm.
  • Including a space between the numbers and am or pm.
  • Do not include a period unless at the end of a sentence.
  • Use an en dash (–) between a range of times to indicate a period in am or pm.
  • Use the word to if a range of times spans am and pm.
  • Specify a time zone when writing about an event.
  • When multiple times are displayed, show the latest first.
Examples
  • 7:00 am
  • 4:30 pm
  • 7:00–9:00 am
  • 9:15 am to 10:30 pm
  • 5:00 pm UTC
  • 9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT

Years

Abbreviate decades; do not use apostrophes.

Examples
  • 80s and 90s
  • 1900s and 1890s

Punctuation

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Ampersands

Ampersands need only be used when part of an official company or brand name. Do not substitute it for the word and.

Examples
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Andrei, Tiago, and Yida went to a football game at Camp Nou.

Apostrophes

  • An apostrophe makes a word possessive. Only use an apostrophe if you attend to assign possession to that subject.
  • If a word already ends in s and is singular, add an apostrophe before the s.
  • If the word ends in s and is plural, add an apostrophe after the s.
Examples
  • A friend borrowed Fernando’s bike.
  • Laura hid the office managers’ pens.
  • The FAQs’ answers are robust.
  • The FAQs need to be updated.
  • All of our HEs’ rotations are already scheduled.
  • The HE’s computer needs to be replaced.
  • All HEs need to finish this course by Friday.

Colons

Use a colon to create a short list.

Examples
  • Erika ordered three kinds of donuts: glazed, chocolate, and sprinkle dip.
  • I played some sports in university: football and polo.

Semicolons

  • Semicolons can be used to join two related phrases.
  • The phrases should be complete thoughts.
Examples
  • Their debut solo album hit the Top 10 in 20 countries; it was #1 in Spain.
  • I love volunteering; I wish I could do it more often.
  • Their debut solo album hit the Top 10 in 20 countries; it was #1 in Spain.

Commas

  • Use a serial comma — also known as an Oxford comma — when compiling a list.
  • Use common sense for other cases. Read the sentence out loud and use a comma where clarity or a pause may be needed.
Examples
  • Mahrie likes sunflowers, daisies, and peonies.
  • As the sun set behind the mountains, the weary travelers gathered around the campfire, sharing stories of their adventures while the aroma of roasting marshmallows filled the air.

Periods/full stops

Always use a period/full stop at the end of a sentence.

Some special considerations to make when using bulleted lists:

  • If a full sentence is listed within a bullet point, it should end with a period.
  • If a bulleted list item completes a longer sentence fragment or incomplete sentence, include a period.
  • For full sentences combined with fragments, include a period at the end of each item in a mixed list.

For more on period use, see Quotation Marks.

Examples
Example of complete sentences in a bulleted list.

Some advice:

  • When you are learning a new language, it is essential to know the grammar.
  • You should practice daily if you want to become fluent.

My thoughts on English grammar:

  • It’s complicated and potentially confusing.
  • Useful to know, especially in an increasingly globalized market.
  • Great fun, nonetheless.
Example of fragments in a bulleted list.

Don’t forget to bring the following:

  • Laptop
  • English dictionary and thesaurus
  • Vanessa’s old recipe book
Example of full sentences combined with fragments.

Useful language learning techniques include:

  • Visiting the country where the language is spoken.
  • Practicing the language with a native speaker.
  • Reading books in the language.

Dashes and hyphens

  • Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to form compound words:
  • Use an en dash (–) to indicate a span or range:
  • Use an em dash (—) with a space on either side to indicate an aside or emphasis.
    • Use a true em dash — not a hyphen or en dash.
Examples
  • Sandip is a first-time user.
  • We can get that over-the-counter.
  • The information is in chapters 8⁠–⁠10 of Jonathan’s report.
  • The 2023–2024 season was the best yet for our company pétanque team.
  • Multivariate testing — one of our new Pro features — can help you grow your business.
  • Olivia thought Wally was the sandwich thief, but she was wrong — it was a deer.

When adding a line break to a sentence containing an em dash, keep the em dash on the preceding line. This is commonly used for placements when space for copy is limited, e.g. a site banner.

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Ellipses

Ellipses can be used to indicate an indefinite ending to a sentence or to show words are omitted when used in brackets […]. Use sparingly.

Exclamations

  • Use an exclamation mark/point rarely.
  • When using an exclamation, use only one at a time.
  • Exclamations follow the same placement convention explained in Periods.
  • Periods and exclamations should be:
    • Inside quotation marks.
    • Outside parentheses when the portion in parentheses is part of a larger sentence.
    • Inside parentheses when the part in parentheses can stand on its own.
Examples
  • Brent said, “I had the best day ever!”
  • Olivia went to the supermarket (and to the nail salon).
  • Jay loves pizza and cream soda! (Cream soda needs to be cold.)

Question marks

Question marks follow the same placement convention explained in Periods.

Quotation marks

  • Periods and commas are placed within quotation marks.
  • Question marks within quotes follow logic — if the question mark is part of the quotation, it goes within.
  • If you’re asking a question that ends with a quote, it goes outside the quote.
  • Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.
Examples
  • “Have you heard All These Things I Have Done?”
  • Brandon Flowers of The Killers said, “I was inspired and on a roll when I wrote, ‘I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.'”

People, places, and things

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Company names and products

  • Use brand identity names and products as written on official websites.
  • Refer to a company or product as the singular it, not the plural they.
Examples
  • GitHub is celebrating its anniversary today.
  • 23andMe is processing my order.
  • Woo is hiring.

File extensions

  • A file extension type should be all uppercase without periods.
  • Add a lowercase s to make it plural.
  • A specific file should have a lowercase extension type.
Examples
  • HTML
  • CSVs
  • PDFs
  • dancingmochi.gif
  • CharlieDataReport2023.pdf
  • kevinsingswonderwall.mp3

Names and titles

  • The first mention of a person should include their first and last name.
  • Second and consecutive mentions can use the first name only.
  • Capitalize job titles, the names of teams, and departments.
Examples
  • Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic. Matt started WordPress in 2003.
  • Happiness Engineers provide unparalleled support.
  • Yasmin is a member of Team Alpha.
  • Please consult Legal first.

Pronouns

  • Use he/him/his, she/her/hers, or they/them/theirs as appropriate.
  • Don’t use one as a pronoun.
  • Use they/them/theirs when referring to a group.

Quotes

Use present tense when quoting someone.

Example
  • “I love that WooCommerce is free and flexible,” says Ronald.

Schools

The first time you mention a school, college, or university in a piece of writing, refer to it by its full official name. On all other mentions, use its more common abbreviation.

Examples
  • Emma is attending Georgia Institute of Technology. Her father also went to Georgia Tech.
  • I wrote to the University of Cape Town. UCT hasn’t responded yet.

Cities, states, and countries

  • Spell out all city and U.S. state names — don’t abbreviate city names.
  • For countries with common abbreviations, write out the first mention; for subsequent mentions, use the abbreviation.
Examples
  • Alana is from Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • I’ve never been to the United Kingdom before, but I do visit UK stores online.
  • Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States. It is the most populous state in Illinois, and it is the third-most populous city in the U.S. as of the 2020 census.

URLs and websites

  • Capitalize website and web publication names; do notitalicize them.
  • Avoid writing out URLs.
  • Omit https://www. where possible.

Slang and jargon

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  • Write in plain English.
  • The text should be universally understood and easily translated.
  • Briefly define technical terms when needed.

Text formatting

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  • Use italics to indicate the title of a book, movie, or album.
  • Underlined text is reserved for hyperlinks.
  • Avoid a mix of italic, bold, caps, and underline.
  • If you want to emphasize a word, use italics instead of UPPERCASE.
  • Left-align paragraph text, never center or right-align.
  • Leave a single space between sentences, never two.
Examples
  • The Oren Klaff book Pitch Anything is on sale for 259.99 ZAR. Yoshi may want a copy for his birthday.
  • David bought The National’s Boxer on vinyl.
  • Naveah almost placed first. She was very close.

Structure and readability

  • Avoid large blocks of text to keep information skimmable and digestible.
  • Consider using bulleted or numbered lists when listing three or more items in a paragraph.
  • Avoid multiple nested sub-bullets, as this can become visually overwhelming for readers.

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