Ballotpedia:Textual style guide

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This is Ballotpedia's style guide for grammar. For visual style, see our visual style guide. Here we seek to codify punctuation, grammar preferences and other unique elements to Ballotpedia.

Punctuation

Commas

Oxford comma

Ballotpedia does not use the Oxford comma.

  • For example: John purchased apples, bananas and oranges for today's snack. An incorrect example would be: John purchased apples, bananas, and oranges for today's snack.

Commas after date

Include a comma after full dates. When a date is featured at the beginning or middle of a sentence use a comma following full dates. Do not use a comma if a portion of the date is omitted.
Add a comma following the listing of the full date.

  • For example: A deal was reached late on October 6, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline.

Do not add a comma if only the Month, Year or Month and Year are listed.

  • For example: Leading up to the May 6 primary, John Smith sent out mailers to Independent voters.

Parentheses

If a complete sentence is contained within parentheses, the first letter in that sentence is capitalized and the punctuation is placed within the closing parenthesis. If an incomplete sentence is contained within parentheses, the first letter is lowercase and the punctuation is placed outside the closing parenthesis.

Period

Use a single space after a period.

Ellipses

Ellipses should be used sparingly and primarily only in quotes.
Use three dots to signify that something has been left out of a direct quote.
If the words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence, either in the original or in the condensation, place the correct punctuation at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis:

  • For example: I no longer have a strong enough political base. …
  • For example: Will you come? ...

When quoting text it is not necessary to use ellipses when words are missing at the beginning or end.
Include a space on either side of the ellipses. The spacing will help avoid any text replace issues.

  • For example: text … text here

Capitalization

Geography

Capitalize specific regions, but not the points of the compass - capitalize when these words designate regions.

  • For example: Middle, West, the Pacific, Northwest, Southern California, Western District, back East, east, the East, western

Political titles, offices, states and districts

Capitalize “House” and “Senate”
Capitalize "state" when preceded by the name of a state

  • For example: Kansas State House of Representatives or Kansas State Senate

If no state is listed before House or Senate, do not capitalize the word "state."

  • For example: He was confirmed by the state Senate.

Congress vs. congressional

Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Senate and House together. The adjective is lowercase unless part of a formal name.

Governor and gubernatorial

Capitalize official titles and offices.

  • For example: “Arizona Gubernatorial election, 2014”

Use of "governor" or "secretary of state" that doesn't include a specific mention of a state can be lower case.

  • For example: "The governor is responsible for giving the State of the State address each year."

Use of governor when a specific state or person is mentioned should be capitalized.

  • For example: “Arizona Governor Jan Brewer proposed YY bill."

Political parties

Party affiliation

A candidate’s political party is essential information in any election, campaign or issue story.
Ballotpedia capitalizes formally named political groups.

  • For example: Democrat, Democratic Party (Do not use “Democrat Party”) Republican, Republican Party, GOP

Lowercase terms referring to a political philosophy.

  • For example: conservative, liberal

Titles

Titles such as president, vice president, treasurer, reporter, editor, dean, professor should not be capitalized after a name. Job titles are always lowercase when they stand alone.
Capitalize formal titles used before a name.

  • For example: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Numbers

Always spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence unless the number is a year.

  • For example: 1976 was a good year. Seven students attended the event.

Spell out one through nine unless used in reference to dimensions, measurements, age, addresses, money, dates, speeds, weights, clock time or in tabular material.
Use figures for 10 and above.

  • For example: They had 10 dogs and four cats.

Exception: It is not required to spell out numbers that precede "percent."

  • For example: 5 percent of the signatures were reviewed.

When large numbers must be spelled out, use a hyphen to connect a word ending in "ty" to another word; do NOT use commas between other separate words that are part of one number.

  • For example: twenty, twenty-one, one hundred forty-five

Percents & numbers

Spell out the word "percent" but use numerals for the actual number.

  • For example: Participation increased 5 percent. Nearly 28 percent of all students don't like algebra.
    Exception: may use the % sign in headlines.

Repeat percent with each individual figure:

  • For example: He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.

It is not required to spell out numbers that precede "percent."

  • For example: 5 percent of the signatures were reviewed.

Dates, days, times

Dates

For dates and years, use figures. Do not use st, nd, rd, or th with dates, and use Arabic figures. (1, 2, 3, etc.) not ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, etc.).

  • For example: The party will take place January 21.

Days of the week

If you refer to an event that occurred the day prior to when the article will appear, do not use the word yesterday. Instead, use the day of the week.
Capitalize days of the week, but do not abbreviate. If an event occurs more than seven days before or after the current date, use the month and a figure.

Times

Use figures, except for noon and midnight, and a space between the time and a.m. or p.m.

  • For example: 7 a.m., 7:30 p.m.

Use a colon to separate hours from minutes.

  • For example: 11:30 a.m., noon

Separate spans of time with an en dash, no space between the times, or with the prepositions "from" and "to"

Additional reading

References