We DO use the period after vs., Dr., Mrs., Mr., etc., in names (Michael J. Fox, Christine S. Thompson) and in other abbreviations, preferring M.D., C.N.M., etc.
Please spell out:
- numbers under 10, except for weights and measurements
- most abbreviations, including pounds, ounces, centimeters
- all state names — we DON'T use postal abbreviations (CA, NY, FL) nor do we want AP-style state abbreviations (Calif., Mass.). Spell out state names in all instances. (This excludes references to the United States — please use U.S. in all instances.)
Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 600 New York Blvd. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: New York Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: New York and Pennsylvania avenues.
- Use figures when specifying ages. Use hyphens for ages used as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun.
Right: A 4-year-old girl, the girl is 4 years old, the class is for 2-year-olds, the ring has been in her family for 65 years, She is in her 20s.
Wrong: A 4 year-old girl, 2-years-olds, 10 year old boy
Do not use ampersands in the article body or meta data. Ampersands can be used in title, subtitle and headings where appropriate as long as they don't interfere with keywords.
- Use plain text apostrophes ( ' ) and not smart/curly apostrophes ( ’ ) — this includes apostrophes used in tags.
- Singular common nouns ending in s: Add 's unless the next word begins with s (the boss's memo, the boss' seat)
- Singular proper names ending in s: Use only an apostrophe (Achilles' heel, James' book)
- Plural nouns ending in s: Use just an apostrophe (the boys' games, the stores' products)
Don't write "Research shows," "According to experts" and the like. Instead, cite the research, experts, organization or other authority to which you are referring:
Right: "According to the Mayo Clinic, breast milk is best for..."
Even better: "A 2009 study from Somebig University indicated that breast milk increased a baby's ability to fight the common cold by 43 percent." [Completely made-up example]
"According to the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Bob Jones, breast milk is..."
Wrong: "Studies show that breast milk is best for babies younger than 2 years old."
Bullets and numbers
We encourage the use of bullets and numbers to help increase an article's legibility, but do not bullet the list of additional links at the ends of articles. Also, the first letter of the first word after a bullet is to be capitalized.
- Right way to do it
- wrong way to do it
DO NOT USE ALL CAPS FOR ANYTHING, unless otherwise noted by your assigning editor. If something needs emphasis, use italics.
Capitalize the first letter of the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the beginning of a complete sentence. In article titles, the first letter of the first word after the colon is always capitalized.
Right: She promised her team this: They will all finish the race together. There were three obstacles: weather, terrain and fatigue.
Wrong: She promised her team this: they will all finish the race together. There were three obstacles: Weather, terrain and fatigue.
Observe all traditional grammar rules related to commas, but do not use serial commas. Please use "me, myself and I" rather than "me, myself, and I."
Commonly misused words
Make sure you're using the proper word. When in doubt, look it up!
The most common offenders: fewer than and less than, compliment and complement, longtime and long time, conscious and conscience, mantel and mantle
Keep in mind:
- "Fewer" is generally used for individual items and "less" is for bulk or quanity.
Right: Fewer than five students make it into the program.
Right: I had less than $20 in my wallet. I had fewer than 20 $1 bills in my wallet.
Wrong: He was fewer than 80 years old.
- You give someone a compliment. Shoes complement an outfit.
- Her longtime boyfriend finally proposed after a long time.
- She wasn't conscious after the accident, but because she caused it, it weighed heavily on her conscience.
- A mantel is above a fireplace, whereas a mantle is a type of cloak.
This one is important! When copying/pasting from a document or website, our CMS program tries to be helpful and takes what you copy and paste exactly as delivered. If you used Times New Roman when you wrote it, and copy and paste from a rich text document like MS Word (anything other than plain text — no formatting), it will include font choices, bold, italics, smart quotes, etc. This is problematic in several ways. Most importantly, if your article has a large serif font, it makes your article appear inconsistent with the rest of the site.
If this sounds insanely complicated, make your life easier and write from the very start in text-only using WordPad, Notepad, Textpad or Text Edit. Just be certain to save your document as text only.
Hyphens ( - ) are not substitutes for dashes or em dashes. They should be used as joiners. Use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. (Ex. Pet-friendly, time-saving, etc.) Hyphens are commonly used when two adjectives work together to modify a noun when those adjectives come before the noun (but not when they come after it).
Right: Halloween-inspired cocktails
Right: Time-saving cleaning solutions
Wrong: Time saving cleaning solutions
Want a dash? (They're generally preferred over semicolons.) We use em dashes ( — ) with a space on either side to denote an abrupt change/emphatic pause or a series with a phrase.
When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use em dashes to set off the full phrase: She has all the qualities — caring, personable, experienced, intelligent — that the school wants in a teacher.
There are two ways to insert it into the article's body. You can find the em dash under the special characters in the formatting toolbar (the Omega symbol).
You can also insert an em dash into the article body or the title, subtitle and intro boxes using keyboard commands. On a Mac, this is accomplished by holding down the option and shift keys while pressing the -/_ key (next to the =/+ key). On a Windows-based computer, hold down the alt key and (with your number lock on) type the numbers 0151.
Please note that there's a difference between an en dash ( – ) and an em dash ( — ). As you can see, the em dash is longer. Please do not use hyphens, double hyphens ( -- ), en dashes or the HTML code.
Right: We plan to go on vacation this summer — if I get a raise.
Right: The company came up with a marketing plan — it was Jen's contribution — to launch their new skin care line.
Wrong: The company came up with a marketing plan – it was Jen's contribution – to launch their new skin care line. [These are en dashes.]
Wrong: The company came up with a marketing plan-it was Jen's contribution - to launch their new skin care line.
Wrong: The company came up with a marketing plan—it was Jen's contribution—to launch their new skin care line.
Wrong: The company came up with a marketing plan -- it was Jen's contribution -- to launch their new skin care line.
When using an ellipsis, use three periods with a single space on the right side (... ). If you're using an ellipsis to condense a quote, be sure you don't eliminate sections that distort the meaning.
Right: The woman... was excited to get started.
Wrong: The woman...was excited to get started.
ITALICS & QUOTATION MARKS
Always use italics for movie titles, television programs, books, records, etc. as opposed to quotation marks. Please also use italics to emphasize a word or to translate a phrase. Use quotes for song titles and televison episode titles.
You may use italics in titles, subtitles and intros by using the special code <em></em>. Do not use <i></i>.
Right: Gossip Girl-inspired cocktails
In the CMS, this title would look like <em>Gossip Girl</em>-inspired cocktails
Wrong: Gossip Girl-inspired cocktails
- Use single quotation marks, rather than double, in meta data (meta keywords, meta description).
- Use double quotation marks in the title, subtitle, intro and body of an article.
- Periods should always go inside of the quotation mark at the end of a sentence.
Right: She explained, "Her performance on the show was truly remarkable."
Wrong: She explained, "Her performance on the show was truly remarkable".
- Use plain text/straight quotation marks ( "..." ) and not smart/curly quotes ( "…" ).
Months should be abbreviated when followed by a date (January, February, August, September, October, November and December). Days should be spelled out and capitalized. Arabic numerals should be used. Never add an st, rd, nd or th to the end. Spell out when alone or with a year alone.
Right: The deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 12 at noon.
Right: The deadline is Feb. 12 at noon.
Right: The deadline is in February.
Right: The deadline is February 2012.
Wrong: The deadline is Tues., February 12th.
Wrong: The deadline is Tuesday, Feb 12th.
When referring to decades, use either: 1990s or '90s. Please AVOID 90s (without apostrophe) or 90's. When referencing the year, set it off with a comma: Dec. 8, 1985.
Times should be written with a lowercase a.m. or p.m. with a space after the number(s). Use figures except for noon and midnight. Avoid redundancies such as 10 a.m. this morning and 10 p.m. tonight.
Right: 11 a.m., 5 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m.
Wrong: 11AM, 4 pm, 6 P.M., 7pm, 9 to 11 a.m.
For time zones, capitalize the full name of the time zone such as Eastern Standard Time. The abbreviations EST, PST, etc., are acceptable — such as 9 a.m. PST.
If referring to the time of a broadcast program (television, radio and the like) that airs at different times depending on the time zone, use the standard broadcast format. Do not specify a.m. or p.m. to clarify time of day. Instead, state that it airs in the morning, afternoon, evening or at night.
Right: Being Human airs Mondays at 9/8c on SyFy.
Wrong: Friends airs weekdays at 10 p.m. /9 p.m. c on TBS.
Right: Friends airs weekday nights at 10/9c on TBS.
Viewers are accustomed to the first time being Eastern/Pacific and the second being Central time.
Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc., to indicate depth, height, length and width. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns.
Fractions need to be converted to plain text — no symbols. (Right: 1/4 Wrong: ¼)
When combining fractional measurements with whole numbers, we use a hyphen between the two without a space (Right: 2-1/2 cups)
Titles, Subtitles & Headers
We use "downstyle" or "sentence case" — whichever name you prefer. It all means the same thing. Make sure proper nouns stay capitalized.
Always use numerals and never use periods or links. You may use exclamation points and question marks only when necessary.
Right: Show your man you care with love coupons
Right: Top 10 ways to improve your health
Right: Meatless Bolognese sauce
Right: Sporty style: How to wear this trend
Right: The Vampire Diaries recap
Right: 5 Beauty products for problem skin
Wrong: Here Is A Headline.
Wrong: 10 ways to improve your love life
Note: Certain "columns" are exceptions such as Tonight's Dinner, Beauty Finds, Meatless Monday and Man Candy Mondays.
Interview: Q&A format
After the first reference, both SheKnows and the interviewee's name should be abbreviated to initials.
SheKnows: What is your favorite color? [h4 ital]
John Smith: Blue.
SK: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? [h4 ital]
JS: An English swallow or an African swallow?
Capitalize formal titles when used before a name (but not after). Use lowercase when a title is not used with an individual's name. Occupational descriptions do not need to be capitalized.
Right: Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, astronaut John James, farmer Tom Smith
When stating money, use numerals with million or billion in all except casual uses ("I want a billion dollars" is OK.). Use a comma for most numbers greater than 999, with the exceptions being street addresses and radio frequencies. Be sure to keep the word million or billion in the first figure when stating a range. Also, please round up/down prices to the nearest whole dollar ($4.50 rounds up to $5).
Right: He is worth $7 million and pays $5,000 each month for a stylist.
Wrong: He is worth $7M and pays $5000 each month for a stylist.
Wrong: He is worth seven million dollars.
Wrong: He is worth $7 million dollars.
Right: He is worth from $3 million to $5 million. (NOT $3 to $5 million, unless you really mean $3.)
Right: The train ticket cost $7.
Wrong: The train ticket cost $6.90.
Please use figures for telephone numbers in the form 123-456-7899. For toll-free numbers, use this form 800-555-1000. When specifying an extension, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 215-555-1500, ext. 3.
SheKnows is one word and does not have a space. No references to SheKnows should be followed by .com.
Right: The beauty experts at SheKnows recommend ...
Wrong: The beauty experts at She Knows recommend ...
Wrong: The beauty experts at SheKnows.com recommend ...
Use only one space between sentences, and only one blank line between paragraphs.
Right: This is correct. Use only one space.
Wrong: This is not correct. Use only one space.
If necessary (as in the case of "More Info" links at the bottom of an article), you can single-space by holding down the Shift key while hitting Enter/Return.
Please use American English unless you're not working on content for the U.S. site. We don't want to see grey, colour, etc. if you're working on SheKnows' U.S. site. Always spell words as they are spelled in the first (most acceptable in U.S. English) at merriam-webster.com (including accent marks or special characters). When using accents or special characters, please do not use the characters generated by Microsoft Word or similar programs. Use either the insert special character function under the omega (upside-down horseshoe, Ω) symbol in the rich text menu or keyboard commands (a list of keyboard commands for both PCs and Macs can be found online.) Do not use accents on words where none appear as the first accepted spelling at merriam-webster.com (e.g., decor).
Words we use:
- canceled, canceling, cancellation, decor, eyeshadow, farmers market, feta, healthy instead of healthful (e.g., "healthy meals" — yes, grammatically incorrect, but more SEO-friendly), long-distance (when referencing telephone calls), low-fat, makeup, Mason jar, midseason, miniskirt, nerve-wracking, OK, Parmesan, skin care, smoky, traveled, traveling, T-shirt
- Blond should be used as an adjective at all times or as a noun when referring to a man. Blonde (with an E) should be used as a noun referring to a woman. (E.g., she has blond hair, the blond wood, he is a blond, she is a blonde)
Words we never want to see:
For various reasons, we have a few words we just don't like — maybe they're too vague, overused or cliché. These include:
- in order to (just use "to"!)
- there is/there are: Not technically incorrect, just not as strong of a sentence construction as it could be. Try rewording without these phrases, and you'll see how much better your writing becomes.
- swear words: Please use asterisks in place of actual expletives. (Ex. A**)
Also, be mindful when using foreign phrases — make sure that you're using them correctly and spelling them the right way! For example, there is no such thing as orderves (it's hors d'oeuvres), and — voila! — a viola is a musical instrument. (Please don't even remind us of the "wah la!" incidences.)
Do not use expletives anywhere on the site. Instead, use asterisks after the first letter of the word, such as "s***."
Symbols & Accents
Do not use symbols like trademarks or copyrights. Do not use specially formatted fractions (the type Microsoft Word automatically generates). If it becomes necessary to use a symbol, please use the insert special character function in the rich text formatting bar, which is an omega symbol (upside-down horseshoe, Ω).
Please only use accented characters when that is the accepted U.S. spelling per merriam-webster.com (or in the most authoritative dictionary used in the U.K., Canada or Australia on those sites). Accents and special characters (like the em dash) can and should be inserted into titles, subtitles and introductions using keyboard commands.
Do not use special characters of any kind in galleries or in tags.
On SheKnows, tags are not the same as the keywords used in search-engine-friendly meta data! Tags, for our purposes, mean creating SheKnows-specific site searches for the reader so they can find more information on very specific related topics. Tags will often be single words, but occasionally 2- or 3-word phrases.
For example, in this article about Michael Buble's wedding, good tags would be:
But you would not want to use the following as tags, as they're too specific, and aren't likely to return many related articles:
Michael Buble's wife, Luisana Lopilato's purple wedding dress, michael buble gets married
When in doubt, always ask your editor. Creating unnecessary tags damages our SEO and creates extra work for our team of developers.
We prefer the word "websites" and not "Web sites," and email is to be used instead of e-mail. (Please use lower case.) Internet should be lowercase unless it is beginning a sentence.
Wines & Foods
Wine names for grape varietals, such as chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, etc. are not capitalized. Wines named after regions, such as Champagne or Chianti, are capitalized. The same applies to cheeses and other foods.
Brand names and proper nouns should generally be capitalized when used as an adjective to describe foods (e.g., Russian dressing, Boston baked beans, Waldorf salad, Tabasco sauce). Trademark and copyright symbols aren't necessary.
Do not capitalize adjectives describing food when the adjective is not required for understanding or when it's a style of cooking or cut, rather than denoting the food is from a particular location. For example, the F in french fries is not capitalized because the fries are not from the country of France, but rather are a style of fried potato. Refer to AP's food entry, then to merriam-webster.com, for the official capitalization.
Special notes about recipe formats
Here are some notes to keep in mind when formatting recipes.
- Each individual recipe name has its own subheading.
- Serving size or yield comes just below in regular paragraph font.
- Descriptive text, if needed, follows in regular font style after a line break.
- After a second line break, "Ingredients" is H4, italics and has a colon. Each ingredient is bulleted. Use an unordered (bulleted) list. Do NOT manually enter bullets.
- Same with "Directions," where each step is numbered. Use an ordered (numbered) list. Do NOT manually write out numbers.
- When writing ingredient lists, the amount should be followed by the ingredient name.
- Clarifications of amounts should follow in parenthesis... 1 (8 ounce) can.
- Special preparations (i.e., diced, crushed, etc.) should follow the name of the ingredient after a comma, whereas special notes about ingredients should be in parenthesis (i.e., use more to taste if desired).
- Do not use shorthand when explaining the dimensions of cooking tools. Use 9 x 12-inch pan rather than 9x12" pan).
- Since we're not limited on space, we use regular sentence style to list out the various steps in the directions. Do not cut out articles within the sentence: Ex. "Put the water in the pan" vs. "Put water in pan."
- Similarly, never abbreviate (Ex., spell out "approximately" and "tablespoon" instead of "approx." and "Tbsp.").
- In directions, list tools or equipment before method. (Ex., In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the liquid ingredients.)
- Do not use the degrees symbol and specify the temperature scale being used. Use 400 degrees F (rather than 400° F).
- Separate steps should be separate line items. Related tasks can be combined.
RECIPE FORMAT EXAMPLE:
Chocolate cherry eggs [H3]
Serving size 10
Kid-friendly and delicious, these eggs combine two luscious chocolates, sweet maraschino cherries and yummy toasted walnuts. For variety, try dried fruit and different types of nuts.
Ingredients: [H4, italicized]
- 1 (11 ounce) bag white chocolate chips or 11 ounces white chocolate bars, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 7 ounces marshmallow crème
- 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (toast before chopping)
- 11 ounces milk-chocolate morsels
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- Pinch of salt
Directions: [H4, italicized]
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter on low heat, stirring every 45 seconds until smooth.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in marshmallow crème, sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla until well blended. Fold in cherries and walnuts.
- Divide into 12 equal portions and form into egg shapes.
- In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt milk chocolate and shortening on low, stirring every 45 seconds until smooth.
- Using a fork, dip white chocolate eggs in milk chocolate, turning to evenly coat. Place on wax paper to cool.
Note: Eggs can be decorated with sprinkles after dipping in milk chocolate.
Formatting for SK cookbooks
- Serving size or yield comes just below the recipe name in bold and all capital letters (after a line break)
- Italicize ingredients
- Capitalize proper nouns and product names (Example: Worcestershire sauce and Triple Sec)
- Use 9 x 12-inch pan (rather than 9x12" pan)
- Use an accent in the word purée and puréed
- Do not abbreviate (example, spell out "approximately" and "tablespoon" instead of "approx." and "Tbsp.")
- Place package measurements in parentheses: "1 (8 ounce) can of black beans" vs. "1 8-oz. can of black beans"
- Use 400 degrees F (rather than 400° F).
- Do not use special characters: "2-1/4 cups" instead of "2 ¼ cups"
Recipe format example:
SERVES 5-6 [Bold]
6 ounces vodka[Italics]
2-1/4 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Mix vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper well.
- Top each glass with celery stalk.
- Garnish rim with pepper if desired.
General formatting notes
- Titles should be one line max.
- Subtitles should be two lines max.
- Do not use periods in subheadings. It is OK to use exclamation and question marks for emphasis on occasion.
- Subheadings are H3 and downstyle on SheKnows and LovingYou.
- Please use H2 on ChefMom, FabFoods, and FabLiving.
- Please do not hyperlink H2 or H3 subheadings.
- If a word/phrase requires italics (movie, book, TV show, etc.) in a title, subtitle or the intro, you must italicize them, even if text style overrides formatting (use HTML tags mentioned in italics above).
- Please DO NOT use caps lock on H2s or H3s. Similarly, do not use all lowercase. All text must be properly formatted, even if the text style is overridden.
- For product information, put the store/site first followed by a comma and the price in parentheses at the conclusion of the paragraph describing it... (Anthropologie, $128). If the product is mentioned in passing, but the paragraph isn't describing the product, please place the store/site and price in parenthesis just after the product name.
- The How-To Channel follows a specific format. (Step 1:, Step 2). Sub-titles should always begin with "How to..."
- When giving directions other than recipes or in the How-To channel, use the text "Supplies:" in H4 italics to list tools and supplies. Follow recipe guidelines otherwise (see above).
The guidelines for formatting links are as follows.
- Be sure to link only the text and not a space after.
- Right: Get our favorite skin care tips for all complexions...
- Wrong: Get our favorite skin care tips for all complexions...
- External links should open in new windows (including linking to a SheKnows article on LovingYou, etc.).
- Internal links (same domain) should open in the same window.
- When linking internally, chop off the "http://www.sheknows.com" from the URL.
- Right: /health-and-wellness/articles/826857/5-bedroom-tips-for-better-sleep
- Wrong: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/826857/5-bedroom-tips-for-better-sleep
- Right: /beauty-and-style/celebrity-style/articles
- Wrong: http://www.sheknows.com/articles/beauty-and-style/celebrity-style
- NOTE: If you are in a SheKnows.com article and would like to link to an article on another SK site or an external site, such as LovingYou.com, Macy's, a blog, etc., you MUST include the entire URL starting with http://www.
Callout links are links to a related article on SheKnows placed between paragraphs. These links should be formatted as follows.
Check out the best skin care products for sensitive skin >>
- The ">>" come at the end (leave a space after last letter and first >) and the entire line is H4 and italicized.
- If there is something that is usually italicized in the line such as a movie or TV show, do NOT italicize the regularly italicized part to show distinction (proper italics must be in place before placing links or the link will break).
- Use H4 for non-linked callouts before page breaks.
When linking a name to tagged articles (Example: /tags/blake-lively), only link the name and not the 's to show possession.
Right: Blake Lively's dress was ...
Wrong: Blake Lively's dress was ...
- Please save at 72 DPI
- Save as a JPEG
- Try to keep the image size under 175kb
- No spaces in filenames (use hyphens instead)
- All lowercase
- Use descriptive filenames and alt tags.
- Good: "woman-on-a-diet-eating-a-salad.jpg"
- Bad: "Diet Salad.jpg"
- Good: "taylor-swift-2010-grammy-awards-red-carpet.jpg"
- Bad: "taylor-swift.jpg"
- Right justified images should use the following style: margin-top: 9px; margin-bottom: 9px; margin-left: 15px;
- We should only be using celeb or news photos from the agencies we have relationships with. That would be WENN (non-exclusives only) and Getty (Premium Access). These all needed to be credited as specified by the agency.
- When downloading from WENN, please pay attention to images with "Special Instructions." Some images do not allow for online use. Do not download images marked "Exclusive."
- iStock is our source for stock images. No credit needed.
- We can't take a photo off of a blog and use that without the permission of the image owner. (We can't just credit it).
- Images from Wikipedia may be used depending on the license. Click on the image and look under "Licensing" to view terms.
- We can't use a magazine cover image but we can take a photo of a magazine cover and use that.
- Product images are okay.
- Use the following format for photo credits. In H5, italics:
Photo credit: WENN.com
Dimensions by sites
SheKnows, LovingYou, HairstyleLounge
- Main image: 600x399 (The How to Channel is an exception. Main mages are 300px wide and right justified)
- Thumbnail: 125x95
- Main image: 480x319
- Thumbnail: 125x95
- Main image: 432x323 (upload in the "featured image" field and NOT in article body)
- Thumbnail: 125x95
- Main image: 470x312
- Thumbnail: 125x95
- Main image: 600x399 (in article body)
- Featured image: 456x304 (upload in the "featured image" field)
- Thumbnail: 125x95
- Main image: 615x382 (upload in the "featured image" field and NOT in article body)
- Thumbnail: 181x113