K12 Marketing Editorial Style Guide
K12 uses The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. This guide is an outline of stylistic rules basic to K12. Where no rule is present on this list, follow Chicago. For spelling, follow Webster's first spelling if there is a choice. Additional questions can be addressed to the Marketing Proofreader at tallenkolessar@K12.com.
Lowercase associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctorate degree; capitalize Bachelor of Science degree, Master of Education. Do not include periods: BA, MA, JD, PhD, EdM
At the first reference, spell out (and put the acronym in parentheses). Use the acronym in subsequent references. [Example: California Virtual Academies (CAVA) has more than 1,000 students.]
Generally, do not use unless referencing a published title, using with something standard like Q&A, or on occasion in course lists. Replace "&" with "and" in all other cases.
Basics (preferred treatment):
- advisor (with an "o" not adviser with an "e")
- bachelor's degree, but Bachelor of Science
- backward, not backwards with an "s" on the end
- brick-and-mortar schools (with hyphens)
- D.C. takes periods
- double-click (n. and v.)
- drop-down list
- earth, as in: Observations of the earth around you. Earth is capitalized when it could be traded for another proper name.
- ellipsis, do not use unless content is actually missing. Also, there are spaces before/ after/ and between the dots.
- email, no hyphen
- em dash — to denote a pause in thought, do not us an ellipsis unless content is missing
- en dash – to denote ranges in grades or times or dates, do not use a hyphen
- flyer, not flier
- government is lowercase, as in: the U.S. government
- high-quality, always takes a hyphen when used as an adjective
- home page
- homeschool; homeschooled; homeschooling; homeschoolers
- homescreen (one word/ adjective)
- internet, lowercase
- kindergarten, lowercase
- "K–12" uses the en dash (en dash keyboard shortcut ALT+0150)
- login name (adjective/noun)
- log in to (verb)
- master's degree, but Master of Education
- one-to-one, never one-on-one
- onsite and offsite (no hyphens)
- postsecondary (no hyphen)
- pre-K (lowercase "p" and cap "K") – but preK for short pieces or at writer's discretion
- preschool (no hyphen)
- Pilates is capped, yoga is not
- registrar and other job titles are lowercase unless used before a person's name
- state names are fully spelled out in content
- state names in notes, references cited, tables, addresses, or where space is very limited use two-letter postal code abbreviations (e.g., AL, ID, TX)
- toward, not towards with an "s" on the end
- U.S. takes periods
- username (one word)
- web page
- world language never foreign language
- year-long course
- yoga, but Pilates is capitalized
Bulleted and numbered lists:
Only use end punctuation in the bullets of a bulleted or numbered list when the bullets contain complete sentences. Do not use end punctuation if the bullets are not complete sentences. Try to avoid mixing fragments and full sentences in the same bullet list if possible, but use your best judgment on a case-by-case basis.
- Do not capitalize history, math, science, world languages, art, and music—unless courses are preceded by K12, e.g., K12 Music and K12 Math. (Languages themselves, of course, are always capped: English, Spanish, Chinese, et cetera!)
- Capitalize the words city, state, or federal only when included in the proper name or in an imaginative title, e.g., Kansas City, the Windy City, city of Dallas, a city employee; Washington State, the Empire State, state of Iowa, state funds; Federal Trade Commission, a federal agency, federal court judge.
- Capitalize the K in email addresses: tallenkolessar@K12.com
- Capitalize cultural movements and styles: Cubism, Impressionism, etc.; art styles: Modern Art, etc.; and movements that are associated with proper nouns: Gothic, etc.
- Do not capitalize such general terms as humanism, nationalism, etc.
- Capitalize a numbered chapter or exercise only when referring to the specific number. [Example: Chapter 5.]
- Do not capitalize job titles in text unless appearing immediately before the name. Betsy Jones, executive director but Executive Director Betsy Jones.
- Do not capitalize compass directions; however, do capitalize geographical regions. [Example: Turn east on Main Street; I lived in the South for twenty years.]
- Do not capitalize the seasons: held in the spring, winter weather, fall semester. [Seasons are lowercase: spring, summer, fall, winter—unless we are using the season with specific semester years, then it will be Fall 2018.]
- Capitalize virtual academy or charter school only when used as part of a K12 academy or school name. [Example: Colorado Virtual Academy is an online virtual academy offering the complete K12 curriculum, teacher support, and much more.]
Capitalization in Headers (Title Case):
- Capitalize verbs, regardless of length. *Remember: Is and Are are both verbs!*
- Do not capitalize prepositions, conjunctions, or articles unless they consist of 5 letters or more, or if they fall at the beginning or end of the heading
- The word "on" or "up" should only be capitalized in Title Case when part of a verb phrase (Move On, Sign Up, On Track, etc.)
- Cap the first word after a colon—but not after a semi-colon
- Cap the word following a hyphen. Example: Cost-Effective
- Do not cap the word "to" in infinitives (to Read)
- Generally, these are the words to never capitalize in Title Case: a, amid, an, and, as, at, atop, but, by, down, for, from, if, in, into, like, mid, near, next, nor, of, off, on, once, onto, or, out, over, past, per, plus, so, than, that, the, till, to, up, upon, via, vs., when, with, yet
Capitalization in Sub-Headers (a Mix):
- Sub-headers with punctuation at the end (generally will be a question mark) uses sentence case
- Sub-headers as statements (using no punctuation at the end) will use Title Case
Company / School Names:
K12 Inc. (no comma before Inc.). As of 2015, the company no longer uses the superscript: K12.
Full names of schools never take "the" before them; this applies to shortened or abbreviated names as well. [Examples: Agora Cyber Charter School; Agora.]Full names of schools do not take "the" before them; this applies to shortened or abbreviated names as well. Examples: Agora Cyber Charter School; Agora.
Copyright language for 2017:
Copyright © 2017 K12 Inc. All rights reserved. K12 is a registered trademark of K12 Inc. The K12 logo and other marks referenced herein are trademarks of K12 Inc. and its subsidiaries, and other marks are owned by third parties.
- One through nine
- Numbers at the beginning of a sentence
- Numbers used in the approximate sense
- The area comprises roughly two hundred viable sites; not 200
- About 15 thousand soldiers were killed; not 15,000 or fifteen thousand
- 24 years old, 11 months old, a 34-year-old woman, in her thirties
- Use for numbers greater than 999: 1,000; 50,000; etc.
- 20th century; first, second … ninth century; 1960s (not 60s); the sixties; October 6, 1966; April 1993 (no comma); CE 1200; 1000 BE; [April 18 is correct. Not April 18th.]
- Thursday, August 16 at 9 PM (ET) —no comma after the date, no :00 after the time
- Grades in school = case-by-case decisions are made by the writers. Be consistent within each piece. Examples:
- Advanced courses for eighth graders include Algebra 1, Spanish 1, French 1, and German 1
- World language options starting in third grade—Spanish, French, German, and Latin—with Chinese added in sixth grade
- "Enrolling for 9th Grade. Limited Space!"—on a small ad piece
- "Now accepting 9th grade applications for 2012–2013!"—treatment in an eblast
- Inclusive numbers
- 2018–2019 is correct. Do not elide (ex. 2018–19) spans for school years
- 893–897 is correct. Do not elide (ex. 893–97) numbers in a range.
- Use Arabic numerals for all numbers used as part of percentages: 10 percent, 50 percent; use the word “percent” in copy and the "%" symbol for flyers or other materials where space is an issue or that require more impact
- Phone numbers
- Use periods, not hyphens, for all telephone numbers: 800.555.1234
Apostrophes (and quotation marks)
- For web content, we always use straight punctuation. For print, we use curved or "smart" punctuation.
- Colons should be placed OUTSIDE quotation marks and parentheses
- In headings and running text, put one space after a colon
- If a colon is followed by a complete sentence, capitalize the first word of the sentence
- K12 always uses serial commas when listing items in a series, e.g., "I bought red, orange, and green bell peppers."
- Use a comma to separate two adjectives before a noun when the comma could be replaced by the word "and." [The wide, rushing river quickly demolished the red boat.]
- Use for numbers greater than 999: 1,000; 50,000; etc.
Em dashes (keyboard shortcut ALT+0151)
- An em dash should be used instead of an ellipsis to indicate a break in thought. No spaces before or after the dash. [Example: All four of them—Jackson, Washington, Cooper, and Clutz—did well on the test.]
En dashes (keyboard shortcut ALT+0150)
- Use en dashes for ranges of numbers, including page numbers, lesson numbers, and dates [Example: 1–9; grades K–12]
- Use an en dash for school years, e.g., 2015–2016
- MS Word has the em and en dash under Insert→ Symbol in the General Punctuation subset. Or use the keyboard shortcuts of ALT+0150 for an en dash, ALT+0151 for the em dash.
- K12 style dictates that words ending in ly do not take hyphens
- [Example: highly rated content]
- "Punctuation almost always goes inside quotation marks," she explained.
- For web content, we always use straight. For print, we use curved or "curly" punctuation.
Solidus (forward slash)
- Binary distinctions, dichotomies, or equal relationships all use an en dash, not a solidus or hyphen
- parent–teacher; us–them; work–life balance; mind–body, not mind-body or mind/body
- Previously published phrases are excepted: ex. Foucault's power/knowledge
- Never use "s/he," "him/her," or "his/her." Use "he or she" or rewrite as plural to avoid.
Registration and Trademark:
Must appear on all print and electronic materials. Trademark and Registration marks for proprietary content are used throughout collateral. [Examples: AP, Apple, Blackboard, iPad, Intuit, etc.]
- Always use single spacing
- One space after period, colon, semicolon
AM and PM are capped with no periods, and a space between the numbers and the letters. ":00" is not used unless a one-off decision is made for design purposes.
- 2 AM or 2 PM
Use an en dash for meeting or event times, or use the word "to"
- 10 AM–2:30 PM; 10 AM to Noon
To avoid confusion, generally use Noon and Midnight instead of 12 AM or 12 PM—cap Noon and cap Midnight in short eblasts, lowercase for content pieces
To avoid time-change confusion, don't use EST and EDT, et cetera. Instead, we use (ET), (CT), (MT), or (PT) to denote Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific
Preferred K12 Acronyms / Abbreviations / Phrases:
- Advanced Learner Program (ALP)
- Affect; effect:
- As a verb, affect means to influence. Example: The new rules will affect almost everyone.
- As a verb, effect means to bring about or to cause achievement of a final result. Example: The two opposing sides managed to agree long enough to effect the new rules.
- As a noun, the correct word is almost always effect. Example: We hope the new rules have the desired effect.
- Among; between: Use among when referring to more than two people or things; use between
- when referring to two people or things.
- Anytime vs. Any Time:
- Any amount of time = any time. e.g., Do you have any time to review this piece? We spent hardly any time in Dallas. He doesn't have any time for us now that he has a girlfriend.
- Whenever, at any time = anytime. e.g., Call me anytime. Anytime this happens, let me know. I can meet anytime on Friday.
- Assure, ensure, insure: Assure means to "give confidence." Ensure means to "make certain."
- Insure means to "protect against loss."
- Career Technical Education (CTE): K12 does not use the word "and" (career and technical …)
- Class Connect: two words
- Educational v. Education: If the word that is being modified is something educational, then use educational; however, if the word that is being modified is not something educational, use education. [Example: "K12 is an education company that sells educational products."]
- EmbarK12 Comprehensive / EmbarK12 Online: Uppercase "E" and cap "K
- Farther; further: Farther refers to distance; further refers to degree. Example: New York is farther away from D.C. than it is from Baltimore. On further consideration, I’ll go to Baltimore.
- Fewer; less: Use fewer for things that can be counted singly. Use less for things that cannot be counted singly. Example: "The museum had fewer visitors last year than the year before." "The wetlands had less rain than usual this year."
- iCademy: Abbreviation for private, online K12 International Academy (used more often internally than externally). Always use K12 International Academy when speaking to consumers or a B2B audience.
- iQ Academy: always takes a lowercase "i" at the beginning, even if it starts a sentence
- Individualized Learning Plan (ILP)
- K12 Program ("Program" is uppercase)
- Learning Coach: always capped when referring to K12 parents/ helping adults—but lowercase when referencing Keystone learning coaches (Keystone employees) or for FuelEd
- Learning Coach University™: capitalized and uses the trademark symbol (ALT+0153)
- MARK12 Reading: Designed for students in grades 3–5 who are reading two or more grades below grade level. Acronym should be spelled out in parentheses at the first instance of the product name, with bolding and punctuation as noted: (Mastery. Acceleration. Remediation. K12.)
- Math+: for Grades K–5 (+ symbol is not superscripted)
- More than: Always use instead of "over" when referring to numbers
- Noodleverse Language Arts: Title case, no other special treatment
- OLS: The Online Learning School (our online interface or "classroom" for students in grades K–8)
- Strong Start program: always capped when referring to the K12 offering
- VAs: Virtual Academies. Public schools established by K12 that purchase the full K12 learning program, including our curriculum and our marketing and management services.
- web, web-based: web is lowercase
- www.: When writing a URL for printed collateral, do not use "www." —www. is only present in an actual hyperlink to be included in HTML
K12 uses "straight" punctuation for web copy to avoid kinks in the publishing process. (Note that K12 Design will change punctuation to smart or “curly” in order to match the approved style for print.) K12 style also doesn't superscript ordinals after grades, it should be 8th not 8th. K12 style doesn't use fraction characters, it should be 1/2 not ½.
Use the steps below to ensure your Word documents default properly.
- Click the File tab in the upper left corner of the screen
- Select Options
- Select Proofing in the left pane
- Click AutoCorrect Options
- Select the AutoFormat tab
- Uncheck "Straight quotes with smart quotes" and click OK
- Select the AutoFormat As You Type tab
- Uncheck "Straight quotes with smart quotes" and click OK