Grammar and punctuation
With many of us regularly writing to tenants and other stakeholders, it’s more effective if we’re consistent with our use of grammar and punctuation.
We should use capital letters sparingly. Our style is to use capitals for proper nouns such as names of people, places, days of the week, months, holidays, departments, geographical areas, groups, clubs, companies, institutions, buildings, estates, historical events and documents.
We only use capitals for job titles such as Housing Officer, Receptionist, and Financial Accountant when it appears next to a name.
Tip: Remember to use our house font, Verdana, in all your writing. It should be a minimum of 10pt with single line spacing.
Numbers and ages
The most common way to write numbers is to spell out numbers one to nine. You should use numerals from 10 upwards. Here are some examples:
‘There will be five extra care schemes and 11 sheltered schemes opening next year.’
Never begin a sentence with figures – spell the figures out, for example: ‘Thirty-two young people have used the service.’
For numbers consisting of three or more digits, a comma should be inserted, for example:
2,386 58,000 2,329,000
When talking about ages the same one to nine rule applies, so we would write: Jack is 12 years old and lives… Most of the 14 year olds… Eight-year-old Jessica… (we use a hyphen here because the statement is followed by a noun - Jessica).
Exclamation marks are used to emphasise a point. However, they can be interpreted as shouting. Keep your writing authentic by limiting your use of exclamation marks, or don’t use them at all.
Apostrophes are used to show possession (the boy’s book; the children’s mother) or to show a contracted word (don’t for do not; can’t for cannot; they’ll for they will).
This is how to use its and it’s:
It’s (a contraction of it is): it’s a common problem; it’s mine Its (possessive): it built its first home; the council wants its logo in blue Singular: the girl’s bag is lost (one girl) Plural: the girls’ bags are lost (many girls)
Use apostrophes for phrases denoting time: Three years’ experience (more than one year), four weeks’ notice (more than one week), we’ll meet in one week’s time.
Vertical lists using bullet points should be used to present complex information or to ‘pick out’ some important information.
For example: You can pay your rent by:
• setting up a direct debit; • visiting our website; • phoning our contact centre; • using the Allpay app.
Tip: You can start a sentence with ‘And’, ‘Or’ and ‘But’ if it splits a longer sentence into two short sentences. Many journalists and authors do this because it makes reading quicker and easier.
Dates should be written without punctuation and without using ‘th’ ‘st’, ‘nd’, ‘rd’. This is an old fashioned way of writing. Follow these styles instead:
‘Friday 3 October 2009’ ‘10–16 May’ ‘16 February 2009’ ‘The course runs from 12 to 18 December’ ‘The exhibition is on 12 and 13 June’ ‘The financial year should be written 2021/22 and calendar years written 2021–22’ ‘He was the 2016–21 president (not 2016–2021)’
Names and forms of address
Bolton at Home is ALWAYS singular – it is one entity and therefore shouldn’t be used as a plural.
Say:’ Bolton at Home provides a range of services.’ Instead of: ‘Bolton at Home provide a range of services.’
When referring to people who rent a home from us, we say ‘tenants’. If we’re referring to everyone living in our communities, we say ‘tenants and residents’.
When we’re talking to any of these readers directly, we should say ‘you’.
When writing about our Urban Care and Neighbourhood centres, you can use the acronym UCAN centres.
When referring to a generic UCAN centre use lowercase c on centre: ‘Visit one of our UCAN centres.’
When referring to a specific centre use uppercase C on Centre: ‘Visit Johnson Fold UCAN Centre.’
Don’t use hyphens and brackets with telephone numbers. Follow the styles below:
01204 328000 020 7067 1010
Never use more than six digits in a unit. If there are more than six digits, break them up with a space.
Use am and pm rather than o’clock, without punctuation or spaces, using the styles below: ‘The office opens at 9am.’ ‘Registration will be 9am–11am.’ ‘Lunch will be served 1pm-2pm.’ ‘The marketing suite will be open from 10am to 6pm daily.’
We use British spellings rather than American versions, and use –ise rather than –ize. Examples include: organisation, realise, centralise, emphasise, summarise, exercise, supervise, enterprise.
Words to avoid in social media posts
Social media algorithms have been designed to spot words that are too ‘salesy’. They consider them clickbait and will restrict the reach of your content including them. To create more reach, you should avoid words like these in your posts:
Buy Comment Deal Follow Free Giveaway Join Like Offer Promotion Sale Save Share Win
For more information about writing for our audiences, please contact a member of our Partnerships, Marketing and Communications and Marketing Team. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.