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Digitext Online Writing  Style Guide 

Like all style guides, this is an attempt to standardize writing in a certain field or medium. For the Digitext guide, that medium is the internet and web. Of course, whatever guide you use is determined by your employer, school, or publisher. This is an unofficial guide, based on my own thoughts about what makes sense when writing meets technology, especially devices and the web.Feel free to adapt this guide for your own use, to leave a comment at the bottom of the page or send an email with corrections, arguments, and general thoughts.

This guide is inspired by, adapted from, yet distinct from guides such as the hacker/geek favorite Jargon FIle, the seminal yet out of date Wired Style, and the most canonical Yahoo! Style Guide.



It has become convention to not place periods anywhere in abbreviations unless necessary for meaning. Capitalize where appropriate and to convey formality or informality: ie, UN, sf.

camel case

Initial letter of word is uncapitalized, but another letter in the same word is capitalized.

For generic items, like “eBooks,” camel case depicts things as essentially the same except that they are digital. Suggests eBooks aren’t all that different from physical books by stressing their bookness while minimizing their digital nature. These assumptions are generally incorrect (see “real life.” * Ignore camel case and capitalize as normative style dictates. Exceptions are registered trademarks, or words that are synonymous with camel case: ie, iPod, iPad, eBay, which retain their camel case.


Use contractions generously, except to give equal weight to all words in the contraction. Abbreviate them with apostrophes according to the English convention (US or UK) of your audience.


Hyperlink the title of a source before the corresponding quotation. If the title is not included, hyperlink the phrase that signals the name of the source: ie, “According to the New York Times”. Do not hyperlink quotation marks or punctuation immediately before or after the linked phrase.


*In most instances, refer to people by their first and last name on the first instance, then last only. Exceptions: nicknames like “Biz”. Change or omit names to protect the innocent.


Readers scan web pages, so meaning must be made as apparent as possible. 

* Follow conventional punctuation guidelines of your locale (see “Quotation Marks”). Use serial commas. Em dashes may be more expectable than in printed text due to the speed at which we pages as read.

quotation marks

*Follow your local custom in the following instances (In the US, place ending punctuation before the closing quotation mark. In British style, the ending punctuation goes after the closing quotation mark).

-When quoting a person or text from another source 

-When using quotation marks to refer to an individual word rather than its meaning.

*When quoting programing or html/css code, place any punctuation mark you are adding for the sake of the sentence (and doesn’t belong in the code) outside the closing quotation mark.

*Scare quotes and mock quotes are overused to the point of cliche. Use quotation marks in this manner only when the meaning of the sentence absolutely depends on them.


It is acceptable to reword quotations to fit grammar and structure of the sentence.  See also “Links.”


* Except when formality or artistic distance from a subject is called for, write in a voice that speaks directly to the reader.


"http://www." is appended to nearly every url, and is not needed, unless Yahoo, AP, or MLA style requires it for good reason.



Blogs are by necessity on the web. Therefore, “Weblog” is redundant.

Abbreviation for “download.”


Depicts things as the same as their real life parallels except for their digital nature. Archaic. 

* Use only when pronunciation or meaning is otherwise unclear. Same rules for “re-“

A hacker is a person who tinkers with computers, writing and rewriting source code to make their programs work the way they want. Hackers modify or invent software and hardware.
Some hackers distance themselves from people who break into secure internet connections to steal or modify data, and call these attackers “crackers.” However, crackers share with hackers the innate desire to tinker with technology to get it to do what it may not have been meant to do.
Calling crackers “hackers” is acceptable, but do not use it exclusively for internet criminals, because the hacker community is far more broad, and includes many legitimate and legal tinkerers.


A medium of communication through which bits of data travel over wireless or wired networks onto connected devices. 

* The “i” is never capitalized unless style otherwise dictates, ie: in titles, beginning sentences. 

*Do not use as synonym for web. When referring to what is viewed in a web browser, use the word “web”. When referring to the network through which the web communicates, or referring to the web plus apps, use “internet”.


A humorous slang term blending internet and the web used often by hackers. Can be used to refer to either the internet or the web, or both together.


Abbreviation for “internet,” though often used by hackers to refer to the web.

* Since it is a form of “internet,” the same style rules apply.


A platform for reading, writing, and sharing content in a browser application on the internet.

The word is an informal abbreviation of “World Wide Web,” named after the first web browser. In the web’s early days, it may have been necessary to point out that the web was world wide, but this is no longer the case. “World Wide Web” is now redundant and archaic.  Use “web” in its place.

* Its informality resists capitalization.

In August 2010, Wired Magazine declared the death of the web and the triumph of the internet, as more and more people transition to apps and away from web browsers. While there is a very strong trend toward apps, the web is far from gone, even as many surf the web in mobile browsers that could be considered apps.