Grammar and mechanics: Formatting.

This section lays out the editorial rules and standards we abide by. The result is that our content is consistent and free of error.

Abbreviations and acronyms.

If you think your reader might not recognize an abbreviation or acronym, spell it out for them the first time you mention it and include the acronym or abbreviation in parenthesis. Then use the shortened version for all future references.

  • First use: pay-per-click (PPC)
  • Second use: PPC

Never spell out the abbreviation or acronym for the following:

  • ROI
  • US
  • USD

Active voice.

Use active voice. Avoid passive voice.

When using the active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. When using the passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action.

  • Yes: John logged into the PPC account.
  • No: The PPC account was logged into by John.

Words such as “was” and “by” tend to indicate that you’re writing in the passive voice. Quickly scan your text for these words and rework sentences when appropriate.


We use a few different forms of capitalization.
When writing out an email address or website URL, use all lowercase.


Don't capitalize random words in the middle of sentences. Here are some words that we never capitalize in a sentence. For more, see the word list.

  • website
  • internet
  • online
  • email

Curly or straight.

All quotation marks and apostrophes must be in curly format – This applies for all Blue Tusk Digital owned websites.


Emojis can be a fun way to supplement your writing with humor and a much needed visual element. However, be sure to use them sparingly and deliberately.

Emojis must be used within a sentence or after a punctuation. Do not use Emojis to replace formatting or use two emojis consecutively.

Yes – Want to get in touch? We’re all ears. 🙂

Yes – First, we identify your buyer persona 🧔 and learn what motivates them to convert.

No – Hey there, good hooman 👋

No – We’re that digital agency. 😁 🙌

Use yellow emojis only. Below is a list of the emojis we use the most – additional emojis can be found in Emojipedia. When in doubt, avoid! 🚫

  • 👋
  • 🙌
  • 🤙
  • ✌️
  • 👇
  • 👌
  • 👍
  • 🤙
  • 🙂
  • 😁
  • 😄
  • 🤣
  • 🥳
  • 🙋‍♂️
  • 🙋‍♀️
  • 🧔
  • 🚀
  • 👀
  • 💩
  • 🔥
  • 🎉
  • ❤️


Only spell out numbers that are not in headlines and are only single-digit numbers. Otherwise, use the numeral form of the number. This includes ordinals.

  • 7 new ways to improve your PPC performance. (Headline)
  • Ten new employees started on Monday, and 12 start next week.
  • I ate three donuts at Coffee Hour.
  • Meg won 1st place in last year’s Walktober contest.
  • We hosted a group of 8th graders who are learning to code.

Sometimes using a numeral doesn’t feel right. If you’re writing an expression that usually spells out the number, keep it that way.

  • A friendly welcome email can help you make a great first impression.
  • That is a third-party integration.
  • Put your best foot forward with the all-in-one Marketing Platform that grows with you.
  • After you send your newsletter, Freddie will give you a high-five.

Add commas to numbers that exceed three digits:

  • 999
  • 1,000
  • 150,000

Completely write out big numbers. If you encounter space restraints (as with a tweet or a chart), abbreviate the number. It should look like this: 3k, 220k.


Generally speaking, spell out days of the week and the month. Abbreviate only if you find that space is an issue.

  • Yes: Friday, January 23
  • Yes: January 2020
  • No: Fri., Jan., 23
  • No: Fri., January, 23
  • No: Friday, Jan., 23
  • No: Jan. 2020

Decimals and fractions.

Spell out fractions.

  • Yes: two-thirds
  • No: 2/3

Use decimal points when a number can’t be easily written out as a fraction, like 1.375.


We bold to emphasize words and phrases. We do not italicize, CAPITALIZE or underline for emphasis.

Headings and subheadings.

Headings and subheadings organize content for readers. Be generous and descriptive.

Headings (H1) give people a taste of what they’re about to read. Use them for page and blog titles.

Subheadings (H2, H3, etc.) break articles into smaller, more specific sections. They give readers avenues into your content and make it more scannable.

Headings and subheadings should be organized in a hierarchy, with heading first, followed by subheadings in order. (An H2 will nestle under H1, an H3 under H2, and on down.)

Include the most relevant keywords in your headings and subheadings, and make sure you cover the main point of the content.

Use sentence case for all headings regardless of end punctuation.

  • This is the correct formatting of a headline.
  • This Is Not The Correct Way To Format A Headline.

Finally,  do not bold or add any additional emphasis to any titles, headings or subheadings.


Italicize the titles of books, movies, songs, speeches, television shows, and works of art. The Bible does not require italics.

You can use italics when citing a Blue Tusk element, or if you’re referencing button and navigation labels in step-by-step instructions:

  • When you’re finished, clickSend.

Offset ideas – like the one you see here –with a single dash.

When writing for the desktop, we left-align text. When writing for mobile, we center-align text.

Always leave one space between sentences. Never leave two or more.


Lists should be used to present steps, groups, or sets of information. Try to give context for the list via a brief introduction. Numbered lists are appropriate only when you’re describing the steps of a process. Otherwise, don’t use numbers if the order of the items on the list isn’t relevant.

If one of the items on a list is a complete sentence, capitalize and correctly punctuate all the things. If none of the items on a plan is a complete sentence, avoid using punctuation. Do, however, capitalize the first word of each item.


Instead of spelling out “percent,” use the % symbol.

Ranges and spans.

Use a hyphen (-) without spaces to show a range or span of numbers.

  • The program takes 20-30 days.


When referring to US currency, use the dollar sign before the amount. Include a decimal and the number of cents if more than zero.

  • $10
  • $9.99

Telephone numbers.

Use dashes without spaces between numbers. Use a country code if your reader happens to be in a different country.

  • 555-867-5309
  • +1-404-123-4567


Use numerals and am or pm, with space in between. Avoid using minutes for on-the-hour time.

  • Yes: 7 am

  • No: 7:00 am
  • Yes: 7:30 pm

Use a hyphen between times when referring to a time.

  • 7 am–10:30 pm

Always specify time zones when referring to an event or something else that someone would need to schedule.

Abbreviate time zones within the continental US in this manner:

  • Eastern time: ET
  • Central time: CT
  • Mountain time: MT
  • Pacific time: PT

Use a space to separate am or pm and time zones:

  • Yes: 7 am PT
  • Yes: 7:30 am PT

Abbreviate when referring to decades from within the past 100 years:

  • the 00s
  • the 90s

Be specific when referring to decades more than 100 years ago:

  • the 1900s
  • the 1890s