Writer's guide

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  • Revision title: Writer's guide
  • Revision id: 70109
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  • Creator: Mpechner
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This writer's guide is our "house style" for the Mozilla Developer Center. It is intended to be a friendly set of guidelines rather than a strict set of rules, so you are free to ignore anything here. Do not be upset or surprised, however, if an industrious volunteer comes along later and edits your work to conform to this guide more closely.

Naturally, this guide applies primarily to the English MDC wiki. The other language wikis may have (and are welcome to create) their own writer's guides.

Preferred style guides

If you have questions about usage and style that aren't covered here, I recommend referring to the Economist style guide or, failing that, the Chicago Manual of Style.

Preferred dictionary

For questions of spelling, please refer to Answers.com. Do not use variant spellings (e.g. use honor rather than its variant honour).

We will be expanding the guide over time, so if you do have specific questions that aren't covered in this document, please send them to the MDC mailing list or project lead so we know what should be added.

Page name and heading capitalization

  • Page names and section headings should use sentence style capitalization (only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns) rather than headline style capitalization:
    • Correct: "A new method for creating JavaScript rollovers"
    • Incorrect: "A New Method for Creating JavaScript Rollovers"
For the time being these capitalization rules for page names apply only to new pages. There are a large number of pages in our wiki that do not conform to these rules, but please do not correct those at this time. We will sort out the logistics and fix older page names at some point in the future. Thanks. -- dria 09:20, 14 March 2006 (PST)

Latin abbreviations

In notes and parentheses

  • Common latin abbreviations (etc., i.e., e.g.) may be used in parenthetical expressions and in notes. Use periods in these abbreviations.
    • Correct: Web browsers (e.g. Firefox) can be used ...
    • Incorrect: Web browsers e.g. Firefox can be used ...
    • Incorrect: Web browsers, e.g. Firefox, can be used ...
    • Incorrect: Web browsers, (eg: Firefox) can be used ...

In running text

  • In regular text (i.e. text outside of notes or parentheses), use the English equivalent of the abbreviation.
    • Correct: ... web browsers, and so on.
    • Incorrect: ... web browsers, etc.
    • Correct: Web browsers such as Firefox can be used ...
    • Incorrect: Web browsers e.g. Firefox can be used ...

Meanings and English equivalents of Latin abbreviations

Abbrev Latin English
cf. confer compare
e.g. exempli gratia for example
et al. et alii and others
etc. et cetera and so forth, and so on
i.e. id est that is, in other words
N.B. nota bene note well
P.S. post scriptum postscript

N.B. Be careful not to confuse "e.g." with "i.e."

Acronyms and abbreviations

Capitalization and periods

  • Use full capitals for and delete periods in all acronyms and abbreviations, including organizations such as "US" and "UN".
    • Correct: XUL
    • Incorrect: X.U.L.; Xul

Expansion

  • On the first mention of a term on a page, introduce its expansion in parentheses.
    • Correct: "XUL (XML User Interface Language) is Mozilla's XML-based language..."
    • Incorrect: "XUL is Mozilla's XML-based language..."
Exceptions
  • Expand only those acronyms likely to be unfamiliar to users. When in doubt, expand it.

Plurals of acronyms and abbreviations

  • For plurals of acronyms or abbreviations, add s.
    • Correct: CD-ROMs
    • Incorrect: CD-ROM's

Contractions

  • You are welcome to use contractions (e.g. "don't", "can't", "shouldn't") if you prefer.

Pluralization

  • Use English-style plurals, not the Latin- or Greek-influenced forms.
    • Correct: syllabuses, octopusses
    • Incorrect: syllabi, octopi

Hyphenation

  • Hyphenate compounds in which the last letter of a prefix ending in a vowel is the same as the first letter of the root.
    • Correct: email, re-elect, co-op
    • Incorrect: e-mail, reelect, coop

Numbers and numerals

The date stuff here may change.

Dates

  • For dates (not including dates in code samples) use the format: January 1, 1990.
    • Correct: February 24, 2006
    • Incorrect: February 24th, 2006; 24 February, 2006; 24/02/2006
  • Alternately, you can use the YYYY/MM/DD format.
    • Correct: 2006/02/24
    • Incorrect: 02/24/2006; 24/02/2006; 02/24/06

Decades

  • For decades, use the format: 1990s.
    • Correct: 1990s
    • Incorrect: 1990's

Plurals of numerals

  • For plurals of numerals add s.
    • Correct: 486s
    • Incorrect: 486's

Commas

  • In running text, use commas only in five-digit and larger numbers.
    • Correct: 4000; 54,000
    • Incorrect: 4,000; 54000

Punctuation

Serial comma

  • Use the serial comma. The serial (also known as "Oxford") comma is the comma that appears before "and" in a series of three or more items.
    • Correct: I will travel on trains, planes, and automobiles.
    • Incorrect: I will travel on trains, planes and automobiles.

Spelling

  • For words with variant spellings, always use the first entry at Answers.com. Do not use variant spellings.
    • Correct: localize, honor
    • Incorrect: localise, honour

Other resources

If you're interested in improving your writing and editing skills, you may find the following resources to be helpful.

{{ wiki.languages( { "pl": "Project:pl/Przewodnik_dla_edytor\u00f3w" } ) }}

Revision Source

<p>
{{template.MDCProjectPagesTOC()}}
</p><p>This writer's guide is our "house style" for the Mozilla Developer Center.  It is intended to be a friendly set of guidelines rather than a strict set of rules, so you are free to ignore anything here.  Do not be upset or surprised, however, if an industrious volunteer comes along later and edits your work to conform to this guide more closely.
</p><p>Naturally, this guide applies primarily to the English MDC wiki.  The other language wikis may have (and are welcome to create) their own writer's guides.
</p>
<h3 name="Preferred_style_guides"> Preferred style guides </h3>
<p>If you have questions about usage and style that aren't covered here, I recommend referring to the <a class="external" href="http://www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide/">Economist style guide</a> or, failing that, the <a class="external" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226104036/">Chicago Manual of Style</a>.
</p>
<h3 name="Preferred_dictionary"> Preferred dictionary </h3>
<p>For questions of spelling, please refer to <a class="external" href="http://www.answers.com/library/Dictionary">Answers.com</a>.  Do not use variant spellings (e.g. use <i>honor</i> rather than its variant <i>honour</i>).
</p><p>We will be expanding the guide over time, so if you do have specific questions that aren't covered in this document, please send them to the <a href="Project:en/Community">MDC mailing list</a> or <a href="User:Dria">project lead</a> so we know what should be added.
</p>
<h3 name="Page_name_and_heading_capitalization"> Page name and heading capitalization </h3>
<ul><li> Page names and section headings should use sentence style capitalization (only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns) rather than headline style capitalization:
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: "A new method for creating JavaScript rollovers"
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: "A New Method for Creating JavaScript Rollovers"
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<div class="note">For the time being these capitalization rules for page names apply only to new pages.  There are a large number of pages in our wiki that do not conform to these rules, but please do not correct those at this time.  We will sort out the logistics and fix older page names at some point in the future.  Thanks.  -- <a href="User:Dria">dria</a> 09:20, 14 March 2006 (PST)</div>
<h3 name="Latin_abbreviations"> Latin abbreviations </h3>
<h4 name="In_notes_and_parentheses"> In notes and parentheses </h4>
<ul><li> Common latin abbreviations (etc., i.e., e.g.) may be used in parenthetical expressions and in notes.  Use periods in these abbreviations.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: Web browsers (e.g. Firefox) can be used ...
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: Web browsers e.g. Firefox can be used ...
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: Web browsers, e.g. Firefox, can be used ...
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: Web browsers, (eg: Firefox) can be used ...
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="In_running_text"> In running text </h4>
<ul><li> In regular text (i.e. text outside of notes or parentheses), use the English equivalent of the abbreviation.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: ... web browsers, and so on.
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: ... web browsers, etc.
</li><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: Web browsers such as Firefox can be used ...
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: Web browsers e.g. Firefox can be used ...
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Meanings_and_English_equivalents_of_Latin_abbreviations"> Meanings and English equivalents of Latin abbreviations </h4>
<table class="fullwidth-table">
<tbody><tr>
<th>Abbrev</th>
<th>Latin</th>
<th>English</th>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>cf.</td>
<td><i>confer</i></td>
<td>compare</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>e.g.</td>
<td><i>exempli gratia</i></td>
<td>for example</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>et al.</td>
<td><i>et alii</i></td>
<td>and others</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>etc.</td>
<td><i>et cetera</i></td>
<td>and so forth, and so on</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>i.e.</td>
<td><i>id est</i></td>
<td>that is, in other words</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>N.B.</td>
<td><i>nota bene</i></td>
<td>note well</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>P.S.</td>
<td><i>post scriptum</i></td>
<td>postscript</td>
</tr>
</tbody></table>
<p>N.B. Be careful not to confuse "e.g." with "i.e."
</p>
<h3 name="Acronyms_and_abbreviations"> Acronyms and abbreviations </h3>
<h4 name="Capitalization_and_periods"> Capitalization and periods </h4>
<ul><li> Use full capitals for and delete periods in all acronyms and abbreviations, including organizations such as "US" and "UN".
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: XUL
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: X.U.L.; Xul
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Expansion"> Expansion </h4>
<ul><li> On the first mention of a term on a page, introduce its expansion in parentheses.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: "XUL (XML User Interface Language) is Mozilla's XML-based language..."
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: "XUL is Mozilla's XML-based language..."
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h5 name="Exceptions"> Exceptions </h5>
<ul><li> Expand only those acronyms likely to be unfamiliar to users.  When in doubt, expand it.
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Plurals_of_acronyms_and_abbreviations"> Plurals of acronyms and abbreviations </h4>
<ul><li> For plurals of acronyms or abbreviations, add <i>s</i>.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: CD-ROMs
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: CD-ROM's
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Contractions"> Contractions </h3>
<ul><li> You are welcome to use contractions (e.g. "don't", "can't", "shouldn't") if you prefer.
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Pluralization"> Pluralization </h3>
<ul><li> Use English-style plurals, not the Latin- or Greek-influenced forms.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: syllabuses, octopusses
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: syllabi, octopi
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Hyphenation"> Hyphenation </h3>
<ul><li> Hyphenate compounds in which the last letter of a prefix ending in a vowel is the same as the first letter of the root.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: email, re-elect, co-op
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: e-mail, reelect, coop
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Numbers_and_numerals"> Numbers and numerals </h3>
<div class="note">The date stuff here may change.</div>
<h4 name="Dates"> Dates </h4>
<ul><li> For dates (not including dates in code samples) use the format: January 1, 1990.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: February 24, 2006
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: February 24th, 2006; 24 February, 2006; 24/02/2006
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<ul><li> Alternately, you can use the YYYY/MM/DD format.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: 2006/02/24
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: 02/24/2006; 24/02/2006; 02/24/06
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Decades"> Decades </h4>
<ul><li> For decades, use the format: 1990s.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: 1990s
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: 1990's
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Plurals_of_numerals"> Plurals of numerals </h4>
<ul><li> For plurals of numerals add <i>s</i>.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: 486s
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: 486's
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h4 name="Commas"> Commas </h4>
<ul><li> In running text, use commas only in five-digit and larger numbers.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: 4000; 54,000
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: 4,000; 54000
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Punctuation"> Punctuation </h3>
<h4 name="Serial_comma"> Serial comma </h4>
<ul><li> Use the serial comma.  The serial (also known as "Oxford") comma is the comma that appears before "and" in a series of three or more items.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: I will travel on trains, planes, and automobiles.
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: I will travel on trains, planes and automobiles.
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Spelling"> Spelling </h3>
<ul><li> For words with variant spellings, always use the first entry at <a class="external" href="http://www.answers.com/library/Dictionary">Answers.com</a>.  Do not use variant spellings.
<ul><li> <font color="green"><b>Correct</b></font>: localize, honor
</li><li> <font color="red"><b>Incorrect</b></font>: localise, honour
</li></ul>
</li></ul>
<h3 name="Other_resources"> Other resources </h3>
<p>If you're interested in improving your writing and editing skills, you may find the following resources to be helpful.
</p>
<ul><li> <a class="external" href="http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Well-30th-Anniversary-Nonfiction/dp/0060891548">On Writing Well</a>, by William Zinsser (Amazon link)
</li><li> <a class="external" href="http://www.bartleby.com/141/">Elements of Style</a>, by Strunk and White
</li><li> <a class="external" href="http://www.bartleby.com/64/">American Heritage Book of English Usage</a>
</li><li> <a class="external" href="http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/">Common Errors in English</a>
</li><li> <a class="external" href="http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue.html">English Grammar FAQ</a> (alt.usage.english)
</li><li> <a class="external" href="http://www.angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif">Bob's quick guide to the apostrophe, you idiots</a> (funny)
</li></ul>
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