District 214 Website Style Guide

  • The following is a quick guide to editorial style for High School District 214’s website. When in doubt or for items not listed here, please refer to the AP Stylebook.


    Academic degrees: From the AP Stylebook: If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: Fatima Kader, who has a doctorate in psychology.

    Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

    Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

    Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name – never after just a last name.

    When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke.

    Acronyms: Unless the acronym is well-known, spell it out on first reference and use the acronym after that. Do not assume that all readers will know what the acronym stands for. In addition, it is not necessary to put the acronym in parentheses after the first reference. If you believe it will confuse readers, you can write something like: The Illinois High School Association, or IHSA, oversees high school sports in the state.

    And: Use the word and rather than an ampersand in almost all cases. When using it in headings, an ampersand is permissible, but make sure that its use is consistent; in other words, use either the word and in all cases or the ampersand in all cases.

    Ages: Numerals are always used for ages except when they begin a sentence. In that case, it is better to rewrite the sentence to avoid writing out the age.

    When giving age ranges, do not use the plus sign. Use and older.

    Example: Students must be 13 and older to participate.  

    Also, age ranges should be written as 15 to 18 or between 15 and 18, not between 15 to 18.

    Attribution: It is fine – and highly recommended – that you use the word said for quotes. Added is also appropriate if a statement follows an initial statement by the same person. Do not use other words because you think the word said is too repetitive. It is one of those words that people generally do not notice, while other words, such as commented, shouted, explained and stated, can be a distraction.


    Bullet lists: Capitalize the first word after each bullet in a list. Put a period at the end of each bullet point. 


    Capitalization: Do not capitalize words just for emphasis. Use capitalization for specific names of programs or materials. For example, permanent record should not be capitalized.

    Commas: Do not use a comma before the next to last item in a series unless it is needed for clarity.

    Examples: I bought a stove, a refrigerator and a dishwasher.

    I bought a stove, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer.

    Contractions: Limit or do not use contractions.

    COVID-19: When referencing the pandemic, use COVID-19 in all caps. The word coronavirus is lowercase.


    Dashes: When using a dash to set off information, use an en dash with one space on either side. Example: The story – which needed more work – covered a lot of topics. In Google Docs, the en dash can be found under Insert > Special Characters > Punctuation> Dash/Connector. In MS Word, hold the control key and the hy­phen on the numeric pad.

    Dates: When using dates, spell out the months and do not use st or th after the number. Example: October 21, 2020 not Oct. 21st, 2020. We spell out the months so that the style is consistent when the copy is translated into other languages. Never use numbers for dates, such as 10/21/2020.

    District 214: Refer to High School District 214 on first reference and District 214 or the District in subsequent uses.


    Elementary and middle schools: Refer to elementary and middle schools as sender schools rather than feeder schools.

    Ellipses: Never use ellipses to indicate that a sentence just wanders off.


    Feeder schools: Use sender schools, not feeder schools.


    It vs. they: Refer to a single entity as it, not they.

    Example: District 214 offers students a lot of opportunities. It believes in preparing pupils for the future.

    Not: They believe in preparing pupils for the future.


    Names: On second reference to people, use courtesy titles (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss) for adults and first names for students. 

    Numbers: Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for numbers 10 and higher. When using a number at the beginning of a sentence, it must be spelled out unless it is a year.

    Example: One hundred and two years ago, a pandemic affected schools. 2020 is undergoing a similar experience.

    When using a number to designate a page or a door or other particular item, uppercase the item: Page 2, Door 4.


    Percent: Use the percent sign, not the word percent.

    Phone numbers: The style on phone numbers is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Do not use parentheses around the area code.

    Programs: Uppercase the official name of programs such as Career Pathways and Youth Programs.

    Publication/production titles: Use quote marks around the names of books, movies, theatrical productions and songs. Do not use quotations for reference books (almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.), software applications and classical music titles.

    When using a title at the end of a sentence, a period goes inside the end quote but outside a question mark.

    Examples: I went to see “Toy Story 4.” Did you see “Toy Story 4”?

    In addition, do not capitalize articles, prepositions and conjunctions of three or fewer letters unless they start or end the title.


    Quote marks: Do not use quote marks around words or phrases just for emphasis.

    Quotes: Use double quote marks for quotes and single quote marks for quoted material within a quote. Always put punctuation before the end quote, not after.

    Example: “I told him, ‘Please take out the garbage,’ ” Sharon said. “I do not want any bugs flying around in here.”

    When eliminating information in a quote, use ellipses.

    Example: “The school has quite a lot of equipment … so we can accommodate all of the students in this career pathway,” the principal said.

    If you eliminate material after a complete sentence, use a period, then a space, then the ellipses and another space.

    Example: “The school has quite a lot of equipment. … We can accommodate all of the students in this career pathway,” the principal said.

    Brackets vs. parentheses in quotes: Brackets are used to include information that the speaker alluded to while parentheses are used to clarify what the speaker said when it is unclear in context.

    Examples: “This is an important program,” the teacher said. “The principal (John Smith) wants everyone to attend.”

    “This is an important program,” the teacher said. “[Principal John Smith] wants everyone to attend.”


    School names: Use the full school name on first reference. After that, refer to schools as Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Hersey, etc., but never as BG, EG, etc. 

    Spacing: Do not use two spaces between sentences.

    State of Illinois: Unless this is the first phrase in a statement, lowercase state.


    That vs. which: The word that offers necessary information while the word which offers additional information and is set off by commas.

    Example: Please put all computers that are laptops in the storage room. Leave the desktops where they are.

    Please put all computers, which are laptops, in the storage room. We do not have any desktops here so you do not need to look for those.

    That vs. who: Do not use the word that when referring to people or the word who when referring to things.

    Example: The students who study journalism are the ones who generally enjoy writing.

    The theaters that offer the best screens are the ones I prefer.

    Theater: Theater is the preferred spelling, not theatre.

    Times: Use periods when referring to a.m. and p.m.

    Titles: Uppercase official titles before names. Lowercase them when used after a name.

    Example: High School District 214 Superintendent David R. Schuler or Dr. David R. Schuler, superintendent of High School District 214


    Voice: Write in third person – “District 214 believes,” not “We believe.”