All content for Sitel Group should adhere to these guidelines in an effort to write clearly, consistently and effectively.
At Sitel Group, we adhere to the Associated Press Stylebook, or AP Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is an English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for, or connected with, the Associated Press over the last century to standardize mass communications. Although it is sold as a guide for reporters, it has become the leading reference for most forms of public-facing corporate communication over the last 50+ years.
The AP Stylebook offers a basic reference to grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as styles for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.
Basic Style Tips
While we adhere to the AP Stylebook, we must obey certain rules of grammar and mechanics to ensure writing is kept clear and consistent across our channels, globally.
- Use active voice; avoid passive voice.
Example: We analyzed the data. (active) The data was analyzed. (passive)
- Avoid slang and jargon; write in plain English.
- Use positive language rather than negative language.
- Write for all readers. Some people will read every word you write while others just skim. Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and sub-headers.
- Focus your message, or write in the “pyramid style.” Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections and pages.
- Be concise. Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.
- Be specific. Avoid vague language. Cut the fluff.
- Be consistent.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Spell out an acronym the first time you reference it. Then, use the short version for all other references. If the abbreviation isn’t clearly related to the full version, specify in parentheses.
- Example: At Sitel Group, customer experience (CX) is at the heart of everything we do.
- If the abbreviation or acronym is well known, like API or HTML, use it instead (and don’t worry about spelling it out).
Always capitalize Sitel Group and Sitel. When referencing the group, do not capitalize “group.”
- Example: The group offers solutions to clients to enhance their customer experience.
- Use title case for titles. Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles, prepositions and conjunctions.
- When writing out an email address or website URL, use all lowercase. www.sitel.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do not capitalize random words in the middle of sentences. Here are some words that we never capitalize in a sentence.
Contractions give your writing an informal, friendly tone. In most cases, use them as you see fit. Avoid them if you’re writing content that will be translated for an international audience.
- Examples: they’re, we’ll, haven’t
Spell out a number when it begins a sentence. Write out one through nine; use the number for 10 and above.
- Example: Ten new employees started on Monday, and 12 start next week.
- Numbers over 3 digits get commas: 1,000 and 150,000.
- Write out big numbers in full. Abbreviate them if there are space restraints, as in a tweet or in a PowerPoint slide: 1K, $150K.
Generally, spell out the day of the week and the month. Abbreviate only if space is an issue in the app.
- Example: Thursday, June 5, 2018
Decimals and fractions
Spell out fractions. Use decimal points when a number can’t be easily writte out as a fraction.
- Example: two-thirds
- Example: 1.375 or 47.2.
Use the % symbol instead of spelling out “percent” in articles as well as PowerPoint slides and infographics.
Example: The solution improved the client’s NPS score by 59%.
Ranges and spans
Use a hyphen (-) to indicate a range or span of numbers.
- Example: It takes 20-30 days.
When writing about U.S. currency, use the dollar sign before the amount. Include a decimal and number of cents if more than 0.
- Example: $20 or $19.99
When writing about other currencies, follow the same symbol-amount format.
- Example: ¥1 or €1
Use hyphens, not periods, between numbers. Use a country code if your reader is in another country.
- Example: 800-555-1234
Use the degree symbol and the capital F abbreviation for Fahrenheit.
- Example: 98°F
Use numerals and a.m. or p.m., with a space in between; don’t use minutes for on-the-hour time.
- Example: 7 a.m. or 7:30 pm
Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period: 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Specify time zones when writing about an event or something else people would need to schedule. Since our global headquarters is in Miami, Florida, we default to Eastern Standard Time or EST.
Abbreviate time zones within the continental United States as follows: EST, CST, MST and PST.
When referring to international time zones, spell them out: Nepal Standard Time, Australian Eastern Time. If a time zone does not have a set name, use its Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset.
Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years.
- Example: the 00s and the 90s
When referring to decades more than 100 years ago, be more specific.
- Example: the 1900s, the 1890s
Punctuation is important. Used incorrectly, it can change the meaning of a sentence. Punctuation should make the thought being expressed clear. Punctuation is all about clarity.
The apostrophe’s most common use is making a word possessive. If the word already ends in an s and it’s singular, you also add an ‘s. If the word ends in an s and is plural, just add an apostrophe.
- She ate Sam’s lunch.
- He stole Chris’s lunch.
- They ate the managers’ lunches.
Apostrophes can also be used to denote that you’ve dropped some letters from a word, usually for humor or emphasis. This is fine, but do it sparingly.
Use a colon (rather than an ellipsis, em dash, or comma) to offset a list.
- Example: She likes three colors: red, orange and purple.
You can also use a colon to join two related phrases. If a complete sentence follows the colon, capitalize the first word.
- Example: I was faced with a dilemma: I wanted a salad, but I’d just eaten a sandwich.
When writing a list, do not use the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma).
- Example: The flag was red, white and blue.
Hyphens and dashes
Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into single phrase, or to indicate a span or range.
Example: first-time user or Monday-Friday
Hyphens are also compound modifiers. When two or more words that express a single concept precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all words in the compound (except the adverb very and all adverbs ending in ‘ly’).
- Examples: A bluish-green dress, a well-known man, a better-qualified woman, an easily remembered rule
Use an em dash (—) with spaces on both sides to offset. Use a true em dash, not hyphens (- or –).
- Example: We are deliver 2.5 million experiences — across 25 countries — every day.
- Example: He thought he John stole his launch, but he was wrong—it was Tom.
Ellipses (…) can be used to indicate that you’re trailing off before the end of a thought. Use them sparingly. Don’t use them for emphasis or drama, and don’t use them in titles or headers.
- Example: “Where did my lunch go?” Tom asked. John said, “I don’t know…”
Ellipses, in brackets, can also be used to show that you’re omitting words in a quote.
- “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, […] a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Periods go inside quotation marks. They go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
- Christy said, “I ate a sandwich.”
- I ate a sandwich (and I ate an apple, too).
- I ate a sandwich and an apple. (The chips were Sam’s.)
Leave a single space between sentences.
Question marks go inside quotation marks if they’re part of the quote. Like periods, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
Use exclamation points sparingly, and never more than one at a time.
Exclamation points go inside quotation marks. Like periods and question marks, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
Never use exclamation points in failure messages or alerts. When in doubt, avoid!
Use quotes to refer to words and letters, titles of short works (like articles and poems) and direct quotations.
Periods and commas go within quotation marks. Question marks within quotes follow logic—if the question mark is part of the quotation, it goes within. If you’re asking a question that ends with a quote, it goes outside the quote.
Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.
- Who was it that said, “A fool and his sandwich are easily parted”?
- Brad said, “A wise man once told me, ‘A fool and his sandwich are easily parted.’”
When quoting someone in a blog post or other publication, use the present tense.
- “By leveraging Sitel Group, we have grown our business,” said Jamie Smith.
Go easy on semicolons. They usually support long, complicated sentences that could easily be simplified. Try an em dash (—) instead, or simply start a new sentence.
Do not use ampersands (&) unless one is part of a company or brand name.
- Examples: Ben and Dan, Ben & Jerry’s
When referring generally to a file extension type, use all uppercase without a period. Add a lowercase s to make plural.
- Example: GIF, PDF, HTML, JPGs
When referring to a specific file, the filename should be lowercase: slowclap.gif or MCBenefits.pdf
If your subject’s gender is unknown or irrelevant, use “they,” “them” and “their” as a singular pronoun. Use “he/him/his” and “she/her/her” pronouns as appropriate. Do not use “one” as a pronoun.
Names and titles
The first time you mention a person in writing, refer to them by their first and last names. On all other mentions, refer to them by their first name.
Capitalize department names – but not the word “team” or “department.”
- Examples: Marketing team, Support department, Operations
Capitalize individual job titles when referencing to a specific role. Don’t capitalize when referring to the role in general terms.
- Examples: Our new Marketing Manager starts today. All the managers ate lunch.
Education and schools
The first time you mention a school, college or university in a piece of writing, refer to it by its full official name. On all other mentions, use its more common abbreviation.
- Examples: He received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Miami.
States, cities and countries
Spell out all city and state names. Don’t abbreviate city names.
Per AP Style, all cities should be accompanied by their state, with a few exceptions (including Miami).
Write U.S. for the United States within text and US for headlines; the same for the United Kingdom (U.K. in text, UK in headlines).
URLs and websites
Capitalize the names of websites and web publications. Don’t italicize.
Avoid spelling out URLs, but when you need to, leave off the “http://www.”
Use italics to indicate the title of a long work (like a book, movie or album).
- Example: Our CMO, Arnaud de Lacoste, wrote What if Artificial Intelligence Could Make Us More Human? in 2016.
Left-align text, never center, right align or justify text.
Leave one space between sentences – never two.
Slang and jargon
Write in plain English. If you need to use a technical term, briefly define it so everyone can understand.
Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Capitalize every word, including articles. It’s ok to use an ampersand in button copy.
Standard website buttons include:
- Log In
- Sign Up Free
- Email Us
- Learn More
- Click & Learn
Use title case for menu names and sentence case for menu items.
Form titles should clearly and quickly explain the purpose of the form.
Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields.
Keep forms as short as possible.
Only request information that we need and intend to use.
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 easier to skim.
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 ensure you cover the main point of the content.
Use title case, unless the heading is a punctuated sentence. If the heading is a punctuated sentence, use sentence case. Use sentence case for subheadings regardless of end punctuation.
Provide a link when referring to something on an external website. Use links to point users to relevant content and trusted external resources.
If a link comes at the end of a sentence or before a comma, don’t link the punctuation mark.
Link relevant keywords – don’t say “Click here!”
Links should look different than regular copy, strong text or emphasis text.
Use title case for headings and sentence case for button fields.
Titles organize pages and guide readers. A title appears at the beginning of a page or section and briefly describes the content that follows.
Don’t use punctuation in a title unless the title is a question.
We humans writing for other humans – not machines. Try to avoid SEO techniques like keyword stuffing to bump search results. However, we want to make it easy for people to and search engines to find and share our content.
- Choose a clear topic. Try to organize your page around one specific topic using clear, descriptive terms in titles and headings that relate to the topic at hand.
- Use descriptive headings. This will structure your page and highlight important information.
- Tag images. Label your images with descriptive alt text.