Written style guide for all Jisc websites and printed materials – including presentations, reports, job descriptions, videos and production items.
Our tone of voice
Our tone of voice is how we say what we say.
We should be:
|JISC + ‘it’
||Jisc + ‘we’
|…was provided by Jisc
|Jargon and acronyms
|Stuffy and verbose
||Confident and purposeful
Use active rather than passive language. As well as being more direct and engaging, it shows that we take ownership of what we are saying.
Where possible avoid using Jisc; use us and we.
Our written style
This guide applies to all Jisc communications products created by or for Jisc, including content on Jisc websites, blogs and the intranet. We should be clear and consistent across all our communications.
For anything not included here please refer to the Guardian style guide, or contact us.
We are Jisc, not JISC, Joint Information Systems Committee or ‘the Jisc’.
When referencing Jisc please include a link to our website (jisc.ac.uk).
Use this text on the back cover of long documents:
Further information about Jisc:
Acronyms and abbreviations
Where possible, avoid using acronyms or initialisms. Where they are necessary, give the full term in the first use followed by the acronym or initialism in brackets. For example:
- Higher Education Funding Council for England ( HEFCE )
- The British Library ( BL )
Take care to capitalise acronyms correctly; some can contain a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, such as EThOS: Electronic Theses Online Service.
* Note: there are two DfEs in the UK. Where content refers to only one DfE – spell out in full first, then abbreviate thereafter (usual process). Where content refers to both DfEs, only ever spell out the departments in full.
Other government departments
See also: higher education, further education and skills.
Watch out for these Americanisms in any written content.
- Organise (not organize)
- Digitisation (not digitization)
- Programme (not program) of work – but: computer program
Follow US spellings for proper nouns, eg World Health Organization.
If in any doubt, consult the Guardian style guide.
We do not use ampersands. The only exception is our website navigation (network & technology, R&D) and in company names when the company does so itself, such as Johnson & Johnson, H&M, P&O. In all other cases use ‘and’.
Offset bullet points from the main body of text by one line, following a colon, like this:
- They require an uppercase first letter but no full stop
- Where the sentence runs over a line, allow it to wrap normally; punctuation should be normal within the sentence (using semicolons or brackets, for example), but with no terminal full stop, like this
When the text continues, offset it by another single line, beginning hard left, like this one, and finishing with a full stop.
A bullet point should not run to more than a couple of sentences.
Bullet points only need to be used where there is more than one item in a list. Single items should be formatted as a sentence or paragraph.
We do not use capital letters for job titles, departments, courses, report titles, project names or sectors.
He studied in the department of chemistry at University College London
This is open to anyone in further education and skills
She is head of education technology at Exeter College
OA – but open access
VLE – but virtual learning environment
BYOD – but bring your own device
Normal sentence case rules apply. You shouldn’t start a sentence with a lowercase letter.
If a guide/report/project title appears in the middle of a sentence, it still starts with a lowercase letter; for example:
Read our guide on managing course information.
Read our guide on Managing course information.
We use capital letters for names, whether they are a person (Mark Wright), institution (University of Bristol, Belfast Metropolitan College), company or organisation (Microsoft, Twitter, Universities UK) or place (Liverpool).
We also capitalise Jisc product brands such as the Janet Network, Hairdressing Training and Vscene. If you’re not sure, check the service page on jisc.ac.uk.
We use pdf not PDF.
Within a sentence, we use internet not Internet; government not Government (unless a proper noun, eg Welsh Government); board not Board (of governors).
Refer to the Guardian style guide section on capitals for more examples. If you are still unsure, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captions do not have a full stop.
Diagrams are not usually accompanied by captions, unless one is necessary to explain the diagram fully, in which case use the same style as for photographs.
In photograph captions, reference any people identified from left to right in the form: name (job title and/or affiliation).
We use cyber security. Two words, no hyphen, sentence case.
For all other cyber-related terms we default to the Guardian style guide.
Dates and times
We write dates in the following format:
- 1 April 2009 (not 1st April 2009)
- 2009-2014 (time spans separated with a dash)
- 2012/13 (financial and academic years)
Use 24 hour clock with colon – 10:00, 23:59, 09:10.
Use 12 noon and 12 midnight.
We use ‘Hi [firstname]’ as standard in any direct emails from Jisc.
We avoid anything more formal such as ‘Dear’, ‘Greetings’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’.
Signing off tends to depend on the subject matter, but we avoid the more formal ‘Kind regards’ and favour friendlier language, such as ‘Thanks’.
Email addresses should be lowercase throughout:
Footnotes/endnotes (print only)
For printed documents and pdfs, use footnotes rather than endnotes (we produce them at the foot of each page rather than as a list at the end of the document). Mark their position within the text with a number in square brackets.
Higher education, further education and skills
We work with the higher education, further education and skills sectors. Once you’ve named this in a piece of communication, you can then abbreviate to HE , FE and skills. Note: skills remains lowercase throughout.
coordinate, not co-ordinate
email, not e-mail
lifecycle, not life-cycle
online, not on-line
ongoing, not on-going
postgraduate, not post-graduate
videoconferencing, not video-conferencing
website, not web-site
worldwide, not world-wide
technology-enhanced learning (not technology enhanced learning)
Institution names should have initial capitals, such as University of Bristol, but there is no need to capitalise subsequent references to ‘the university’.
Take care to give the correct university/organisation name. University of Salford not Salford University but Cardiff University not University of Cardiff.
Janet Network – not JANET, JANET(UK) or janet.
After using Janet Network in full, in subsequent references it’s acceptable to just reference ‘the network’.
Janet Network services [such as CSIRT]
- First instance: Janet Network [service name], provided by Jisc
- Subsequent references and headlines: Janet Network [service name]
Services managed by the Janet division [such as Assent]
- First instance: [service name], a service from Jisc
- Subsequent references and headlines: [service name]
We write all job titles in sentence case: deputy chair of Jisc, editor of guardian.co.uk, governor of the Bank of England, prime minister, etc.
Normal sentence case rules still apply, you wouldn’t start a sentence with a lowercase letter. For example on email signatures:
Note: person titles still apply; for example: Professor Sir Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor, University of Bristol.
Landing pages of service mode sites should carry a clear, non-expert, focused, service description. All users should to be able to understand what the website is for and what they can do there.
Learning and teaching
Not teaching and learning.
We write numbers up to ten in full, for example: five CDs, seven PCs and ten terminals.
For numbers over ten, we use digits; for example: 12 diskettes, 256 colours. But note also the difference between the literal number in “there were 100 students” and, more figuratively, “the culmination of a hundred years of scientific thought”.
Numbers expressed as fractions or decimals, numbers in tables or charts and numbers in percentages should always appear as digits, for example: 70½, 3.5%.
Use a comma in numbers over 1,000: 3,000, 30,000 and 300,000.
We write out numbers of a million and above in full, except for where there is a monetary value, for example: £5m.
If you had to obtain permission, the credit should follow the supplier’s specification.
Where a supplier has not made a specific request, use the following format: Reproduced by kind permission of John Simkin, Spartacus Educational, Brighton.
For the web:
[Description – linked to resource home]
[Copyright owner] via [Resource home]
[License and/or usage information]
Cory Doctorow sat in his London office
Jonathan Worth via Flickr
© Design Council via vads
May be used for private research and study without permission.
We format phone numbers like this:
0117 331 0789
0203 006 6009
A-level uses a capital A and lowercase l and should be hyphenated. Do not use A-Level or A Level.
Master’s – as in “I did my master’s at UCL”. Usual sentence case rules apply – ie only capitalise if beginning a sentence.
GCSEs not GCSE’s.
Use double quotation marks throughout, apart from quotes within quotes.
Professor J Bloggs said: “What we need now is ‘blended learning’, a mix of traditional forms of learning with the benefits of e-learning.”
Jisc uses the Harvard system. This includes partial citations in parentheses in the text (Smith 2010, p1). Citations are also listed in full in alphabetical order in the reference section at the end of the publication.
Online versions should always include a web link and the date it was accessed.
The plagiarismadvice.org website provides some excellent guides on referencing, including an animated Harvard referencing guide produced by the University of the West of England.
Titles and headings
All headings should use sentence case:
Managing course information, not Managing Course Information
How we innovate, not How We Innovate
Student experience, not Student Experience
The only exception is where the heading is or contains a proper name, when it should be title case; for example:
Our work with the British Library
See also: capital letters.
Avoid underlining, as people can mistake it for a web link.
URLs (website addresses)
In printed material, within the text, URLs will appear in brackets. But when the URL is presented on its own line, no brackets or additional punctuation are needed.
URLs can be written without www. If the URL does not contain www, we use http://
We do not include a ‘/’ or any extensions such as ‘.aspx’ at the end of a URL.
If you need to shorten a URL for print publications contact email@example.com – they should be able to provide you with a ji.sc shortened url such as ji.sc/web-sa.
On the web, links should be created as hyperlinks, using the text from the sentence which best describes where the user will be taken (see writing for the web for more guidance on best practice).
Developed in the US by the Teaching, Learning and Technology Group (TLT Group) (tltgroup.org).
Developed in the US by the Teaching, Learning and Technology Group (TLT Group). tltgroup.org
Developed in the US by the Teaching, Learning and Technology Group (TLT Group).
We use wifi – one word, no hyphen, sentence case.