Grammar & Mechanics
WordStream’s written content generally follows AP Style (We have an AP style guide in the office for reference.) For platform-specific features, we defer to the company’s definition and style. For non-industry terms, our preferred dictionary is Merriam-Webster.
Below, you’ll find exceptions, common mistakes, and other internal standards, with examples of the correct style in the blue boxes.
Abbreviations and acryonyms
In most cases, you should introduce your reader to the full name before using an abbreviation or acronym.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
After that, feel free to alternate between the abbreviation and the full term for SEO purposes.
Acronyms and abbreviations that are widely used don’t need to be written out at all. (Think lead gen, URL, and HTML.)
Headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings should be used to help guide readers through blog posts and other written content for easier reading. These headings should always be used hierarchically.
A few guidelines:
- Use title case, with all important terms capitalized, for headlines.
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- Use sentence case, with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized, for all other headings.
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- Always use numerals for numbers in headings and subheadings.
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- Do not use end punctuation (exception: question marks and, sparingly, exclamation points).
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- Avoid stacking headings; insert some text between.
- For headings that are numbered in a list, use the numeral and a period. If there is a word preceding the number (step or tip, for instance), use the pound sign, the numeral, and a colon.
1. They’re called video campaigns for a reason
Step #1: Understand how your marketing funnel works
Paragraph length isn’t strictly enforced or regulated—we know that some topics will call for longer paragraphs, some shorter. However, a general rule is that paragraphs shouldn’t be longer than 3-4 sentences. Single-sentence paragraphs should also be used sparingly.
For conversion campaigns, stepping it up a notch with a stronger call to action such as “Shop Now” is effective in increasing your chances of a sale, as seen in the Nisolo shoe ad below. If you have a special promotion to share, this is a good time to incentivize.
One aspect of Facebook that should be simple and easy to cover is budget. Give a dollar amount and go, right?
Not so fast.
When a list has complex items or gets too long to be easily readable in running text, use a bulleted or numbered list. Use only bullet points or numerals to mark these lists—no hyphens or other characters.
Skip end punctuation if all items in the list are less than eight words. If one item requires end punctuation, use end punctuation for every item in the list.
If the items in the list have a heading, make the heading (and the colon) bold and follow it with a colon.
Choose daily budgets when:
- Your campaign will be evergreen
- You want to maximize strong performance
- You expect to change your budget regularly
If you didn’t have the chance to catch part one, here are the main points you need to know:
- Facebook offers three campaign objective options for advertisers: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
- It is crucial that you don’t overlook your objective, optimization settings, bid strategy, or budget selections upon campaign creation.
- The Facebook ad auction relies on algorithmic learning around these settings to make decisions. You need to identify the right signals and track significant data to enable this algorithm to efficiently optimize according to your marketing goals.
Merchant Promotions come in four different flavors, each of which has three variations of its own:
- Amount off: Offer a monetary discount
- Percent off: Offer a percentage-based discount
- Free gift: Offer a free gift (!!!)
- Free shipping: Offer free shipping
In general, spell out numbers nine and under, and use numerals for numbers 10 and above. For all numbers preceding units of measurement or in tables, use numerals.
Use the month and date or the month, day, and year. Don’t include st, th, or rd for the day.
Always use the % symbol rather than spelling out “percent,” whether it’s in the body, heading, title, or a table.
It’s okay if you use percentages to start a sentence.
47% of American internet users start their product searches on Amazon. 35% start on Google.
For number or date ranges in a sentence, spell out the word “to.”
Your ad groups should have 10 to 20 keywords.
In graphs or lists with only numbers and no copy, use a hyphen.
Write monetary figures up to 1 million in numerals, and include the currency sign.
Your CAC for that channel is going to be $100 ($400 divided by four new converted customers) for the month.
For figures in millions and billions, etc. use a numeral followed by the word million or billion, not capitalized (e.g., $9 million).
Use numerals and include a.m. or p.m. after writing a time. Don’t include the colon for times on the hour. Defer to standard number rules if it’s a unit of measuring time, like five minutes or two years.
Avoid using these in body copy and subheadings. In titles, use as needed to preserve space.
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Colons can be used to introduce lists or connect related clauses. If the second clause is a complete sentence, the first letter after the colon should be capitalized.
This should sound familiar: Feed optimization works similarly to SEO.
Use serial commas in lists.
By including the brand, color, size, style, model, gender, measurements, and any other relevant attributes, you give yourself a better shot of capturing commercial intent.
Always use a comma after e.g. and i.e.
On the other hand, if your product is primarily used indoors (e.g., cookware), features small details (e.g., artwork), or is being sold on Amazon and Google Shopping, then artificial lighting is preferable to show off your product. Luckily knowing a few basics and building a simple studio setup can help you get over your intimidation of light.
Otherwise, use commas as needed.
To emphasize a break in a sentence or include an aside, use an em dash. The em dash should be placed between two words, with no space on either side. To create an em dash, press Alt+0151 on the number pad of a regular-sized keyboard.
Nonetheless, Display ads are powerful—and the proof is in the numbers.
Yesterday morning, Google Ads announced that it will sunset average position—one of the original Search metrics—in September of this year.
No need to use en dashes for ranges or complex compound adjectives. Hyphens here are just fine.
Ellipses are useful for effect, as long as they’re used sparingly. They shouldn’t be used to introduce a list. Treat ellipses like a word: Include a space on either side, but do not include spaces between the periods.
Or ... something like that.
First and last names
The first time you refer to anyone in WordStream content, use their first and last name. After that, you can refer to the person by their first name throughout the copy.
- First Use: Sally Stevens
- Second Use: Sally
When you’re discussing historical figures or authors, however, use the last name if it’s more recognizable. (Referring to Immanuel, for example, isn’t as clear as referring to Kant.)
If a person’s job is relevant, it’s okay to include a description of their role or their title, whichever is more useful for the audience. Follow AP style capitalization conventions with job roles and titles, too.
Director of SEO Sally Stevens
Sally, an SEO and content marketer
For describing jobs, avoid using gendered terms, like “waitress,” “sales guy,” “postman.” Choose a clearer, more inclusive word, instead.
To stay casual and conversational, avoid the pronoun “one.”
For pronouns in hypotheticals, use they/them/their, either singular or plural, not “he or she.”
Make sure to separate compound geographic locations with a comma, and use another comma to separate the last term from the rest of the sentence.
I really like to go to Lincoln, New Hampshire, and hike in the White Mountains.
When abbreviating country and state names, don’t use periods: UK, not U.K.
When using company names, maintain the same style the company uses as much as possible. If you’re unsure of how to style a company name, check their website or press releases.
Remember that companies are singular entities, so be sure to use singular verbs.
Google is certain that these four new metrics are more insightful than average position, and the PPC community doesn’t seem all that sad to see the metric go—for the most part.
Avoid writing out URLs in content unless it’s necessary to demonstrate a concept. In those cases, don’t link to the website. All links should be embedded.
Titles should convey the purpose and scope of the blog post. The best titles do this in a fun, engaging way.
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Capitalization in titles should follow titles case rules. Always capitalize principal words in a headline or title, including nouns and verbs. (Yes, even short verbs like “is” and “be.”) Don’t capitalize prepositions, conjunctions, or articles unless they begin the title or are more than four letters long.
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Always use numerals in titles.
Note that WordStream is always one word, always with a capital “w” and “s.”
WordStream is on a mission to make online advertising easy. The WordStream Advisor platform helps businesses of all sizes maximize the results of their online advertising by giving advertisers powerful tools to easily build, manage, and optimize campaigns across ad networks like Google Ads, Bing, Instagram, Facebook—and more!
Product word list:
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