Style guide

PTA+ style guide

Tone of voice

PTA+: encouraging, optimistic, conversational, friendly, authoritative

Key takeaways

  • Use single quotes (unless it’s a quote within a quote, when double quotes apply)
  • In PTA+, we say children or pupils (kids very occasionally in speech/testimonials, but never students)
  • In FundEd we say students for those in secondary school (but vary it to avoid repetition)
  • British spellings rather than American spellings (organise not organize)
  • Case studies format: Lucy Armstrong, PTA chair, St Swithin’s School PTA, Tunbridge Wells (X pupils); include a county for smaller towns
  • All case studies are written in the first person. Use a conversational tone, but sentences must make sense gramatically. Do not use slang. 
  • Job titles are lower case: headteacher, co-chair, vice chair, treasurer
  • Numbers one to ten are written out, then 11, 12 and so on
  • £Xmillion (no space)
  • Dates use UK format (1 January 2023)
  • Contractions such as aren’t, can’t, couldn’t, hasn’t, don’t, I’m, it’s and there’s are acceptable, but dont overuse them 
  • En dashes (–) rather than hyphens (-)
  • 1,000 takes a comma
  • Use around, not approx or approximately when referring to how much money was raised, ie around £400, or more than £400, or nearly/almost £400 
  • Round up or down the amount made on events eg, ‘The event raised more than £400 rather than ‘The event raised £410.56’
  • Companies in general are singular (eg, British Airways is based in London), but can be written as plural in direct speech/testimonials, if it’s more in keeping with spoken word (eg, ‘I work for British Airways and theyre great).

General

  • Use Collins English dictionary as a reference
  • Use British English everywhere, so realised, not realized
  • Omit ‘www from web addresses
  • Avoid word breaks and widows wherever possible
  • Put web addresses in bold – go up 2x weights, eg regular – semi-bold; medium – bold (except PT Serif, which goes up from regular – bold).

Punctuation

  • Use open punctuation – full stops omitted at end of titles, intros, captions, pullout quotes, etc but do use a full stop after web addresses at the end of a paragraph
  • Use en dashes (–) throughout
  • Quote marks are single unless text within direct speech, then double
  • Italicise names of books, films, works of art, plays (but not names of exhibitions)
  • When referencing other PTA+/FundEd online or print articles, italicise the titles
  • No full points after initials, eg JK Rowling.

Singular/plural

Companies in general are singular, but should be written as plural in direct speech/testimonials, as it’s more in keeping with spoken word.

Bullet points/lists

  • If each item is a whole sentence, begin with a capital letter and end with a full point.
  • If each item is a part sentence and is a continuation of the sentence before the list, no full points.
  • If a list of items, use lower-case and no full points until the last item.

Upper/lower case

  • All headlines, subheads and page headings are written in sentence case (capital only first letter of first word)
  • All job titles are lower case. In running copy, ‘says the head’ or ‘says the chair’ can sound odd so use ‘headteacher’ or ‘chairperson’
  • Continental, the Continent, when referring to mainland Europe, does take a capital
  • Government – use capital G only in the phrase the Government, meaning the present government. Otherwise, use lower case – government policy, a future Labour government etc
  • the prime minister
  • the Queen.

Dates/numbers/measurements

  • Dates: 1 January 2018 or Thursday, 4 September, 1998, but where lots of dates in calendar feature use 8 Aug to 6 Sept to abbreviate
  • Time: 7:30pm not 7.30pm
  • Decades: 1960s, not sixties or 60s. 2000s or the noughties
  • Age: children aged four; ten-year-old pupils; nine to 18-year-olds, 14- and 15-year-olds
  • 20th century (not superscripted); first to tenth-century written out
  • Numbers: one to ten written out, then 11, 12 etc; a hundred, a thousand, a million written out when used without measurement (so a hundred pairs of shoes vs. 100km)
  • 1,000 takes a comma
  • Fractions: if one to ten, in running copy, then write out. eg, four per cent; for 11 an upwards, fractions, and/or a stand-alone figure, use figures and symbol: 4.5%, 12%
  • Street numbers, as per country style (eg, 4 Larkfield Road, Goethestr 32). Write out ‘street’ etc in full
  • Measurements: usually abbreviations when measurement is an adjective: a 50m pool but write in full if this makes it clearer; use long form when it’s a noun: we trekked 25 kilometres through the jungle
  • Abbreviation of square metres is sq m
  • Degrees: use 7º (alt j or alt k)
  • Temperatures: Celsius, can have Fahrenheit equivalent, but not centigrade
  • Karat/Carat: kt for gold; ct for diamonds
  • £Xmillion.

Miscellaneous

  • a hotel, not an hotel
  • around, not approx
  • towards, not toward
  • checkout as noun; check out as verb
  • incl. and excl. for abbreviations of including and excluding
  • always include counties for schools featured in testimonials etc
  • FundEd only – bold up all school names in body copy
  • FundEd only – if multiple people are quoted in an article, use first name and surname each time.

Quick reference word list

  • after-school if its an adjective (eg after-school club)
  • age-old
  • all right not alright
  • A-level
  • AS level
  • armchair
  • ball gown
  • barbecue (BBQ is ok in heads/subheads)
  • bestselling/bestseller
  • book bags
  • board of governors
  • brand-new
  • by-product
  • café
  • clientele
  • co-chair
  • coordinate
  • CofE
  • compère
  • crowdfunding, crowdfunded
  • décor
  • Diamond Jubilee
  • Early Years
  • ecosystem
  • eg (no full stops)
  • email, ecommerce
  • etc (no full stop)
  • ExCeL London
  • extra-curricular
  • façade
  • Fairtrade is one word when it refers to the FAIRTRADE Mark. When talking about fairly traded goods that are not covered by our standards, it is two words
  • fête
  • Financial Times not the Financial Times
  • Formula 1
  • forward-thinking
  • free school
  • friends association (no apostrophe)
  • frontrunner
  • fundraising
  • Gift Aid
  • go-kart
  • half-term
  • hard-pressed
  • home-made
  • hoodie
  • hotdogs
  • houmous
  • ice-cream van
  • ie (no full stops)
  • internet
  • jacuzzi
  • left-field
  • like-minded
  • live-stream
  • Local Authority
  • Marks & Spencer
  • match funding (no hyphen) 
  • mind-reader
  • multimedia
  • National Curriculum
  • netbook
  • offline
  • ongoing
  • online
  • outgoing
  • over-sized (not size)
  • Pancake Day
  • papier-mâché
  • parkour
  • photovoltaic (first in full, abbreviated to PV thereafter)
  • PTAs (as an abbreviation; a possessive would take an apostrophe eg The PTA’s funds) 
  • rip-roaring
  • run down
  • runners-up
  • saltwater
  • school children
  • second-hand
  • set-up (eg set-up begins at 3pm…)
  • skin care
  • smartphone
  • special educational needs (lower case, abbreviated to SEN)
  • sports car
  • stand-alone
  • standard-bearer
  • state-of-the-art
  • street-cred
  • sun cream, sun care, sun tan
  • summer fair
  • teamwork
  • The Guardian
  • The Independent
  • TikTok
  • timetable
  • Topshop
  • T-shirt
  • Twitter, but tweet, live-tweet
  • underway
  • Velcro®
  • vice chair
  • verruca
  • wellbeing
  • well-intentioned
  • Wi-Fi
  • win-win (not win/win)
  • World War I / II
  • year group
  • Year 2, Reception, Early Years
  • YouTube.

Checklist for articles

Please supply the following:

  • First name and surname of anyone interviewed
  • Role on the PTA or at the school, ie, PTA chair, PTA member, PTA volunteer
  • PTA name (not the name of the school)
  • Location (include the county for smaller places)
  • Number of pupils at the school – can be approximate.

Case study contributors are written like this: Lucy Armstrong, PTA chair, St Swithin’s School PTA, Tunbridge Wells (210 pupils)

  • A contact email address
  • A postal address for a copy of the magazine
  • Please ask if they would like it posted to their home or the school. Most people choose their home address.

You can say this:

We send a complimentary copy of the magazine to all our contributors. If you would like to receive a printed copy in the post, please forward the address to which you'd like it sent. This can be either your home address or that of the school.