Style & grammar

As a default, DocuSign adheres to Associated Press (AP) style. This section will spell out specifics of those style decisions and explain exceptions. If a point of style is not discussed here, assume AP style is correct.


Use these modifiers sparingly. We prefer adjectives and adverbs that are factual and/or approachable rather than hyperbolic. If multiple words are functioning as a single adjective, use hyphens to join them only if they come right before the noun that is modified.

Bold text

Headlines, subheadings and section headers should always be bolded. In body copy, bold text can be used to set off a particular word or phrase. However, too much bold copy in a single asset has the opposite effect.


Never use all caps.

Only capitalize the first word of a sentence and proper nouns (company names, people, countries, words/phrases protected by copyright or trademark, etc.). Do not use unnecessary capitalization to indicate that a common noun is important.

Titles of documents use title case capitalization. Everything else (body copy, subheads, section headers, etc.) uses sentence case capitalization.

Title case

Title case capitalization requires capitalizing the initial letter of every word with the exception of articles, conjunctions and prepositions that are fewer than 5 letters.

A Modern Approach to Life Sciences

Sentence case

Sentence case capitalization requires capitalizing only the first letter of the first word of a sentence, phrase or title as well as all proper nouns.

A modern approach to life sciences
Any customer-facing communication needs to be easy to read at first glance. Headlines in sentence case achieve this objective. Examples include digital banners, in-image headlines in social posts, infographics, posters and print headlines.

A quick rule of thumb: writing that promotes an asset uses sentence case while the asset itself (eBook, blog post or whitepaper) uses title case.

Capitalization: industries

In general, do not capitalize the names of industries (education, healthcare, real estate, government, life sciences, etc.). The only exception to this is at the start of a sentence or in the proper name of a DocuSign product.

DocuSign helps real estate agents simplify the buying process for their customers.
All of the top 15 Forbes 500 finance companies use DocuSign products.

Capitalization: professional titles and team names

In general, only capitalize formal titles used directly before an individual’s last name. Lowercase titles when they appear without an individual's name, follow an individual’s name or are set off from a name by commas.

When a professional title is shortened to an acronym (CEO, VP, etc.), capitalize the letters in the acronym, even if they would be lowercase when the title is spelled out.

The senior vice president of marketing signed the document.
The senior VP of marketing signed the document.
Senior Vice President Jones signed the document.
Terry Jones, the senior vice president of marketing, signed the document.
Professional team names (departments) should never be capitalized unless they are the first word in a sentence or a word that is otherwise a proper noun (including part of a proper DocuSign product name). In general, use team names as an adjective (the sales team needs to approve) rather than a noun (sales needs to approve).
This agreement needs to be reviewed by the legal team.
The university’s translation efforts will be led by the French department.

Copyrights and trademarks

Do not use the trademark designation (™) in headlines. Instead, use it only for the first instance (of the word requiring the trademark) in the body copy of a page. This applies to registered trademarks (®) and copyrights (©) too.

Country abbreviations

Below are the official AP style listings for certain countries (note spelling and punctuation):

EU (all uses)
U.K. (without periods only in headlines)
U.N. (without periods only in headlines)
U.S. (without periods only in headlines)

Gender-neutral terminology

Generally, use terms for jobs/roles/positions that can apply to any gender (police officer, chair, actor, business owner, hero, host, sales rep, server, etc.)

Avoid “man” as part of compound words when possible (search instead of manhunt, humankind, human-made)

Headlines and titles

Headlines and titles should be active and speak directly to customers. Use strong verbs and minimize filler words. Headlines and titles follow title case capitalization rules.

Generally, periods should not be used at the end of headlines. The exception is a headline that is more than one sentence (e.g. Want to learn more? Visit us.)

Example of headline/subheadline/section header capitalization and punctuation:

Title: Agreeable Life Sciences
Subheadline: Bring products to market faster while reducing risks and costs with a modern system of agreement
Section header: Customer experience is important

Italicized text

In general, do not use italicized text. Exceptions can be made in the case of adding clarity, but in general, rewriting is preferred. If individual words or phrases need to stand out, use bolded text.

Lists: body copy

Lists in body copy should be as uniform as possible: similar structure, part of speech, length, etc. Try not to use more than one list in a single sentence of body copy. Do not include unnecessary conjunctions with individual list items, limiting each list to one conjunction preceding the final item.

DocuSign eSignature makes it fast, easy and simple to sign agreements. Our customers use it to collect signatures on statements of work, NDAs and offer letters.
DocuSign eSignature makes it fast, easy and simple to sign statements of work, NDAs or offer letters.

Lists: bulleted and numbered

Each bulleted/numbered list should consist of either all complete sentences or all fragments. Each item in a list should begin with a capital letter (unless it’s eSignature or another exception).

It is imperative that all items in a list have consistent ending punctuation. If the items are all fragments or all a single sentence, no items in the list should end in a period. If any single item is more than one sentence, then all items in the list should end with a period. When an asset contains multiple lists, maintain consistency in list style to avoid mixing end punctuation.

Docusign benefits:
  • Do business faster: Send and sign agreements securely from virtually any device
  • Be more efficient: DocuSign eSignature eliminates manual tasks for customers and employees
  • Save money: eSignature reduces hard costs and improves employee productivity


Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above.


  • If a sentence begins with a number 10 or above, spell it out (when possible, try not to start sentences with numbers)
  • Numerals 1-9 can be used in headings and graphics
  • When using decimals, use numerals before and after the decimal point
  • Ages, addresses, years, statistics and measurements are always numerals (starting a sentence with a number in these instances is OK)
To display amounts in millions, billions and trillions, use numerals and spell out the word within copy ($8 billion, 13 million transactions). Exception: In headlines or graphics, abbreviate millions, billions and trillions ($4.4M in savings).

Do not mix millions, billions and trillions in the same figure, (2.5 billion not 2 billion 500 million.)

Decimals are preferred where practical. If using decimals, do not exceed two decimal places.


In most cases, use numerals and the % sign. Do not include a space between the two.

About 60% of Americans agreed
60 percentage points
sixty percent, sixty percentage points
Do not frame data insights using percents of percents. A rise from 5% to 10% is a 5% increase, not a 100% increase.

For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero (The cost of living rose 0.6%).

In casual uses, it’s acceptable to spell out “percent” rather than using numerals the percent sign (She said he has a zero percent chance of winning).


When attributing the source of a quote, always use an individual’s name, title and company on first reference. Later references can use only the last name. When attributing quotes, use past tense verbs (said) rather than present (says) or other tenses. Be sure to obtain permission to use the quote.

If a customer quote is shortened, use an ellipses (...) to indicate deleted copy. If you need to clarify language, use brackets around any copy not directly said in the quote.

Sentence length

Avoid sentences that are too long or complex. A general rule is to limit sentences to no more than 30 words, but there are plenty of exceptions (a list, a quotation, etc.). It's usually the case that long, complex sentences can be broken into multiple short sentences with a narrower focus.

Source citations

Hyperlinked text vs. footnotes: Utilize hyperlinked text in documents that will be published online. Footnotes should be provided in documents that will likely be read in a PDF format.


Superscript text ( ¹ ) is hard to read and should only be used to add footnotes to long form copy.

Time and time zones

Use the following format for presenting a date and time in copy: Thursday, June 11 at 1 pm PT.

When writing a standalone time, do not use periods after the letters in am or pm.

Do not list more than one time zone (1 pm PT, 4 pm ET), the audience will calculate that change on their own. In general, stick to listing the time zone where an event is taking place or where the majority of the audience will be.

Underlined text

In general, do not use underlined text in body copy.