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.
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 capitalization requires capitalizing the initial letter of every word with the exception of articles, conjunctions and prepositions that are fewer than 5 letters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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:
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 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.
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.
Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above.
In most cases, use numerals and the % sign. Do not include a space between the two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In general, do not use underlined text in body copy.