Style Guide

This is a comprehensive style guide on how to best style your SharePoint pages. Although we do not expect you to read every line and every point, it is highly recommended that you at least scroll through all the sections and familiarize yourself with our expectations. For easier navigation below are also anchors to specific topics we cover in this style guide, click on any to jump straight to that section.

Formatting | Titles | Subheads | Lists | Creating Emphasis | Abbreviations and Acronyms | Ellipses | Dashes | Number Signs | Links | PDFs | Superscripts | Page and Subsite Names


All pre-existing formatting should be cleared. The default Markup Style should be Paragraph, and the default Style should be Body Text.


Information specifically pertaining to H1 tags, otherwise known as page titles.

  • Titles should match the page contents, and should be neither too narrow nor too broad.
  • Titles should be short.
  • Never use periods or exclamation points.
  • Do not use a, an, or the as the first word (Economy of the Second Empire, not The Economy of the Second Empire), unless by convention it is an inseparable part of a name (The Hague).
  • Titles should be nouns or noun phrases (nominal groups): "Early Life," not "In Early Life."
  • Avoid special characters such as the slash (/), plus sign (+), braces ({ }), and square brackets ([ ]); use and instead of an ampersand (&), unless the ampersand is an accepted part of a name (Emerson, Lake & Palmer).
  • The final visible character of a title should not be a punctuation mark, unless the punctuation is part of a name (Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!), an abbreviation is used (Inverness City F.C.), or a closing round bracket or quotation mark is required (John Palmer (schooner).
  • Titles and subheads should be set in title case; the capitalization of text in which the first letter of each major word is set in capital.
    • Always capitalize the first and last word.
    • Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions (as, because, although).
    • Lowercase all articles, coordinate conjunctions (and, or, nor), and prepositions regardless of length, when they are other than the first or last word.
    • Lowercase the "to" in an infinitive.
    • Capitalize hyphenated and open compounds. Capitalize the second word attached by a hyphen to prefixes only if they are proper nouns or proper adjectives.
  • Do not set any titles or subtitles in all caps (uppercase)—if the head needs to be uppercase SharePoint will format the subhead automatically.

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Subheads are all header tags beyond H1. Aside from the above rules pertaining to titles, extra care should be taken so that subheads also follow these rules:

  • Subheads should not contain links, especially where only part of a heading is linked.
  • Do not use a subhead as a heading for a bulleted list.
  • Use an H6 as a subhead for titles of charts, graphs, and other supporting images within a page.

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Use numbers rather than bullets only if:

  • a need to refer to the elements by number may arise;
  • the sequence of the items is critical; or
  • the numbering has some independent meaning, for example in a listing of musical tracks.

Use the same grammatical form for all elements in a list, and do not mix the use of sentences and sentence fragments as elements.

  • When the elements are complete sentences, they are formatted using sentence case and a final period.
  • When the elements are sentence fragments, they are typically introduced by a lead fragment ending with a colon. When these elements are titles of works, they retain the original capitalization of the title. Other elements are formatted consistently in either sentence case or lower case. Each element should end with a semicolon, with a period instead for the last element. Alternatively (especially when the elements are short), no final punctuation is used at all.

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Creating Emphasis

Bold Text Formatting, Capital Letters (All Caps) and Underlining

Do not use bold formatting, all capital letters or underlined text for emphasis; where wording alone cannot provide the emphasis, use italics.

Incorrect: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are not the same as anteaters.
Incorrect: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are NOT the same as anteaters.
Incorrect: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are not the same as anteaters.
Correct: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are not the same as anteaters.

How Not to Apply Emphasis

Avoid various kinds of overemphasis, which distracts from the writing.

  • Exclamation points (!) should usually only be used in direct quotes.
  • Do not bold words in text. Bold formatting is reserved for subheads.
  • Quotation marks for emphasis of a single word or phrase, or scare quotes, are discouraged. Quotation marks are to show that you are using the correct word as quoted from the original source. For example: His tombstone was inscribed with the name "Aaron" instead of the spelling he used during his life.
  • ALL CAPS formatting should be changed to title case. In text, copy such as "WAR BEGINS TODAY" should be reduced to "War Begins Today". This has become the standard for The New York Times in its transcription project. The same rule applies to book and magazine titles.
  • Double emphasis, such as "italics in quotation marks" or italics and an exclamation point!, is unnecessary.
  • Underlining is used in typewriting and handwriting to represent italic type. Do not underline text or it may be confused with links on a web page.

If a paragraph is the start of a new section or topic, a subhead should be used instead of using bold text

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Abbreviations and Acronyms

Write out both the full version and the abbreviation at first occurrence. However, if the abbreviation is not used again within the page, showing it is unnecessary.

When introducing a new name or term, use the full name or term on its first occurrence, followed by the abbreviated form in round brackets. This clears the way for later use of the abbreviation alone ("the New Democratic Party (NDP) won the 1990 Ontario election with a significant majority," at the first mention of the New Democratic Party; and "the NDP quickly became unpopular with the voters, at a subsequent mention"). An exception is made for abbreviations that are as well-known as or better known than their full names, such as "PhD" and "DNA," for which is it unnecessary to supply the full name on first occurrence.

Do not apply initial capitals in a full term that is a common noun just because capitals are used in the abbreviation.

Incorrect (not a name/proper noun): We used Digital Scanning (DS) technology.
Correct: We used digital scanning (DS) technology.
Correct (name/proper noun): The film was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

If the full term is already in round brackets, use a comma and or to indicate the abbreviation.

Correct: They first debated the issue in 1992 (at a convention of the New Democratic Party, or NDP).

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An ellipsis (plural ellipses) is an omission of material from quoted text; or some other omission, perhaps of the end of a sentence, often used in a printed record of conversation. The ellipsis is represented by ellipsis points: a set of three dots, and have traditionally been implemented in three ways:

Incorrect: Pre-composed ellipsis character (…); generated with the … character entity, or as a literal "…". This is harder to input and edit, and too small in some fonts.
Incorrect: Three spaced periods (. . .). This is an older style that is unnecessarily wide and requires non-breaking spaces to keep it from breaking at the end of a line.
Correct: Three unspaced periods (...). This is the easiest way, and gives a predictable appearance in HTML.

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En Dashes

En dashes (–, –) have several distinct roles.

  • To stand for to or through in ranges (pp. 211–19, 64–75%, the 1939–45 war). Ranges expressed using prepositions should not use en dashes:
    • Incorrect: "from 450–500 people" or "between 450–500 people"
    • Correct: "from 450 to 500 people" or "between 450 and 500 people"
  • Number ranges must be spelled out if they involve a negative value or might be misconstrued as a subtraction:
    • Incorrect: −10–10
    • Correct: −10 to 10
  • To stand for to or versus (male–female ratio, 4–3 win, Lincoln–Douglas debate, France–Germany border).
  • To stand for and between independent elements (diode–transistor logic, Michelson–Morley experiment). An en dash is not used for a hyphenated personal name (Lennard-Jones potential, named after John Lennard-Jones), nor a hyphenated place name (Guinea-Bissau), nor with an element that lacks lexical independence (the prefix Sino- in Sino-Japanese trade).
  • To separate items in a list—for example, in articles about music albums, en dashes are used between track titles and durations, and between musicians and their instruments. In this role, en dashes are always spaced.
  • In compounds whose elements themselves contain hyphens or spaces (the anti-conscription–pro-conscription debate) and when prefixing an element containing a space (pre–World War II technologies, ex–prime minister)—but usually not when prefixing an element containing a hyphen (non-government-owned corporations, semi-labor-intensive industries). However, recasting the phrase (the conscription debate, technologies prior to World War II) may be better style than compounding.


Disjunctive en dashes are unspaced, except when there is a space within either one or both of the items (the New York – Sydney flight; the New Zealand – South Africa grand final; June 3, 1888 – August 18, 1940, but June–August 1940). Exceptions are occasionally made where the item involves a spaced surname (Seifert–van Kampen theorem).

The space before an en dash should preferably be a non-breaking space ( ).

Em Dashes

Em dashes (—, —) indicate interruption in a sentence. They are used in two roles.

  1. Parenthetical (Wikipedia—one of the most popular websites—has the information you need). A pair of em dashes for such interpolations is more arresting than a pair of commas, and less disruptive than round brackets.
  2. As a sharp break in the flow of a sentence—sharper than is provided by a colon or a semicolon.

In both roles, em dashes are useful where there are already several commas; em dashes can clarify the structure, sometimes removing ambiguity.

  • Use em dashes sparingly. They are visually striking, so two in a paragraph is often a good limit. Ensure there is no ambiguity if using multiple "sharp break" or parenthetical em dashes in the same area of the text.
  • Do not format em dashes with spaces on either side.

Do not use substitutes for em or en dashes, such as the combination of two hyphens (--). These were typewriter approximations.

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Number Signs

Avoid using the # symbol (known as the number sign, hash sign, or pound sign) when referring to numbers or rankings. Instead use the word "number", or the abbreviation "No." For example:

Incorrect: Babson has been ranked #1 in entrepreneurship for 20 years.
Correct: Babson has been ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship for 20 years.

Do not use the symbol №.

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All links within copy should appear in roman (non-bold), blue and underlined. This will only happen if the text has been correctly formatted as Body Text.

Links should pop up in a new tab/window when they point to:

  • Other Babson sites not in SharePoint (Athletics, Campus Store, Engage@Babson, etc.)
  • Documents or forms that are in PDF format
  • External website, like YouTube, CNN, NECN, etc.

Links within Text

Links within the text should be used sparingly; 1-2 links per paragraph, maximum. Use the target page’s title as the link text, rather than words such as "Click here" or "More."

Incorrect: "For more information about Student Venturing, click here."
Correct: "See Student Venturing for more information."

Title (Hover) Text

In order to comply with accessibility standards and boost the page’s SEO, all links should have title text, also called “hover” or “mouseover” text. The title text can be updated in the “Description” field under Link Tools > Format.

Title text should be written to give the user additional context for the link destination. For example, title text for an email link or faculty profile would say:

When linking to an external site (even if Babson "owns" it), the destination URL can be the title text.

If the link copy is written correctly and the link is pointing to an internal page, title text could be redundant and may be omitted. If you feel you need to add title text, something simple such as “Learn more” is enough—it’s less confusing than repeating the link text.

Incorrect: “See Student Venturing for more information.” (the title text is the same as the link text)
Correct: “See Student Venturing for more information.” (the title text has been omitted)
Correct: “See Student Venturing for more information.” (the title text is “Learn more”)

Linking to a File

When linking to a file:

"(pdf)" should appear within the links:

Use the file’s title, rather than the filename, as the link text.

Include the lowercase file type in parentheses immediately following the title, as part of the link.

Be sure the file opens in a new window or tab by clicking the "Open in a new tab" checkbox under Link Tools > Format

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Before posting a PDF to a page—determine if it really is the most appropriate method for accomplishing your goals. Most of the time, creating a new web page is a more effective option.

Creation (or Revision) Date, Job and Version Numbers

PDFs uploaded by departments other than Marketing should have a version number and revision date, on the last page in the footer.

Example: Ver 1.2 Rev 4/22/10

If there is a significant reworking of a piece it is expected that the version number would increase from 1.X to 2.0 with minor changes moving from 1.1 to 1.2 etc.

PDFs created by Marketing should have a creation date or revision date, a job or reference number, and a version number. The format is as follows:


MM/YY Creation/revision date: Two-digit month, forward slash, two-digit year
MKT-XXXX JIRA reference number
X Version number

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Superscripts (HTML code <sup>content</sup>) are especially useful to reference another source. When referencing a particular word, use the superscript next to the word. When referencing an entire sentence, use the superscript outside the period.

Also remember to use superscripts when referencing Registered Trademarks (®, &reg;), e.g. Entrepreneurial Thought and Action®. The Unregistered Trademark symbol (™, &trade;) used in Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™ is automatically superscripted in HTML.

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Page and Subsite Names

Directory and filenames should be lowercase and should not contain special characters like &, @, *, et. al. Directory names should be a single word whenever possible, or hyphenated words if more are needed for clarity (e.g. /values/, /history/, /strategic-plan/, /curriculum-innovation/)

Page names should be short, hyphenated if using more than one word, and contain only words that are essential for clarity (e.g. writings.aspx, founding.aspx, roger-babson.aspx, academic-diversity.aspx, entrepreneurial-thought-action.aspx)

Make sure to change all top level subsite pages (default.aspx) to home.aspx