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Specific words and phrases


Below are rules for how we use common words and phrases. The bold term shows the accepted form (capitalization, hyphenation, punctuation), with accompanying text explaining usage.

  • BIA employees, BIA team members, or BIA staffers.
  • ages, avoid hyphens in ages unless it clarifies the text. For example, a group of 10 18-year-old White House tourists.
  • agile
  • a.m.
  • back end, back end development
  • Congress refers to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
  • congressional is lowercase unless part of a proper name. For example, Congressional Record
  • DC, not D.C.
  • DevOps
  • digital coalition
  • drop-down when used as an adjective. For example, drop-down menu. drop down when used as a noun. For example, an option from the drop down. Never dropdown.
  • email, not e-mail
  • executive branch
  • federal, unless part of a proper noun. For example, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • federal government, not Federal Government or Federal government
  • fiscal year is lowercase. It’s okay to abbreviate as FY on the second reference.
  • front end, front end developer
  • GitHub
  • government, unless part of a proper noun. For example, Government Printing Office
  • homepage
  • human-centered design
  • info is an acceptable shortening of information. In formal situations, use the full word.
  • internet
  • JavaScript
  • kanban
  • login when used as noun, for example, I forgot my login name and password, or when used as an adjective, for example Make sure the login page is 508 complaint. log in when used as a verb, for example, Log in to access your calendar.
  • open source, open source software
  • percent is preferred more than the % symbol. For example, 10 percent of respondents.
  • p.m.
  • Scrum should be used to refer to the set of practices for the agile method. We don’t use that term for the daily meetings and instead use daily standup.
  • single sign-on
  • sitemap
  • startup
  • tech is an acceptable shortening of technology. In formal situations, use the full word.
  • to do (noun) and to-do (adjective). For example, your to dos or your to-do list.
  • United States government or U.S. government, not U.S. Government
  • URLs should be lowercase, even when they appear at the start of a sentence. For example, launched today.
  • U.S., not US or USA
  • user-centered design
  • U.S. Web Design Standards on first use and Standards on subsequent references
  • Wi-Fi

An official website of the U.S. Department of the Interior

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