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.
If you don’t see a word here and aren’t sure what to do, check AP style.
ages, avoid hyphens in ages unless it clarifies the text. For example, “a group of 10 18-year-old White House tourists.”
agile, don’t capitalize agile, unless it’s the first word of a sentence.
am, not a.m.
aka (also known as), not a.k.a.
back end, when used as a noun.
back-end, when used as an adjective. For example, “back-end development.”
bid & proposal, when singular and bids & proposals when plural. It’s not bid & proposals when in the plural form.
civic tech, not civictech or CivicTech
Congress refers to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
congressional is lowercase unless part of a proper name. For example, “Congressional Record.”
current year is lowercase. It’s okay to abbreviate as CY on the second reference.
DC, not D.C.
Defense Services (DS)
DE&I, not DEI
drop down when used as a noun. For example, “an option from the drop down.” Never dropdown.
drop-down when used as an adjective. For example, “drop-down menu.”
email, not e-mail
Executive Office (EO)
e.g., abbreviation for “exempli gratia.” If using, don’t end the sentence with “etc.”
etc., abbreviation for etcetera. Don’t use it redundantly. If you are starting a list with “for example,” you don’t need to add etc. to the end of the sentence.
ex. abbreviation for “example.” If using, don’t end the sentence with “etc.”
federal, unless part of a proper noun. For example, “Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
federal government, not Federal Government or Federal government.
filename, not file name.
fiscal year is lowercase. It’s okay to abbreviate as FY on the second reference.
front end, when used as a noun.
front-end, when used as an adjective. For example, “front-end developer.”
government, unless part of a proper noun. For example, “Government Printing Office.”
govcon, not gov con or GovCon
govtech, not gov tech or GovTech
Guilds & Squads, not guilds and squads.
human-centered design, often used interchangeably with user-centered design. We prefer user-centered design to emphasize our focus on those who are using a service/product (rather than those making it or humans in general).
Human Services (HS)
info is an acceptable shortening of information. In formal situations, use the full word.
internet, don’t capitalize unless it begins a sentence.
Internet of Things (IoT) is considered a proper noun. Use IoT on subsequent references.
life cycle, not lifecycle. For example, “project life cycle.”
login when used as a 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.”
mini-conference, not mini conference.
Mini-Conference, when referring to the Sweet Talks initiative.
Minimum viable product (MVP), not Minimum Viable Product
objectives and key results (OKRs), not “objective and key results” or “objectives & key results.” Use OKRs on subsequent references.
online, don’t capitalize unless it begins a sentence.
open source, open source software.
pm, not p.m.
QB Time is considered a proper noun. Refers to Quickbooks Time.
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.”
Service Excellence (SE)
share out, when referring to the Sweet Talks initiative — Personal Growth Share Outs.
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.”
Training Services (TS)
United States government or U.S. government, not U.S. Government.
U.S., not US or USA.
user-centered design, often used interchangeably with human-centered design. We prefer user-centered design to emphasize our focus on those who are using a service/product (rather than those making it or humans in general).
U.S. Web Design System on first use and Design System on subsequent references.
Utilization Dashboard, not Utilization dashboard.
veteran, when used for Skylight content (e.g., case studies, social media posts). However, when doing client-facing work (e.g. slide deck presentations), defer to the client’s conventions around capitalization (e.g. the VA capitalizes “Veteran”).
WiFi, not Wi-Fi.
work-in-progress (WIP), not “Work In Progress” or “Work in Progress” or “WiP.”