Grammar & Mechanics

January 26, 2016

Active vs. passive voice


  • Shorter paragraphs

    • Don't create a page of text! Add breaks where they seem natural to shorten paragraphs.

  • Subheads

    • Subheads should be styled in H2 and H3. Only the first letter of the sentence should be capitalized unless it is a proper title (like referencing content pieces in the Content Roundup posts).

    • Try to break up blog posts with subheads for an easier read.

  • Descriptive links

  • Alt text

    • Alt text should contain article keywords and/or a description the image is depicting. 

  • Visual elements

    • Each blog post should contain an image from the design team located at the beginning of the article. Later in the post, images should not be inline and can be center-justified at the author's discretion. 

  • Quotes

  • Call outs within body copy

  • Lists

    • The styling of the bullets/numbers can vary depending on what works best for the content. While there can be more than a few sentences to each bullet, try to not bullet full paragraphs and try to bold important lines to break up the text.

  • Numbers

    • Write out a number when:

      • In a sentence (I know a thing or two about marketing. Here are four more things you should know.)

      • In body copy, the number is 0–10 

    • Don't write out a number when:

      • In a headline (4 Ways to Improve Your Content Score)

      • Stating figures (10x, 150%, $12, etc.)

      • In body copy, the number is 11 or greater

Active voice vs. passive voice

Active voice should be used as much as possible. Passive can be used in certain instances:

  • When being vague about who was responsible for an action:
    • "If a blog post was published accidentally, you can hide it without having to delete it completely from your Hub." [Someone posted the blog, but you're not calling out who, specifically]
  • When softening tone (e.g. in error messages):
    • "Oops! Looks like there was an error."  [Not saying YOU made an error]
  • Emphasizing an item or person that is being acted on:
    • "The Flipbook was created to show how awesome marketing is." [This can be made into active depending on the context. If you were already talking about the Flipbook in previous sentences, go with the passive voice to continue having it as the focus]


  • Blog headline capitalizations, follow Chicago Manual of Style:

    • Capitalize the first and the last word.
    • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
    • Lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
    • Lowercase the "to" in an infinitive (I want to play guitar).
  • Don’t capitalize random words mid-sentence (unless proper name/title e.g. Hub)

  • Always capitalize the I in Internet

  • Hub

    • Capitalize when referring to a hub built on Uberflip (e.g. the Uberflip Hub). Can remain lowercase when referring to content hubs in general (e.g. A content hub should be interactive). 


  • Don’t use UF as an abbreviation for Uberflip externally

  • Abbreviations that should first be written out:

    • Call-to-action, CTA

    • Account-based marketing, ABM

  • Abbreviations that do not need to be written out:

    • B2B

    • CMO

    • SEO

    • RSS

    • CRM


  • Hyphens, en dash, em dash
    • These are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Use cases for each:
      • Hyphen: - connecting words (A-List; go-to-market). Should always be used when two words are acting together as a descriptor for another word (content-aware technology).  
      • En dash: – a range (1900–1999; 2–12 people; 2PM–4PM) or a break/aside (The marketing tools – Marketo, Eloqua, etc. – etc.) or to break off the end of a sentence (I really like content marketing – I swear!). When used as a break, there should be a space on either side of the en dash. [Mac command: option -]
      • Em dash: — a break/aside in a sentence in place of parentheses (The marketing tools—Marketo, Eloqua, etc.—are helpful.) or to break off the end of a sentence (I really like content marketing—I swear!) Em dashes should be flush to the words on either side. [Mac command: option shift -]
  • Quotations
    • If quoting someone directly, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks:
      • Mark said, "Content Marketing is the best thing ever."
    • If putting quotes around a term or phrase, punctuation for the end of a sentence would go outside the quotation marks
      • Mark didn't like the questionable "report".
  • Commas
    • Use the Oxford (serial) Comma when possible. 
  • Apostrophes 
    • Be sure to not use unnecessary apostrophes when making something plural like:
      • With abbreviations (CMO's)
      • With dates/numbers (1990's; 20's)
      • Dos & Don'ts (not Do's & Don'ts)
    • Ampersands
      • Can be used in titles
      • In body copy, spell out "and"
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