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Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar

Important Notice
These standards apply to content posted prior to January 18, 2018 that has not been subsequently edited or updated. Visit the main CDE Web Standards for the current standards.

This page is part of the California Department of Education (CDE) Web Design Standards, which only applies to specific CDE Web sites. Visit the CDE Web Standards to determine if these standards apply to a specific Web product (Web site, Web page, Web document, or Web application) that has been developed by or for the CDE.

Most Web pages (not including Web applications) on all CDE Web sites are created using Adobe's Contribute software templates. WebNETS, which is a custom software application that was created by CDE staff, is also necessary in order to create and process most Web pages on the CDE's public Internet site. Portions of these standards, where noted, apply only to CDE users of Contribute or WebNETS software; or to Web application developers.

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Most punctuation standards for CDE Web sites are contained in the CDE Style Manual (CDE Intranet) and the CDE Correspondence Guide (CDE Intranet).


All items posted on CDE Web sites must be free of spelling errors and must be spell checked. Because some words can be correctly spelled in different ways, the CDE maintains a glossary of accepted spelling conventions in the CDE Style Manual. Where the CDE Style Manual dictates a particular spelling or usage, deviations from the CDE Style Manual will be considered misspellings. The CDE Press is the final arbiter regarding any spelling issue.

Grammar and Usage

All items posted on CDE Web sites must be free of grammatical errors and must use commonly accepted writing principles. In some cases where grammar or usage is particular to the CDE, the CDE Style Manual provides the standard. If the CDE Style Manual is not sufficient to clarify a particular grammar issue, the next authority is the edition of the Chicago Manual of Style that is currently being used by the CDE Press. The CDE Press is the final arbiter regarding any grammar or usage issue.

Punctuation with Sentence Fragments

For Web pages containing one or more Web links followed by descriptive text, both sentences and sentence fragments must end with periods. For example:

Application and budget forms for fiscal year (FY) 2004-05.

Brief description and history of the GATE program. Frequently asked questions are included.

For Web pages containing one or more Web links that do not include descriptive text, the links are not followed by a period. For example:

California Public School Directory CD-ROM Products
California Infant/Toddler Curriculum Framework

All other content on Web pages and documents, including correspondence and reports, will follow the approved Department style regarding punctuation of fragments as noted in the CDE Style Manual (CDE Intranet) and the CDE Correspondence Guide (CDE Intranet).

Punctuation in Page Descriptions

Whether displayed on the page or not, page descriptions for Web pages, must use periods after both sentences and fragments. Similarly, in the metadata for Web documents, descriptions must also use periods after both sentences and fragments.

Example 1: The description is a fragment, but contains a period at the end.

Instructional strategy whereby students learn academic content standards by participating in organized service that addresses community needs and fosters civic responsibility.

Example 2: The page description contains both a sentence and a fragment, both of which have periods at the end.

Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR)
Administration of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program. Test results are used for student and school accountability purposes.

Additional Information

Link Description
CDE Style Manual (CDE Intranet) A handy reference for Department staff to use regarding language usage and style when preparing documents for publishing. Prepared by CDE Press, For Internal Use Only.
CDE Correspondence Guide (CDE Intranet) Addresses how to prepare letters and responses to inquiries from our constituents.
Page Descriptions The Page Descriptions section of the Design Standards Guide contains information about the proper use of metadata titles in Web pages and Web applications.
Questions:   Web Services Office |
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 25, 2020