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Grammar & mechanics

Basic grammar guidelines for writing with Orbit.

Why should we care?

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone

Confucious

The guidelines here are intended to free you from having to spend time worrying about details like spelling. You can spend that time focusing on getting the important part of your content right.

Spelling

The main language of Orbit and Kiwi.com is American English.

recognize
traveler
focused
recognise
traveller
focussed

Always include diacritics if they are there: Oliver Dlouhý, Petra Vaškových.

Punctuation

Prefer em dashes (—) over semicolons—never use hyphens unless you are hyphenating.

Use en dashes to connect things, such as times and dates, in short forms: Jan 24–Feb 28, 10:00–14:00.

Don’t use punctuation in abbreviations: UK, US.

Don’t use spaces before or after degree symbols when writing temperatures: 30ºC (86ºF).

Capitalization

In most writing, use sentence case. That means generally only capitalizing the first word in sentences and headings.

Titles of works of art (books, films, songs) are written in title case, meaning all the major words are capitalized. They don’t have any other formatting: How to Play Dead.

All brand names must follow the company’s own style: easyJet, SpongeBob SquarePants.

Kiwi.com product and service names are generally written in title case: Nomad, Tequila, Virtual Interlining, Kiwi.com Guarantee, and so on.

Plurals

When there may be one or multiple items of a group, don’t form plurals with an s in parentheses. If you can, reword the sentence to be clear. If you can’t, write as if the plural option included both the singular and the plural.

If it’s important to write specifically that there may be one or multiple items, use the phrase “one or more”.

Visa requirements for travel to the US
Travelers need to know where their towels are at all times.
Upload everything in the folder, which can contain one or more booking files.
Visa requirement(s) for travel to the US
(A) traveler(s) need(s) to know where his/her (their) towel(s) is (are) at all times.
Upload everything in the folder, which can contain booking file(s).

Numbers

Generally, one to nine are written as words. Anything larger than nine should be written as a numeral (10, 11, and so on).

Write the numbers one to nine as numerals in these cases:

  • When starting a sentence
  • In the same sentence as higher numbers (“you added 3 pieces of luggage each for 5 passengers for a total of 15 items”)
  • In headings, buttons, and wherever space is very limited (not subheadings)
  • In prices, version numbers, dates, and times

When talking about numerous people or animals, always write thousands, millions or billions in full: 60.5 million passengers. For anything else, m or bn is ok, depending on how it reads: $60bn.

Use commas to separate thousand units: 1,000.

Date & time

All dates are written month day, year: October 26, 2018—and day-of-week, month day, year: Friday, October 26, 2018. When space is limited, use abbreviations: Fri, Oct 26, 2018.

Use the 24-hour clock: 14:59.

When describing a length of time, use abbreviations: 8h 30min.

If it’s absolutely necessary to distinguish the calendar era, use BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).

Currency

The plural of euro is euro.

€, $ and £ are placed before the price, without a space: €6.43.

Kč is placed after the price.

¢ and p are placed after the price without a space: 83¢.

euro
€10, $15, £20
euros
10 €, $ 15, 20 £

Lists

When presenting a sequence of steps, use an ordered list. When it’s a limited set of items where the order doesn’t matter, use an unordered list. If your list starts to get very long, consider a table.

  # List items should have parallel structures

Brno offers many attractions:
* A Gothic cathedral
* Modernist villas

  # Don’t vary the item structure

Brno offers many attractions:
* A Gothic cathedral
* There are modernist villas.

Sentence structure

Write short sentences. Short sentences improve readability. They are more powerful.

Long sentences that run on and on, and are full of commas, colons and semicolons—and many different clauses—are really confusing and awkward to read for even the strongest readers—just look at James Joyce’s Ulysses; it’s an impossible read that most people just cannot get through because they can’t follow anything because his sentences are so long and winding, like the narrow streets of Dublin.