One of the issues of maintaining a website over a long period is that my style of writing has changed a lot over the years. I started adopting a common writing style to address the most common problems.
This guide is a work in progress and incomplete at this time.
Grammar. Markup and Punctuation. Serif Type.
When it comes to referring about organisations, companies, or similar groups, I will refer to these as a group of people that make up said identity. This is the opposite from, for example, American English where the people are referred in singular form, i.e.
[The developers from] Valve has released a new VR headset.
This particular style is applied only to the English areas of the site, because in Dutch the construction of these sentences is applied differently, due to differences in grammar.
Doing so also eliminates confusion when referring to company names that are identical to their product names. Consider this sentence:
Kickstarter has a new promotion feature. Kickstarter have not commented on the matter. From the construction of this sentence it is clear that the first use of Kickstarter is referring to the product, and the second to the company’s workers.
In most forms of English it is common to put the before plural nouns, whereas I try to avoid it. I also avoid it in the context of product names whereby not a particular single is being written about. In the context of the sentence
The app will be available on [the] iPhone. the word the would be dropped. Although iPhone is singular, the surrounding context of the sentence implies that the app is available for all iPhones, not one specific one, so the word the will be dropped.
Generally speaking, unless the surrounding context implies differently, platforms and products are regarded as names for a series of products, as opposed to a single one. This rule has also means that the rest of sentences will be reconstructed around a plural, i.e.
There're if needed, and the same goes for others.
Limiting extraneous use of the extra the cleans up a lot, as it is otherwise very common, and thus improves the speed of reading, as it is still grammatically valid. It is also dropped in front of proper nouns where it is possible, but not when adjectives are followed. In other words, I would still write
The White House in this context.
All SI units and some derived units are always written in singular form. For example
64 gigabyte. When abbreviated, units will be followed by no space, for example
The only exception here are time units; hours, minutes, and so on. Time is based on orbiting either a clock or the universe, and time units inherently refer to an amount of orbits. An exception to the rule, as orbital mechanics do not apply to other units used on this site.
Unit systems that are not based on the International System of Units are no longer in use. Historically inch was common use, especially when referring to display sizes, but modern day displays are often tiny. The centimetre and millimetre units are more precise than inch and are therefore more practical as well.
Markup and Punctuation.
Grammar. Markup and Punctuation. Serif Type.
As a general rule, I try and make sure that everything ends with punctuation of some kind. It is not an option to leave out punctuation, but by adding it everywhere it is at least consistent and everything looks more thought out. It can sometimes also improve reading. There are very few exceptions, most technical, such as leaving punctuation out of generated data.
When creating a hyperlink, any punctuation is included in the hyperlink, since it is always there. Again, this is for consistency, but also logical. A period after the end of a sentence implies a short break, so should it in the hyperlink.
Titles are presented in all capital where possible. When this is not possible, then the same titles must still be presented in the same way wherever they are referenced.
With titles of pages and headings the first letters of words are capitalised, where possible. However, conjunctions (and, the, ...) are kept lowercase where possible. This is consistent with British English, and to a lesser extent Irish English, but different from American English.
For Irish language context these last two rules do not apply, as he Irish language is sensitive to capital letters. Instead, Irish language context is shown where capitals would normally be, and always in cursive, and always preceded by the nominal language of that page.
The casing of titles and headers carries over to Dutch translations. While this style does not normally exist in Dutch, it helps readers follow where they were when switching between languages on the site. It also improves the workflow of translating the pages.
In Irish language text, the letter i is written as the dotless ı, in accordance with traditional Irish script. This is made possible through Unicode, therefore making it compatible with the type chosen for my site.
Because historically the site has largely been void of colour it was necessary to use full capital headings in most place to better distinguish them. I also use differences in type weighting and grey tones to further this.
In situations where CSS is not available, capital headings help ease navigation around the contents better as well. All navigational headings are generated, sorted and formatted automatically based on content sniffing. This keeps everything consistent.
Paragraphs and Lists.
Where possible, the last few words of any given sentence are always kept together. It is considered to be bad for a paragraph to have a single word on a new line. I expanded on this concept of thinking with keeping the same style with lists of links and lists of numbers.
This is achieved by an algorithm, which I have made specially for this purpose. It is efficient enough most of the time. Just like previously mentioned, this works even without CSS. This is all accomplished using Unicode so that it works universally.
Serif type is a new addition to the style guide and is only available in few circumstances. Serif types that are both free to use, free to embed, and cross-platform as well as legible, as well as meeting my specialised type requirements as set out in the previous section, are somewhat rare. Toggle Serif type everywhere.
The way serif type is implemented then is in a way that it can be disabled anywhere any time, without affecting the content at all. This means yet an additional requirement; the type spacing must match as closely as possible the nominal sans‑serif type. Fortunately I found a select few types that then also fit the overall style of my site in addition.
It is the plan to broaden the use of serif type where it makes sense. This includes when viewing on print type displays such as those on ereaders, and when selecting the browser print option.
I have optimised the site fonts to be as small and minimal as possible. This is necessary to reduce the delay between when a page first is readable and when the fonts have been downloaded, as this causes text appearance to change. To this effect I have had to remove most superfluous features from the font types such as some ligatures, alternates, but also characters that I will never use on this site.
Taking this into account and considering my use of type weighting, the overall transfer size of the fonts is respectable within the current contraints of what most browsers can do. Delivering fonts on the web still leaves much to be desired.