writing clearly & consistently

Grammar & Mechanics

Adhering to certain rules helps keep writing clear and consistent. It also helps ensure consistency across all Commonwealth digital properties. This guide provides some basic grammar rules, along with explanations and examples of some of the various elements of English grammar and punctuation you can use as a reference when developing content.


There are a few styles of capitalization that are commonly used, and some that are discouraged:

  • Title Casing: How Page Titles, Sections, and Headings are Capped.
  • Sentence casing: This is a more common best practice for contemporary, web-friendly copywriting. 
  • Proper Nouns like Titles, Trademarks, Names, and Publications.

Avoid writing in all caps unless the word calls for capitalization as part of their brand (e.g. DHS, DMV, UNICEF, NATO).


Title Case

Use title case for all headers/subheads that are assigned an H-tag navigation labels page titles, titles of services, offerings, and site sections (unless trademarks override them).

Do Capitalize:

  • First word
  • Last word
  • Any word with 4 or more letters
  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  •  Adjectives
  • Verbs

Don’t Capitalize:

  • Articles that don’t start a sentence, e.g. “the”, “an.”
  • The second part of compound modifiers, e.g., “Cost-effective”, “Industry-leading.”


Proper Nouns, Trademarks, and Brands

Do Capitalize:

  • Proper nouns, using title case, for people, places, and agency names. (e.g., Governor Shapiro, Independence Hall, Department of the State, etc.).
  • Trade names and brands. Some trade names have come into usage as generic terms (e.g., kleenex, realtor, saran wrap, post it); in these cases, use capitalization only when referring to the company or specific product name.

Don’t Capitalize:

  • Email addresses and website URLs; use all lowercase unless using all lowercase could cause the URL to be misread. (e.g. www.pa.gov).

Capitalizing Titles, Job Titles, and Honorifics

Only capitalize official titles when used with or before their names.


  • Governor Josh Shapiro
  • The governor, Josh Shapiro
  • Josh Shapiro, governor of Pennsylvania


  • governor Josh Shapiro
  • The Governor, Josh Shapiro
  • Josh Shapiro, Governor of Pennsylvania