Web writing style guide – Formatting

How to use text formatting features for a better user experience.


Use bold text sparingly.


Use italics for the full name of an act of legislation and scientific names of living species.

Do not use italics to emphasize text or in the title and lead of a web page.

Acts of legislation

Full name of an act of legislation example using italics:

  • Public Works Act

Do not italicize the acronym of an act. Use ‘OHS Act’ instead of ‘OHS Act’.

Do not italicize the regulations of an act.

Scientific names of living species

Use italics when citing the scientific (Latin) name of a living species (binomial nomenclature):

  • bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)
  • great-horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • Anaplasma marginale

Capitalize the first half of the scientific name (the genus name). The second half of the scientific name (the species name) should be lowercase.

When used with the common name of a species, the scientific name should follow in parentheses. This is not required when presenting the scientific name on its own.


Present information in a list that displays a series of related items. Lists can be either bulleted or numbered.

Using lists in web content:

  • shortens text
  • makes information easier to scan
  • presents steps in sequential order, if needed

Keep an eye on list length, as lists that have too many items are difficult to scan.

Bulleted lists

Items in bulleted lists should share a similar level of importance. On Alberta.ca, 2 types of bulleted lists are used.

  1. Bulleted list using sentence fragments:
    • introduce the list with a lead-in sentence ending in a colon, to set up conditions that apply to all items
    • avoid repeating the same words at the start of each bullet
    • keep each item similar in weight and length
    • present each item in lowercase, except for proper nouns
    • start each item with the same part of speech, such as a verb or noun
    • do not use end punctuation
  2. Bulleted list using full sentences.
    • Use grammatically-correct sentences that have similar weight and meaning.
    • Use sentence case and end punctuation.

Numbered lists

Use ordered (numbered) lists to show a sequence, such as steps in a procedure or a count of items.

When using numbered lists, follow these steps.

  1. You do not need a lead-in sentence.
  2. Use capitalization and punctuation.
  3. Use parallel sentence construction.


Use one space after the period at the end of each sentence. Do not use double spaces on web pages.

Underlining and ALL CAPS

Do not underline body text for emphasis as it makes it look like a hyperlink.

DO NOT USE ALL CAPS for headings or body text. It is harder to read, and is considered the visual equivalent of yelling at someone.