PickFu style guide
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PickFu style guide

Last updated: January 2022

About this guide

PickFu brings consumer research to the masses in an easy-to-use online platform. Well-written content helps us do that, and it helps our customers make smart, data-driven business decisions.

We write for our customers, to inform and educate them so they can get better at what they do. They are e-commerce sellers, mobile app developers, self-published authors, packaged goods companies, marketers, and product designers, to name a few.

This is our editorial road map for content that’s clear, consistent, engaging, and useful. We update it regularly as language, usage, and styles change over time.

When in doubt, we defer to Associated Press style. We have our own style preferences and house rules too. Among them: PickFu is always one word, capital P and F.

Voice and tone

We know our stuff when it comes to consumer research.

That said, we never want to come off as preachy, salesy, or dry. We write the way we talk, using everyday, positive language and a friendly, approachable voice.

We avoid corporate speak if we can help it. We aim for clarity over wit. But we do appreciate humor and a clever turn of phrase now and then.

Style and mechanics

These guidelines apply across all our channels, from print to social media.

Active voice

Embrace the certainty of active voice.

Brevity

Write short. Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to read, especially online where most of our content lives.

Filler and fluff

Avoid unnecessary words (very, really, actually), redundancy, and cliches. Go easy on dependent clauses. Each sentence should build on the previous one, not rehash what’s been said.

Jargon

Jargon is exhausting. Use common words whenever possible to explain concepts — use instead of utilize, for example.

Perspective

Write in first-person plural and talk to readers in second person: We work with third-party providers. You can split test images, logos, and more.

Mechanics by topic

Abbreviation

Spell out on the first reference with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is important. Here’s how to improve your PPC ads.

If an acronym is universally familiar — DIY, for example — there’s no need to spell it out.

Capitalization

In general, default to sentence casing for all web elements, YouTube video titles, and blog posts.

Follow the capitalization style of company and brand names: eComEngine, JungleScout, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Thrasio, Walmart, WordPress, YouTube

Capitalize App Store when referring to Apple’s platform. Lowercase app store when using generically.

Don’t capitalize job titles in running copy: Join PickFu industry liaison Anthony Cofrancesco for a discussion on optimizing your Amazon listing.

Don't capitalize email addresses or URLs unless they are case-sensitive.

Don't put PickFu in all caps.

Italics

Italicize the following:

  • Book titles
  • Publication titles: The New York Times, Bon Appétit
  • Foreign words or phrases. No need to italicize generally familiar terms such as voila or bon voyage.
  • Words and letters used as words: The b in book is lowercase. However, don’t italicize when referring to the options in a PickFu poll (Option A, Option B, etc.).

Numbers

In general, spell out one through nine in text and use figures for 10 and higher. Do the same for ordinals: first through ninth, 10th, 75th, etc.

Spell out a number when it starts a sentence: Twelve respondents voted for Option A.

We make exceptions online in headlines and subheads, email headlines and subject lines, and social media posts. In these cases, use figures: 7 SEO tools you should know

Ages

Use figures: the 9-year-old company

Amounts and units

Use figures for dimensions, distance, dollars/cents, percentage, temperature, time, votes, and weights: The poll completed in 20 minutes. Option A got 8 votes.

For figures or dollar amounts over 1,000, include a comma every three digits from the right.

Dates

Spell out months with or without the year: Launching in January 2022; Join us in September.

Abbreviate the month when used with day of the week: We are closed on Friday, Dec. 31.

Don’t abbreviate these months: March, April, May, June, July

Don’t abbreviate days of the week unless you need the space on social media.

Fractions

Spell out: one-third of respondents

Percentages

Use %, not percent

Time

Use numerals and uppercase AM/PM: 10 AM, 3:30 PM

No :00 for on the hour: 2 PM, not 2:00 PM

Use a hyphen to indicate time frame: 12-2 PM

Abbreviate time zones in social media and email:

  • PT - Pacific Time
  • MT - Mountain Time
  • CT - Central Time
  • ET - Eastern Time

Punctuation

Apostrophe

Use for possessives ending in s:

  • The boss’s email
  • James’s peach
  • Customers’ questions

Use in abbreviations for missing figures: the swinging ’70s

Use for plurals of single letters: Cross your t’s

Don’t use for plural figures or abbreviations:

  • the 1990s
  • Today’s high is in the 60s
  • CDs and DVDs
Ampersand

Use only if it’s part of a proper noun: H&M, Johnson & Johnson

Colon

Lowercase the first word in a sentence after a colon.

Avoid using a colon after a verb. Rephrase or use “the following” or “as follows” if necessary.

💡
No: The three types of polls are: solo, head-to-head, and ranked. Yes: There are three types of polls: solo, head-to-head, and ranked. No: Features in the Professional plan include: X, Y, Z. Yes: Features in the Professional plan include the following: X, Y, Z. Yes: Features in the Professional plan are as follows: X, Y, Z.

Comma

Use the Oxford comma: Test your images, titles, and logos on PickFu.

Place commas inside quotation marks.

Dash

Use an em dash ( —, not two dashes --) with one space on either side for an aside or a firm pause, or to set off a series within a sentence.

Use the em dash sparingly. If a comma or semicolon will do, use it instead.

Ellipsis

Use with no spaces on either side to indicate a pause, an incomplete thought, or deleted words in text: And the winner is...Option A.

Exclamation point

Use sparingly, please!

Hyphen

No hyphen in compound modifiers with an adverb ending in -ly: a recently published poll

No hyphen when referring to dual ethnicity, nationality, or religious identity as a noun or adjective: Asian American, the British Muslim man

No hyphen in verbs that start with re- (restructure, reevaluate, retweet, rewrite) unless adding one lends clarity (re-sign vs. resign)

Period

One space after a period.

Place periods inside quotation marks.

Place a period inside the closing parenthesis when the enclosed sentence is a complete one: (A 50-person poll starts at $50.)

Place a period outside the closing parenthesis when parentheses contain a phrase or sentence fragment: Polls are private by default (but you can opt to make them public).

Quotation marks

Use for titles of songs, articles, podcasts, poems, and other similar works.

Names of games do not require quotation marks.

Use single quotation marks and spaces for quotes within quotes: “She wrote, ‘I can’t log in,’ ” he said.

Singular/plural

A company is an it, not they.

An audience is a they, not an it.

Use data as a singular noun.

Use they/them as a singular noun if you don’t know or are unsure about a person’s pronouns.

Spelling

Default to American spelling: organize, not organise

People

PickFu’s customers, poll respondents, and employees encompass a broad range of demographics. Here’s how we approach writing about people, including ourselves.

  • Don’t make assumptions about people. Use neutral and inclusive language whenever possible: parent instead of mother or father, for example.
  • Use personal pronouns. When in doubt, use they/them.
  • Use male/female as adjectives, not nouns.
  • Don’t use guys to refer to people or a group of men. Don’t use girls or ladies to refer to women.
  • Unless it is relevant to the content, don’t reference a person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, medical or mental condition. Use a person’s specific age or age range rather than age-related words such as young or old.

If it’s relevant:

  • Capitalize names of racial and ethnic identifiers and use as adjectives, not nouns: a Black respondent, a Latinx professional, an Asian American teacher
  • Use LGBT+ and other descriptive words as adjectives, not nouns: the LGBT+ audience, a transgender person
  • Don’t hyphenate when referring to a person’s dual heritage or ethnicity: Italian American, Jewish American
  • Use specific, judgment-free words to describe a person’s disability, medical, or mental condition. For example, someone has cancer, not suffers from.

Resources

Website

These guidelines apply to the content and page structure across the PickFu website.

Page titles and subheads

Use sentence case (capitalize the first word and any proper nouns) for page titles, individual pages, and Help Center documents.

Buttons and calls to action

Use clear, action-oriented words so readers know what to do or what will happen when they click a button or open a link.

For buttons, use sentence case: Preview your poll

Use uppercase bold text when referring to a button, drop-down option, or other web user elements in copy: Click the Audience button to narrow the field.

Use uppercase bold text and the > symbol to guide readers through drop-down menu selections: Click Sign in > Settings > Payment to view.

Capitalization

Capitalize PickFu products and features: Open-ended/Head-to-head/Ranked poll, Click Test, PickFu Affiliates, the PickFu Panel, Poll Builder, Pricing Tool, Professional membership plan/Professional member, Team membership plan/Team member, Third Thursdays, Which One Won?

Forms

Include a brief but descriptive title (using sentence case) and an introduction, if necessary, to explain the purpose of the form.

Use sentence case for form fields.

Links

Don’t say, “Click here for more.” Instead, use and link relevant keywords: Read our guide to micromarketing for more details.

The PickFu blog

We publish a healthy amount of content on the PickFu blog each week, mostly evergreen articles and how-to guides spanning the industries we serve. Refer to the PickFu terms section of this guide for more on PickFu-specific terminology.

Length

Our blog posts are typically 1,000-1,500 words, sometimes longer. Which One Won? is a recurring feature, about 500 words, that highlights a real customer poll.

Structure

Your introduction should get to the point with little fanfare and let the reader know what’s coming. If there is an SEO target keyword, use it in the introduction.

Break up the copy into manageable sections with subheads. Paragraphs of roughly 150 words or less are easier on readers’ eyes.

Use images that support the text and add visual interest.

Headlines and subheads

For article headlines, use sentence case (capitalize the first word): Your complete guide to monadic testing; 6 ways to optimize your eBay listings.

For H2 and H3 subheads within an article, use sentence case.

Always use title case for Which One Won? in headlines and subheads. 

Be specific in headlines and subheads. Include relevant keywords, if possible.

Use parallel structure in subheads, that is, the same verb tense and sentence type throughout.

Lists

Use bulleted lists to present steps or sets of information, with a brief introduction for context.

If the order of information in a list is important, use numbers instead of bullets.

Use parallel structure and be consistent with punctuation.

In general, don’t use end punctuation unless the items in a list are questions or if a bullet contains more than one sentence.

Links and calls to action

Use descriptive text and relevant keywords instead of Click here or Read this when linking.

Set links to open in a new tab: If you can’t decide on a main image, run a PickFu split test with your target audience.

Links in guest blog posts

Guest blog posts of at least 1,000 words — both those that we submit to partners’ sites and those we publish on the PickFu blog — should include no more than two external links.

Quotes

When quoting respondents’ comments, use double, not single, quotation marks. Correct any typos and missing punctuation within comments as long as doing so doesn’t change the meaning. Add (sic) after a word or passage only if the misspelling is intentional, such as in this example.

If you pull out a portion of a respondent’s comments, include enough context so that the quoted phrase makes sense: The color of the bottle in Option A could use “dulling and/or shadow,” said one respondent. Another said the text on the bottle “needs to be fixed to match the curve.”

Always use the word Option in conjunction with A, B, C, etc. Use Option in brackets if the word is missing in comments: “I prefer Option B over [Option] A,” said a respondent. Sometimes a respondent might use a phrase like Choice A. You do not need to edit the response; however, in our own writing, use Option.

When quoting a person, use their full name on first reference and their first name for subsequent mentions: Andrew Warner recently hosted John Li on his podcast. John told Andrew how PickFu started as a side project.

Captions and alt text

Include attribution for images from external sources that aren’t stock photos, including screenshots of other companies’ web pages: Source: Big Cartel

If an image needs explaining, write a short caption of no more than two sentences and attribute the source, if necessary: The site builder offers plenty of personalization options. | Source: Big Cartel

We often write about PickFu customer polls and include screenshots of the polls. These can usually stand alone without a caption.

For every image, write alt text that briefly describes it. Alt text is important for readers who can’t see images online, and it helps with SEO.

Email

We send emails to our customers to guide them through the polling process and direct them to other resources as their poll results come in.

We also send a monthly email newsletter with tips, product updates, and other content to keep our customers informed and engaged.

Our general style guidelines apply. Keep it friendly, concise, and informative. We’re not opposed to using emoji, exclamation points, and GIFs in emails. We’re just choosy about when we do, which is to say, not often.

Subject line

Use sentence case and be descriptive but brief.

Do not include end punctuation unless the subject line is more than one sentence, is a question, or deserves an exclamation point.

Copy

Text should flow in succinct paragraphs and blocks of copy with subheads.

Buttons and calls to action

Use clear, action-oriented words.

For buttons, use sentence case: Enter to win a free poll

Signoff

Capitalize the first word with the sender on the next line:

Happy polling, The PickFu team

Social media

We use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share content and PickFu news and engage with current and future customers and partners.

We write on social media the way we do on our other channels: friendly and approachable but still business-appropriate.

Brevity

Keep it concise. Abbreviate words if necessary to stay within character limits, but maintain our professional voice. For example, it’s fine to use info instead of information, but b4 would not be acceptable for before. Find a different way to shorten.

Handles

Follow the capitalization style of the handle: @PingPongPayment, @pickfupolls

Hashtags

Include hashtags for industries relevant to PickFu, such as #ecommerce, #mobile, and #publishing, but don’t go overboard with them.

For multiple-word hashtags and branded hashtags (#PickFu, #WhichOneWon), capitalize separate words for readability.

Exclamation point

Use selectively.

Emoji and GIFs

See exclamation point. We use emoji or GIFs when it feels appropriate. When you know, you know. 😉 Put emoji outside end punctuation, not inside.

Text formatting

Use sentence casing for YouTube titles and descriptions.

If HTML styling is not available on a certain social network, use quotation marks where you’d otherwise use italics, for example, when quoting words or phrases from text, or for book, podcast, and article titles.

Use all caps for emphasis, but only occasionally. This is best for posts that have a time peg: Sale goes live TODAY

URLs

Do not use www in running copy unless you can’t access the site without it (which is rare).

Words to watch

3D (no hyphen)

aka (no periods)

all right (not alright)

bestseller, bestselling (not best-seller, best-selling)

bitcoin (always lowercase)

canceled (not cancelled), canceling (not cancelling), but cancellation with 2 L's.

cc’d

checkmark, checkbox (one word in all forms)

checkout (noun), check out (verb)

click-through rate: use CTR after first reference

co-founder (when capitalized, Co-founder)

co-worker

coworking: no hyphen when used as a noun or adjective

crowdsource (one word in all forms)

cryptocurrency (one word, can use crypto for short after first mention)

dos and don’ts

drop-down menu (hyphenated as an adjective; do not use drop-down as a noun - use menu instead)

dropship, dropshipping

e-book

e-commerce (when capitalized, E-commerce)

e-reader

email

emoji (singular and plural)

FAQ (singular): Read the FAQ; See the FAQ page for more

follow up (verb), follow-up (adjective)

full-stack (adjective), full stack (noun); also front-end and back-end (adjective) and front end and back end (noun).

hashtag

head-to-head (adjective, adverb): write out on first reference, can use H2H as modifier

heads up (noun)

heatmap

homeowner, homeownership

homepage

internet

judgment

keyword

livestream

login (noun or adjective), log in (verb)

mockup (noun or adjective), mock up (verb)

nonfiction (not non-fiction) in all forms

nonprofit (no hyphen)

OK (not okay, Ok, or ok): OKs in plural form, OK’d for past tense, if you must

online

prepaid

P.S. (not PS)

Q&A (ampersand is OK)

roll-up

sizable

screenshot (one word in all forms): use screenshotted for past tense, if you must 

split test, split testing: no hyphen in all uses — noun, adjective, and verb

startup (noun), start up (verb)

takeaway

touchscreen

true crime (no hyphen as an adjective)

voiceover (not voice-over)

website

whoa

widescreen

workflow

U.S. (not US)

Wi-Fi

Words to avoid

There’s no shortage of tech lingo, office jargon, and overused or meaningless words and phrases floating in the world. We admit to using some in the PickFu Slack channel. We draw the line at these:

crush it/crushing it

disrupt/disruption

drill down

epic

evangelist

girlboss/ladyboss/boss babe

guru

jedi

killer

kill it/killing it

level up

lifehack

like a boss

listicle (use list instead)

move the needle

ninja

rockstar

value add

wizard (for a person; it’s OK for a software tool)

Industry glossary

Business and e-commerce

3PL (third-party logistics): A 3PL company handles storage, fulfillment, shipping, and other supply chain services for another company.

APAC (Asia Pacific)

business-to-business (B2B)

CPG (consumer packaged goods): Everyday products bought and used daily, including food, drinks, cleaning supplies, and toiletries.

DTC/D2C (direct-to-consumer): A DTC brand sells its products to customers without retailers or other go-betweens, and typically online.

EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa)

FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon): A service offered by Amazon to store, pick, pack, ship, and handle customer service for a seller’s products.

FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant): The method by which sellers, not Amazon, handle all storing, processing, and shipping of their orders.

private-label: Made by one company and sold under another company’s brand. FBA/FBM sellers typically sell private-label goods.

Gaming and mobile

AAA: A big-budget game such as Call of Duty.

DAU (daily active users): The number of unique users who play a game in a 24-hour period.

dolphin: Middle-of-the-road player who spends $10-$50 a month on average on games.

hardcore gamer: Someone who devotes a serious amount of time, money, and effort to gaming.

hypercasual: Simple, easy-to-play game that requires little time and commitment.

indie game: Game created by one developer or a small team without the funding of a publisher.

F2P (free-to-play): F2P games are free to join. Users pay for in-app features, rewards, and other extras.

MAU (monthly active users). Similar to DAU, measured over 30 days. Most developers and investors use this metric when referring to the health of a game.

midcore gamer: A skilled player who enjoys gaming but lacks the time to invest in it that a so-called hardcore gamer does.

minnow: A person who spends less than $5 a month on games.

UA (user acquisition): The process of gaining new users for an app or game.

whale: The biggest spender in the gaming ecosystem.

PickFu terms

We’ve developed our own terminology and habits when writing about PickFu products, processes, and people.

  • In simple terms, PickFu is a polling platform; a consumer research tool; an online surveying tool; or an instant polling service.
  • We refer to ourselves as the PickFu team and to Justin Chen and John Li as co-founders.
  • We refer to our customers — the people who run PickFu polls — generally as customers or users. We might also describe them by their role, if it’s relevant: e-commerce seller, app developer, author, designer, marketer, entrepreneur, business owner.
  • We capitalize these PickFu products, features, and poll types: Open-ended/Head-to-head/Ranked poll, Click Test, PickFu Affiliates, the PickFu Panel, Poll Builder, Pricing Tool, Professional membership plan/Professional member, Team membership plan/Team member, Which One Won?
  • The PickFu Panel comprises more than 10,000 people across the U.S. We say respondents and audience when referring to them. We sometimes say panelists.
  • We use poll, both as a noun and verb, most often when describing a PickFu poll. Survey is a close second.
  • A PickFu user creates and runs a PickFu poll to test options with (not on or to or against) an audience.
  • We sometimes use PickFu as a verb: Can’t decide on a product image? PickFu it!
  • We generally keep respondents’ written comments as is. We correct typos within comments for clarity only if doing so doesn’t change the meaning of the text. We add (sic) after a word or passage only if the misspelling is intentional, such as in this example.
  • The top vote-getter in a PickFu poll is the winner. We prefer to describe the winning margin by the number of votes or total score rather than with words like clear or overwhelming majority. Sometimes there’s no winner; a poll might end in a tie or with a difference of only a few votes.
  • As a company that’s been around the block a few times, we’ve referred to our own offerings in different ways, even changing their names as we change. Here is our current phrasing:
    • poll gallery (lowercase), not public poll gallery
    • prepaid credit, not pre-paid credit or pre-paid polling credit
      • When referring to buying in bulk or bulk pricing, keep it lowercase.
      • Prepaid credit should remain singular: A large customer purchased $10,000 in prepaid credit (not in prepaid credits).
    • Open-ended poll, not Solo poll or PickFu Solo
  • Our messaging should no longer emphasize that most PickFu polls complete in 30 minutes. Instead, focus on the speed at which answers start coming in. For example:
    • By the time you’ve finished reading this sentence/blog/slide/page, your PickFu poll could already be collecting answers.
    • As soon as you hit Start, answers begin coming in immediately.
    • Within minutes, your PickFu poll will deliver valuable insights.
    • PickFu polls start gathering responses immediately so you can act on the insights that day.
    • Start your poll, grab a cup of coffee, and by the time you come back, your poll will have already delivered answers.
    • You’ll get results in minutes and hours, not days and weeks.