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Content style guide

Dates, times, phone numbers, and addresses

Dates, times, phone numbers, and addresses often appear together, so we’ve put guidelines for these in one place.

Dates and years

Spell out dates in body copy, using the full construction: March 31, 1989. In general, spell out days of the week and months also in body copy.

Exceptions:

  • Use 9/11 when it’s part of a program name such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
  • Abbreviate days and months when space is very limited, such as in callout boxes, alerts, or promo components, etc.
    • Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat., Sun.
    • Jan., Feb., Mar., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. (Don’t abbreviate April, May, June, July.)
    • In application form fields, we often use the construction: mm/dd/yyyy

Years

When referencing decades or periods of years, don’t use an apostrophe with the “s.”

  • Like this: The early 2000s
  • Not this: The early 2000’s


Times and time zones

Write out times, using a.m. and p.m. with periods: 9:00 a.m.

  • Spell out noon and midnight. Don’t use 12:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m.
  • Include the minutes, even when on the hour.

Like this

8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

Not this

8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

  • Include time zones as CT, ET, MT, or PT (no parentheses, periods, or daylight/standard).
  • When referencing international time zones, use the time zone name for that country or the UTC (coordinated universal time) offset. (Example: Central European Time; Korea Standard Time; UTC +2)

  • In body copy, write out ranges using sentence construction: We’re open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. MT, Monday through Friday.
  • Where space is limited, indicate ranges with the – en dash (not the shorter - hyphen) and a space on either side. Don’t combine the en dash with from/between sentence construction.

Like this

8:00 a.m. to noon CT

Not this

from 8:00 a.m. to noon CT


Phone numbers

Use hyphens between numbers, and don’t use parentheses to set off the area code: 212-123-1234.

  • Use +1 only when the information is specifically addressing Veterans or people who are living outside the U.S.: +1-201-123-1234.

  • For phone numbers with an extension, use ext. at the end: 202-123-1234, ext. 9.

  • Use “select” to indicate the menu option after dialing a phone number.

Hyperlink all phone numbers, including TTY numbers. Use the following source code for 508 accessibility:

  • <a href="tel:8008271000" aria-label="8 0 0. 8 2 7. 1 0 0 0.">800-827-1000</a>

  • <a href="tel:711" aria-label="TTY. 7 1 1.">711</a>.

Including the aria label tells screen readers to read the phone number one digit at a time like a phone number, rather than as thousands or hundreds.

We don’t use vanity phone numbers in body copy, as it adds visual noise and is not helpful to screen readers. We use and hyperlink only the numeric phone number in body copy.

  • Exception: In marketing or promotional messaging, such as the right rail promo component, we discourage but make an exception for vanity phone numbers. In marketing or promotional components, use the format: 877-222-VETS (8387) and hyperlink the complete number including the parenthetical.

Like this

Call us toll free at 800-827-1000.


Addresses

Write out street names (street, road, avenue, boulevard, highway, etc.) in both body copy and in address blocks. Don’t abbreviate.

When a street address contains a compass point (north, south, etc.), defer to the way it’s referenced locally. For example, some cities may abbreviate compass points like north and south for some but not all streets.

In the examples below, we spell out the street names, and style the compass points the way they’re locally referenced in Washington, D.C., and New York City, which both abbreviate compass points.

Like this

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, 20500

123 E. 45th Street
New York, NY, 67890

Not this

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Northwest
Washington, DC, 20500

123 East 45th St.
New York, NY 67890