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. Or January 2, 1980. In general, spell out days of the week and months also in body copy.
- 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., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. (Don’t abbreviate March, April, May, June, July.)
- In application form fields, we often use the construction: mm/dd/yyyy
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.
- When referencing office hours, always use the time zone ET, even if the office is in another location (no parentheses, periods, or daylight/standard).
8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
- 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 an application or tool that has a time stamp of a user’s progress or saved work, show hours in their local time zone.
- In body copy, write out ranges using sentence construction: We’re open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.
- Where space is limited, indicate ranges with the - hyphen without spaces on either side. Don’t combine the hyphen with from/between sentence construction.
8:00 a.m. to noon ET
from 8:00 a.m. to noon ET
Using the Telephone component will apply the following formatting and accessibility guidance:
- 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.
- Always include days and hours of operation when listing a phone number.
- Use “select” to indicate the menu option after dialing a phone number.
- Use a verb ahead of the number. Use “call” or “call us at…” for phone numbers and “text” or “text us at” for text numbers.
- Hyperlink all phone numbers, including TTY numbers. It is not a requirement to link the “call” or “text” verb that precedes the number. We do however include “TTY” in the link and aria-label to make it clear that it’s specifically for TTY so that users who need the service see it and so those who do not do not unintentionally call a TTY number.
- Include an aria label using spaces between the digits and periods between sections in order to have screen readers read the phone number one digit at a time like a phone number, rather than as thousands or hundreds. For example:
<a href="tel:+18008271000" 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.">TTY: 711</a>.
If for some reason you cannot use the Telephone component, you are responsible for meeting the same formatting and accessibility guidance when creating links to phone numbers.
Don’t use vanity phone numbers in body copy
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.
Call us toll free at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
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.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
123 E. 45th Street
New York, NY 67890
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
123 East 45th St.
New York, NY 67890
When we ask a Veteran to fill out their address, we don’t require them to include the extra 4 digits of their zip code. But when we (VA) provide an address for Veterans to send documents to, we sometimes include the extra 4 digits of the zip code.