Grammar and Punctuation

General rules for writing a great copy.

American English

DataCamp is headquartered in the U.S. and the U.S. contains our largest concentration of users. All DataCamp copy should be written using American English. If unsure you can always check the spelling differences between American and British English.

Punctuation rules

Using American English also means using American punctuation rules:

  • Commas, periods, and exclamation marks should be placed inside of quotation marks when applicable. Ex: “I love DataCamp,” said Michael.
  • Include a comma after the following abbreviations: i.e., e.g.,
  • Include a period after the following abbreviations: Ms., Mrs., Mr.


In general, ampersands should not be used in DataCamp copy, and should never be used in a complete sentence. Ampersands should be used sparingly, only in copy that does not end in a punctuation mark and when space is at an absolute premium. Examples include: Graph labels, email subject lines, social media posts.


Only proper nouns (the name of a person, place, or organization) and the first word in a sentence should be capitalized. Noteworthy terminology, such as “data science” or “machine learning” should not be capitalized unless they are part of a title or headline. These guidelines should be followed in ad copy as well.

For more specific guidelines on the capitalization of DataCamp product features, see Terminology in this guide.

Also see a section about titles, headlines, subtitles.

Comma usage

The Oxford comma (see examples below) should continue to be used in most body copy, such as course descriptions, the main text of blog posts and emails, and long-form articles. Because as we are frequently writing about complex topics, the Oxford comma can be helpful to clarify the meaning of sentences.

However, there are exceptions for Marketing and Product teams in particular. Please see detailed explanations and examples below.

When to use the Oxford comma: Body copy

The Oxford comma places a comma between the word “and” or “or” and the last item in a list. A single item in a list may also contain the word “and” or “or”.

When you should not use the Oxford comma: Short-form marketing and product copy

The Oxford comma should not be used in copy that does not form a complete sentence. Additionally, the Oxford comma should not be used when space is at a premium (such as social media posts) and the sentence’s meaning is already clear. Do not use the Oxford comma in: headlines, article or website page subheads, email subject lines, social media posts, onboarding instructions in the product, text on buttons in the product.

Dates and times


When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out March, April, May, June and July. Do not include a “th” or “rd” at the end of dates (e.g. 3rd, 15th).

Exception: Where space and character limits are at a premium, particularly in the product and on social media, do not include a period after the abbreviation for the month.

When a phrase lists only a month and year, spell out the month and do not separate the month and the year with commas.

When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.


Indicate AM and PM with all-caps, no periods, and a space between the number and the AM or PM. For even hours, do not add zeros.

Time zones

Time zones should also be in all-caps, with no periods.


There should only be one space following punctuation marks and between sentences.

Em dash (long dash)

Always use the em dash, or long dash, for punctuation. Note: This should not be confused with hyphens, which are still appropriate for hyphenated terms and compound modifiers (e.g. high-rise, 21st-century skills). There should not be any spaces on either side of the em dash.

Shortcut for an em dash on a Mac: Shift + Option + Dash

Shortcut for an em dash on Windows: Ctrl + Alt + Dash

When including a hyperlink in body copy, do not include “https” or “www” This ensures cleaner copy that is easier to read and takes up less space.


In general, spell out numbers one through nine, and use figures for numbers 10 and higher.

Common exceptions to the rule above include:

  • Cents: 8 cents
  • Dollars: $3
  • Dates: March 4
  • Dimensions: 5 foot 2 inches (1.6m). Always include a conversion to meters for an international audience.
  • Millions, billions: 6 billion people. Spell out million, billion, etc., unless space will not allow it. In that case, use a single capital letter to indicate the amount.
  • Percentages: 2%
  • Speed. Always include a conversion to kilometers for an international audience.
  • Temperatures. Always include a conversion to celsius for an international audience.
  • Times: 4 PM

Spell out numbers used at the beginning of a sentence. Exception: Never spell out years.

Use commas to set off each group of three digits in numerals higher than 999 (except for years and addresses).

Use decimals (up to two places) for amounts in the millions and billions that do not require a precise figure.

Add an “s” but no apostrophe to a number to make it plural. The same rule applies to decades. Use an apostrophe on a decade only if cutting off the initial figures.

Use hyphens for phone numbers.

Titles, headlines, subtitles

Capitalize the first letter of all words in a title, headline, or subtitle except “stop words,” such as articles and prepositions; this can also be referred to as title case. Examples of stop words in English include: a, all, and, for, each, how, in, with.

Versus, vs.

Always use the full word “versus” in body copy, such as in a full sentence.

Always use the lowercase abbreviation “vs.” in titles and subtitles.