Our Personality & Tone
In terms of FJC’s voice, we describe our style as “campy and professional.” Camp is fun. Summer is fun. We’re fun—or, more accurately, joyful. At the same time, we’re also dedicated and accomplished nonprofit professionals who strive for excellence in our work.
Community-mindedness is at the heart of all we do, and the same is true for the way we communicate. In an effort to live our values and embrace our sense of social responsibility, we choose to use language that allows us to speak both authentically and inclusively. And, we know that to do so also means being agile and running messaging and practices by content-area experts to ensure they are inclusive of marginalized populations as well as revisiting our standards as best practices continue to change.
If you would like to add something, see something here that could be more aligned with our values, or have a burning question we haven’t addressed, please do reach out. This is a live resource; our only limitation here is our imagination.
And, as always, if you’re unsure if something you’ve written strikes the right tonal balance, ask a member of the Marketing team.
Language & Communication Practices
It is always s’, never s’s.
Example: Congress’ bill (not Congress’s)
Do not use apostrophes in the 1920s or the JCCs unless you are implying ownership.
Example: The Brooklyn JCC’s new community center opened last Sunday.
Use an apostrophe in abbreviations of years.
Example: the summer of ‘09
Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.
Example: “He promised this: Federation will support Jewish camps.”
Colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material.
FJC uses the Oxford comma, which means that a comma is used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’.
Example: “FJC staff held celebrations for their new board members, Julie Beren Platt, and Hanukkah.” Do NOT write, “FJC staff held celebrations for their new board members, Julie Beren Platt and Hanukkah.”
Dashes & Hyphens
Hyphens (-), the shortest of these punctuation marks, are used to connect some compound words (year-round) and numbers (twenty-five). They are also used in compound modifiers that appear before the noun they are modifying, however, they are not used when those words follow that noun.
Example: “First-time campers may be eligible for up to $1000 off Jewish camp. Check eligibility details if your child is attending overnight camp for the first time.”
In a series of multiple compound modifiers, use multiple hyphens.
Example: “first- and second-year counselors”
However, if the compound modifier includes an adverb ending in -ly, no hyphen is used.
Example: “highly trained mental health professionals”
There are two types of dashes: En dash (–) and Em dash (—).
En dashes (–) are used in ranges of numbers or times (3:00–4:00 pm ET) and certain complicated compound modifiers. However, they are commonly replaced with hyphens, and that is the practice here at FJC.
Em dashes (—) are the longest of this trio and are a favorite of our CEO. When you are looking for a punctuation mark that indicates a stronger pause than a comma but a shorter pause than a period or semicolon, use an em dash. It is particularly useful to create a sense of cadence, rhythm, and emphasis in written communications. If your program doesn’t automatically correct to an em dash, you can copy from another webpage or document.
FJC works to ensure that every community member feels valued and included and believes that everyone should be called by the names and titles with which they identify. Language should be gender-neutral whenever possible. To accomplish this, we recommend the following usages:
Collective words, such as “everyone” or “everybody”, should be followed by a plural pronoun. For example, the sentence “Everybody brought his book to class” should be rewritten as “Everybody brought their book to class.” As an alternative, you can rewrite the sentence to eliminate the collective: “They all brought their books to class.” We don’t use “his or her” here since this implies a strict gender binary.
When describing an unknown person, don’t presume their pronouns. The use of “he” or “she” should be avoided. Use an occupational or another title. Example: “The camp director gave a moving welcome speech,” as opposed to “He gave a moving welcome speech.” This same principle also applies to camp parents, campers, staff, and anyone with whom we interact – unless you know their preferred terms, use gender-neutral language like “parent”, “camper”, “staff member,” etc.
Try to avoid the suffix “-man”, especially when describing an occupation. Wherever possible, use a neutral suffix or word instead. A “fireman” should become a ”firefighter”, a Congressman should become a “Representative,” etc.
Do not refer to nations, ships, hurricanes, or other inanimate objects by female pronouns (she/her) – use “it” instead.
When referring to God in English, use gender-neutral language and avoid male pronouns (He/Him/His). We suggest using plural pronouns (They/Them/Theirs) and/or gender-neutral synonyms “the Lord/The Eternal/HaShem/etc).
As a general rule, write out any number below 101 in a narrative context. Exceptions to this rule include years, monetary sums, percentages, and time of day. In a more graphic context (like an infographic, a visual representation in a report, or a slide deck), we make an exception to this rule.
People-first language, also called person-first language, is (as of the time of this update) considered the best practice when referring to any group that would otherwise be defined or mentally categorized by a condition or trait (for example, race, appearance, or disability). Write “Person with” or “Person of” when writing or speaking with or about these groups.
Examples: “People with disabilities” (not “Disabled people”), “People with mental health challenges” (not “mentally ill people”), “Person who uses a wheelchair” (not “wheelchair-bound”).
NOTE: As of this update, many people – particularly younger people with disabilities – are choosing to use “identity-first” language such as “autistic” or “disabled.” How a person chooses to self-identify is up to them, and they should not be corrected or admonished if they choose not to use person-first language. Unless someone states a preference for identity-first language, however, the current standard best practice is to default to person-first language.
Spacing After Periods
Hot take: Use one space after a period, not two.
There are a few words that we use regularly that often get spelled incorrectly or may have different spellings (especially Hebrew words or phrases). This is how FJC spells them:
- Chag Sameach
- God or G-d*
- Jewish camp (lower-cased C, unless when part of a proper name – like ours)
- Rosh Hashanah
- Shanah Tovah
- Tu B’Shevat
- Yom HaShoah
- Yom HaZikaron
*We prefer to spell God out in full in English. However, we realize that this spelling isn’t appropriate for all audiences. If you or your audience are more comfortable writing G-d, you may use that spelling. However, when referring to God on resources that are in Hebrew (source sheets, lyrics, prayers), we use the Hebrew letter Hay and do not write out God’s full name in Hebrew.
In general, titles and names of committees should always be given in full the first time they appear in your communication, with the abbreviation included in parenthesis after the name. (Note that this does stray from AP guidelines which recommend not introducing the parenthetical acronym outside of citations, but this is generally accepted and common practice regardless.) Once you have established this abbreviation for your reader, you may continue to use it throughout the rest of your piece.
Example: “Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) takes pride in the One Happy Camper (OHC) program. Through OHC, FJC has enabled…”
Titles that come before a full name are capitalized.
Example: “Please contact Foundation for Jewish Camp Program Manager Jill Goldstein Smith.”
Titles that come after a full name are lowercase.
Example: “Please contact Jill Goldstein Smith, Foundation for Jewish Camp program manager.”
When in doubt…
- Refer to the Associated Press Stylebook, Grammarly, and/or spell check.
- Just ask!
Have questions about brand guidelines? The marketing team is here to help! Send us a question on Slack in #askmarketing, or contact one of us directly.