Website Style Guide

The OPC website generally adheres to the standards set forth in the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.


In view of the need for content to be delivered to many devices other than traditional computers (e.g., PDAs, mobile phones), the OPC website uses XHTML 1.0. When preparing documents for the OPC website, all HTML code should be converted to XHTML form (for instance, <P> should be corrected to <p>, <BR> to <br />, etc.).


The following headings only are to be used: <h1>, <h2> (e.g., page headings); <h3> (e.g., section headings in New Horizons and Ordained Servant articles); <h4> (e.g., section sub-headings in New Horizons and Ordained Servant articles). All headings are normally to be left-justified. Examples of headings:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Headings are to be written in lower case with the first, last and all important words beginning with an initial capital. For detailed rules for capitalizing headings see Chicago Manual of Style, 8.167.

Headings 1–4 should never be bolded (<b> or <strong>). Italics (<i>), if warranted (such as to indicate a book title), may be added to headings.


Quotation Marks and Apostrophe

"Quoted words, phrases, and sentences run into the text are enclosed in double quotation marks. Single quotation marks enclose quotations within quotations; double marks, quotations within these; and so on" (Chicago Manual of Style, 11.33). When both a double and single quotation mark appear together, a non-breaking space (&nbsp;) is used between them, to keep them together on the same line (e.g., '&nbsp;").

Dashes and Hyphens

The em dash (—), en dash (–) and hyphen (-) shall be used according to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. The double hyphen (--) shall not be used. The em dash should be coded as &#8212; and the The en dash should be coded as &#8211;.


There should be a space before and after the unspaced periods unless they appear at the beginning or end of the quote (e.g., "... now abideth faith, hope, charity ... but the greatest of these is charity"). The greatest number of periods forming an ellipsis is four; any more than this number is amateurish and should be eliminated. For further information, Chicago Manual of Style, 11.51–65 is highly recommended.


Quotations at the beginning of an article (such as a Scripture quotation) are generally in blockquote format.


Put each separate paragraph to appear as a blockquote (even multiple paragraphs) between the codes <blockquote> </blockquote>. Do not use the codes <p> or </p> in the blockquote. Do not put blockquote codes on the line above or the line below the blockquote; put them at the beginning and end of the blockquote itself.

Hymns and Poetry

Hymns and poetry ordinarily appear within the codes <blockquote></blockquote>. Each line except the last should end with the code <br />. Do not double-space between the lines of poetry. Do not add a line feed after the <br />. Example:

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Identification of Blockquote Text

Unless there are endnotes, text within blockquotes (such as a Scripture quotation) shall be identified using parentheses after the closing punctuation of the quote, without adding any terminal punctuation. No quotation marks shall be used around a blockquote. Example:

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps. 117:1–2)

Long Scripture quotations, if referenced by verse number in an article, may indicate verse numbers in superscript.

Scripture References Not in Blockquotes

Ordinarily books of the Bible are to be spelled out when appearing in the text but abbreviated if used within parentheses. The preferred format for Scripture quotes within the main text (i.e., not in a blockquote) is as follows: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Ps. 23:1).


The codes <ol> and <ul> (ordered list and unordered list) and all their related codes should be formatted as one long paragraph, as in the following examples.

<ol><li>Point one</li><li>Point two</li><li>Point three</li></ol>


  1. Point one
  2. Point two
  3. Point three

<ul><li>Point one</li><li>Point two</li><li>Point three</li></ul>


General Stylistic Concerns


The default justification is left-justification. Ordinarily, we will not use <p align="center"> (which centers text) or <p align="justify"> (which fully justifies text). The code <p align="right"> (which right-justifies text) may be used in those cases where the author's name appears at the end of an article (e.g., Ordained Servant book reviews). Example:

<p align="right">&#151;Dr. Machen</p>


—Dr. Machen

Colors and Font Sizes

All font color codes should be removed. Attributes such as <small> or <big> will not be used. We will phase out use of <strong>; italics will be used instead.

Italics and bold should be used sparingly. Entire paragraphs should never be bolded. The overall style shall be understated.


Over-capitalization is to be avoided. Great care should be taken in using the following words: "pastor," "general secretary," "church" ("church" is ordinarily capitalized when it refers to a specific denomination such as the OPC but should not be capitalized when referring to the church universal). "Bible" and "Scripture" (when referring to the Word of God) are proper names, but "biblical" and "scriptural" are adjectives and not proper names. Exceptions: the adjectives "Reformed" and "Presbyterian" are ordinarily capitalized. "General assembly," when referring to a specific general assembly, such as that of the OPC or another denomination, is capitalized (e.g., "the Seventy-third General Assembly of the OPC"). "Apostle," as in "the apostle Paul," is not capitalized, as it is not a proper name.

The OPC website follows the convention used in New Horizons, the King James Version, the NIV and the ESV, and does not capitalize pronouns referring to deity. (Such a convention is artificial, and was not used in the original Hebrew and Greek.)

Quotations from published works should faithfully reproduce the capitalization of the original.

Address Forms

We will follow the standard address form used on usps.com, except that the all-upper case will be transposed using the normal rules of capitalization. Note that the USPS uniformly abbreviates "Street" ("St.") and "Avenue" ("Ave."). Addresses are normally to be looked up on usps.com, as people are not automatically assumed to know the correct USPS form for their own address. The OPC website uses ZIP+4 throughout. However, the US Postal Service's two-letter state abbreviations are NOT used without ZIP codes (cf. CMS 15.29).


Numbers between one and ten will ordinarily be written out (e.g., "one," "two," "three"). Numbers 11 and over will ordinarily be indicated by Arabic numerals. When a number is the beginning word in a sentence, it will be written out.

Telephone Numbers

The punctuation of telephone numbers shall be standardized using a hyphen following the area code and a hyphen between the local exchange and the distinguishing numbers: e.g., 555-555-1212 (the OPC website differs from the printed OPC directory in this respect).

Use of Italics

A comma or period following an italicized word should not be italicized, but a colon, semi-colon or exclamation point following an italicized word should be italicized. Quotation marks around an italicized phrase should normally not be italicized.

Explanatory paragraphs at the end of articles (such as "About the Author") should be italicized. Words within these paragraphs that would normally be italicized (such as references to book and magazine titles) shall revert to regular, non-italic type.

Hypertext Links

Hypertext links—especially offsite links—should be used cautiously, since pages are so likely to be moved or removed. We do not want to clutter our site with dead links.

Relative links shall be used throughout the OPC website when linking to pages within the OPC website; for example:

<a href="ministries.html">Ministries</a>

Absolute links shall not be used to link to pages on the OPC website; for example:

<a href="http://www.opc.org/ministries.html">Ministries</a>

Unnecessary Characters

Unnecessary codes and characters pad a page, making it slower to load, and are to be avoided.

Following modern typesetting convention (and deviating from older typewritten convention), the OPC website does not use double spaces between sentences (a double space, when not coordinated with a non-breaking space, will not display as a double space in HTML, anyway).

The codes <b> </b> (which bold a space) and <i> </i> (which italicize a space) are useless and should be removed.

When MS Word converts documents to HTML, it sometimes puts in the extra code &#9;. It is usually garbage, but sometimes it takes the place of a tab after a period. In a text editor such as NoteTab (notetab.com) it may easily be removed using Search and Replace. Do two passes, first replacing the code with a space, then converting double spaces to single spaces.

All extra hard returns should be deleted. There should be no extra lines after the last word of an article.


The OPC Form of Government is to be abbreviated as "FG," not "FOG." Correct abbreviations are given in the following table.

Book of Church OrderBCO
Form of GovernmentFG
Directory for Public WorshipDPW
Book of DisciplineBD

Books of the Bible, when appearing within parentheses, are to be abbreviated as follows:

Old Testament

Gen.1 Sam.Est.Lam.Mic.
Ex.2 Sam.JobEzek.Nah.
Lev.1 KingsPs.Dan.Hab.
Num.2 KingsProv.Hos.Zeph.
Deut.1 Chron.Eccl.JoelHag.
Josh.2 Chron.SongAmosZech.

New Testament

Matt.1 Cor.1 Thess.Heb.3 John
Mark2 Cor.2 Thess.Jas.Jude
LukeGal.1 Tim.1 Pet.Rev.
JohnEph.2 Tim.2 Pet. 
ActsPhil.Titus1 John 
Rom.Col.Philem.2 John 


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