Content Guidelines

Overview

This is a brief introduction to writing content that faithfully represents our brand and answers some common content questions. However, we recommend that you download and follow the complete Manheim Content Style Guide. You can also email content@manheim.com with questions.

See below to review formatting rules for date, time, distance, phone numbers, etc.

Voice and Tone

Our voice is what we say, and our tone is how we say it. Together, voice and tone convey our brand who we are as a company.

Manheim’s voice and tone is bold, determined, and genuine. Think of Manheim as co-worker you can depend on, friendly and dependable. Write content that is direct, not salesy or overly formal. It should sound conversational when you read it out loud.

Copywriting

  • Be brief and clear.
  • Be accurate. It is more important to be accurate than compelling.
  • Address users as you, and refer to Manheim or COX Automotive as we.
  • Avoid long or complex words and jargon.
  • Break up long blocks of text with informative headings.
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists instead of paragraphs when possible.
  • Use active voice (The dealer bid on the car.), not passive voice (The car was bid on by the dealer.)
  • Aim for a fourth-grade reading level as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale.
  • Use second person (you, your) when addressing users, and first person (we) when referring to Manheim or Cox Automotive.
  • Only use one space after sentences, with single spacing for paragraphs, and no spacing between bulleted or numbered lists.

Grammar

  • Abbreviations and Acronyms - If the reader may not recognize an abbreviation or acronym, spell out the first reference. Further references do not need parenthesis.
  • Brands - Observe the trademark conventions (including ®, ) found on a brand’s official website.
  • Capitalization - Do not use all caps except for acronyms, labels, or calls-to-action.
  • Contractions - Use contractions when a message is positive (You’re the winning bidder.), and avoid them when it is negative (We apologize, but you can not bid right now.).
  • Compound Words - Use hyphenation when a modifying adjective precedes a noun (e.g. used-vehicle market).

Punctuation

  • Apostrophe - Use in contractions or to indicate possession (Dave’s car), not to indicate multiples of something (CRs or the 1980s)
  • Ampersand (&) - Do not use unless part of a brand or product name.
  • Asterisk (*) - Use in-context to denote an annotation at the bottom of page.
  • Colon – Use in body text to introduce a list.
  • Comma - Use to separate items in a list, but do not use the Oxford comma. (e.g. I bought milk, eggs, chicken and bread.)
  • Exclamation Points - Do not use unless part of a brand name.

Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

  • Use a descriptive verb/noun label (e.g. Start Claim, Open Workbook, Make an Offer).
  • Do not use generic CTA labels like “Click Here” or “Go”.
  • CTAs should be 2-5 words. Aim for clarity and brevity.
  • See the Manheim Content Style Guide for a list of common CTA verbs and when they are used.

Formatting Rules

Currency

  • Use the dollar symbol and two decimal places for non-whole-dollar values (e.g. $1,234.56).
  • For Canadian currency, use C$ and the number without a space (e.g. C$1,234.56).
  • For other international currencies, reference the AP Style Guide.

Date

  • Never use ordinals with dates (e.g. July 23rd).
  • Do not use a period when abbreviating days or months (e.g. Sun, Jan 24).
  • Use a comma between a date and year (e.g. Jan 21, 2015)
  • Spell out a month when used by itself in a sentence, or when paired with a year.
  • Do not use a comma between a month and year (e.g. January 2015).

Distance

  • Use lower-case abbreviations with no spaces or periods. (e.g. 150mi or 150km)

Location

  • Cities - Always spell out city names (e.g. Flint, MI).
  • States - Spell out states when they appear by themselves (e.g. Michigan).
  • Auctions - All Manheim auction names must be preceded by Manheim.

Numbers

  • Spell out one through nine (except in tables and charts), and any number that is the first word of a sentence.
  • Spell out first through ninth, not 1st through 9th.
  • Only use ordinals to indicate sequence in time or location (e.g. first Friday, 11th vehicle)
  • Do not superscript the ordinal (e.g. 23rd, not 23rd).
  • Do not use numerical fractions. Use decimals or spell out fractions (e.g. one-half, not ½).
  • Use a hyphen with no spaces to indicate a range (e.g. 20‐30 days).

Phone Number

  • Use ten digits with hyphens and no spaces. (e.g. 800-123-4567)
  • If you must use a vanity number, put the numeric number after it in parenthesis: 1-866-MANHEIM (626-4246).

Time

  • Use numerals and lower-case “am” or “pm” without a space. (e.g. 10:05am)
  • Do not use minutes for on‐the‐hour time. (e.g. 7am, not 7:00am)
  • Use a hyphen to indicate a time range (e.g. 7am-10:30am).
  • Use 12am (midnight) or 12pm (noon).
  • Abbreviate continental U.S. time zones as follows:
  • ET (Eastern Time)
  • CT (Central Time)
  • MT (Mountain Time)
  • PT (Pacific Time)