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Writing Style Guide
Basic writing tips
Keep them glued to your page!
Keep it brief
Keep them glued to your page!
Web users mostly visit sites to search for and find content. Keeping your content brief and to the point is extremely important. Make sure your visitors can obtain the content and information they seek in the least amount of time possible.
Break it up
Keep in mind that most web users don't read word-for-word, they scan the content. Break your information up into chunks that can be easily accessed and comprehended. Use headings and subheadings to further organize your information and use bullets to list more detailed documentation.
Prioritize your content by level of importance. Try to avoid putting mission statements on your homepage; instead, summarize your goal and put your motivation and direction right in the beginning. Feel free to link to mission statements, histories, and long definitions later on.
Add information in context
Link to pertinent pages, sites, and anything than can further define and explain what you're doing, and use that as a way to shorten your listed information.
Directly engage your audience. Put your best photos, quote, and content right at the very start. Get your visitors interested in what you're doing, and they will stay around longer.
Keep it short!
Use the fewest words you can to communicate clearly. For example,
- Instead of "Click here to login into the online Agricultural fair survey."
- type "Take the survey."
In case you're stuck, here are some simple guidelines to give you an idea of how many words to use:
- Headings: 4–8 words maxiumum
- Sentences: 8–20 words maxiumum
- Paragraphs: 3–10 sentences maxiumum
- Documents: 300–500 words maxiumum
it may be hard to simplify your wording in an academic structure, but try. When you write in a casual language, you reach out much further and engage many more readers. Use action words to attract attention, and refrain from writing in the passive voice. Keep your visitors interested.
Proofread your content when you're done! Typos and poorly worded content resonate for a long time and can hurt the credibility of your site's content.
Some stylistic tips:
Avoid abbreviations and instead spell out the names of degrees unless the text includes many individuals who are identified by their degrees. Use an apostrophe in "bachelor's degree," "master's degree" etc. Use "doctoral" when modifying the word "degree," or abbreviate instead as PhD. Plurals: PhDs, master's degrees, bachelor's degrees. For the media, you generally use "Dr." before a name only for medical doctors or dentists, but in an academic setting "Dr." is also used for PhDs.
Start the names of majors with lowercase letters except those incorporating the proper name of a specific academic department or degree program: Jim Smith is majoring in agronomy, while Tim Smith's major is Agricultural Management and Rangeland Resources.
See titles entry.
acronyms and abbreviations
On first reference, spell out names that may be unfamiliar to the audience you are addressing. Use the acronym or other abbreviated form for second reference only when meaning is clear without including the shortened form in parentheses after the first reference. For the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources use ANR, not DANR. Do not use periods in acronyms or initialisms: UC, ANR, USDA, CDFA. See also the ANR acronym directory. An acronym is a pronounceable word made up of initials or beginnings of the words that make up a compound name (for instance, SCUBA), as opposed to an initialism (such as USA), which is pronounced as a series of letter names.
Use the "er" ending (rather than "or") in all cases except "Cooperative Extension advisor" and "farm advisor." For example: pest control adviser.
Agricultural Experiment Station
The research arm of the university's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Capitalize as shown.
One word. "Nature tourism," however, is written as two words.
Use alumnus for an individual male, alumna for an individual female, alumni for a group of males, alumnae for a group of females and alumni when referring to a group composed of men and women. An individual need not have graduated from UC to be considered an alumna or alumnus.
See diseases, insects, plants and animals entry.
The abbreviation for Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Do not use DANR.
Give the source (person, text, etc.) for any statement that is not a widely known fact or that is a matter of opinion and is subject to potential disagreement. The statement "the cotton season has begun" does not require attribution as long as it is true; the statement "it was the worst cotton season in history" should have attribution, because it's an opinion subject to disagreement. Use caution in choosing verbs for attribution. Forms of the verb "say" are impartial and appear objective; other verbs, however, can inadvertently influence meaning and tone. Words such as "noted," "commented," "claimed," "suggested," "charged," "denied" and "asserted" should be used with precision, not just for the sake of variety.
Always capitalized. But use lowercase initial letters for "state of" constructions, as in "the state of California," unless you are referencing a formal title, such as "the State Bar of California."
"Legislature" in all uses is capitalized, e.g., state Legislature. "President Atkinson will present the budget to the Legislature."
The initial letter should be lowercase (the Davis campus) except when part of a proper noun (Campus Telecommunications Services office).
See names entry for approved names of UC campuses.
Academic majors: Start the names of academic majors with lowercase letters except those incorporating proper nouns: Jim Smith is majoring in agronomy, while Tim Smith's major is Agricultural Management and Rangeland Resources.
Academic programs: Capitalize the word "program" only when it is part of the formal name, such as: Integrated Pest Management Program.
Building names: Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word "building" if it is an integral part of the proper name: the Empire State Building.
Campus: The initial letter of "campus" should be lowercase in all instances: the Davis campus.
Cities: Capitalize "city" if it is an integral part of the title, such as "New York City," "Kansas City," or "Boise City Hall". Otherwise, use lowercase: He was born in the city of Placerville, California."
Governmental entities: Use an initial lowercase letter in all "state of" constructions and when using "state" as an adjective to indicate jurisdiction (examples: state Sen. John Doolittle, the state Department of Transportation, state funds.) The word "federal" should be lowercase, unless it is used in a formal title, such as "Federal Bureau of Investigation." Retain capitals in the formal name of a governmental body that has been shortened to delete the word "of," such as "the State Department."
Multiple modifiers: When more than one proper noun modifies a generic word, the word is in lowercase: The tour met at Manning and Riverbend avenues. One exception to this rule for ANR style is to capitalize the word "counties" when it follows multiple county names: His assignment includes Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
In writing photo captions or artwork captions, full sentences generally are preferable to sentence fragments. A good caption should enhance and clarify that which is not immediately apparent. Use a period to conclude all captions—even those written in headline style (as incomplete sentences).
Citations are summaries that acknowledge information gathered from other sources. Academic disciplines traditionally have idiosyncratic ways of formatting such attributions. ANR Style Guide suggests the following formats:
for acknowledging printed sources:
McElroy, W. D., Cell Physiology and Biochemistry, 3rd ed., Foundations of Modern Biology Series. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971.
Do not disclose a student's class year standing without his or her permission. Instead, refer to a student only as an undergraduate (or graduate student or doctoral degree student).
Collective nouns such as "class," "committee" and "team" take singular verbs and pronouns: "The class is graduating on time," "The committee was late in coming to a conclusion," "The team works together well."
When the material following a colon consists of one or more complete sentences, or if it is a quotation, it should begin with a capital letter. When a sentence fragment follows a colon, start it with a lowercase initial letter. The most frequent use of a colon is at the end of a complete sentence to introduce a list. UC nutrition professionals have three favorite meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, a colon should not separate main sentence elements, such as a verb and a direct object, even if the direct object is a list.
In most cases, do not use a comma before "and" in a series (known as a "serial comma"): Farm advisors publish articles, speak with the media and visit farms. Do use a serial comma, however, if the elements of a series are long and/or if an element includes its own conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast. Commas always go inside closing quotation marks.
Abbreviate as UCCE.
Important words are capitalized and the course title is placed within quotation marks: "Introduction to Integrated Pest Management."
If used as a noun, "cross section" (do not hyphenate). If used as a verb or adjective, "cross-section" (do hyphenate).
Denotes a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure: Will he—can he—get the audience's attention? The dash and other symbols are available when you click the omega ("Insert custom character") button in the Site Builder 3 WYSIWYG text editor.
Data (the plural of datum) takes a plural verb: Data were collected.
Generally, do not name the day of the week when you write a date. If the name of the day is needed with the date, set the date within commas: On Wednesday, Oct. 5, she will appear. Use cardinal numbers ("Oct. 5," not "Oct. 5th").
Two words when used as a noun, hyphenated as a compound adjective (decision-making powers).
For academic degrees, see academic degrees entry.
For degrees of temperature, use the degree symbol followed by C for Celsius or F for Fahrenheit (0°C or 32°F). This and other symbols are available when you click the omega ("Insert custom character") button in the Site Builder 3 WYSIWYG text editor.
See each UC campus's General Catalog for official names of departments:
UC Los Angeles
UC San Diego
UC San Francisco
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Cruz
Use the term "disabled" instead of "handicapped." The phrase "people with disabilities" is preferable to "the disabled." Don't write "afflicted with" or "is a victim of." Instead, write "He has muscular dystrophy." Don't write "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair." Instead, write "She uses a wheelchair."
disc, disk, diskette
A disc is an optical storage medium, round and made of nonmagnetic material: compact disc, laserdisc, digital versatile disc.
A disk is a small, flat, portable piece of plastic embedded with magnetic material, a floppy disk; "diskette" is interchangeable with "disk." Also a farm implement: "disk harrow."
Diseases, insects, plants and animals
Use the common name whenever possible, all lowercase except for proper nouns that are part of the name. For example, hull rot disease of almonds, Pierce’s disease, red imported fire ant. If there is no common name, use the scientific name. Latin names should be italicized, first word (genus) capitalized, subsequent words (species, subspecies, etc.) lowercase. For example, Prunus dulcis, Escherichia coli. Spell out the entire scientific name on first reference; for subsequent references, abbreviate the first word with one letter: P. dulcis, E. coli.
When referring to the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, use an uppercase D. The abbreviation for Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is ANR. Also, "the Division."
Douglas is always uppercase. No hyphen.
Hyphenated, even as a noun.
Means "for example." (Do not confuse with "i.e.," which means "that is.") "E.g." is followed by a comma: We bought all the ANR logo items available, (e.g., t-shirts, tote bags and pens).
Use three dots (no spaces between them but a space on each side) to signify that something has been left out of a direct quote or that the writer is jumping from one topic to another. If used after a whole sentence, put the period first, followed by a space, then the three dots, space and then the next sentence. Avoid using the ellipsis character from the "Insert custom character" list.
Do not hyphenate or italicize. Used as an adjective or adverb: He is an ex officio member of the committee.
Do not use a hyphen when "extra" means "outside of" unless the prefix is followed by a word beginning with "a": "extralegal," "extraterrestrial," but "extra-alimentary."
See order, family, genus, species, variety entry.
Acceptable substitute for the noun "facsimile" (a technology for electronically transmitting printed matter). Do not use capital letters. The acceptable verb form is to send a fax.
Use a capital letter for the architectural style and for corporate or governmental agencies that use the word as part of their formal names: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Express. Use initial lowercase letter when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities: federal assistance, federal court, the federal government, a federal judge.
foreign words and phrases
Use italics on first reference for all but the most familiar, and follow, if necessary, with an English definition of the word in parenthesis or the translation of the phrase within quotes: "La Lotería de Manejo Seguro" (Safe Driving Lottery). Some familiar foreign words (bon voyage, hors d'oeuvres) may be used without explanation. (For accents and special characters, see also Spanish words.)
The official names (as approved by UC Board of Regents) are:
Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley Foundation
Davis: Cal Aggie Foundation
Irvine: The UCI Foundation
Los Angeles: The UCLA Foundation
Riverside: UC Riverside Foundation
San Diego: U.C. San Diego Foundation
San Francisco: University of California, San Francisco Foundation
Santa Barbara: The UCSB Foundation
Santa Cruz: U.C. Santa Cruz Foundation
For fractions and percentages, the verb agrees with the noun following the "of": Three-quarters of the apple was eaten. Three-quarters of the employees are at a seminar today.
Avoid gender-specific terms and titles such as chairman, foreman, mankind; instead, use chair, supervisor, humanity. Use the same standards for men and women when deciding whether to include specific mention of personal appearance or marital and family situation. Don't refer to cars, boats, aircraft or other inanimate objects as feminine.
See order, family, genus, species, variety entry.
Capitalize the full proper names of governmental agencies, departments and offices, but use an initial lowercase letter for modifiers: "California State University," "the State Lands Commission"; but "the state Office of Emergency Services," "the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development."
Always followed by "from": He graduated from UC Davis.
Use as one word in all forms: groundbreaking ceremony.
See disabilities entry.
Use sentence case (capitalized initial for the first word and any proper nouns).
Two words. When used as a compound adjective (health care provider), do not hyphenate.
Use the hyphen to link words with prefixes (pre-season application), to link the elements of compound modifiers (entry-level job), or to link words or word fragments at line breaks. Also use hyphens in telephone numbers (555-1212). When in doubt, consult the dictionary as to whether a word is hyphenated. Use a hyphen to indicate continuing or inclusive numbers, such as dates, times or reference numbers: 1968-1972, May-June 1973, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., pages 38-45.
Means "that is." Do not confuse with e.g., which means "for example." Usually followed by a comma.
in regard to
Not "in regards to."
See diseases, insects, plants and animals entry.
Always initial capped.
"Its" is the possessive form of it. "It's" is the contraction for "it is" or "it has."
Write the Latin names of plants, pathogens, etc., and titles of publications in italics: Joe Smith's article on Phytophthora ramorum appears in the January 2002 issue of California Agriculture magazine.
Hyphenate only when used as a modifier: "lower-division courses."
Use staff-hours, working hours. See gender neutrality entry.
Use people, humanity, human beings, human race. See gender neutrality entry.
Use synthetic, artificial. See gender neutrality entry.
The approved names of the University's campuses are:
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley - Clark Kerr Campus
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Merced
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Francisco
University of California, San Francisco - Laurel Heights
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
College and University names: Capitalize "college" and "university" and other similar terms when part of a formal name, but use initial lower case letters otherwise: Fresno City College, Texas A & M University, the university, the academy, the institute. Exceptions: all University of California campuses may use the abbreviation UC on first reference; always refer to the Los Angeles campus as UCLA. Second and subsequent references to other institutions may incorporate abbreviated forms.
Individual persons: Nicknames should be placed within quotation marks. A nickname should be used in place of a person's name only when it is the way the individual prefers to be known (Tiger Woods). Do not insert a space between two initials: W.R. "Reg" Gomes. Do not use courtesy titles Mr., Mrs., Miss and Ms., except in obituaries, which may include: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss, Dr. or Professor (do not abbreviate).
The world of cyberspace; capitalize to distinguish from any old computer network, sweep net, etc.
Do not capitalize "laureate."
Non-discrimination statements in English and Spanish for publications and for employment announcements are on the ANR Affirmative Action Web page.
In general, spell out zero through nine (and first through ninth) and give numerals for 10 and above. Fractions should be spelled out (two-thirds). If paired with a whole number, use the decimal system (2.25). Percentages, measurements, GPAs and ages should always be represented by numerals.
order, family, genus, species, variety
Use common name whenever possible. Orders, families and other terms above the genus level are written with an initial capital and not italic. For example, “a species in the Cucurbitacea family.” The genus and species are italicized, with the first word capitalized. The first word is abbreviated with one letter on subsequent references. For example, “Sequoia sempervirens” or “S. sempervirens.” Variety names are upper case and not italic. For example, Elegant Lady peach, Gold Nugget mandarin and Gala apple. Variety names do not take single quotation marks.
Place a period outside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is not a complete sentence (such as this fragment). (An independent parenthetical sentence such as this one takes a period before the closing parenthesis.) When a phrase placed in parentheses (this one is an example) might normally qualify as a complete sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period.
Not "per cent." Spell out the word in text. Use symbol (%) in numerical charts. "Percent" takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an "of" construction, as in "He said 50 percent of the farmers were seated at the start of the presentation." Use a singular verb when "percent" is used alone or when a singular word follows an "of" construction, as in "He said 50 percent was a failing grade," and "Almost 50 percent of the class was sleeping."
Always belongs inside quotation marks.
See disabilities entry.
See diseases, insects, plants and animals entry.
Most words: add "s" (blossoms, lygus bugs) or "es" (batches, foxes) if the plural is pronounced with an additional syllable.
Letters: add " 's" (apostrophe s): She got 4 B's on her report card.
Words ending in ch, s, sh, ss, x and z: add "es": grasses ("monarchs" is the exception).
Words ending in "is": change to "es", as in thesis to theses and basis to bases.
Words ending in y: if "y" is preceded by a consonant or "qu," change "y" to "i" and add "es": army to armies, soliloquy to soliloquies; otherwise, use "s": donkey to donkeys
Words ending in o: If "o" is preceded by a consonant, most plurals require "es": hero to heroes (except "pianos").
Words ending in f: In general, change "f" to "v" and add "es": leaf to leaves (except "roofs").
Compound words: Words combined with no spaces in between just take an "s": "cupful" to "cupfuls". In cases where there is either a space or a hyphen between a compound word, the plural is built on the significant word: attorney general to attorneys general, mother-in-law to mothers-in-law, deputy chief of staff to deputy chiefs of staff.
Proper names: Ending in "es" or "z" add "es": Jones to Joneses. Ending in "y" add "s" even if preceded by a consonant: Kennedy to Kennedys. Otherwise, just add "s."
Singular nouns not ending in "s": add 's: "the grower's cotton"
singular nouns ending in "s": add 's unless the next word begins with an "s": "the lygus's devastation," "the chlorosis' spread," "the campus's budget."
Singular proper names ending in "s": use only an apostrophe: "Achilles' heel."
Plural nouns not ending in "s": add 's: "women's rights"
plural nouns ending in "s": add only an apostrophe: "states' rights," "campuses' budgets."
Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning: add only an apostrophe: "citrus' decline," "General Motors' profits."
Pronouns: Whether singular or plural, possessive pronouns do not use an apostrophe: "your agenda," "The horse threw its rider," "The farm advisor wondered whose farm was sprayed."
Each one word.
This word means "soon," e.g., "We expect to have the pest under control presently." It should not be used to mean "currently."
"Principal" is a school official or a something that is first in rank: "The principal put the students on detention," "'It's the economy, stupid' was the principal campaign slogan of the 1990 Presidential election." "Principle" is a fundamental truth: "Evolution has been the principle theory in biology since the late 1800s." Note: Principal Officers of The Regents include the President, the General Counsel, the Secretary of The Regents, and the Treasurer.
Avoid "prior to." Use "before."
Goes inside the quotes when it is part of a question that is being quoted: He remarked, "Whose life is it anyway?" Goes outside the quotes if not part of the quoted material: Why did he say, "Your budget is sufficient"?
See ethnic identity.
Capitalize as a formal title before one or more names or when referring to the organizational body by formal name: Regent Roy T. Brophy, Regents Roy T. Brophy and Ralph Carmona, the University of California Board of Regents, the UC Board of Regents, The Regents of the University of California. "The Board of Regents met at UC Davis."
Use lowercase, even when naming an issue of a publication: the fall 2002 issue of UC Plant Protection Quarterly.
Always goes outside closing quotation marks: The gadfly said, "He's wrong"; I say, "He's right."
When using Spanish words in print, make sure the accent marks are correct. Words can take on a completely different meaning without the correct marks. Uppercase letters also use written accents. The tilde (~) over the "n" is not an accent; it is a distinct letter. Without the tilde, the word is misspelled. Many Spanish names include accent marks. It is customary in Spanish-speaking countries for people to use both their father's name and mother's maiden name and sometimes a double first name, e.g., Juan José Martínez Sánchez. The tilde-n, accented letters, and other symbols are available when you click the omega ("Insert custom character") button in the Site Builder 3 WYSIWYG text editor, or you can use these codes to create Spanish characters on your computer:
(for upper case vowels, press Shift after "Option + e")
|á||Option + e, a||ú||Option + e, u|
|é||Option + e, e||ñ||Option + n, n|
|í||Option + e, i||¿||Option + Shift + /|
|ó||Option + e, o||¡||Option + 1|
(type numbers using numeric key pad with "num lock" activated)
|á||Alt + 160||Á||Alt + 0193|
|é||Alt + 130||É||Alt + 144|
|í||Alt + 161||Í||Alt + 0205|
|ó||Alt + 162||Ó||Alt + 0211|
|ú||Alt + 163||Ú||Alt + 0218|
|ñ||Alt + 164||Ñ||Alt + 165|
|¿||Alt + 168||¡||Alt + 173|
See order, family, genus, species, variety entry.
Use an initial lowercase letter in all "state of" constructions, and when using "state" as an adjective to indicate jurisdiction (examples: state Sen. John Doolittle, the state Department of Transportation, state funds). Capitalize "state" when part of a formal name: State Farm Insurance, the State and Consumer Services Agency.
Always spell out state names when they stand alone. When used in conjunction with the name of a city or town, however, abbreviate states. (Exception: Never abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah in text.) For the other states, do not use two-letter, uppercase postal codes. State abbreviations are as follows:
One word, capitalized or not depending on whether it refers to the corporate entity (Systemwide Administration) or to activities across the system (number of courses offered systemwide).
Do not use the numeral "1" before area codes. Proper form is: (530) 752-1930 or (559) 555-1212, Ext. 11.
In general, use tense consistently throughout a text. However, tenses may be intermingled as appropriate to context, e.g., to distinguish terminated action from continuing action: "She said 'I disagree with the theory put forth by Professor Plum,' but she continues to encourage students to present new ideas."
"That" is the preferred pronoun to introduce an essential clause. "Which" is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a non-essential clause. An essential clause is one that cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence. In the sentence: "Presentations that require slides are held in the multi-purpose room," the phrase "that require slides" is essential to the meaning (its omission would change the meaning and understanding of the sentence). In the sentence: "This year's specialty crops field day, which lasted two hours, was held in Yolo County," the material within the commas is not essential and serves only to provide additional information about the event. A non-essential clause must be set off by commas.
Always use figures, except use "midnight" and "noon" (rather than "12 a.m." and "12 p.m.") to avoid confusion. Use lowercase type and periods, but no spaces, with "a.m." and "p.m."
In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles (President, Chancellor, Professor, Senator) before names of individuals, and use lowercase initial letters for formal titles following names of individuals. Use lowercase for descriptive or occupational titles—farm advisor, teacher, attorney, history professor, department chair—in all cases. Use italics for publication titles: California Agriculture magazine.
When possible, use generic equivalents, but if a trademarked name is used for emphasis or effect, capitalize it. Observe the capitalization schemes of individual trademarks or service marks, but be aware that ordinarily capitalization of only the first letter of a brand name is necessary. Trademarks are proper names that identify the products of a business; service marks perform the same function for services. Trademark names should be accompanied by generic terms to fully describe the product: Admire systemic insecticide. In writing, a trademarked name should not be used as a verb. ("I photocopied this" instead of "I Xeroxed this") Do not pluralize trademarks ("He used three Kleenex tissues," not "He used three Kleenexes"). However, some trademarks are registered in the plural and should always be used that way even if the common noun following them is singular (a Baggies plastic bag). Symbols signifying a trademark (TM), a service mark (SM) or a registration with the U.S. Patent Office (®) are primarily for the use of the owner to indicate rights; use of the symbols is not required in journalistic publications.
Try to do something, not try and do something.
One of a kind; therefore by definition something can never be "fairly unique" or "one of the most unique ... "
University of California
Capitalize "U" and "C" on first reference; "the university" on subsequent references.
Abbreviation for uniform resource locator. Try to arrange a sentence so that the URL or e-mail address is at the end, and make sure to add a period. If you must break a URL between two lines of text, don't hyphenate it or break it at an existing hyphen (that would cause confusion about the exact spelling of the URL), but you may break it right before a punctuation mark or after a protocol tag (/slash).
See order, family, genus, species, variety entry.
Two words, capitalize Web. (The alternate form, "website," is also in widespread use.)
See that, which entry.
Lowercase. For example, chardonnay, merlot, zinfandel.
World Wide Web
Three words, or WWW. "Web" by itself is uppercase: Put the information on the Web. "Webmaster" is one word.
A trademarked name. Use "photocopy" instead.
Spans of decades or centuries should use figures without apostrophes: The 1890s, the 1900s. Years are the lone exception to the rule that says a sentence should not begin with a numeral: 1776 was a historic year.