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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/practice-centre-style-and-content-guide/how-we-write/grammar-and-punctuation/
Printed: 26/04/2024
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 19/01/2022

Grammar and punctuation

How we use apostrophes, capitals, commas, hyphens, quotation marks, en dashes, and cite the titles of documents and publications.


We don't add an extra 's' after nouns or names ending in 's'.


The business' work — not: The business's work

In line with the conventions set out by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, we don't add 's to the end of Māori words to indicate possession.


The plan for te tamaiti — not: te tamaiti's plan

Our values or the values of Oranga Tamariki — not: Oranga Tamariki's values

Capital letters

We use sentence case throughout our site, including for page titles and the names of documents.

We use capital letters for proper nouns. Proper nouns are names for an individual person, place or organisation.

We also capitalise:

  • Va'aifetū
  • Te Toka Tūmoana
  • Tuituia
  • Child Protection Protocol (CPP).

We don't capitalise the names of our other tools, for example:

  • gateway assessment
  • safety and risk screen
  • child/young person and family consult.


We use the Oxford or serial comma only if it makes a list in a sentence easier to understand.


The tamariki were users of multiple services, including child welfare, juvenile justice, remedial education, and mental health services.

Before using an Oxford comma, check if the sentence would be easier to read if presented as a bulleted list.

En dash

We use an en dash to separate proper nouns of equal value, such as 'New Zealand–Australia group'.

We also use an en dash (with a space on either side) to separate thoughts in a sentence, such as 'Tamariki may also be able to access scholarships — many iwi have scholarships available to tamariki Māori.'

We don't use an en dash when we're talking about an age range or when we're using the words 'between' and 'from'.


Aged from 10 to 15 years.

Between 8pm and 6pm.


We sometimes hyphenate words to make sure their meaning is clear.


'8 year old children' could mean children who are all aged 8, or 8 children who are 1 year old.

'8-year-old children' means children who are all aged 8.

Quotation marks

We use 'straight' quotation marks — not ‘curly’ quotation marks.

We use double quotation marks for:

  • short quotations from articles or research
  • quotes from our practice standard guidance
  • direct speech.

We don't use quotation marks around document or publication titles.

Titles of documents or publications

We prefer to use sentence case for the titles of documents or publications.


The community resource kit will help you hold a discussion with your whānau, workmates or members of a community you're part of.

Punctuation we don't use

We don't use:

  • exclamation marks
  • semi-colons or comma splices — we'll write 2 sentences instead, or separate the clauses using an en dash (with a space on either side)
  • double spacing after full stops.