OCV Public Handbook/📝OCV Style Guide

OCV Style Guide

The OCV Style Guide is used for the handbook and public-facing materials. It provides guidelines to keep our content and communications consistent and effective. It is a living document and should be referenced often for the latest guidance.

Describing Open Core Ventures

  1. Always spell out “Open Core Ventures on the first reference. Use “OCV” for all following instances.
  1. Don’t use “invest” to describe OCV. OCV starts companies, it does not invest in existing companies.
  1. Use the term “companies” when referring to our portfolio companies. Don’t use “portfolio” or “PortCo”.

Voice and tone

  1. Plainspoken: Write like you speak. Avoid needless words.
  1. Professional: Be brief and focused.
  1. Polished: Identify your audience and be consistent in addressing the same audience unless you specify otherwise.

Style conventions

Use the most popular U.S. English spelling and phrasing.

Active voice

Whenever possible, use active voice instead of passive voice.
Active voice identifies the subject that performs the action. In the example below, “Contributors write the handbook,” it’s easy to see who is doing what. Active voice is closer to the style used in conversation and is especially important for localization.
In passive voice, “The handbook is written by the contributor,” the subject receives the action. This sentence uses more words and takes longer to identify the subject.
The table below shows more comparisons between active and passive voice.
Contributors write the handbook.
The handbook is written by the contributor.
Remove your shoes before entering the house.
Shoes should be removed before entering the house.
The cat dropped the phone on the floor.
The phone was dropped on the floor by the cat.


For clarity, spell out acronyms at first use. For example, “POC” can mean either “proof-of-concept” or “point-of-contact”. Use the format “proof-of-concept (POC)” on first use.


  1. Use sentence case for titles and headlines.
  1. Capitalize brand names unless the brand name uses unusual capitalization (eBay, GitLab). In general, default to the preferred capitalization of the brand unless the entire brand name is lowercase. In these cases, capitalize the first letter (example: Reddit, Lego).
  1. Capitalize work titles when they precede a name. For example, “General Partner Sid Sijbrandij.”
  1. Use lowercase for work titles when there is a comma separating the subject from the title. For example: “the graphic designer, Dakota Jones” and “Dakota Jones, senior graphic designer”

Title case versus sentence case

Sentence case is our preferred convention for titles and headlines. Sentence case is when only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. It’s easier to read and comprehend quickly.
Title case is when all words except articles, conjunctions, and short prepositions are capitalized. It’s generally reserved for names of works (books, manuscripts, movie titles, etc.) and can be complicated to get right.


Headings should be descriptive enough to suggest the corresponding context when they are seen out of context.
  1. Use sentence case for headings.
  1. Use headings liberally.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Don’t use FAQs.

Names and titles

On the first reference, introduce the subject by full name and title. See capitalization guidelines for work titles.
When using names in quotes or throughout an article and after the first reference, use their first name only as in the example below.
Co-founder and Ramatak CTO Ariel Manzur started building gaming software in 2001 when using a third-party engine wasn’t common. “Unity did not exist. There was no general-purpose engine then, “ said Ariel.


  1. Spell out numbers one to nine. Use digits for 10 and above.
  1. Use digits and the percentage symbol (%) for writing statistics.
  1. Spell out numbers and the word “percentage” when used as the first word in a sentence. For example, “Ten people saw the balloon in the sky,” and “Eighty percent of people think open core is the best business model.”

Present tense

Use the present tense instead of the future tense as shown in the table below.
There is a time limit for the candidate to submit the project.
There will be a time limit for the candidate to submit the project.


Use a numbered list to reference and distinguish between steps. Start each step with a capital letter. Use complete sentences or incomplete lists as shown in the table below. End complete sentences with a period. Do not include a period in a list because it is an incomplete sentence.
Procedure: Sentence
Procedure: List
1. Use the numbered lists for procedures and instructions. 2. Be consistent with sentence versus list procedures. 3. Don’t mix sentences and incomplete sentences in a list.
OCV job recruiting includes: 1. Candidate job posting 2. Recruiter outreach to the candidate 3. General interviews

Serial commas

Use Oxford style before the coordinating conjunction in a list of three or more items. In this example, “writing style, mechanics, and voice”, add a comma after “mechanics” and before “and”.

Word list

How to spell and style commonly used words.
  1. directly responsible individual (DRI)
  1. commercial open source software (COSS)
  1. open charter: Capitalize when referring to OCV’s Open Charter. Lowercase when using the term generally.
  1. open core, open-core: lowercase unless part of a proper noun (Open Core Ventures, hyphenate when it's a compound adjective directly preceding the noun it modifies (open-core business model), and leave it as two words when using it as its own term (open core)
  1. open source, open-source: lowercase, hyphenate open-source as an adjective preceding a noun (open-source software) and when using the active past tense (open-sourced)
  1. single source of truth (SSoT)
  1. system of record (SoR)

Writing resources

Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B., The Elements of Style, 4th ed, New York City: Pearson, 1999
Wikisource contributors, "The Elements of Style," Wikisource , https://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=The_Elements_of_Style&oldid=10777295 (accessed March 6, 2023).