Common conventions#

This style guide covers our conventions when writing:

  • OCDS Schema and standard documentation

  • GitHub issues

  • Data support responses

  • Associated presentations and documents


We strive to write concise, clear documentation. To improve your writing, please learn how to write in plain language and for the web (with many more resources at Nielsen Norman Group), and consider using these tools:


Use American English (e.g. “organization” rather than “organisation”) unless we are aligning a field name with an existing standard that uses alternative spellings. Notably, this means being careful about using “z” instead of “s” in many words of Latin origin.

Text formatting#

  • Do not use constructions like “supplier(s)” or “the supplier (or suppliers)”. The plural is fine, like “suppliers”.

  • Do not use smart quotation marks like . Use simple quotation marks like " '.

  • When referring to a field or codelist, use the camelCase version of the field/codelist name, and enclose it in backticks so it is displayed in a montotype font as follows: camelCase

  • When referring to a subschema, use the capitalized CamelCase version of the subschema name, and enclose it in backticks so it is displayed in a montotype font as follows: CamelCase

  • When referring to a code from a codelist, enclose the value in single quotes, e.g. “We have added a ‘direct’ code to the method codelist”. Note that true and false are not codes; they are boolean values.

  • When pluralizing a field or subschema, treat the field/subschema name as a proper noun, and add a 's instead of an s to the end, or treat it as a mass noun and add nothing to the end

  • When referring to a field in JSON Schema, use dot notation, like (Slash notation is reserved for JSON Pointer. For example, the JSON Pointer for is /definitions/Tender/properties/id.)

  • When referring to a field in OCDS data, use a JSON Pointer, like /tender/id.

Word choice#


  • “example”, not “worked example”

  • “user”, not “data user”

  • “hyphen”, not “dash”, to describe the “-” character

  • “for example”, “such as”, “like” or “including”, not “e.g.”

  • “that is”, “in other words” or “meaning”, not “i.e.”

  • Never use “free-text”

Data concepts#

  • Use ocid to refer to the field and “OCID” to refer to the concept

  • “phase”, not “stage”, for parts of OCDS implementation

  • “changelog”, not “change-log” or “change log”

  • “codelist”, not “code-list” or “code list”

  • “data package”, not “datapackage”

  • “metadata”, not “meta-data” or “meta data”

When describing data:

  • “publication” for the data source that persists across time

  • “collection” for the publication’s data at a specific point in time

  • “JSON data”, not “JSON document”, to avoid confusion with the documents field

  • Prefer “release” and “record” to “OCDS release” and “OCDS record”, unless the latter are clearer in context

When describing JSON Schema:

  • “field” to refer to OCDS fields, like

  • “property” to refer to JSON Schema metadata properties, like enum

  • “array”, not “list”

  • “object”, not “block”

When referring to a field, prefer the notation for the path in the data, like contracts.period, rather than the notation for the path in the schema, like Contract.period.

Procurement concepts#

  • “organization”, not “party” or “entity”, except in cases like “procuring entity” or “third party”

  • “stage”, not “phase”, for parts of a contracting process or framework agreement procedure

  • Use the order “goods”, “services” and “works” (alphabetical)

Instead of “tender”, which can mean both the bid from the supplier and the opportunity from the buyer:

  • “bid”, when referring to a submission from a supplier

  • “opportunity” (or “procurement opportunity”), when referring to a request, contest, etc. from a buyer

  • “contracting process”, when referring to the entire process

  • “tender stage”, when referring to the part of the contracting process

  • “tender release”, like in the context of release tags

  • “tender notice”, like in the context of document types

  • “tender object”, when referring to the field


  • “contracting (or planning) process”, unless the sentence relates to only one or the other

  • “(contracting or planning) process”, if the sentence relates to a scope of uniqueness

  • “planning process”, not “planning stage”

  • Never refer to an “OCDS process”, “OCDS contracting process” or “OCDS planning process”. “contracting process” and “planning process” refer to real-world processes, never to their OCDS representation. In OCDS, there are only releases and records.

Organization roles:

  • “buyer or procuring entity”, not “buyer” or “procuring entity”, except if the sentence is specific to one role, and not “contracting authority”

  • “supplier” for the awardee of a contract

  • “tenderer” for the submitter of a bid

  • “potential supplier” for a potential participant in a contracting process

  • “unsuccessful tenderer”, not “unsuccessful bidder”

For maintainers#

These regular expressions can be used to find breaches of the style guide, accounting for false positives.

“party” or “entity”

(?<!curing| third)[^`-]\b(part|entit)(y|ies)\b[^"/`](?!array)


a tender\b(?! (process|release))|submi(\S+ ){1,3} tender|tender submi


(?<!(`minLength| `required|geStrategy)` )propert(y|ies)

data path notation


JSON example filenames#

  1. Name the JSON example with a descriptive, lower-case filename, with underscores between words. If the file contains a specific release tag, such as a ‘tenderUpdate’, it is fine to use it as the filename.

  2. Store the example in the docs/examples directory in the standard’s repository. Create a sub-directory to group related examples, if one doesn’t exists already, rather than using a common prefix to the filename.

  3. If you need to make a file downloadable, don’t place it in docs/_static/, instead use the download role, e.g.:

{download}`link text <../../examples/file>`

extension.json metadata files#

  • Do not use backticks.


  1. Create the image, preferably using easily accessible collaborative tools like Google Drawings.

  2. Store the editable version in the Assets folder within the appropriate folder within this Google Drive folder.

  3. Export the image in PNG format.

  4. Use a descriptive, lower-case filename, with underscores between words. Append “_es” to the filename if the content is in Spanish.

  5. Store the exported version in the docs/_static/png directory in the standard’s repository. Create a sub-directory to group related images, as needed, rather than using a common prefix to the filename.