CalCPA Editorial Style Guide

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Consistent copyediting and proofreading are critical to successful communication.

The CalCPA Editorial Style Guide is intended to help ensure the quality and integrity of CalCPA's internal and external communications. The CalCPA Editorial Style Guide should be your first reference and authoritative source for guidelines on the proper use of words or format of materials related to CalCPA.

Because the CalCPA Editorial Style Guide cannot cover all questions that may arise, two other reference resources are used when you cannot find the answer within these pages:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook
  • Webster's New World College Dictionary

A style guide is evolutionary by nature. If you find items you believe should be added, eliminated or revised, contact Aldo Maragoni, CalCPA communications manager.

A

academic degrees

  • Spell out bachelor's degree, master's degree. Do not use BA, MA. Example: He has a bachelor's degree in financial management.
  • Avoid using Ph.D. in text. Example: Speaking will be Jane Doe, who has a doctorate in chemistry; not Speaking will be Jane Doe, Ph.D., chemistry.
  • If Ph.D. is needed to establish someone's credentials within a list of other names, use only after a person's full name and do not precede name with the courtesy title "Dr." Example: Speaking will be Jane Doe, Ph.D.; not Speaking will be Dr. Jane Doe, Ph.D.

Acronyms

  • Spell out first reference and use the acronym on subsequent references. Exceptions: IRS and FASB, whose acronyms can be used on first reference.
  • Use capital letters without periods for acronyms Example: PCAOB, not P.C.A.O.B.
  • Avoid awkward construction. In general, do not follow an organization or entity's name by putting its acronym in parentheses. Example: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board agreed on firm registration fees; not The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) agreed on firm registration fees. Use the organization's acronym on second and subsequent references.

Addresses

  • A colon should follow the word that precedes the address. Use semicolons between the address lines. Example: Send mail to:CalCPA; 1800 Gateway Drive, Suite 200; San Mateo, CA 94404
  • Use two-letter postal abbreviations for state names in addresses. The state abbreviation should be in capital letters.
  • P.O. Box
  • Spell out San Francisco and Los Angeles in address; do not abbreviate as SF or LA.
  • Use abbreviation Ave., Blvd. and St. only with numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell out when used as part of street name without a number: He lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: The store is at the corner of Main and Elm avenues.
  • Always spell out Road, Drive, Circle, Lane and similar: 1800 Gateway Drive. Capitalize when part of formal name without a number: Meet me on Oak Road. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: The store is at the corner of Main and Elm drives.
  • Always use figures for an address number: 13 Mockingbird Lane.
  • Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names: 7 Fifth Ave. Use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 100 14th St.
  • Abbreviate compass points in a numbered address: 1234 E. Fourth St. Spell out if the number is omitted: The bank is located on East Elm Street.

ad hoc

adviser

  • Not advisor, unless it's part of an official name.

advisory

affect/effect

  • Affect, as a verb, means to influence: The game will affect the standingsEffect, as a verb, means to cause: They will effect many changes in the company. Effect, as a noun, means result: The effect was overwhelming.

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

  • AICPA OK on all references.
  • Use "the Institute" only in quoted material.

amid

  • Not amidst

and/or

  • Choosing and or or is preferable to and/or.

Annual Members' Business Meeting

  • Capitalize when referring to CalCPA's annual meeting.

Assembly member

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B

baby boomers

  • Lowercase, no hyphen

Bay Area

bellwether

beside/besides

  • Beside means at the side of. CalCPA's Editorial Style Guide is always beside meBesides means in addition to. Attending the conference, besides myself, will be 50 others.

biannual

  • Twice a year

Bimonthly

  • Every other month.

biased language

  • Avoid unnecessary references to gender, age, disability or ethnicity. Construct sentences as plural to use their rather than his or hers . Example: CPAs will need to bring their own golf clubs; not Each CPA will need to bring his or her own golf clubs.

biennial

  • Every two years

Big Four

  • Spell out Four

bios

  • Include author's professional designations, firm name, position, location and contact information: Don Miod, CPA, ABV, CVA, CBA is a founding partner of Miod and Co. in Sherman Oaks and Palm Desert. You can reach him at dmiod@miod-cpa.com.

Board of Directors

  • Uppercase when referring to a specific company or entity's board: CalCPA Board of Directors. Lowercase subsequent references when there is no direct attribution to a specific company: Being a member of the board of directors carries a lot of responsibility.

breakout session

Bulletin

  • Italicize and capitalize when referring to a specific chapter: The East Bay Chapter Bulletin keeps you updated on professional news. Lowercase, no italics when referring to multiple bulletins: The chapter bulletins are a key resource to stay informed of local developments.
  • Do not capitalize the word chapter when used in front of Bulletin unless it is used with a specific chapter: San Francisco Chapter Bulletin.

bylines

  • Include only primary professional designation: Susan Bleeker, CPA. All other professional designations should be listed in the bio.

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C

C corporation

  • Spell out first reference; C corp (no period in corp) on subsequent reference.

CalCPA Council

  • OK to use council, lowercase, on second and subsequent references when not including the company name.

CalCPA.org

  • CalCPA's website: www.calcpa.org

California Board of Accountancy

  • Spell out on first reference; CBA on subsequent references.

CalCPA Education Foundation

  • Spell out on first reference; Education Foundation on subsequent references.

California Revenue & Taxation Code

California Society of Certified Public Accountants

  • Use CalCPA when referring to the organization. Never use the Society, CSCPA or Cal Society.

Chair

  • Use when referring to CalCPA positions. Do not use chairwoman, chairman or chairperson.
  • Capitalize only when used before a name: CalCPA Chair Ed Jordan.

chair-elect

chapter

  • Lowercase when used without specific chapter name (My chapter is the best) or when referring to multiple chapters (The event is being sponsored by the San Francisco, East Bay and Los Angeles chapters); uppercase when used with a specific chapter: San Francisco Chapter.

closely held

  • No hyphen

committee

  • Lowercase when nonspecific; capitalize when used with a specific committee: CalCPA Technology Committee.
  • When listing several committees, capitalize only the committee names, but lowercase the word committees: Marketing, Technology and Human Resources committees.
  • Do not include "state" in CalCPA state committees: CalCPA Committee on Taxation; not CalCPA Statewide Committee on Taxation or CalCPA State Technology Committee.

Company

  • When part of a company name, spell out or abbreviate (Co.) according to company's style.

complement/compliment

  • Complement denotes completeness (He has his complement of CPE.) or the process of supplementing something (A frequent complement to hot dogs is mustard.). Compliment denotes praise or the expression of courtesy.

Company names

  • Refer to companies on first reference by their official names: John Woo and Company, Inc.

Corporation

  • When part of a company name, spell out or abbreviate (Corp.) according to company's style.

court cases

  • Italicize and use complete name of case on first reference: Trigon Insurance vs. The United States. Italicize key word on subsequent references: The Trigon case.

counsel

  • An adviser, often an attorney

council

  • Group of participants, such as the CalCPA Council.

CPAs

  • Plural: CPAs everywhere dread tax season.
  • No apostrophe if not possessive.

CPA's

  • Singular possessive: The client's tax forms were a CPA's nightmare.

CPAs'

  • Plural possessive: The California Society of CPAs' golf tournament was a success.

current/currently

  • Use only to refer to the most recent issue of a periodical. Otherwise avoid as redundant: Jane Smith is president of XYZ Corp.; not Jane Smith is the current president of XYZ Corp.

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D

dates

  • Do not use the word on before a date: We will meet July 10; not We will meet on July 10.
  • July 10, 2004; not 7/10/04 or 7-10-04
  • When listing dates, if the day is included, abbreviate the spelling for months, except for March, April, May, June, July. Example:Sept. 5, 2004; but March 5, 2004.
  • If the date only includes the month and the year, spell out the month: September 2004.
  • Do not use st, nd, rd, th following dates: May 1, not May 1st or May first.
  • It is not necessary to include the year when referring to the current year.

days of the week

  • Capitalize and spell out

department names

  • Lowercase CalCPA, Education Foundation, CAMICO and company departments: CalCPA's customer services department.

division names

  • Lowercase: CalCPA's government relations division.

directions and regions

  • In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern etc., when they indicate compass direction: Drive north for 10 miles, then turn left; capitalize when referring to regions: Northern California is beautiful.

dollars

  • $5, not 5 dollars or $5 dollars
  • OK to use "K," "M" or "B" in graphics when referring to thousands, millions or billions. Do not use in body text.

dot-com

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E

ebook/e-book

  • ebook: No hyphen when referring to electronic materials for Education Foundation conferences and courses.
  • e-book: Hyphenate when referring to electronic book.

e-commerce

ElderCare

  • When used as proper noun: AICPA ElderCare Program.

eldercare

  • one word, lowercase when used as common noun: An important issue today is eldercare.

elearning/e-learning

  • elearning: No hyphen when referring to CalCPA’s benefit providing members 40 hours of webcasts and online CPE.
  • e-learning: Hyphenate when referring to electronic learning.

email

  • No hyphen.
  • Italicize address in copy: editor@calcpa.org.
  • Set off with commas, not parentheses: Contact Joe Smith, joe.smith@XYZ.com.

Employment Development Department

  • Spell out first reference. EDD on subsequent references.

ensure/insure

  • Ensure refers to guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy; insure refers to insurance: Insure your equipment in case of theft.

et al.

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F

farther/further

  • Farther refers to physical distance: The office is 10 miles farther down the road. Further refers to an extension of time or degree:My tax returns are the furthest thing from my mind.

FASB

  • Financial Accounting Standards Board. FASB OK on all references.

FAS

  • Financial Accounting Statement issued by FASB. Italicize name of statement: FAS 106-1: Accounting and Disclosure Requirements Related to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

fax

Financial Leadership Forum

  • CalCPA initiative launched in 2008 to better serve business and industry members.
  • Forum on second and subsequent references; not FLF

firm

  • lowercase

flier

  • flier is the newsletter or hand bill; flyer is used for the name of a train and bus: The Western Flyer.

forego/forgo

  • To forego means to go before: A foregone conclusion. To forgo means to abstain from: I will forgo my internship for a full-time position.

Franchise Tax Board

  • Spell out on first reference. FTB on subsequent references.

freelance

  • Hyphenated as verb, adjective and noun.

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G

GAAP

  • Generally accepted accounting principles. GAAP on subsequent references.

GASB

  • Governmental Accounting Standards Board. GASB OK on all references.

grassroots

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I

Incorporated

  • When part of a company, spell our or abbreviate (Inc.) according to company style.

in memoriam

  • in memory of

in order to/in an effort to

  • Avoid using. Just use to.

Internal Revenue Manual

  • Spell out first reference; IRM Sec. XXX on second and subsequent reference.

Internet

  •   Uppercase in all references.

IRC Sec.

  • Use when referring to Internal Revenue Code, Section (number)

IRS

  • OK on all references
  • No need for IRS' to indicate possessive.

IRS guides

  • Capitalize guide titles, no quotes or italics. Example: IRS Publication 4220, Applying for 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status.

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L

laws

  • Capitalize legislative acts, but not bills. Example: The Sarbanes-Oxley Actthe Kennedy bill.

Limited Liability Partnership

  • LLP OK on all references; abbreviate when used in a firm's name.

Listserve

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M

MAP Survey

  • Management of an Accounting Practice Survey.

MC

  • Master or mistress of ceremonies is preferred.

money

  • Not monies

more than

  • Use when referring to quantities or distances. Do not use "over." Example: He received more than $1 million in the settlement; notHe received over $1 million in the settlement. He lives more than 10 miles from the office; not He lives over 10 miles from the office.

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N

names

  • Do not use Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss. Use full name on first reference. Use last name on subsequent references.

National Association of State Board of Accountancy

  • Spell out on first reference; NASBA on subsequent references.

nationwide

non

  • In general, no hyphen after prefixes beginning with non. Use a hyphen before proper nouns, capitalized words, acronyms or in awkward combinations: non-CPA, non-nuclear.

nonmember

nonprofit

Northern California

numbers

  • Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence, but if possible, restructure sentence.
  • Spell out number less than 10, except when referring to age.
  • Always use figures with percentages: 2 percent.

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O

online

  • not on-line

over

  • Refers to spatial relationships: The helicopter was hovering over my head. Use older when referring to age; more than when referring to quantities or distances. Examples: I am older than 30 years old; not: I am over 30 years oldHe received more than $100,000 in the settlement; not: He received over $100,000 in the settlement.

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P

page

  • Capitalize when referring to page number: Page 6. Do not abbreviate. Lowercase when referring to range of pages: pages 3-8.

peer review

Peer Review program

people

  • Do not use persons.

percent

  • Spell out unless used in tabulation or chart. Express numbers as figures: 5 percent . Use % symbol only in graphic material.

phone numbers

  • Refer to telephone numbers as follows: (805) 341-1234.
  • No comma between names and phone numbers. Example: You can reach John Doe at (415) 555-1212; not You can reach John Doe, (415) 555-1212.
  • CalCPA's toll-free number: (800) 922-5272, not 800-9CALCPA or (800) 9CALCPA.

president-elect

professional titles

  • Uppercase CalCPA titles only when they appear before a name: CalCPA Chair Greg Burke.
  • Do not capitalize professional titles: accountant Jane Doe, but CPA John Doe or John Doe, CPA .

pronouns

  • Construct sentences as plural so you can use they rather than he or she .
  • Where possible, write in the second person: You will need to bring your own golf clubs to the event; not Each CPA will need to bring his or her own golf clubs to the event.

publications

  • See Titles entry.

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R

re-elect

Revenue Procedure

  • The abbreviation Rev. Proc. is the preferred form.

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S

SBA

  • U.S. Small Business Administration. Do not use when referring to the California Board of Accountancy.

S Corporation

  • S corp (no period in corp) on second reference.

season

  • Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and all derivatives, such as wintertime.
  • Uppercase if part of a formal name: Summer Olympics.
  • Lowercase when used as an issue date for quarterly publications: The spring issue of YEP Connection will be coming out soon.

semimonthly

  • Twice a month.

schedules of IRS forms

  • Uppercase when modified by number or letter: Schedule C.

sole practitioner

  • A CPA who may have other non-CPA staff.

solo practitioner

  • A CPA who works alone.

Southern California

specialize

  • Don't use when referring to CPAs. It's preferable to use areas of expertise.

statewide

subcommittee

  • Uppercase if part of a formal name: MAP Committee's Practice Management Resources Subcommittee.

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T

task force

  • Uppercase if part of a formal name: Human Resources Committee's Women and Minorities Task Force.

tax code sections

  • When referring to a specific code section, abbreviate as follows: California Tax Code, Sec. 2000 on first reference. Sec. 2000 OK on subsequent references.
  • Lowercase and spell out section when not followed by a number: According to the tax code section, it's not a deduction.

tax season

  • Lowercase, no quotes

time

  • 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., not 10 AM or 10 PM or 10:00 am
  • 1–4 p.m.
  • 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

titles

  • Italicize publication names, such as books (Gone With the Wind), magazines (Time), newsletters (The Witness Chair), TV shows (60 Minutes) and titles of regulatory statements (FASB Statement No. 132 Employers' Disclosures about Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits).
  • Use quotation marks for titles of brochures, speeches or courses: The Education Foundation is offering "Multi-Tasking Issues for Today's Controller."

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U

under

  • Do not use in reference to distance, quantity or ages. Use fewer than or less than in reference to quantity or distance: She has fewer tax deductions availableyounger than or older than in reference to age.

username

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V

vice president

  • No hyphen, spell out. See Titles entry for capitalization rules.

vs.

  • Abbreviate versus as vs. in most cases.
  • Abbreviate as v. in court cases: Trigon Insurance Co. v. United States of America.

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W

W-2

web
  • Lowercase. Do not use World Wide Web.

web addresses

  • Italicize in copy: www.calcpa.org.
  • Do not include http:// unless there is no www.
  • Set off with commas, not parentheses: You can find more information on the CalCPA website, www.calcpa.org.

website/webpage

  • One word, lowercase

which and that

  • That is the defining, or restrictive pronoun. Which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive pronoun. The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one and is necessary to complete the sentence). The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only mower in question and is not necessary to complete the sentence.)

who and whom

  • Who is used when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase: The woman who rented the room left the window open. Who is there?
  • Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open. Whom do you wish to see?

Wi-Fi

  • Uppercase in all references.

The Witness Chair


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Y

years' experience

  • Use as plural possessive: Three to four years' experience; not 3-4 year's experience or 3-4 years experience.

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Punctuation

ampersand (&)

  • Only use as part of a company's formal name. Do not use as a substitute for and.

colon (:)

  • Use to introduce a formal series of names or statements; use semicolons to separate each name and title. CalCPA members elected the following officers: Dizzy Dean, president; Micky Mantle, vice president; Lou Gherig, secretary; and Jackie Robinson, treasurer.

commas (,)

  • In a series, do not put a comma before the last and unless the last item in the series is complex: I like bacon, eggs and ham. They bought turkey, roast beef, and ham and cheese sandwiches.
  • Place inside quotation marks.

dashes (—)

  • No space on either side of dash
  • Generally, use an em-dash for emphasis.
  • Regular dash, also known as hyphen, is used in phone numbers and compound modifiers.

ellipses (...)

  • Use to indicate the deletion of words in condensing quotes, text or documents. Example: Original: "The capacity of workers, after being displaced, to find a new job that will eventually provide nearly comparable pay most often depends on the general knowledge of the worker and the ability of that individual to learn new skills," Greenspan said. New: "The capacity of workers ... to find a new job that will eventually provide nearly comparable pay ... depends on the general knowledge of the worker and the ability of that individual to learn new skills," Greenspan said.
  • Put a space on both sides
  • Insert ellipses with the option-colon key to insert the proper spacing, not by hitting the period key three times.

hyphen (-)

  • Used to join two or more words functioning as a single adjective: full-service firm; well-known author. Do not hyphenate compound modifiers if the first word is an adverb: fully integrated system; recently completed tax season.

periods (.)

  • Only one space after period.
  • Place inside quotation marks.

quote marks (" ")

  • Do not place quotes around common expressions: Tax season is a busy time of year for many CPAs; not "Tax season" is a busy time of year for many CPAs.

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rev. October 2013