Frequently Asked Questions. Use the acronym FAQ. Don’t write FAQs.

fair market value (FMV)

Don’t capitalize as “Fair Market Value” or “F.M.V.”


Avoid referring to part of a product as a feature. Instead, just use the feature’s name.

Federal Information Worksheet

Capitalize as shown.

federal, your federal return

Don’t write “Federal” or “your Federal return.”


Don’t use. See EIN.

fetch, fetching

Using fetch can sound forced. Don’t say things like “An error occurred while fetching your data.” Say something more human.

filenames, filename, extensions

One word. Use lowercase for filenames and extensions. Don’t use bolding or quotes to set off filenames, and be sure to include a period between the name and the extension.

When referring to a universal file type, such as PDF or JPG, use uppercase; for the plural form add a lowercase s.

Do this:

Search for the file myittybitty.doc in the Carousel folder.
You can upload PDFs to the website.


Use lowercase f for flash drive or flash memory. Use uppercase F to refer to Adobe Flash Player. (Use full name at first reference; thereafter Flash is sufficient.)

flex-spending amount

Hyphenate “flex-spending” in this phrase.


Don’t use. Write scroll instead.


Folder is best, although subfolder works, too. Don’t use directory, except in documentation for developers.

flow-through entity

Hyphenate “flow-through” in this phrase.


A block of text (one or more lines) that appears at the bottom of every page of a document. Don’t get crazy with footnotes. The footer should have a useful inventory of links, organized in a way that makes sense for the information architecture.

for example

Spell out for example when you need to. Don’t write “e.g.” or any other Latin abbreviation.

Form 1096, 1096

A one-page summary or compilation sheet that a tax-exempt organization (a nonprofit) is required to file. It shows the totals of the information returns that a person or entity is submitting to the IRS.

Stick with the classic Form 1096, or 1096, not variations like 1096 form.

Form 1099-K, 1099-K

When writing it, stick with the classics shown—not 1099-K Form or any other variation. The long name of Form 1099-K is Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions.

Here’s how accountants describe this form: A Form 1099-K is a tax form that a payment settlement entity (PSE) must file with the IRS for payments made in settlement of reportable payment transactions for each calendar year.

Form 1099-R, Form 8839 (common forms, like a W- 2, usually don’t need to have “Form” before them)

Don’t write “form 1099-R” or “form 8839.”

Franchise Tax Board

Capitalize as shown.


Don’t use. Use suspicious activity instead.


In the product, don’t capitalize it and don’t write it in all caps. Marketing writers might be a bit more creative in using this term.

free trial

If the trial is free, great! Don’t capitalize free. Especially don’t write it in all caps: FREE. And under no circumstances whatsoever should you ever link it to legal dislaimer text elsewhere on the page.

Position the unique benefits of the trial as such—unique—and note that the trial is free secondarily, as icing on the cake.

fund-raiser, fund-raising

Hyphenate these terms as shown. Don’t write “fundraiser” or “fundraising.”


Don’t use functionality as it is an imprecise, catchall word. Focus on what the user really needs and understands.