Word list

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A

a.m.

Don’t use this. Instead, use AM (no periods, capitalize). See more guidelines for time.

About me

A phrase used in Intuit Live Community. Use sentence case (don’t capitalize the “m” in “Me”).

above, below

Don’t use above or below to refer to an object or text in an article or topic. If possible, try to refer to an exact area in text (a step number, for example). Or try these alternatives: following, preceding, previous, and next. It’s OK to use above or below if you’re referring to a user interface element, or if space constraints make above or below the best alternative for a particular situation.

accept

Customers have a tough time understanding the holding bin model in QuickBooks. Because we detect their transactions, customers think those transactions are already in their books. They don’t understand what accept means in that context. Using add instead seems to help mitigate that confusion. Just be as straightforward as possible.

account

Account is not a proper noun. Use lowercase.

account names

For specific account names, use the name shown in the chart of accounts list (QuickBooks) and add account (lowercase) at the end. Match the user interface.

account statement

Use account statement, not bank statement.

accountant

One of our target audiences (along with small business, self-employed, and developer). Don’t capitalize it. Often when we write for the accountant segment, we are also solving for nonaccountants. That means we should lead with the definition, and then use the accounting term.

accountant ready

Don’t capitalize this feature, even when it appears in the developer site or experience. Avoid the term accountant enabled.

accounts payable (A/P)

Write as shown. Don’t use A/P if you’re introducing the term for the first time. Better still, lead with an explanation (money owed by a business to its suppliers) and provide the term after.

accounts receivable (A/R)

Write as shown. Don’t use A/R if you’re introducing the term for the first time. Better still, lead with an explanation (a legally enforceable claim for payment) and provide the term after.

Accrual, accrual-based

This term is acceptable only in content intended for tax and accounting professionals.

active, inactive

Use active or inactive when referring to services or subscriptions. Use make active or make inactive for actions that the customer can take on objects (customers, vendors, and employees). Don’t use active or inactive to refer to features, functions, or parts of the product—use grayed out instead.

add


Research tell us customers prefer add over accept, gather, and collect because it sounds less labor-intensive. In QuickBooks we say “add… to” for bank transactions, based on research showing that customers find it easier to understand than other options.

Example

  • Add bank transactions to your books.

Note: you add transactions TO your books; you don’t add transactions INTO your books.

Add from Contacts

Add from Contacts is a label we use in QuickBooks Online for Android. The term indicates that an item can be selected from the user’s contact list. In this case, capitalize the C in contacts.

add-in/add-on

Use add-in for programs and add-on for hardware.

adjusted gross income (AGI)

Don’t capitalize.

admin

Use admin whether you’re referring to an individual, role, or password. No need to spell out the full word (administrator) nor capitalize it.

Examples

  • Only the admin can add new users.
  • Enter your admin password.
  • You need admin privileges to add inventory items.

Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader

Any of the variations shown here will work.

adviser

Don’t write advisor.
Exception: ProAdvisor.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Spell out the law as shown. Don’t write “ACA,” “Affordable care act,” or “Obamacare.”

agent

Don’t use in customer-facing content. See specialist for generic use instead.

For conversational UI
Previously in our agent handover experience, where the bot hands off to support specialists in the chat panel, we’ve used "agent.” There may be some moments where the length of the word "specialist" over "agent" creates some problems, but we can figure it out.

We also sometimes refer to "my humans" to help play up the fact that the bot is artificial.  So we have buttons like "talk to a human" where we might otherwise have said, "talk to an agent.”

Finally, in the bot space, "agent" can also be used to refer to the bot itself, such as "digital agent" or "virtual agent." We've stayed away from this usage because it's ambiguous (a virtual agent could still be a real person).

aging

In the accounting world, aging means the length of time that an invoice or a customer credit has been outstanding. In your day-to-day life, aging is an irrevocable chess game with Father Time.

aging report

A report that lists the length of time that an invoice or a customer credit has been outstanding. Don’t capitalize this.

AI

It's OK to use the acronym for Artificial Intelligence. But it should only be used in content intended for tax and accounting professionals.

all rights reserved

A legal phrase indicating that the author of an original work holds all of the rights afforded to him or her under copyright law. Lowercase is fine here.

allows, allows you to

Don’t use; instead, use let or can.

Example

  • QuickBooks lets you keep your business finances organized.

Alternative Minimum Tax

Capitalize as shown.

amortization

This is the U.S. English spelling of the word. Amortisation is the British English spelling. Use the appropriate spelling for the locale you’re working with.

What the dictionary says:
Amortization is the systematic allocation of a balance sheet item to expense (or revenue) on the income statement.

AMT

You can use this acronym for Alternative Minimum Tax after you spell out the full term.

and so on

This phrase is preferred over etc., but try to avoid the use of either. Be specific and concise.

and/or

This is redundant, don’t use. The slash alone will suffice, if the options truly are one or the other (or both).

AnswerXchange

In TurboTax, capitalize as shown.

anti words

Don’t hyphenate. Do this: antibody, antitrust, antivirus

antivirus

One word, no hyphen.

any time (adj), anytime (adv)

Use two words when it’s an adjective modifying a noun (it answers the question “what”), or when the word at is in front of it. Use one word when used as an adverb modifying a verb (it answers the question “when”).

Examples

  • I won’t have any time until next Tuesday.
  • Download the PDF anytime for a step-by-step guide.
  • Security is available at any time of the day or night.

API

Use the acronym API in all instances. This term is only for the developer site and experience.

app

For desktop applications, use application rather than program. For web and mobile applications, use app. Don’t capitalize.

Examples

  • Make edits to your logo in your graphics application before you import it into QuickBooks.
  • QuickBooks Desktop is an application that helps you manage your business finances.
  • QuickBase is a web app that lets you easily create a web database for your business.
  • SnapTax is one of Intuit’s mobile apps.

appears

OK to use, especially when data populates, but opens is preferred for lists and windows that open. See also display. Do this: When you open Windows Explorer, a list of folders and files appears.

Apple ID

Apple is a proper noun, so we capitalize it (except when we’re talking about the fruit, but that’s another conversation entirely).

Apple Safari; Safari

A web browser is a proper noun, so we capitalize it.

application programming interface; API

A language and message format used by an application program to communicate with the operating system or some other control program such as a database management system (DBMS) or communications protocol. When writing it as an acronym, capitalize. This term is OK for the developer site and is probably something we don’t need to mention to other customers.

Arrears (bill in arrears)

Overdue debts. Okay to use this term in content intended for tax and accounting professionals.

assist, assistance

Don’t use. Help is our preferred term.

AST

For clarity, spell out automated sales tax (AST) on first use on the page or screen and just AST after that. This term is more common in the developer site and experience. It’s probably not something we talk about with other customers.

at the top; at the bottom

Never write these location cues as shown. And don’t write topmost or bottommost either. This kind of directional language is not accessible for customers navigating our products with screen readers.

auto-fill

Hyphenate as shown.

autocategorization

Not auto-categorization or autocat.


B

Back to top

A link or button that allows a user to scroll smoothly back to the top of a webpage. Use sentence case (lowercase “t”).

back up (v), backup (n, adj)

One word or two, depending on use, but never hyphenated.

Examples

  • To back up your data, choose File and then Backup.
  • The flash drive contains the latest backup file.

back-end

Hyphenate if needed for clarity when used as a modifier. Otherwise, two words.

Examples

  • The back-end service may interact directly with the front-end app.
  • Find the HDMI port at the back end of the device.

backdated

One word, not hyphenated.

backorder

One word, not hyphenated.

bank

Use bank for references to banks in the U.S.

bank-level security

Use this phrase (written as shown) instead of phrases like “industry-leading technology” or “TLS encryption.”

based on

Don’t write “based upon.”

before

Use earlier to refer to prior versions of products, not before.

best selling (n.), best-selling (adj.)

Don’t write “bestselling” or “best selling software.”

bi words

Don’t hyphenate. Do this: biannual, biennial

bimonthly

Don’t use. Be specific: twice a month or every two months.

birth date

Two words as shown. Alternatively, you can use birthday.

biweekly

Don’t use. Be specific: twice a week or every two weeks.

boom

Nope. Definitely don’t use. That means we don’t write “boom!” either.

bottom left, bottom right

For accessibility reasons, we strongly discourage using location cues. If you must (try harder!), write these as shown. Don’t write bottom left corner or bottom right corner.

box 14

Yes, box 14 is an important thing for TurboTax users. Don’t write “Box 14.”

breach, breached

Don’t use. Use compromised instead.

bug

Don’t use bug. Instead, use issue or situation.

business name

Write business name, not company name.

busywork

One word. It’s the drudgery that QuickBooks eliminates for users.

button

Use sentence case in button text, keep word count to a minimum, and stick to verb phrases (action-oriented). Avoid punctuation. Be specific about what is going to happen when the user clicks. Never say “Click here.”


C

a carryforward (n) but to carry forward an amount (v)

A carryforward is a tax and accounting term. Use with care and don’t write carry-forward.

a carryover (n) but to carry over an amount (v)

A carryover is a tax and accounting term. Use with care and don’t write carry-over.

CAD

Canadian dollar. Abbreviate as shown.

call ended

A message used in QuickBooks Online for Android indicating that a phone call has concluded. Use sentence case.

Call-in notification

Hyphenate and use sentence case.

can

Can is more conversational than allowed to or enabled. We use can when we can.

can’t

We try to keep things conversational, so we don’t write “cannot” or “can not.”

canceled, canceling, cancellation

In the U.S., spell the past tense version of the verb and the gerund with only one L. To keep things interesting, the noun form (cancellation) uses two Ls. Don’t use British spelling with two Ls for verb forms: not cancelled, cancelling.

capture

Use capture instead of take a photo.

Example

  • Capture receipts with your phone and attach them to QuickBooks transactions.

case-sensitive, case sensitive

Use a hyphen when it precedes a noun. Don’t hyphenate if it follows a noun.

Example

  • The intranet doesn’t allow case-sensitive user names but requires that passwords be case sensitive.

cash flow

It’s two words. When you use it as an adjective, don’t hyphenate it.

Example

  • Check here for your cash flow forecast.

cell phone

Don’t use. Instead, use phone or mobile device.

certification, certified

Become QuickBooks certified.

chargeback

A refund made by a credit card company to a credit card holder after the original transaction is authorized by the merchant account processor. One word, as shown.

chart of accounts

A master list of accounts a company records transactions against in its general ledger. Set in lowercase.

Chat now

A button that initiates a chat conversation with a customer care agent. Use sentence case.

check

Set lowercase as shown when you're writing about the financial document ("write a check") or using the term as a verb ("check your balance"). In Canada and the UK, the financial document is spelled cheque.

checkbook

One word

checkbox

Always one word. Use select and uncheck for actions you take on checkboxes.

checklist

Always one word.

checkmark

Always one word, no hyphen.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Capitalize as shown.

child care (n.), child-care (adj.)

We don’t write “childcare” as one word.

Child Tax Credit

Capitalize as shown.

choose

Use choose when referring to a customer decision that isn’t UI-related.

Examples

  • Choose whether you want to consult a bookkeeper or an accountant.
  • Choose the best partners for your business.

Use select when referring to an item that is clickable or tappable, or that is a choice between two or more items. (Tip: Use select for device-agnostic writing.) A drop-down list is a good example.

Examples

  • Select a report from the Memorized reports and select Run.
  • Select Mileage and turn Auto-tracking on.

click

Don’t use click when referring to a button, link, icon, or menu item. Use select instead. Example: Select Create (+) > Vendors > Bill.

When writing about interface actions, be device-agnostic. On some devices, this might be a click, while on others it’s a tap. Select what works for both cases.

Never write Click here for links or buttons. Instead, write a verb phrase that links to the destination (an article name, page title, or process) or initiates an action.

Example

  • Update QuickBooks to the latest release.

close

Use close to close a window, document, or file. Use exit to stop using a Windows application; use quit for Mac applications. Don’t use shut down.

cloud, cloud-based, cloud-based computing, cloud computing

Avoid using the word cloud, except in marketing materials and overviews. The term is vague and can cause customers to feel that we don’t have control over their data. Instead, focus on the action the customer is taking or be specific about the location. You can also use phrases like online, on the web, and anywhere/anytime access. If customers can’t implicitly understand where their data is being sent, it’s best to tell them where it’s going. Do this instead: File saved and synced online. Your transactions successfully synced with QuickBooks.

collapse

Don’t use collapse or other user experience instructions. Instead, write about the action in everyday terms, like close or hide.

company

This is what a customer sets up in QuickBooks to track financial data for a business. A customer can have more than one company associated with their Intuit account.

company file

For QuickBooks Desktop, use company file. For QuickBooks Online, use company.

company name

Write business name if you’re referring to the customer’s business or to the legal business name. Company name refers to what the customer named their business inside QuickBooks.

compromised

Use compromised instead of hacked. Don’t use any forms of the following words: theft, stolen, breached, or leaked. Provide solutions and offer next steps.

computer

Use computer, not PC or machine. PC is OK to use when differentiating between types of computers.

confirm (preferred over verify)

Try to avoid confirm or verify and use a more conversational option, like “make sure.”

congratulations

Sometimes it’s normal to offer congratulations: When someone graduates from college, gets married, has a baby, wins an award, or gets promoted. Sometimes it’s not normal to offer congratulations: When a user completes two steps in a flow and you don’t know what else to say.

Try to be purposeful about when you congratulate.

connect with

A set phrase used in Intuit Live Community.

Connect with QuickBooks

A service released jointly by Intuit and American Express that provides an improved way to connect a QuickBooks Online account with an American Express OPEN business account.

contractor

This word can mean different things: someone who provides services but isn’t an employee or someone who works in the construction business. Make sure the context is clear wherever you’re using the word.

copay, copayment

Use as shown, no hyphens.

copy

When you’re referring to migrating data from desktop to online, write copy instead of transfer. Transfer makes users feel like there’s a possibility that their information could get lost, or isn’t being stored for some period of time.

corrupt, corrupted

Don’t use. Instead, use damaged.

cost of goods sold (COGS)

This is an accounting term. When writing about it, remember to lead with the definition and follow with the accounting term.

CRA

The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). No need to spell it out; it’s commonly understood. And don’t forget the “the”! (Lowercase “t” if not at the start of a sentence.)

crash

Don’t use. We never want to cause or instill panic in our customers. If their computer stops working properly, or we know a program is going to malfunction and shut down altogether, be straightforward and let them know, but don’t say crashed. Instead, use “stopped responding” or other nonalarmist language that softens the message. Offer a solution or timeline when possible.

create an account

Use sign up when inviting a customer to start using an offering. Use Create an account as an alternative action on a sign-in page.

crime

Don’t use. Instead, use suspicious activity.

cursor

Don’t use cursor when you mean pointer. A cursor is a straight vertical line that tells you where text you type will appear. A pointer is an arrow or other shape that moves around the screen when you move your mouse.

customer

Depending on the type of business and purchase, you might find a synonym makes more sense in context (client, shopper, purchaser, patron, for example).

Customer pays me with

A label used in QuickBooks Online for Android indicating the currency in which a customer pays. Use sentence case.

Customer Support, TurboTax Help Team, help team, our experts

These are the options for referring to the TurboTax help team. We don’t write just “Customer Care,” “Customer Service,” or “agents.”

customer-facing

Anything that the customer of a business deals with directly. Always include the hyphen. Note that when we write “customer-facing” to our customers, we should be referring to their customers. Customer-facing touchpoints can include: the user interface of a software application, any mailing or other contact that a customer receives, policies that describe how to interact with customers (since the customer will experience the effects of these policies), social media, email, TV advertising, online advertising, web marketing, telesales, product interfaces, QuickBooks Design toolkit, in-product marketing, in-product help, and care agent scripts.

customize

Use customize when you’re personalizing something (such as a template or form) for your own use. Use change or edit instead for changing data (such as a customer name or email).


D

(Dates) April 15, 2012, October 2013

These examples show what not to do: May 5th, 2004; October, 2013.

We can do better. Read our guidelines for presenting dates.

dashboard

One word, lowercase d.

data

We typically try to avoid writing data. Information or info is more conversational and less transactional.

However, there are times when writing data is better. For example, when responding to privacy or security concerns, it’s reassuring for customers to know that “We securely store your data.” Or, when dealing with support issues, discussing a customer’s actual “company file data” helps communicate the importance of the message.

data file

Don’t use. Use company file instead. Data files (plural) can be used to refer to a collection of related files.

day care, day-care facility, family day care

Day care is two words as a noun and hyphenated as an adjective. These terms can be important for TurboTax users. We don’t write “day care facility” or “daycare facility.”

DBA; Doing business as

DBA is the standard legal acronym for doing business as. If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re writing an interface field label, in which case legal business name is probably the better option. Use sentence case in UI field labels (that is, “Legal business name”).

deactivate

Don’t use. For preferences, use turn off. For options, use clear.

dear

As in, “Dear Valued QuickBooks Online Account Customer.” If you ever see this, in email marketing or otherwise, alert everyone you know. We’ve got to get away from this kind of language.

default

Try to avoid using default in customer-facing copy.

Demandforce

A company that develops software-as-a-service applications that help businesses reach consumers via emails, text messaging, and online services. Demandforce used to be part of Intuit. Write as shown.

Department of Revenue

Capitalize as shown.

deselect

Select is OK, but don’t use deselect. Instead, use clear (unless you’re writing for QuickBooks for Mac). The term deselect causes a problem for localization and it sounds technical.

device

Specific copy is always best, but we can use device or mobile device instead of specifying phone or tablet.

dialog

Spell as shown. Not dialogue. And it’s not a verb. For that, we have talk.

dialog box

Now a term out of fashion, this is a box that appears temporarily on a display screen to present information or request user input. Internally, you may hear these called modals or popups. Don’t use any of these. Instead, use window.

dimmed

Don’t use. Use grayed out instead.

direct debit

A preauthorized payment an account holder authorizes a bank or financial institution to make directly to the biller. It can be a fixed amount (such as mortgage payment or rent) or a variable amount (such as those called for in bills or invoices). Use direct debit, lowercase. Don’t use as a verb. Don’t capitalize, even when referring to the direct debit service offered through Payroll.

directory

Don’t use. Use folder instead, except possibly on the developer site.

disabled

Don’t use. Use grayed out instead.

disc, disk

Don’t use; be specific. Most people back up to a CD, their hard drive, a flash drive/other removable media, or the cloud.

dismiss

Don’t use when you’re talking about closing a card, window, or other similar interface elements. Instead, say “close,” as in “Close this window.”

display (n)

Use display to refer to the device that displays computer information, whether it’s attached to a laptop, is freestanding, or is part of a mobile device. Don’t use monitor or screen.

display (v)

A window opens or appears. An LCD monitor displays what your computer is doing.

display name

Don’t use. Instead, use user ID.

doc, docs

Use this term, short for document, only for the developer site and experience.

double-check

Hyphenate as shown.

double-click

Hyphenated. Don’t use double-click on. Do: Double-click a customer name to edit customer information.

double-tap

Use double-tap to communciate that the user can scale content or an image on a mobile device by zooming in or out. Can also be used as a secondary gesture for text selection.

downgrade

Avoid this term. Use “change plans” instead.

download

OK to use. Example: Download transactions.

drag

Use when describing how a user can scroll content or navigate between views. Can also be used to describe moving an element.

drawer

This is an internal term. Use panel instead. Or better yet, look for opportunities to replace a copy-based element with an icon that’s easy to understand. UX Magazine said it best: “Work with designers to create smart copy-icon pairings. If this pairing is done right, you can retire copy and let the icon work its semiotic magic.”

drop off (v), drop-off (n, adj)

Two words or hyphenated, depending on use. Do this: Drop off your package at the FedEx drop-off location.

drop-dead

Don’t write this. It isn’t going to translate well, and it isn’t straightforward (even if the interface is drop-dead gorgeous).

dropdown


A graphical control element that shows a list of options when selected. As of October 2019, we no longer hyphenate this term.


E

e-commerce

The Associated Press recommends that we hyphenate “e” words like e-commerce and e-business. We make exceptions for ebook and email.

E-File & Pay

Use when referring to the service that is offered through both QuickBooks Online Payroll and the stand-alone Intuit Online Payroll.

e-file, e-pay, e-signature, e-payments, e-service

Use e-file, e-pay, and e-file and pay (lowercase, unless at the beginning of a sentence) to refer to the action. Hyphenate. Do not capitalize unless it’s the proper name of a product or service (like eSignature).

e-lodge


This is how consumers file their taxes in regions like the UK and Australia. The government there officially calls it electronic lodgment service. We think e-lodge is a definite improvement.

e.g.

Don’t use Latin abbreviations. Replace with “for example.”

earlier

Use lower/higher when referring to numerical product (software) versions. Use earlier/later when referring to dated product (software) versions.

Examples

  • If you use Point of Sale 6.0 or earlier, you can upgrade for free.

Earned Income Credit

Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “earned income credit.”

Easy Extension, TurboTax Easy Extension

Capitalize these products as shown. Don’t write “EasyExtension.”

easy, easily

Use with caution. Ease is subjective. What’s easy for us might not be easy for our users. And if something really is easy, it should speak for itself.

EasyStep Interview

Capitalize as shown. EasyStep is one word.

ebook

Lowercase, except at the start of a sentence. Don’t hyphenate.

eCheck

QuickBooks for Windows uses the industry standard, eCheck (this is reflected in all desktop help).

edition

Use edition when you need to differentiate between product or vertical offerings. Use version to differentiate between product years. Often, for customer-facing content, you don’t need to use either edition or version; usually, the product name is clear enough

EIC

Capitalize as shown when writing about the earned income credit. Don’t write E.I.C.

EIN

Spell out Employer Identification Number when the term first appears in text. It’s OK to use EIN for subsequent references. Don’t use FEIN. Don’t write “Employer’s Identification Number (EIN)” or “employer’s identification number (EIN).”

electronic check, eCheck

A form of internet payment that performs the same function as a conventional paper check. Because the check is in an electronic format, financial institutions can process it in fewer steps and less time. It has more security features than a standard paper check.

email

Lowercase, except at the start of a sentence. Never hyphenate. OK to use email instead of email address when you need the extra space. Don’t use webmail; email is sufficient.

email address

Don’t hyphenate email. Don’t use address by itself to refer to the email address.

Employer Identification Number (EIN), Employer ID Number (EIN)

Spell out Employer Identification Number when the term first appears in text. It’s OK to use EIN for subsequent references. Don’t use FEIN. Don’t write “Employer’s Identification Number (EIN)” or “employer’s identification number (EIN).”

employer-provided benefits

Hyphenate employer-provided as shown.

enable

Avoid this, except for switch labels on mobile (for example, Enable auto-tracking, which doesn’t change when the switch is flipped, per Apple guidelines). Try turn on or set up instead.

end-to-end, end to end

Hyphenate if it’s a modifier that comes before what it’s modifying, like end-to-end experience. Otherwise, don’t hyphenate.

ensure, insure

Ensure means to make certain or guarantee; insure means to protect against financial loss.

When troubleshooting, don’t use words like ensure or guarantee. Write something like maximum protection instead.

Enter

Use enter; don’t use type.

enter zero, enter 0

Sometimes we tell customers to do this when they’re doing their taxes. We don’t write “Enter “0”.

etc.

Avoid Latin abbreviations. Be specific and concise. Also check out and so on.

Ethernet

Capitalize as shown.

ex.

In certain cases, we can abbreviate example with a period, as shown.

exit

Use exit to mean stop using a Windows application. Use quit for Macintosh applications. Use close for closing windows, documents, or files.

expert, domain expert

“Expert” encompasses experts with deep knowledge of a specific field, like CPAs, payroll specialists, and bookkeepers, to name just a few. Primarily focused on delivering expert services.

Use “tax expert” (when credentialed). Use “specialist” or “product expert” to refer to a non-credentialed support person. If routing complexities make it unknown what type of Intuit agent will be supporting a customer, use “specialist” as the generic term. 

Approved titles (consumer-facing, capitalize as shown):

  • tax expert
  • Live tax expert
  • real CPA
  • real EA
  • tax attorney
  • bookkeeper
  • Live bookkeeper
  • virtual bookkeeper
  • certified bookkeeper
  • QuickBooks-certified bookkeeper
  • certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor
  • For QuickBooks Live, don’t show credentials or use “credentialed” for QuickBooks bookkeepers. Even if the QuickBooks Live expert has a credential (like CPA), refer to QuickBooks Live experts as bookkeepers.
  • Don’t use “Inuit Live expert”

Approved titles (expert-facing, capitalize as shown):

  • TurboTax Live expert
  • virtual CPA/virtual EA
  • tax expert/virtual tax expert
  • tax professional
  • QuickBooks Live bookkeeper
  • bookkeeping expert
  • bookkeeping professional

ExplainWhy

This is how we present this part of TurboTax. We don’t write “Explainwhy” or “explainwhy.”

export

Correlates with import. OK to use, but be as conversational and straightforward as you can.

extensions, filenames

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.

Examples

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

external hard drive

Use this term to describe a high-storage capacity hard drive you attach to a computer. No need to specify the connection type (USB, HDMI), as these may vary over time.


F

fair market value (FMV)

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

FAQ

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

feature

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.”

FEIN

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.

Examples

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

flash

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.

flick

Don’t use. Write scroll instead.

flow-through entity

Hyphenate “flow-through” in this phrase.

folder

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

footer

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.

fraud

Don’t use. Use suspicious activity instead.

free

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.

functionality

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

fund-raiser, fund-raising

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

Funds

Use money. Okay to use for content geared to tax and accounting professionals.


G

go to

Outside of Help, go to is acceptable if it fits with the tone of the wizard, first-time experience, message, web page, or email. Use your judgment for when go to works best and when click might be better.

Note: Click doesn’t apply to mobile. Go to is perfectly acceptable everywhere in a mobile experience.

Google Calendar

Capitalize as shown.

Google Chrome, Chrome

Capitalize as shown.

Google Maps

Capitalize as shown.

Google Play

Capitalize as shown. Google’s digital store that serves as the official app store for Android users. It’s sometimes referred to as Google Play Store or Android Market, but our preferred name is Google Play.

grayed out

Use grayed out instead of greyed out, dimmed, disabled, or inactive.

guarantee

When troubleshooting, don’t write guarantee or ensure. Say maximum protection instead.


H

hacked

Don’t use hacked. Say compromised, provide a solution, and offer next steps.

hang tight

Don’t use hang tight or sit tight. Hold tight is OK.

hard copy

Two words as shown.

hard drive

Use hard drive, not hard disk.

hashtag; #

Everyone uses hash marks (#) for hashtags in tweets. Where we don’t use a hashtag is in place of the word “number” unless there are significant space restrictions, such as in mobile screens. The preferred abbreviation for number is “no.” with a period.

Head of Household

Capitalize this tax filing status as shown.

head start

Don’t write “head-start” or “headstart.”

health care

Two words as shown.

health savings account (HSA)

Wherever this term appears, write it as “health savings account (HSA)” in the first reference and then “HSA” for all subsequent references. Don’t refer to it as an HSA account. That’s redundant.

hella

An adverb that substitutes for “really” or “very.” Only use it when describing baked goods, specifically, ones created or provided by Stacey Chase.

HELP

A phrase used in One Intuit Identity.

Help; help

Capitalize Help when referring to a Help system or one of its components: in-product Help, the Help window, the Help icon, and so on. Don’t capitalize if you’re referring to getting aid.

Examples

  • Click the Help icon in the upper right to view details about the window.
  • For help in setting up your company, consult a QuickBooks ProAdvisor.

hide, show


Use hide or show to refer to something in the product that’s turned on or off by a user interface element. Don’t use active, inactive, activate, or deactivate. When referring to something in the UI, capitalize the word.

To show instructions, click Show.

high demand

Don’t hyphenate.

high income (n.), high-income (adj.)

Write high income as a noun. Write high-income as an adjective.

Examples

  • You don’t qualify for this credit because of your high income. We’ll check to see if you can get other credits.
  • High-income individuals should plan ahead for tax time.

higher

Use lower/higher when referring to numerical product (software) versions. Use earlier/later when referring to dated product (software) versions.

highlight

Don’t use as a verb. Instead, use select.

hmm; hmm…

It’s OK to use “hmm…” to make your copy more conversational, but be intentional about it. Use it sparingly and write as shown, with 2 m’s and an ellipsis.

Hold tight

Hold tight is fine. Don’t use sit tight or hang tight.

Home

Use Home by itself if you want the customer to select a Home icon. Note capitalization.

Example

  • Select Home to return to the dashboard.

homepage

Write homepage, all one word, lowercase. Don’t write Home page, Homepage, or home page.

homeschool, homeschooling

One word as shown. Don’t write “home school.”

how-to


Hyphenate both the noun and adjective forms of how-to. When calling out how-to lists in info links or elsewhere, write how-to’s as shown.

Examples

  • This how-to video shows the steps to capture a receipt.
  • Today’s speaker talks about the how-to of getting a business license.
  • There’s an entire list of how-to’s to go through when onboarding someone.

HRMC

Acronym for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Note there is no “the.” It’s just HMRC.


I

i.e.

Avoid Latin abbreviations. Replace with “that is.” Or write in a conversational way that avoids this altogether.

ID

Don’t use; use user ID instead.

Example

  • To start using QuickBooks, use your user ID to sign in.

identity

Don’t use. Write “your info” instead.

IDP

Don’t use this acronym, which stands for Intuit Data Platform. Use plain language instead. We usually only use the term platform on the developer site.

image file

A file that contains graphics data, like a GIF, JPEG, or PNG. Write as shown.

import

It’s OK to say “import transactions,” but if you can find a more conversational way to write it, even better. “Download transactions” also works.

in ascending order

Don’t write phrases like these in interface copy. What does that phrase even mean? Figure it out and write that instead.

in order to

This phrase pads a sentence with extra words. Just use “to.”

in to

“Into” is usually just one word, except when it’s in copy about signing in. Use “sign in to” (“in” and “to” are separate words here), not “sign into.”

Example

  • Sign in to your account to view your balances.

in vs. on

When to use “in”:
In a center, in a field, in a list, in the system tray

When to use “on”:
On the homepage, on the Icon Bar, on the Navigation Bar, on a page, on a tab, on a toolbar

in-product Help

Note the hyphen and the capital H in “Help.”

inactive

Avoid writing inactive unless referring to a menu command or user interface element that uses the actual term.

independent contractor

Wondering when to use self-employed vs. independent contractor vs. freelancer? You’re not alone. An independent contractor is different from a freelancer, but they both fall under the umbrella of self-employed. While most uber drivers won’t ncessarily refer to themselves as “independent contractors” (or any of the above, for that matter) we lean into “self-employed” as much as we can.

When you’re talking about the product, write it as: QuickBooks Self-Employed. Otherwise, lowercase (unless you’re starting a sentence, in which case it’s “Self-employed”).

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Don’t write “I.T.I.N.”

industry-leading technology

Don’t use. Write “bank-level security” instead. Both phrases sound like jargon. Figure out a conversational way to say what you mean.

info links

An info link is something you can select on a screen to display some content that you can read and then dismiss. Use info links for brief definitions or further explanations. In QuickBooks, info links appear with a blue underline.

info, information

It’s OK to use info instead of information. In most instances, we prefer info over data. However, there are times when using data is better.

For example, when responding to privacy or security concerns, it’s reassuring for customers to know that “We securely store your data.” Or, when dealing with support issues, discussing a customer’s actual “company file data” helps customers understand the importance of the message.

intangible asset

Spell as shown. When describing an accounting term, define it first, then provide the term.

Internal Revenue Service, IRS

This one is common enough that it’s OK to use the abbreviation. It’s the U.S. government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement. Don’t write I.R.S.

Internet

Capitalize as shown.

intranet

Lowercase as shown.

Intuit 1099 E-File Service

Capitalize and hyphenate as shown.

Intuit Account

A set of credentials (user ID, password, and security answer) that allows access to Intuit offerings. Don’t use account interchangeably with company.

Intuit Company Profile

Info about the customer that spans all their Intuit offerings. Includes the general company name, address, and phone (each of which can be different from their counterparts within payroll, TurboTax, or other products), a list of users, and a list of offerings.

Use this only when you need to help the customer understand data that is shared across their Intuit Account. (Internally, an Intuit company profile is called a realm.)

Intuit GoPayment, GoPayment

Write as shown.

Intuit Pay

A mobile device app created by Intuit for businesses wanting to accept payments face-to-face on a mobile device. Capitalize as shown.

Intuit PaymentNetwork, IPN

A payment and money transfer service created by Intuit. Note that PaymentNetwork is one word.

invalid

Try to avoid using invalid because it sounds like technical jargon. It’s better to use clearer wording, even if it means more words. If used, be sure it specifically modifies a noun.

invoice

Use invoice as a noun. For the verb form, say “send an invoice,” “give an invoice,” or “create an invoice.” In cases where it isn’t possible to avoid gerunds, the gerund form can be used as a noun (for example, “invoicing,” along with “reporting” and “billing”).

What the dictionary says: A commercial document issued by a seller to a buyer, relating to a sale transaction and indicating the products, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller provided the buyer. From the point of view of a seller, an invoice is a sales invoice. From the point of view of a buyer, an invoice is a purchase invoice. The document indicates the buyer and seller, but the term invoice indicates money is owed or owing.

Create an invoice for your customer.

Invoice your customers.

iPhone, iPad, iOS

Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “IPhone,” “IPad,” or “IOS.”

item-based split

Hyphenate as shown.

itemized deductions

Don’t write “Itemized Deductions” or “Itemized deductions.”


J

John Smith

A name used as demo data in Quickbooks Online. Capitalize it because it’s a name (fictitious though he may be). His achievements are legendary.

jump-start (v.), jumpstart (n.)

Hyphenate as a verb. One word as a noun.

just-in-time manufacturing

Hyphenate as shown.


K

ka-ching

That’s the sound of money being made.

KB, KBA

Don’t use “KB” or “KBA” to refer to knowledge-base articles. Use “support article” instead.

knowledge base

Two words. Generally, though, refer to the support site or support articles instead of using “knowledge base.”

KPIs

Key performance indicators demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. This term should only be used in content intended for tax and accounting professionals.


L

label

Use sentence case for user interface elements, including labels.

labeled; labeling

In U.S. English, we spell labeling with one L, not two (as in labelled or labelling).

Lacerte

Capitalize as shown. This is the ProConnect product for professional tax preparers.

landing page

Don’t use landing page in customer-facing copy unless you’re making a marketing suggestion for their small business.

last in, first out

Don’t hyphenate. Write as shown, with a comma after “last in.”

later

Use lower/higher when referring to numerical product (software) versions. Use earlier/later when referring to dated product (software) versions—in this case, use later to describe subsequent versions.

launch

Don’t use launch or start. Use open for apps and turn on/off for hardware.

Example

  • Select the Printer icon to open the printer utility.

leak; leaked

Don’t use. Use compromised instead.

Learn more

Lowercase “m” as shown. Try to use a more targeted phrase for links. Research shows that users frequently ignore “Learn more” links. And, because the link doesn’t communicate much context, it’s not accessible.

left-hand/right-hand

For accessibility reasons, we strongly discourage using location cues. If you must (try harder!), just use left or right.

legal business name, legal name

Use lowercase in text. If used as a user interface field label, use sentence case.

liability

In accounting, a liability is a debt or financial obligation. Loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, and accrued expenses are examples of liabilities. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

license key

Lowercase as shown.

Lifetime Learning Credit

Capitalize this tax term as shown.

like-kind exchange

like kind exchange

limited liability company (LLC)

In an LLC, the members of the company can’t be held personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

line 13, salaries and wages

This might be the most important part of Form W-2. Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “W2 Line 13, Salaries and wages” or “line 13, Salaries and Wages.”

line item

A line item is an entry that appears on a separate line on a balance sheet, budget, financial report, order, invoice, or other document in list format. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

line of credit (LOC)

A line of credit is an arrangement between a financial institution, usually a bank, and a customer. It establishes a maximum loan balance that the bank permits the borrower to maintain. The borrower can draw down on the line of credit at any time, as long as they don’t exceed the maximum. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

loan payment

This is a payment, usually periodic, made to repay money borrowed from a lender. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

log in / log on (verb)

Don’t use. Use sign in instead.

log out / log off

Sign in is what we use instead. If the existing screen uses log out, see what you can do to change it for consistency. Be sure to pair appropriately: log in and log out, log on and log off.

long-term asset

An asset that won’t turn into cash or be consumed within one year of the date shown on the balance sheet. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

long-term gain

Don’t write “long term gain” or “longterm gain.”

long-term liability

In accounting, it’s an obligation that becomes due more than one year into the future. Long-term liabilities include items like debentures, loans, deferred tax liabilities and pension obligations. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

long-term, long term

Hyphenate this expression as an adjective. Set it as two words when it’s a noun. 

Example

  • Apply for your long-term loan. Your loan is available for a long term.

low income (n.), low-income (adj.)

Write low income as a noun and low-income as an adjective.

Examples

  • Your dependents usually have no or low income.
  • Some low-income tax credits might be available.

lower

Use lower/higher when referring to numerical product (software) versions. Use earlier/later when referring to dated product (software) versions.

lump sum (n.), lump-sum (adj.)

Don’t write “lumpsum.”


M

Mac, Macintosh

Use Mac in most instances, whether you’re referring to a computer or an operating system. Note that we generally use Mac for Intuit product names (QuickBooks for Mac, Quicken Essentials for Mac). Refer to desktop apps as Mac app and Windows app, not desktop app, PC app, or Apple app.

machine

Don’t use machine. Be specific: computer or mobile device.

Mark as paid; Mark as unpaid

Use these. Don’t use “Unmark as paid.”

Married Filing Jointly

Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “married filing jointly,” “Married Filing Joint,” or “married filing joint.”

Married Filing Separately

Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “married filing separately,” “Married Filing Separate,” or “married filing separate.”

maximum protection

Use the phrase “maximum protection” instead of words like “guarantee” or “ensure.”

may, might, can

May implies permission. Might implies possibilities. Can implies the ability to do something.

Examples

  • You may see the doctor now.
  • You might have a virus on your computer.
  • You can install an antivirus program.

Medicare

Capitalize as shown.

Menu icon

Hamburger menu, three bars

menus

Try not to write about user interface elements unless you absolutely have to for clarity. Use “menu” to make it clear that we are talking about the menus in the menu bar. When navigating customers through menus, follow these guidelines: Outside of Help, it’s OK to use “go to” or “from” when navigating the customer to a menu, especially if it fits with the tone of the wizard, first-time use experience, message, web page, or email that you’re working on.

For Help content, use “select” as the verb: Select Transactions and Banking to see your bank transactions.

This is in line with how we write about user interface objects like buttons and icons. The exception to this is QuickBooks for Windows and Mac. For these desktop products, other indicators such as “go to” and “from” are acceptable.

merchant account

A merchant account is a type of business bank account that lets businesses accept payments by debit or credit cards. With a merchant account, there’s an agreement between 3 parties: a business (a retailer), a merchant bank, and payment processor. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

MHz

Capitalize as shown.

midnight

Lowercase as shown.

mobile device; device

Use mobile device when talking about any mobile device, like a mobile phone or tablet.

money bar

In QuickBooks, the money bar displays customer and supplier transactions in categories.

money market account

An interest-bearing bank account that typically pays a higher interest rate than a savings account, and that provides the account holder with limited check-writing ability. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

money-back guarantee

Hyphenate as shown.

money-in transaction

A transaction that adds money into a account. Hyphenate as shown. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

money-out transaction

A transaction that substracts money from an account. Hyphenate as shown. 

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

money-purchase Keogh plan

Hyphenate “money-purchase” in this phrase.

mouseover, mouse over

Don’t use. Instead, use move the pointer or hover over. Be aware that this term is not accessible.

multi words

DO: multicolor, multicultural, multilevel, multimillion, multitalented

Don’t hyphenate unless butted up against an “i” word such as “multi-institutional” or “multi-icon.” Multi words are almost always one word, not two separate words.

Exception: multi-user. QuickBooks for Windows and QuickBooks Point of Sale have multi-user modes.

When referring to how you interact with the UI, like in CUI or Help content, follow the capitalization and spelling of the product’s UI. (For more, see capitalization guidelines for writing about the interface). Non-UI content shouldn’t be hyphenated.

In QuickBooks Desktop: Multi-user mode. In QuickBooks Point of Sale: Multi User mode. (Note that QuickBooks for Mac doesn’t hyphenate multiuser.)

My Q&A

A set phrase used in Intuit Live Community.

my vs. your

Use “your,” not “my,” in the UI and related text. 

Using second person maintains a consistent voice and promotes a friendly, conversational quality. There are some exceptions.

Your mileage, Your accounts, Your sales tax

My transactions, My receipts


N

navigate

Don’t use, unless you’re on a ship or working with a GPS device. Use “find,” “browse,” “locate,” or “go to” instead.

navigation

There are many ways to direct customers to files, folders, websites, or pages. The important thing is to be as clear as possible so customers can find their way easily. Use your judgment and aim for clarity.

Find is a good alternative to search when you want the customer to feel empowered. For example, it’s more effective in the UI to use the phrase Find customers instead of Search customers because the word find implies success. Find is also a good option for simplicity and maintains a friendly tone.

Browse or locate are good choices when directing customers to files, folders, or drives on their desktop. Browse is the common button name in the Windows interface that customers click to see their files list, so telling them to browse helps associate the action with the button. Browse is often used for folder locations. Locate works well when the customer has actively saved or stored a file themselves and you don’t need to be specific about the location of the folder.

Go to gives the sense that the customer is moving away from where they are and going to another location. Use go to when you need to direct the customer away from their current workflow or location in the product—for example, when you need them to go to a specific URL. Don’t use go to for menu commands.

Examples

  • Find the customer you want to send the invoice to.
  • Browse to the folder where you stored the backup file.
  • Locate the mylogo.gif file.
  • Go to maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source for a map to the conference.

net pay

The total amount a worker receives after taxes and deductions have been withheld from gross pay during a pay period. Also called “take-home pay,” “take-home pay.”

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

net price

The price or cost of a product or service, not including sales tax.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

net terms

A payment term component that indicates the full amount is due for payment in the number of days indicated. Terms of “net 20” mean that the full payment is due in 20 days. The term may be abbreviated to “n” instead of “net.”

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

net-to-gross bonus; net to gross bonus; NTG bonus

A way to calculate a gross bonus amount by adding the taxes and deductions withheld to the net bonus amount.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

net-to-gross calculation; net to gross calculation; NTG calculation; NTG

A calculation for determining the gross wages needed to end up with a specific net pay amount.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

Next, Previous

OK to use in the product, such as in a step flow. Capitalize.

non taxable (zero-rated)

Pertaining to a product or service on which no value-added tax is levied in countries that use a VAT. Examples of these goods include many types of food and beverage, exported goods, donated goods sold by charity shops, equipment for the disabled, prescription medications, water and sewage services, books and other printed publications, children’s clothing, and financial services.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

non words

Don’t hyphenate unless combined with a proper noun.

DO: nonprofit, nontaxable, nonresident, noninventory
DO: non-QuickBooks, non-Intuit, non-American, non-accountant

non-state obligation (where state is the name of any state)

Hyphenate this tax term as shown. Examples: non-New York obligation, non-California obligation

nonbusiness

Don’t write “non-business.”

noncash

Don’t write “non-cash.”

noncasualty losses

Don’t write “non-casualty losses.”

nondependent

Don’t write “non-dependent.”

none of the above

Write it as you see it here. No need for hyphens in any part of this phrase.

nonelecting

Don’t write “non-electing.”

nonemployee

Don’t write “non-employee.”

nonexempt

Don’t write “non-exempt.”

nonfinal

Don’t write “non-final” or “non final.”

nonitemized

Don’t write “non-itemized.”

nonprofit

One word as shown.

nonrefundable

Don’t write “non-refundable.”

nonresident

One word as shown.

nontaxable

Don’t write “non-taxable.”

noon

Lowercase as shown.

not sure

Don’t write “unsure.”

notifications

Notifications should be brief, clear, and reassuring. If servers are going to be down for scheduled maintenance, don’t be alarmist about it. But feel free to incorporate some personality into it. Also, don’t refer to the notification area in the product. Work with design to solve for this another way.

QuickBooks will be down for maintenance tonight, from 12 midnight to 1:00 a.m. PT. We scheduled it when you’d likely be asleep or binge-watching a show, but probably not doing accounting. You’re welcome.

Heads up: Our servers are exhausted just *watching* the Olympics! They’ll be taking a break Saturday, Aug 19 at 9:00 PM PT. May we suggest using the downtime to practice your shotput throw?

QuickBooks will be unavailable for about an hour from 12 midnight to 1:00 AM PT. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll make sure nothing happens to your data while we update our servers.

number, no., #

Don’t use # in place of the word number unless there are significant space restrictions, such as in a mobile UI. The preferred abbreviation for number is no.

As a hashtag, use the symbol directly in front of the term you’re tagging, as in #hashtag.


O

OAuth

This is an acceptable abbreviation for open authorization, but only for the developer site and experience. Avoid this kind of technical language in the rest of our products and services.

OK

OK, OK’d, OK’ing, OKs. Don’t use okay or o.k. A simple OK usually looks better in user interface designs.

on demand (n.), on-demand (adj.)

Hypenate.

on the go

No need for hyphens here.

on the left; on the right

For accessibility reasons, we strongly discourage using location cues. If you must (try harder!), write these as shown. Don’t write “left-hand,” “right-hand,” “to the left,” or “to the right.”

on the screen

Don’t write “in the screen.”

on-site

Don’t write “onsite” or “on site.”

online

Be mindful of how much we repeat the product name (QuickBooks Online) in a single context. After reviewing some pages, we found in some cases that we repeated QuickBooks 10 times on a single screen. You can still get away with incorporating “online” instead of repeating the full name “QuickBooks Online.” Same goes for Desktop.

online, TurboTax Online

Don’t write “on-line” or “TurboTax online.”

onscreen

One word.

Oops

Don’t use interjections like these. Our customers rely on us to know what we’re doing in the worlds of taxes and accounting. We don’t earn anyone’s confidence by saying things like “oops.”

open

Don’t use “launch” or “start.” Use “open” for programs and “turn on/off” for hardware.

Don’t use “open” for invoice status (“2 invoices open.”) Use “unpaid.” “Open” is pretty much used as a synonym for “unpaid” in more formal accounting environments, but if a partially paid invoice is “Open” then it’s not also “Unpaid”—it’s “Not fully paid.” Open invoices are one piece of the puzzle—and could be both unpaid and possibly overdue—but consider open purchase orders, open bills, etc. Because the term requires explanation every time, and is considered accounting-speak, try not to use it.

open invoice

An invoice that has not been paid yet, showing the amount owed and the due date for the payment.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

opening balance equity (OBE)

In Intuit products, the equity account that represents the other side of the starting balances.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

opt in (v.); opt-in (n.) (adj.)

When using the word as a noun or adjective, hyphenate. When using as a verb, it’s two words.

out-of-state

Hyphenate as shown.

overcharge

One word.

overdue invoice

Overdue is one word.

overlimit

One word.

overpayment

One word.

override

One word.

overtime

One word.

overwrite

Don’t use. Write “replace” instead.

owner’s contribution and owner’s draw

A standard accounting term in QuickBooks.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

owner’s equity

A business owner’s investment in the business minus the owner’s draws (or withdrawals) from the business plus the net income (or minus the net loss) since the business began.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.


P

Pacific time, PT

Capitalize, no periods (as shown). Example: M-F 7 AM to 9 PM PT

page

OK to use only when referring to an interview, wizard, website pages, or a homepage. Otherwise, use window or tab. Use (page name) page to refer to web pages that come up in embedded browser windows. When referring to a page, use your judgment about its title. The point is to use the text that is the most visible and recognizable to the customer and unique to the page. You can mention the title bar name or the header on the screen.

paid family leave

Don’t capitalize as “Paid Family Leave.”

pane

Refers to the separate areas of a split window. If a pane has a clearly designated title, capitalize the name. If not, use lowercase. Try not to refer to user interface elements in copy.

part-year residents

Hyphenate as shown.

pass-through entity

Hyphenate as shown.

password

Don’t capitalize this word unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence.

Passwords do not match

A set phrase used in Intuit Live Community. This is a little stiff for our voice. When you can change this, please do. Some options might include: “Looks like the passwords don’t match” or “Passwords don’t match.”

pay as you go, pay-as-you-go

Pertaining to a system of paying debts or meeting costs when they are incurred. Use hyphens when using it as a modifier. When writing an accounting term, it’s important to define the term first and provide the technical word second.

Pay now

On buttons, this phrase should appear in sentence case. In an invoice email, users can select this link to pay an invoice immediately.

pay period

The service period for which an employer pays wages to a worker and for which statutory or authorized deductions are made.

When writing an accounting term, try to define the term first and provide the technical word second.

pay run

Use “pay run,” not “payroll run.” The processing of periodic payroll payments for workers.

When writing an accounting term, try to define the term first and provide the technical word second.

pay stub

Two words as shown.

Pay this vendor with

Set in Sentence case as shown. It’s a label in QuickBooks that allows a user to select a foreign currency in which to pay a vendor or supplier.

paycheck

One word, lowercase as shown. In Canada and the UK, the correct spelling is paycheque.

payday

One word.

payee

A person to whom money is paid or is to be paid, especially the person to whom a check is made payable. Look for other ways to communicate this in your writing, if you can. “Payee” is a little stiff for our voice.

payer

Don’t spell this term as “payor.” Better yet, don’t use either term. Come up with a more conversational way of saying this.

PayPal

Write as shown.

payroll tax

The tax an employer withholds or pays on behalf of their employees based on the wage or salary of the employee.

When writing an accounting term, try to define the term first and provide the technical word second.

payslip

One word.

PDF

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

personal identification number, PIN

Since the abbreviation is probably more conversational than writing it out, abbreviating (in all caps) as “PIN” is fine. Don’t write pin or P.I.N.

phone numbers: (800) 123-4567

In the U.S., use dashes in phone numbers: 800-123-4567. For more examples, including international ones, see our guidelines for phone numbers.

PIN, Personal Identification Number

Since the abbreviation is probably more conversational than writing it out, abbreviating (in all caps) as “PIN” is fine. Don’t write pin or P.I.N.

pinch

Don’t write. Use “zoom in,” “zoom out,” or (for mobile) “double-tap to zoom” instead.

pixelated, pixilated

These terms mean different things, and most dictionaries autocorrect for the second term, which usually isn’t the meaning we want. Pixelated with an “e” means an image’s pixels are visible, usually unintentionally. Pixilated with an “i” means mentally unstable, bemused, or whimsical. To avoid unintended meanings, consider using language that discusses poor resolution or improper display instead.

platform

This term is acceptable only in the developer site and experience.

please

Avoid using this word unless you’re asking the customer for extraordinary effort, or if a major error or defect occurs. Use your judgment when it comes to inserting “please.” Sometimes it’s appropriate depending on the context.

plug in (v.); plug-in (n.)

Two words or hyphenated, depending on use. Also called an “add-on” or an “extension.”

Do this: Plug in your headphones and download the LoudBass plug-in for your browser.

pm

Use PM, uppercase, no periods. Don’t do this: p.m. For more information, see the guidelines for time.

point of sale (n.), point-of-sale (adj.), POS

Here’s a definition in accounting language: [The] time and place where a retail transaction is completed[,] at which a customer makes a payment to the merchant in exchange for goods or after provision of a service.

pointer

Use “pointer” when you mean the arrow that moves around onscreen when you move your mouse. Use “cursor” when you mean the vertical blinking line that shows where text you type will appear.

pop-up (n, adj)

Hyphenate as shown.

postal code

Canada Post capitalizes it, but many places don’t. Check with your localization team to figure out how to get it right.

pound sign (#) or #hashtag

Don’t use # in place of the word number unless there are significant space restrictions, such as in a mobile UI. The preferred abbreviation for number is no.

As a hashtag, use the symbol directly in front of the term you’re tagging, as in #hashtag.

powered

Don’t use for “turn on” or “turn off.” Using powered can have a double meaning, as in “powered by” (for example, Turbo powered by TurboTax) and can even have legal connotations. Look for ways around using “powered.”

Powered by

A set phrase used in Intuit Live Community.

pre words

Generally, don’t hyphenate unless combined with a proper noun. For example: preassigned, predefined, preexisting, preselected, pre-Columbian, pre-Tudor, pre-World War II.

pre-fill

Hyphenate as shown.

press

Don’t use. For mobile, write “hold down” to communicate that the user can select one or more items in a view.

Don’t use “press + tap,” “press and tap,” “press + drag,” or “press and drag.” To express that the user can rearrange data within a view, or move data into a container, say “drag” or “hold to drag.”

previous, next

OK to use in the product, such as in a step flow. Capitalize.

printer-friendly

Hyphenate.

prior-year return, in a prior year

Don’t write “prior year return,” “prior year’s return,” or “in a prior-year.”

ProConnect Tax Online

Capitalize the name of this product as shown. This is the standalone title for the Intuit ProConnect Tax Online product.

product expert, product specialist, product support specialist, product support

Use "product expert" or "specialist." Product support specialists (non-credentialed) help our customers navigate their way through our products and maximize their experience. They’re primarily focused on DIY and product navigation. If an expert is credentialed, use “tax expert” or “expert” instead.

product versions

When showing differences between product versions, avoid duplicating content as much as possible, but not to the extent that consolidation introduces overly complicated procedures or leads to continuous scrolling.

Show different versions in context. When you embed differences in context (for example, within a particular step), use the following guidelines:

  • Use bullets to denote version differences within a step.
  • If possible, introduce the bulleted differences with a main statement telling the customer to choose from the bullets that follow.
  • Use expandable content (expandos, links that open and close, and so on) instead of bullets if appropriate for the viewer and customer experience.

When denoting individual versions, list the most recent version first and the remaining versions in descending order.

When you denote ranges of versions, avoid using hyphens or en dashes. List the most recent version first, followed by the next most recent versions in descending order.

Examples

  • Install QuickBooks.
  • Create a new company file:
  • QuickBooks 2014: Choose File > New > Company File.
  • QuickBooks 2013 and 2012: Choose File > New > New Company File.
  • QuickBooks 2011, 2010, and earlier: Click the New Company icon.

For numbered versions, use higher/lower. For annual versions use later/earlier.

profit and loss report

Don’t capitalize this term. It’s a summary of the financial performance (revenue and expenses) of a business over time. When writing an accounting term like this, try to define it first and provide the technical word second.

profit and loss statement

Don’t capitalize this term. It’s a summary of the financial performance (revenue and expenses) of a business over time.

When writing an accounting term, define the term first and provide the technical word second.

profit-sharing Keogh plan

Hyphenate “profit-sharing” in this phrase.

program

Don’t use. Instead, use “application” (desktop) or “app” (web or mobile).

property, plant, and equipment (PP&E)

Abbreviate as “PP&E.” But remember, when writing an accounting term like this, define the term first and provide the technical word second. 

For the extra curious: The PP&E are the non-current productive fixed assets of a company that are vital to business operations but cannot be easily liquidated. The value of property, plant, and equipment is typically depreciated over the estimated life of the asset, because even the longest-term assets become obsolete or useless after a period of time.

ProSeries

Capitalize as shown. This Intuit ProConnect product is for professional tax preparers. Other products in the lineup include ProSeries Basic and ProSeries DMS. Capitalize those products as shown.

pull

It’s OK to say “Pull down to refresh” if you’re working on mobile. But realistically, we’re all writing for mobile; stay away from device-specific terms. “Refresh” is a great option. You can say, “Refresh to see new transactions.” The user then can shake, tap, click, slide, or whatever new interaction comes our way.

purchase order (PO)

Write it out if it’s the first time the user is encountering it. After that, you can use PO.


Q

QB, QBO

Don’t abbreviate QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online. Spell out these product names. The only exception is when we're writing about the QBO Blog.

QBO Blog

Capitalize the “B” in “Blog.”

Qualifying Widow, Qualifying Widower

In TurboTax, capitalize these terms as shown.

Quantity on Hand, quantity on hand, on-hand quantity

In the past (and present) this phrase is used to mean “inventory” in QuickBooks Online. Technically, we’ve also been using the variation: “On-hand quantity.” (For Windows, it’s “quantity on hand.”) But it’s a new dawn, one where we write in the language of regular humans. And that means writing “inventory” instead.

quarter-to-date; QTD

Hyphenate as shown.

Québec/Revenu Québec

We use the French spelling even in English. Don’t shorten Revenu Québec to RQ.

query

A request for information. Definitely not a word to use in customer-facing copy.

QuickBooks

Write as shown: capital “Q” capital “B.” Don’t do any of these: Quickbooks, Quick books

QuickBooks data, QuickBooks file

Don’t use “QuickBooks data” or “QuickBooks file.” Use “company file” instead for QuickBooks for Windows or Mac. In rare instances, you might need to use “QuickBooks data” when referring to a collection of files that includes more than the company file (such as log files, an accountant’s copy file, and template files).

QuickBooks desktop

Don’t use “QuickBooks desktop” in customer-facing text. Use “QuickBooks for Windows” or “QuickBooks for Mac” instead.

QuickBooks for Mac

A software program developed by Intuit for Mac desktop users. Write “QuickBooks for Mac,” not “QuickBooks desktop.”

QuickBooks Labs, QBO Labs

An experimental plug-in integrated with QuickBooks where power users can try out new plug-ins. Write as shown.

QuickBooks Live Community, QuickBooks Community

A community where QuickBooks users can find answers to their questions, and get help from experienced users and QuickBooks employees. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Merchant Service

A set of plug-ins that allow QuickBooks Online users to conduct business using their mobile devices. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Online

Use the name of the product, “QuickBooks Online.” Don’t use “QB Online” in text or graphic form, and be mindful of how much we repeat the product name in a single context. You can sometimes l get away with using “QuickBooks” instead of repeating the full name “QuickBooks Online.” QBO is an internal term and shouldn’t be used in customer-facing content.

QuickBooks Online app

An app developed to be used with QuickBooks Online. Write as shown. Don’t capitalize the “a” in “app.”

QuickBooks Online Essentials

One of our product offerings, developed for small businesses who have three users or less. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Online Plus

One of our product offerings, developed for small businesses who have five users or less. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start

One of our product offerings, developed for small businesses (just one user). Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Payments

Software that helps QuickBooks users process payments quickly and securely. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program

This is our training and support program for accounting professionals. We work with them to offer high-quality service to their clients. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks Small Business Community

A community where small business users can find answers to their questions about Quickbooks and get help from experienced users and QuickBooks employees. Capitalize as shown.

QuickBooks support site

Capitalize as shown. Use “QuickBooks support site” the first time you reference it, and “support site” (lowercase s) for subsequent references. If you’re referring to a third-party website, use a lowercase s (the Apple support site, for example).

Quicken Live Community

A community where Quicken users can find answers to their questions, and get help from experienced users and Quicken employees. Capitalize as shown.

quit

Don’t use “quit” unless you’re discussing a Macintosh program. Use “close” instead. See “close.”


R

re words

Generally, don’t hyphenate unless the word has two distinct meanings (recover and re-cover or resent and re-sent). The meaning that more clearly means “do again” takes a hyphen. When in doubt, check www.m-w.com.

Do this: Reenter the password in the New Password field. You may recreate after you re-create the invoice. She resorted to re-sorting the inventory list.

read-only

Hyphenate as shown.

real-time; real time

When using as a modifier noun, use a hyphen (ex. real-time signal processing). When it’s just a noun, don’t hyphenate (this is happening in real time).

receivables

OK to use this term after explaining it first.

receiver

The nicest guy in the NFL.

reconcile

OK to use this accounting term after explaining it first.

Here’s the definition: Pertaining to a business transaction that has cleared a bank account and where the books are in balance with the bank statement.

reconcile status

The resulting status of the reconciliation process. In QuickBooks, we guide users through the following statuses: Reconciled, Cleared, Uncleared.

reconciled transaction

OK to use this term after explaining it first.

Here’s the definition: A business transaction that has cleared a bank account and where the books are in balance with the bank statement.

reconciliation

OK to use this term after explaining it first, but you can probably find a better way to write it than “reconciled.” Look for opportunities to use conversational language. There’s a good chance this is one of them.

Here’s the definiton: An accounting process used to compare two sets of records to ensure the figures are in agreement and are accurate.

recordkeeping

One word.

recurring payments

Use “recurring payments” when referring to payments created in QuickBooks using the Recurring Payments page, accessed through the Customers menu. Lowercase unless you’re referring to the page.

recurring transaction

OK to use this term after explaining it first.

redo

Write as shown, no hyphen.

redownload

Hyphenate for clarity as re-download. Better yet, try to recast the sentence to say download again.

Refer a Friend

If it’s the name of a program, capitalize the “F” in “Friend.”

referral authorization code

OK to use this term after explaining it first.

Here’s the definition: A code that can be obtained from the voice authorization center of the card-issuing bank whenever a transaction is declined with error code “Referral.”

refresh

We stay away from device-specific terms, which is why “refresh” is a great option. You can say, “Refresh to see new transactions.” The user then can shake, tap, click or whatever new interaction comes our way.

refund

OK to use this term.

Refund Monitor

Capitalize this product name as shown. Don’t write refund monitor or Refund Meter.

refund receipt

OK to use this term after explaining it first. An internal record to account for a return of payment to a customer.

registered trademark

On web pages, emails, etc., as long as the “®” is embedded in the logo, you don’t have to show it again in the text.

release, Release

Use lowercase if the reference is generic. Use uppercase if you’re referring to a specific update or download. Use the letter R and release number (no spaces) when combined with the full product name. Do this: Check which release you have by pressing F2. You need to download Release 7 for that feature. The issue is resolved in QuickBooks Pro 2012 R7.

Relevé 1 slip

Not a Relevé 1 form. Include the accent, even in English. Don’t shorten to Relevé or RL-1. If there are severe space constraints, it’s OK to shorten to Relevé 1, but this should be avoided.

replace

Use “replace,” not “overwrite.”

report

In QuickBooks, customers run a report. Not create, generate, or anything else.

report names

Use sentence case. Depending on the interface, these titles may appear in all caps. Example: Sales by customer summary, Purchases by vendor detail

REST

Use the acronym phrase REST API. More commonly, use just API. This term is only for the developer site and experience.

right-click

Hyphenate as shown.

right-click menu

Don’t use. Instead, use “shortcut menu.”

rotate

Try to find another way to communicate the action the user needs to take. Work with design to see if there’s a visual element that will be more clear.

Roth IRA

Capitalize as shown.

run a report

In QuickBooks, customers run reports. Not create, generate, or anything else.

run vs. execute

Use “run” to run a command at a command line. We never use “execute.”


S

S corporation

Capitalize as shown.

safe mode

Don’t capitalize this term.

safeguard

Safeguard is one word.

sandbox

One word.

satisfaction guarantee

Don’t write “money-back guarantee.”

Save and Next; Save & Next

Capitalize as shown.

save time, timesaver (n.), time-saving (adj.)

Write these about as often as you would use an exclamation point—not often. These phrases are almost completely devoid of meaning from overuse in marketing. They're generic and can be applied to any other application. Be more specific and cut to the time-saving benefit. If you must use, hyphenate as shown.

scan

Don’t ask the user to scan, skim over, or any other variation of “read.”

Schedule C, Schedules C (if more than one; this format applies to all schedules); Sch. C (if space constraints)

Do not write “schedule C,” “Schedule Cs,” or “Schedule C’s.”

screen

Don’t use “screen” to refer to a container (usually a box) that overlays the user interface and presents info to the user or requests a response from them. Try to avoid referring to the container itself, but if you need to, use window instead.

screen name

Use “user ID” instead.

screenshot

One word.

scripting error

When we talk about errors, be straightforward. Use conversational language to put users at ease. Don’t be alarmist.

scroll

It’s OK to say “scroll down,” but in general, stay away from device-specific terms. Work with the designer to look for ways to use design to lead the user (instead of narrating the action).

SDK

This term is only for the developer site and experience. Use the acronym SDK in all instances.

section 179

Don’t capitalize as “Section 179” unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence.

select

Use “select” (instead of “choose”) when referring to an item that is clickable or that is a choice between two or more items. A drop-down list is a good example.

Do this:

Select a report from the Memorized reports and click Run.

Use “choose” when referring to a customer decision that isn’t UI-related.

Do this:

Choose whether you want to consult a bookkeeper or an accountant.
Choose the best partners for your business.

Don’t use “deselect.” Instead, use “clear” (unless you’re writing for QuickBooks for Mac). The term “deselect” causes a problem for localization.

self-employed

Wondering when to use self-employed vs. independent contractor vs. freelancer? You’re not alone.
An independent contractor is different from a freelancer, but they both fall under the umbrella of self-employed. While most Lyft drivers won’t necessarily refer to themselves as “independent contractors” (or any of the above, for that matter) we lean into “self-employed” as much as we can. When you’re talking about the product, write it as: QuickBooks Self-Employed. Otherwise, lowercase (unless you’re starting a sentence, in which case it is: Self-employed).

semiannual

Don’t hyphenate.

set up (v.), setup (n., adj.)

One word or two, depending on use, but never hyphenated.

Do this: After you set up your accounts, you’re ready to go.
Do this: Setup is complete. Restart your computer before continuing.

shake

If this is how the user is going to backtrack, undo, initiate, or redo an action, then it’s OK to use. But it should only operate as one of those actions within the brand.

shopping cart

Write as shown.

short-term, short term

Hyphenate this expression as an adjective. Set it as two words as a noun. Examples: Apply for your short-term loan. Your loan is available for a short term.

shortcut

One word.

shortcut menu

Use “shortcut menu,” not “right-click menu” or “pop-up menu.”

Do this: Right-click the Start button and choose Explore from the shortcut menu.

Show more

Show me more, View more

show, hide

Use “show” and “hide” to refer to something that is turned on and off by a UI element.

Do this: To show the Art Tools toolbar, choose View > Toolbars > Art Tools

shut down

Don’t use for exiting an application. Use “exit” for Windows applications, or “quit” for Macintosh applications. For computers, use “turn on” or “turn off.” For apps, use “sign out.”

sign in (v.); sign-in (n.) (adj.)

When using the word as a noun or adjective, hyphenate. When using as a verb, it’s two words.

Write “sign in,” not “log in” or “log on.”

sign in to

Use “sign in to” (“in” and “to” are separate words here), not “sign into.”

Do this: Sign in to your account to view your balances

Don’t do this: Sign into your account to view your balances.

sign on

Don’t use. Use “Sign in” instead

sign out (v.)

Be sure to pair up sign out with sign in. Don’t sign in and log out.

sign up (v.); sign-up (n.) (adj.)

When using the word as a noun or adjective, hyphenate. When using as a verb, it’s two words.

Use “sign up” when inviting a customer to start using an offering (so that includes button copy and CTAs). Use “create an account” as an alternative action on a sign-in page. See Single sign-in.

sign-in name

Don’t use. Use “user ID” instead.

Capitalize “User ID” only when you’re writing it as a field name. In the middle of a sentence, write “user ID.” Note that “user ID” is always two words, never “userID”.

Use “user ID,” not “username,” “user name.”

simple, simply

Try not to use these words. Simplicity is subjective. What’s simple for us might be complex for our users. And if something really is simple, it should be self-evident.

since (or that)

Don’t write “the fact that” or “due to the fact that.”

since vs. because

The primary definition of since has to do with time, although it’s used conversationally to mean cause and effect. “Because” is preferred for cause and effect because it’s unambiguous. Don’t use “since” when you mean “because.”

Do this: Online payments are faster because the money goes directly into your account.
Do this: Since I started using online payments, I get paid faster.

Don’t do this: Online payments are faster since the money goes directly into your account.

single sign-in

Hyphenate “sign-in” in this instance. Our customers access our online products and services (both on the web and on mobile devices) through a single sign-in account, called an Intuit account. This makes it easier to manage multiple products and services seamlessly. It’s important that we describe and present sign-in access consistently across all our products and services.

Here’s how to think of this: Customers create an Intuit account to sign up for our online products and services. They sign in to their account with their user ID and password. We use the phrase user ID and password, instead of sign-in or login.

Use sentence case in button copy, and don’t use punctuation: “Sign in”

single, but Single if referencing filing status

Capitalize as shown.

Sit tight

Don’t use “Sit tight” or “Hang tight.” “Hold tight” is OK.

SmartLook

Don’t write “Smartlook” or “smartlook.”

smartphone

One word.

snapshot

One word.

Social Insurance number/SIN

Capitalize as shown. OK to refer to it as SIN if there are space constraints, or if you’ve already spelled it out on the screen.

Social Security

Capitalize as shown

Social Security number

Spell out and capitalize as shown. Don’t use Social. Use SSN only if there are space constraints.

Software as a Service; SaaS

Capitalize as shown.

Sole proprietorship

When a selection option is “Sole proprietorship” and the other options are “LLP,” “LLC,” “S Corp,” and “C Corp,” we lowercase the “p.” When in doubt, lowercase. The list should read: LLP, LLC, S corp, C corp, Sole proprietor.

sorry

Apologize only when we’ve failed to meet expectations or deliver on something we’ve promised. Don’t say “sorry” as filler or when you mean something different.

spam

Don’t write as “Spam” or “SPAM.”

specialist

Use “specialist” or “product expert” to refer to a non-credentialed support person. (If an expert is credentialed, use “tax expert” or “expert” instead.)

If routing complexities make it unknown what type of Intuit agent will be supporting a customer, use “specialist” as the generic term. “Specialist” can include: tax support, tax experts, bookkeepers, product support specialists, associates, reviewers, leads, and managers in instances where we can’t initially specify who will be handling a case.

spouse

Only capitalize “Spouse” at the beginning of a sentence.

spread (open)

Don’t use. Write “zoom” instead, if necessary. But designs should be responsive, so our users shouldn’t have to do a lot of pinching and zooming.

Square, Inc.; Square

Just “Square.” Capitalize as shown.

Standard Deduction

Capitalize as shown. Don’t write “standard deduction” or “Standard deduction.”

start

Don’t use “start” or “launch” when referring to programs or hardware. Instead, use “open” for programs and “turn on/off” for hardware.

Do this: When you click the P4 icon, Perforce opens.

start TurboTax

Customers start TurboTax. Don’t write “launch TurboTax.”

state taxing agency

Don’t write as “state taxing authority.”

state, your state return

Don’t capitalize.

step 1

Don’t capitalize steps.

step-by-step instructions; We’ll walk you through it step by step.

Don’t write “step by step instructions” or “We’ll walk you through it step-by-step.”

stolen

Don’t use. Use “compromised” instead.

sub-category

Hyphenate as shown.

sub-class

Hyphenate as shown.

sub-customer

Hyphenate as shown.

sub-department

Hyphenate as shown.

sub-item

Hyphenate as shown.

subaccount

A division of an account in a chart of accounts. Previously Sub Account (capitalized, two words). Now one word, not capitalized. Don’t write sub-account.

subcontractor

One word.

subjected

When troubleshooting, use “subjected” instead of words like “vulnerable” or “target.”

submit

Do not use. Digital products are littered with this word on buttons and other calls to action. Do we really want to beat our customers into submission? There are more human, conversational ways of guiding users to take action: Next, Complete, Send, Yes, Buy now, Add vendor, Add customer, Start my free trial, Start TurboTax, etc.

subtotaled, subtotaling

In the U.S., use only one L in versions of this word: subtotal, subtotaled, subtotaling.

SUI

Sign-up user interface. For Marketing only: Punctuate all headlines and subheadlines in marketing copy. That includes in the SUI.

sunset

Don’t use this term to mean phasing out a product. Instead, use “no longer supports” or “no longer available.”

Support

In help content, use “Support” to refer to the organization. Do not use “customer care.” If we’re instructing the customer to contact us, we’ll say contact us (and include the link to the contact page).

suspicious activity

Write as shown (lowercase). Don’t use “fraud” or “crime.”

swipe, swipe left, swipe right

The more we talk about the method of interacting (click, tap, swipe), the more specific that string is. Try to be device-agnostic, but not at the expense of clarity.

Use “swipe” to describe when the user needs to scroll content or navigate between views

swiper

Do not use. Use “card reader.”

switch

Use “switch” instead of “toggle.”

sync

Use sync, synced, and syncing. Don’t use synch, synched, synching, or synchronize.

Sync Manager

Intuit Sync Manager is a brand name. Refer to it as Sync Manager. It shows in the Windows notification area when running QuickBooks for Windows.

system tray

Use “notification area” instead. (Per the Microsoft style guide, the system tray is now called the notification area.)


T

T4 slip

Not T4 form. If there are severe space constraints, it’s ok to shorten to T4, but this should be avoided.

table

Wondering how to format copy for a table? Time to chat with the designer. They have patterns for these design elements that will help you visualize the copy needs for your project.

  • Use tables primarily for numerical information.
  • Don’t use tables to condense lists or include text beyond a few words per cell.
  • Don’t include full sentences or, worse, paragraphs, in tables. That kind of content is better presented in body copy.
  • Formatting should be consistent within the table itself and with any nearby tables.
  • If possible, fit the size of the table to the viewer displaying it.
  • Avoid tables within tables for online content. Usually there’s not enough room to display such complex tables onscreen properly.
  • Set off table headings. If needed, also set off row headings.
  • Use the same font in the table as the surrounding content. Don’t use special fonts or font sizes in the table.
  • Usually, a table title is unnecessary.
  • The following cell alignments are preferred, but use your best judgment to create a clear, easy-to-scan table.
  • Right-align, decimal-align, or center numbers in columns.
  • Left-align words in columns. Short words (3 letters or less) may look better if centered.
  • Column headings should be left-aligned for text, center-aligned for numbers.
  • Note that tables present major accessibility issues. Screen readers have a hard time reading through the content in tables to make it useful.

tap

The more we talk about the method of interacting (click, tap, swipe), the more specific that string is. Try to be device-agnostic, but not at the expense of clarity.

Use “tap” to describe how the user can select or trigger a control or item. In the past, we would use “touch” for an Android device, but today we use “tap” for all devices.

taskbar

One word.

Tax due

Balance due. On some screens, it might appear as Bal due.

tax expert

Tax experts are credentialed CPAs, EAs, or attorneys. They are responsible for providing tax advice when the customer wants someone to interpret the information for them. Tax experts can dig into the background and summarize what a tax document says. They have access to diagnostic copies so they can go into a specific schedule or worksheet to explain why a customer didn’t qualify for a credit. Tax experts can sign and file a tax return on behalf of a customer.

Tax Pro Center

A free resource for tax professionals seeking updates on industry news, insights, etc. Use title case.

tax reform

Set lowercase as shown, unless it’s at the start of a sentence.

tax support, tax associate

Internal use only. Don’t use in customer-facing content. See “specialist” for generic use instead.

Tax support is not a credentialed role. They provide advanced support for TurboTax programs and apps, but cannot give tax advice. They can take calculation issues, like “Why am I not getting my child tax credit?” or “I have these numbers in this one form and I don’t know what to do with them.” Tax support can typically offer links to resources like articles, publications, and tax documents.

A few other ways the tax support role differs from a credentialed tax expert:

  • Has a different interview process from tax experts
  • Assists with and can explain calculations
  • Quotes tax form instructions, publications, and articles
  • Can also handle product support questions
  • Can't provide tax advice
  • Can't review or sign tax returns

tax year

Use lowercase “tax year” unless specific to a product name or beginning of a sentence.

tax-exempt

Hyphenate.

tax-free exchange

Hyphenate as shown.

tax-option corporations

Hyphenate as shown.

taxable in or by (a state)

Don’t write “taxable to (a state).”

taxpayer

Don’t capitalize unless it’s at the start of a sentence.

Taxpayer Information Worksheet

Capitalize as shown.

text; texts

These are OK when talking about text messages. Don’t use SMS.

thanks, thank you

Only write “thank you” for extra effort or inconvenience. Don’t thank customers for completing tasks they would normally do anyway. Consider writing “Thanks” instead, which is a little less formal.

Do this: Thank you for your feedback.

that vs. which

If deciding between “that” and “which,” “that” shouldn’t be preceded by a comma and “which” should. Use “that” when the phrase that follows the word is essential in identifying the subject. The phrase is not set off by a comma.

Do this: The patch file that was recently updated is available online. (Identifies which of the patch files is available.)

Use “which” to describe something incidental about the subject that isn’t necessary to the meaning of the sentence. Use a comma or commas to set off which.

Do this: The patch file, which was recently updated, is available online. (Gives an extra fact about a particular patch file.)

The QuickBooks Team

The proper way to sign off in an email. Don’t specify a team. It detracts from the overall brand. For example, don’t write: The QuickBooks Online Account Team.

theft

Don’t use. Use “compromised” instead.

Then What Happens?

A set phrase used in QuickBooks Online.

they

It’s OK to use they with a singular antecedent instead of he or she, which is awkward. Example: Each employee must enter their Social Security number. You can also try rewriting the phrase using plurals. Example: All employees must enter their Social Security numbers.

through

Don’t write this as “thru.”

throw an error

Don’t use this phrase. If writing an error message, use phrases like “We’ve encountered an error,” or “Something’s not right.”

Do this: QuickBooks encountered an error while contacting your bank.
Do this: We ran into a problem contacting your bank.

till

Avoid; use until instead. Till is more informal, which is OK, but might localize as “cash drawer.” To avoid this, stick with until over till.

timeout; timed out

One word, no hyphen. If you’re writing about a session that’s timed out, be conversational (and don’t use a hyphen).

timesheet

One word.

title bar

Two words.

TLS encryption

Don’t use. Write “bank-level security” instead.

to

Don’t write “in order to.” Just “to” is sufficient.

To Do’s, to-do, to-do’s

An awkward construction when written, use only if your product contains this feature. Use title case when calling out an interface label. A workaround is to write “To do items.” Do this: Click the To Do’s button to add your activities for the day. Don’t do this: Be sure to add backing up your files to your list of to do’s for the day.

toggle

Don’t write “toggle.” Speak their language and say something more natural if you can.

tooltips; tooltip

In mobile, use tooltips to give more info (like a term definition or field explanation). When writing tooltips, consider character count, line counts, title or no title, and global constraints. Be transparent and conversational.

totaled, totaling

In the U.S., use only one L in versions of this word: total, totaled, totaling.

touch

Don’t use. Be device-agnostic. Instead, use “tap” to describe how the user can select or trigger a control or item.

touch and hold; touch + hold

Don’t use. When describing how the user can select text, position cursor, or display a magnified view, just use “hold to select” or an applicable variation.

Touch ID

Don’t write “touch ID” or “Touch id.”

toward

Don’t write “towards.”

trademark; trademarks

Don’t use trademark symbols in text for Intuit products. For third-party products, trademark at first use in print, but not for subsequent uses. For online content, avoid trademark symbols unless specifically instructed otherwise. Online, trademark symbols are difficult to render correctly. Additionally, it’s hard to determine a customer’s “first use” encounter with a trademarked product online or in help because of the hippety-hoppety nature of browsing.

traditional IRA

Don’t write “Traditional IRA” unless the phrase starts a sentence.

transaction

“Import” and “download” transactions are both OK. Either one works.

transfer

When you’re referring to migration of data from desktop to online, write “copy” instead of “transfer.” “Transfer” makes users feel like there’s a possibility that their information could get lost, or isn’t being stored.

traveled, traveling

In the U.S., use only one L in versions of this word: travel, traveled, traveling, traveler.

TurboTax (usually say “we” instead)

Don’t refer to the product as Turbotax, the TurboTax program, the program, Interview, or the Interview.

TurboTax expert

Don’t write “agent.” Use TurboTax expert. Avoid “tax expert” unless describing a CPA, EA, or other tax pros who are legally qualified to give tax advice.

TurboTax updates

Capitalize as shown.

turn on, turn off

Use “open” for programs and “turn on/off” for hardware. Don’t use “launch” or “start” (unless you’re talking about servers).

In short: Turn on or off computers. “Start,” “stop,” or “shut down” servers.

two-finger scroll

Don’t use. Just say “scroll.”

type

Don’t use; use “enter” instead.


U

uh-oh; uh oh

Don’t use these. Our customers rely on us to know what we’re doing in the worlds of taxes and accounting. We don’t earn anyone’s confidence by saying things like “uh oh.”

UK

Don’t use periods when abbreviating United Kingdom.

unavailable

Don’t use “unavailable” if a menu or option can’t be used. Instead, work with design to make sure it’s grayed out. OK to use when referring to a service that might be unavailable.

Do this: The statement storage service is unavailable outside the U.S.

uncheck

OK to use for checkboxes. Use select and uncheck for the actions you take on checkboxes. Don’t use clear.

underway; under way

Under way is conventionally two words when it functions as an adverb or a predicate adjective (“The project is under way”). It is usually one word, underway, when it is an adjective preceding its noun (“The underway project was interrupted”). But you know what? Let’s avoid using it in either capacity. It’s awkward, and not very straightforward. Be more specific about what’s happening and when.

unemployment

Unemployment

uninstall

Write as one word, no hyphen.

unpaid

Use “unpaid” for invoice status. (“2 invoices unpaid.”) Don’t use “open.”

until

Use until instead of till. Till is more informal, which is OK, but might localize as “cash drawer.” To avoid this, stick with until over till.

up-to-date, up to date

Use hyphens if the phrase precedes the word it’s modifying, but not if it follows the word it’s modifying.

Do this: Use your up-to-date QuickBooks information to bring your Turbo Tax return up to date.

upgrade

Avoid this term. Try “change plans” instead.

upper left; upper right

For accessibility reasons, we strongly discourage using location cues. If you must (try harder!), write these as shown. Don’t write “upper left corner” or “upper right corner.”

URI

For the developer site only, use this acronym as shown. It means uniform resource identifier.

URL

For the developer site only, use this acronym as shown. It means uniform resource locator.

US; U.S.

In headlines, it’s US. This applies to slide titles. In text body, it’s U.S.

USB flash drive

As shown. This is our preferred term for the small, portable drive you insert into a USB port. Don’t use others terms like thumb, stick, key chain, or jump. Better yet, just back up your data to the cloud.

USD

United States dollar. Abbreviate as shown.

use vs. utilize

Don’t write utilize. Use “use” instead.

user ID

Capitalize “User ID” only when you’re writing it as a field name. In the middle of a sentence, write “user ID.” Note that “user ID” is always two words, never “userID”.

Use “user ID,” not “username” or “user name.”

username, user name

Don’t use. Write “user ID” instead.


V

validation code

Lowercase.

variables

Avoid plurals and possessives with variables. Consider rewriting the sentence if it makes sense. If a plural or possessive is needed, work with engineering to code correctly to avoid grammar and spelling issues.

Example of rewrite:

From: Security Alert: Change to ’s payroll account / Security Alert: Change to BBQ Specials’s payroll account

To: Security Alert: Account change for / Security Alert: Account change for BBQ Special

Example of code fix:

From: customers were not imported / 1 customers were not imported; 2 customers were not imported

To: customer was not imported customers were not imported / 1 customer was not imported; 2 customers were not imported

verify

Use “verify” sparingly to convey accuracy of data. Use “be sure” or “check” when suggesting to investigate a condition.

Do this: Be sure you have your calculator handy to verify your answers.

versions; version number

When referring to software versions, use “earlier” and “later.” Don’t use “above,” “below,” “higher”, or “lower.” If abbreviating a version number, use a lowercase “v” with no space between the “v” and the number.

Do this: Update to Payroll 2014 v3 for the latest enhancements.
Do this: We support version 5.1 and newer.
Don’t do this: We support version 5.1 and higher.

For annual versions, use “more recent” since “late” means “behind schedule” (for example, late payment).

via

OK to use “via”, but also consider “by,” “using,” or “through.”

void

To cancel a previously executed transaction before the transaction is settled or goes through.


W

W-2, W-3, W-4

As shown, with a hyphen. See IRS forms and publications. When using the proper name of the form, include the preceding word Form (note the capital F). When referring to these forms informally or in a general way, include the lowercase word form or copies following the form number.

Do this: Form W-2 (proper name of the form) W-2 forms or W-2 copies (when talking about these forms in a general way) The plural for the proper name is Forms W-2 and W-4. If space is constrained, as in a mobile UI, it’s OK to say W2s but that usage should be avoided if possible.

want to

wish

we

Use “we” sparingly. While we want to use a conversational tone, be careful about sounding creepy or making the product sound like a real person. Save “we” for direct, sincere communication with the customer.

Do this: Hang in there. We’re almost done checking your system configuration.
Don’t do this: We noticed you haven’t signed in for a while.

we, we can help

TurboTax can help

webmail

Webmail is an outdated term, so avoid using it. Email is sufficient.

Website, web site

One word, no hyphens, no capitalization.

Whoops; woops; oops

Don’t use interjections like these. Our customers rely on us to know what we’re doing in the worlds of taxes and accounting. We don’t earn anyone’s confidence by saying things like “oops.”

Wi-Fi

Capitalize as shown.

window

Use window to refer to a container (usually a box) that overlays the UI and presents info to the user or requests a response from them. Suitable for web and mobile. Try to avoid referring to the container itself, but if you need to, window is the term to use, not modal, screen, popup, or popover.

Windows

See “operating systems.”

Refer to desktop apps as “Mac app” and “Windows app,” not “Desktop app,” “PC app,” or “Apple app.”

wizards

If a wizard uses the same window title on every page, capitalize the wizard as a proper noun: the Create Wealth Wizard. If a wizard uses different window titles for each page, use lowercase and refer to the wizard in general terms: the wealth wizard.

workaround

Don’t use. Use “what you can try now” or “solution” or “alternative” instead.

workers’ comp

This is an acceptable abbreviation for workers’ compensation insurance. The apostrophe follows the s in workers.

worksheet

One word.

write off (v.); write-off (n.)

When using it as a verb phrase, it’s two words, no hyphen. If you’re talking about a tax write-off or using it as a noun, use a hyphen.


X

X

Influential Los Angeles-based punk rock band.

xylophone

A percussion instrument. We include it here because no letter of the alphabet should be unrepresented in our word list.


Y

year round

Use year-round (with a hyphen) if it’s before the word it’s modifying, but not if it follows the word it’s modifying. 

Examples

  • For most businesses, year-round tax planning is a good idea.
  • You should plan for taxes year-round.

year-over-year; YOY

Hyphenate as shown. Spell it out, don’t abbreviate it.

year-to-date; year to date

Use hyphens if the phrase precedes the word it’s modifying, but not if it follows the word it’s modifying.

Example

  • Add the year-to-date balances from your accounts to bring your report up to date.

your vs. my

Use your, not my, in the interface and related text. Using second-person maintains a consistent voice and promotes a friendly, conversational quality. See our writing style. Do this: Your mileage, Your accounts, Your sales tax Don’t do this: My Invoices, My Bills, My Employees


Z

zero

When written out in copy like marketing content or blog posts, spell out zero. In columns, most lists, and currency amounts, use the numeral 0.

ZIP code

Zone Improvement Plan. Note capitalization. OK to use just ZIP in field labels to save space.