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Formatting

We keep additional formatting of copy at a minimum. The words themselves should be precise and presented in a clear enough way that they shouldn’t require any additional emphasis or special treatment. In some cases, though, we do format copy for clarity. Follow these guidelines.

Acronyms & abbreviations

When an acronym appears for the first time, spell it out and include the acronym in parentheses—unless it’s commonly known, like IRS, ZIP code, EIN, PIN. For plurals, use a lowercase s without an apostrophe. Use standard abbreviations; don’t just truncate words.

Examples

  • Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a 9-digit number issued by the IRS. You can edit or change your EIN from the Company identification tab if you need to.
  • SLAs, CPAs
  • 1111 Bell Ave., Apt. C
  • Attn.


  • Enter invoice no.:

Include the period of an abbreviation when using a colon.

  • Get your free QBO trial today!

Don't use acronyms for product names. Spell out QuickBooks Online, never QBO. The one exception is the QBO Blog.

  • Invoice no.

In column headers, you can also abbreviate number as no.

  • e.g.
  • i.e.

Don't use Latin abbreviations.

  • Ref. no.

For abbreviations in column headers, use a period at the end of the abbreviation.

  • Invoice #

Don't use the hash symbol (#) to mean number.

Special rules apply to the abbreviation for the United States. In headlines, it’s US (this applies to slide titles, too). In text body, it’s U.S.

Bold

Don’t use bold copy as a substitute for appropriately coded second- and third-level headings (like h2 and h3).

Use only one type treatment at a time (color, bold, indentation). For example, if the copy is already indented or a distinct color, don’t make it bold too.



  • Select Continue to see your results.
  • We'll cover that later in Deductions and Credits.
  • Invoice 4107 is on its way to Travis Waldron.
  • Select Continue to see your results.
  • We'll cover that later in Deductions and Credits.
  • Invoice 4107 is on its way to Travis Waldron.

Use bold content sparingly. It can call attention to something important, but if overused, it can have the opposite effect, making a screen look chaotic, cluttered, and intimidating.

Here are some things you might want to present in bold:

Examples

  • User actions: buttons or steps mentioned in instructional content
  • Navigation choices: navigation labels referred to in instructions
  • Names of user interface elements: In our products we try not to talk about the UI, but it might be necessary in help and support content
  • Transaction numbers or other business data, such as invoice numbers
  • Terms that need emphasis (this is very rare)

Capitalization

Sentence case rules

Use sentence case, even in headings and titles.

Sentence case is casual and friendly. It helps support the conversational Intuit style and brand personality. Sentence case also makes translation a bit easier.

Don't capitalize feature names

Don’t capitalize the names of features such as invoices, payroll, and payments. This kind of sub-branding is distracting, and sometimes intimidating, to users. Sub-branding also dilutes the strength of the products that we want to capitalize.

Inside Intuit we might refer to a feature as The Amazing Bill Paying Tool. But when we present this to customers, it’s simply bill paying. This helps keep the experience clear and straightforward for customers. They don’t need to learn a new term, they just need to pay their bills. And sub-branding a feature by putting it in capital letters reduces the impact of Intuit’s overall branding efforts.

Use ALL CAPS only when you should

Avoid using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It’s like screaming, and it may present additional difficulty for users with dyslexia and other reading challenges or vision impairments.

We occasionally display all capital letters in headings on marketing pages, badges (such as NEW or PLUS), navigation labels, and table headers. All of these uses are exceptions. We really don’t need to scream at our customers that often.

Exceptions for marketing

There are capitalization exceptions on some marketing pages. To attract new customers and encourage action, marketers might capitalize the word free (Free or FREE). Research proves that the capitals are effective for conversion, but the promotional tone of the capital letters is out of place in the in-product conversation we’re having with our users.

The case for sentence case

Why do we prefer sentence case for Intuit content?



Brand voice

Setting buttons and other user interface elements in formal-looking title case or (worse) all caps works against the friendly, conversational tone we want to set with our customers. Also, if we mention a branded feature in a button, it stands out more if it’s capitalized, and such a presentation is better for that brand. Example: Start my ExpenseFinder trial

Readability

Sentence case tends to be easier to read and comprehend, especially when CTA labels are more than three words. Also, breadcrumb labels in sentence case are easier to scan.

Font size

Capital letters might occupy more space, limiting our ability to simplify the interface for better usability.

Localization

Capitalization rules vary by culture and country. Sentence case is generally easier to translate for non-U.S. markets and products.

Consistency

When training a diverse, distributed team to write copy, it’s a lot easier to teach sentence case. And we’ll be much more likely to get correct, consistent copy. Digital products that prefer title case sometimes end up publishing copy like “Start your Free Trial.” If the team is trained to write in sentence case, they’re much more likely to create correct copy like “Start your free trial.”

Some terms we capitalize

Proper nouns

Examples

  • James Bond
  • English
Proper names

Examples

  • West Virginia
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Franchise Tax Board
  • QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

Examples

  • “the Series” for the World Series
  • the Badlands (in South Dakota)

Derivatives

Examples

  • Californian
  • Shakespearean
Titles before names

Examples

  • President Lincoln received a cordial reception when he addressed Congress.
  • The president received a cordial reception when he addressed Congress.
Product navigation

This is an ongoing discussion we're having across Intuit. While we would dearly love for product navigation to be sentence case, there are challenges around making the change consistently throughout the products. For now, best to use title case to match.

Some tax terms appear in title case



Use title case to clarify some tax terms

Deduction or credit names

  • Let's see if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit.

Sections

  • Later in Personal Info, we’ll gather more details to make sure we cover your situation.
In all other cases, just use lowercase

Federal and state

  • How to file your state taxes online

Filing status

  • The head of household status can lead to a lower taxable income.

Italics

Try to avoid italics in copy. If you need to guide the user to a user interface element, use bold instead.

Only use one treatment (color, bold, indentation) to emphasize text. If the ghost text in a form field is a distinct color, italics are unnecessary.



  • Form 8863
  • Select Continue to see your results.
  • To get started, select Apps in the menu.
  • Form 8863
  • Select Continue to see your results.
  • To get started, select Apps in the menu.

Links

Links guide users to other destinations or files. We use them to link to help content or to download forms or other resources. In some designs, we use links for a call to action (CTA).

The best structure for a link that’s a call to action is a verb and a direct object. This helps users understand where they’re likely to go and encourages them to go there.

Should you punctuate a link? Depends on the context. If it’s a CTA or in the product, try to create a separate linked CTA for accessibility, rather than linking it within a sentence ("Have a question? Email us" vs "If you have a question, email us.").

If you need to provide legal details about something, link to it in the footer with language like “For more details, check out the terms of use.”



  • Find out more about your deductions
  • See more about invoices.

Use descriptive text for the link. Try to set contextual expectations about what’s behind it.

  • Click here
  • here
  • Learn more

Don't use specific actions (Click here) or locations (here) for the link text. Try not to use Learn more, which isn’t descriptive enough, except for space-constrained designs.

Write the link to be large enough for users to select. At least 8 characters is a good length.

Don't write link text longer than 6 to 8 words (about 55 characters).

  • Don’t use links in headlines.
  • Don’t add links to every possible resource. Present the most helpful ones.
  • Don’t put multiple links to the same place on the same page.
  • Avoid in-line links for accessibility. If you must use them, make sure they're underlined (see our formatting guidelines for underlines).

Lists

Bulleted lists

A bulleted list shows users content that is focused, organized, and easy to scan.

  • Keep bullet lists and bulleted items short and succinct, with no more than 5 items on the list.
  • Avoid having more than one bulleted list on a screen.
  • Begin bullets with an initial capital letter.
  • End a bulleted item with a period if it’s a sentence. If it’s a question, end with a question mark.
  • Use parallel construction for your bullet list items. If one item starts with a verb, every item should start with a verb. If one item ends in punctuation, every item should end in punctuation.

Numbered lists

A numbered list shows the order in which actions should occur, when events will take place, or order of importance:

  1. Introduce the list with a lead-in sentence, fragment, heading, or question. Use a question mark if it’s a question.
  2. Begin each numbered item with an initial capital letter (unless you’re using the list items to complete the sentence).
  3. Don’t use and, or, or and/or at the beginning of any list item.
  4. Use parallel construction for your list items. If one item starts with a verb, every item should start with a verb.
  5. Make sure each step includes only one action or two closely related actions (like go to the menu and select Apps). That helps us keep the steps simple.
  6. Write all items in the same voice (usually active) and tense (usually present). Fragments are fine, but if one item is a complete sentence, try to write them all that way. Or turn that odd sentence into a fragment.
  7. Use a period at the end of each list item if it’s a complete sentence, and keep punctuation consistent. Don’t use commas or semicolons at the end of list items.

Mathematical symbols and equations

Mathematical symbols (+, -, x, /, ÷, =) and equations are permissible but should not substitute words. For accessibility, explain the equation first. Not all screen readers will read these symbols. Explaining the equation helps all users understand it. 

Examples

  • Calculate your business’s solvency ratio by first adding your net income after taxes and your non-cash expenses. Then divide that number by your liabilities to get your solvency ratio, expressed as a percentage.
  • (Net income after tax + non-cash expenses) ÷ all liabilities = solvency ratio


  • QuickBooks + Square

Use the plus symbol (+) to refer to a partnership.

  • Voice + tone
  • Hold + drag

Don't use the plus symbol (+) to mean and or to give instruction.

  • Add your net income after taxes and your non-cash expenses. Then divide that number by your liabilities to get your solvency ratio.

Spell out symbols as verbs when explaining an equation: add, subtract, multiply, divide.

  • 10x
  • 2.5x

Don't use x to mean times. Spell out times or say multiplied by instead.

Names and titles

There are many ways to abbreviate names and courtesy titles. When writing in our voice, follow the spirit of these examples.

Capitalize titles when they appear before a name. Set them in lowercase otherwise.



  • Sr. VP
  • Jr. Designer
  • BA in English
  • MBA
  • CPA
  • Associate Director John Smith
  • Senior Vice President
  • Junior Designer
  • Bachelor's degree in English
  • M.B.A.
  • Certified Public Accountant
  • associate director John Smith

Tables

Wondering how to format copy for a table? Time to chat with your design partners. 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 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.

Don’t use tables to condense lists or include text beyond a few words per cell.

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 properly display such complex tables onscreen.

Set off table headings and row headings, if needed. Usually, a table title is unnecessary. Use the same font in the table as the surrounding content.

Don’t use special fonts or font sizes in the table.

The following cell alignments are preferred, but use your best judgment to create a clear, easy-to-scan table.

Examples

  • 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.

Underlines

Don't underline copy unless it's for links.

Inline links should be underlined (or some other non-color visual distinction) for accessibility. They're surrounded by text and need an underline to be recognizable as an interactive element.

Links that stand alone do not need to be underlined because they have ample white space to be recognizable as interactive.

For more information, review our guidelines for links.

URLs

In digital experiences, a descriptive link is usually a better way to direct users to another page. For more information, see the formatting guidelines for links.

When we do spell out a universal resource locator, use lowercase, even if it refers to a product name.

Leave out the scheme/protocol (http, https) and the www part.



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