Formatting is a great way to help users get the information they need and get on with their day.

It’s also a simple way to maintain consistency in our brand, so people know what to expect every time they interact with us. No surprises, just a consistent end-to-end user experience.

AddressesEmojiNumbersTime
BadgesIdentification numbersPhone numbersUnderline
BoldItalicsQuotationsUnits of measure
CapitalizationLinksSalutationsURLs
CurrencyListsSentence case
DatesMobileSigning off
DecimalsNames and titlesSymbols

 

 
Addresses


It’s OK to use abbreviations in address details. Use initial caps and a period.

Do
Apartment: Apt.
Building: Bldg.
Suite: Ste.
Unit: Unit

 
Badges


Badges are a brand element, written from the perspective of successful small business owners who love what they do.

Badges should be encouraging and clever. The text should be an idiomatic, conversational phrase, with one word standing out in bold and all caps. That word should be powerful and make sense on its own.

Limit to 4-6 words and 6-8 syllables total. Stick to short, monosyllabic words to give the badge some punch.

Do
A moment to SHARE

Make every moment COUNT

Stay AHEAD of the curve

One step AHEAD

I go above and BEYOND

CONNECT the dots

Onward and UPWARD (for escalator signs)

CARRY it through (for a bag)

Ready to take CHARGE (for payments)

Don’t
Strike while the iron’s HOT

The grass is GREENER on the other side

 
Bold


Use bold to highlight UI elements in instructional text. Don’t use it just for emphasis. You can bold subheadings if your content creation tool doesn’t support heading tags like <H2> and <H3>. But only use one treatment at a time (color, bold, italics, indentation). For example, if the ghost text in a form field is already italicized or a distinct color, don’t make it bold too.

Do
In the Search field, enter lmnop.qrs.

Enter this validation code: JFI129-XMW8R-32U47.

Don’t
In the Search field, enter lmnop.qrs.

Success stories from businesses just like yours

 
Capitalization


In most cases, use sentence case, even in headings and titles.

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

Examples:

  • Sentence style: Invoices to print (preferred)
  • Title style: Invoices to Print
  • All caps style: INVOICES TO PRINT
  • Lowercase style: invoices to print

Capitalize proper names: QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

If a title or heading includes proper names, use title case for those names.

Example:
How you succeed with QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

Do
Invoices you can print

Save and close

Select an option

Enter the name of your bank

ZIP code

QuickBooks

Find an accountant for your business

See how it works

Get the app and go faster

Run a Profit and Loss

Don’t
Invoices You Can Print

Save and Close

Select an Option

Enter Bank Name

Zip code

Quickbooks

Find an Accountant for Your Business

See How It Works

Get the App and Go Faster

Run a profit and loss

Arrows: Previous/Next

Use sentence case.

Examples:

  • Click the Previous (back) arrow.
  • Click the Next (forward) arrow to move to the next transaction.

Although the arrows are no longer labeled, continue to refer to them in copy as the Previous and Next arrows. For added clarification, you can add “back” and “forward” as shown in the example. These arrows are used primarily in QuickBooks for Windows and Mac.

Button names

Use sentence case.

Examples:

  • Save and close
  • Save and send
  • Create new
  • Run payroll

In copy, to make sure you’re guiding users clearly, you can add the word button after the button name. But you don’t need to do that for these standard buttons.

  • Apply
  • Back
  • Cancel
  • Continue
  • Finish
  • Next
  • OK
  • Open
  • Print
  • Save

Checkbox label

Use sentence case.

Example:

  • This customer is a sub-customer.

Use clear instead of deselect. The term deselect causes a problem for localization.

Drop-down list names and items

Use sentence case.

Examples:

  • Expense account
  • Select an option
  • Select a vendor
  • Select a customer

User-generated names such as vendors and customers will appear the way users entered them.

In copy, to make sure you’re writing clearly you can add the word list after the drop-down list name. Example: Select Mountain View from the Location list.

If the drop-down list doesn’t have a label, or uses ghost text to describe itself, use the main word in the ghost text and tell the customer what to select. For example, if the drop-down list is “Choose a customer” you might say, “Select the customer you want to refund.” Or, “In the Customer field, select the customer you want to refund.”

Make sure the items in the list are in logical order (alphabetical, order of importance, and so on).

If no item is preselected, use text like “Select a vendor” in ghost or hint text format. If you can’t gray out the text, you can use some kind of indicator, like parentheses. For example: “(Select one).”

You might want to show None as one of the options. It should have the same text formatting as the other options in the list.

Ghost text

Use sentence case.

Use ghost or hint text to take the place of field labels or to give more information about filling out a field, such as required formatting and restrictions.

Usually, you just need a noun or noun phrase that describes what to enter in the text box. Avoid obvious verbs like enter, unless needed for clarity or to be conversational, like in first-time use.

Examples:

  • Enter your bank name
  • Find an employee

Headings and titles

Includes:

  • Section headings
  • Page headings and titles
  • Help topic titles
  • Run-in headings
  • Subheadings
  • First-time use
  • Browser page titles
  • Tab titles
  • Buttons
  • Window titles

Use sentence case.

In tables, row and column headings occasionally appear in all capital letters. This is an exception to the preferred style.

Don’t use punctuation, unless you’re asking a question or need it for emphasis.

Examples:

  • A connection you can bank on
  • Ready to get started?
  • Free support. Forever.

Menu names and menu items

Use sentence case.

Example:

  • Chart of accounts

Navigation elements

Use sentence case.

Examples:

  • QuickBooks help
  • QuickBooks tutorials

Radio buttons/option labels

Use sentence case.

Examples:

  • Expense account
  • Customer account

If needed for clarity in copy, you can add the word option after the option name.

Report titles

Use sentence case. (Depending on the interface, these titles may appear in all capital letters.)

Examples:

  • Sales by customer summary
  • Sales by class summary
  • Sales by product/service summary

Tooltips

Use sentence case.

Example:

  • Your bank routing number is usually 9 digits long.

Use tooltips to give more info about filling out a field, such as a description, required formatting, and restrictions.

Use a period at the end of a tooltip only if it’s a complete sentence.

 
Currency


Don’t add a space between the currency symbol and the amount ($10.00, not $ 10.00).

For negative amounts, place the minus symbol in front of the currency symbol.

If you’re displaying currency in dollars and the amount is less than one dollar, use the cents symbol. Example: 25¢. It helps with accessibility and clarity. But if you’re presenting this in product (as in entry fields), it should be 0.25 with no cents symbol.

And don’t forget that other languages use commas instead of periods. Work with the local content designer for accurate symbols and placement for specific locales. You can specify which country by adding the currency code after the amount if needed.

Do
$10.00

$85 AUD ($70 USD)

€35,00

 
Dates


For the US, use: MM/DD/YYYY (without a leading zero) or Month DD, YYYY.  Don’t use ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) in dates. For month and year only, use Month YYYY.

Spell out days of the week when you’re referencing specific dates. Only abbreviate months in 3 letters (like Mar, Aug, Oct) for UI elements like tables, links, footers.

In extreme space-constrained cases, 1-letter abbreviations are OK. Mobile uses 3-letter month abbreviations (for example, Mar 9).

Work with localization experts to accommodate different formats for different locales.

Capitalize AM and PM with no periods.

Do
11/11/2016

November 11, 2016

November 2016

Saturday, December 8

Set aside next Tuesday for a special event.

Mar 15

M-F, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, PT

The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, August 18 at 9:00 PM PT.

 
Decimals


Carry decimals to the hundredth place (33.76). Use decimals (0.75) instead of fractions.

Do
33.76

 
Emoji


Emojis are a big part of how people interact now. We’re trying to be casual and familiar, but be mindful that we’re dealing with people’s finances. Reserve emoji for mobile and conversational cases. Use approved emojis sparingly.

For information about using emojis in chat bots, check out the guidelines for conversation design.

Do
Be mindful of the way different emojis look across iOS and Android.

Use emojis in 1:1 communication when the message feels more personal, not in one-to-many communication (exception: social media).

Be human and friendly.

Use emojis in a mobile environment, notifications, chat, or text to humanize the content and to tap into the moment.

Don’t
Don’t use variations in skin tone—stick with the original yellow.

Don’t use any of the religious symbols.

Don’t use any of the emojis that could represent violence, drug use, or an innuendo.

Don’t use emoticons. No : )  ; )  =) or : – )

You don’t have to punctuate after an emoji. The emoji serves as the punctuation.

Don’t use more than three emojis in the same message—treat them like exclamation points. If you use more than one, each should be different.

Don’t write emoji sentences. The emoji should serve as an enhancement of the text, not as a replacement for the actual word.

Don’t use emojis to try to be clever or funny.

It shouldn’t feel forced. When it doubt, don’t use them.

Don’t use emojis for anything that will be a permanent feature in product or part of a consistent product experience (like a headline).

Don’t use emojis in email.

 
Identification numbers and sensitive data


To protect our users’ privacy, we mask some of their personal information.

  • Account numbers: Mask these numbers with ellipses.
  • Payment account numbers in emails: Mask all but the last four digits with one asterisk.
  • Social Security numbers: Mask these with X’s.
  • Phone numbers: Mask with asterisks.
  • Email addresses: Mask with asterisks.
Do
(…1234)

*1234

XXX-XX-1234

***-***-8437

ca*******@gmail.com

Don’t
XXXXXXXXXXXX1234

xxxx-1234

****1234

[NAME] 1234

[Name]-1234

  • 1234

(1234)

x-1234

 
Italics


Don’t use italics or quotes to distinguish UI elements—use bold instead. Only use one treatment (color, bold, italics, indentation) to emphasize text. If the ghost text in a form field is a distinct color, italics are unnecessary.

Do
In the navigation bar, click Transactions > Banking.

 
Links


Using a link in web writing—especially in a headline—disrupts visual hierarchy and competes with the other goals of the page. Unless your main objective is to persuade the reader to click the link, don’t use it.

Use descriptive text for the link, not specific actions (Click here) or location (here). And try to set contextual expectations about what’s behind the link.

Fight the pile-on. Don’t add links to every possible resource, and don’t have multiple links to the same place on the same page. For “Learn more” links in mobile and for Help topics, use sentence case, limit word count, and don’t underline.

If you need to provide legalese around a claim, link to it in the footer with language like “Check out Terms of Use for full details.”

Do
Check out these resources on how to create your first invoice.
Don’t
Go here to learn how to create your first invoice.

Click here to learn how to create your first invoice.

 
Lists


Use numbers instead of bullets if the list items indicate the order in which actions should occur, the sequence in which events will or should take place, or order of importance. Otherwise, use bullets.

Initial cap each line (unless you’re using the list items to complete the sentence) and keep your punctuation, sentence structure, and general line length consistent (visual designers will thank you). Introduce the list with a lead-in sentence, fragment, heading, or question (use a question mark if it’s a question). Don’t use a period at the end of the list item unless it’s a complete sentence. If one item is a complete sentence and the rest aren’t, try rewriting the sentence for consistency. Don’t use commas or semicolons at the end of the list items. Don’t use “and”, “or”, or “and/or” at the beginning of any list item.

When you can, use parallel construction for your list items. That means if one item starts with a verb, every item should start with a verb. It also means they all need to be written in the same voice (active) and in the same tense (present, most likely). Fragments are fine, but if one item is a complete sentence, try to write them all that way.

Do
  1. Go to quickbooks.intuit.com/online.
  2. Click Buy Now or Free 30-Day Trial for the version you want.
  3. Follow the steps to sign up for QuickBooks.
Do
  • Search for transactions
  • Configure company settings
  • See a snapshot of your finances
Do
I use QuickBooks to:

– run my business
– help me budget
– pay my employees
Don’t
  • Sample content:
    For tasks and procedures, make sure each step performs an action and isn’t just an explanation. Phrase each step in a task or procedure as a complete sentence and end it with a period.Add a supplier to the Supplier Center:

    1. Click New Supplier
    2. Complete the required fields.
    3. Click Save

 
Mobile


Mobile-first is exactly as it sounds: writing for the smallest screen and working your way up.

Writing for mobile has a unique set of challenges. However, all writing—not just mobile—should be simple and concise, focus on the task at hand, progressively disclose steps, be contextual, and hold your attention. Prioritize by surfacing main info, progressively disclosing, and offering access to details. Write around interfaces, and strive for your writing to be void of location and method of interaction.

Content that goes anywhere and adapts to any context.

Keep in mind:

  • You’re limited by the amount of real estate available on the device. A tiny screen means fewer words and possible need for abbreviations.
  • Reveal info as the user needs it.
  • Mobile customers are often distracted (think “multi-tasking” and “on the go”). They’re usually not sitting at a desk.
  • Some of our mobile apps are standalone, but many more are companion apps to our web or desktop products.
  • We strive for consistency. While Apple and Google devices work differently, be device-agnostic in your writing.

 
Names and titles


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

Do

Sr. VP
Jr. Designer
BA in English
MBA
CPA

 
Numbers


Use numerals for all numbers up to a billion when representing specific statistics or examples, even if it’s at the beginning of the line or sentence. Spell out casual expressions. Spell out ordinal numbers up to and including “ninth” when indicating sequence or location (except in geographic, military, or political naming conventions).

Do
We gathered insights from 6,058 individuals in 20 mid-market cities in the U.S.

That one photo generated thousands of comments.

First, enter your email address.

9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

$500M

$20B

$25K

 

 

Use commas in numbers with four or more digits but don’t use commas in error numbers, page numbers, or addresses. Note that different languages format numbers differently. Work with global writers to make sure your numbers are appropriately formatted.

Do
1,234.56 in English = 1 234,56 in French

 
Phone numbers


Phone numbers are formatted differently depending on the country. For all locales, include the area code, leave off the country code, and don’t bold anything.

Australia
Use spaces in phone numbers. Leave off the +61 before the STD code and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

Brazil
Use dashes in mot phone numbers and use a space to separate the area code. For 0800 numbers, use spaces. Use ramal for extension if needed.

Canada
Use dashes in phone numbers. Leave out the 1 before the area code except for toll free numbers, and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

France
Use spaces between sets of 2 numbers and leave out the +33 before the number. For toll-free numbers, don’t use a space between the 4 digits.

South Africa
Use spaces in phone numbers.

UK
Use spaces in phone numbers. Leave out the +44 before the area code.

US
Use dashes in phone numbers. Leave out the 1 before the area code and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

Do
Australia
04 1234 5678
1234 5678 ext. 753
0422 123 456 (mobile)

Brazil
11 99999-5060
3456-6070 ramal 234
0800 047 4094

Canada
123-456-7890
123-456-7890 ext. 234
1-888-829-8589 (toll free)

France
06 24 55 32 14
0805 220 189 (toll free)

South Africa
010 203 4300

UK
07986 123 456
0300 123 4567 (for companies)
7986 123 456 (mobile)

US
888-777-1234
800-558-9558 ext. 1234

 
Quotations


When writing a quotation, indent and use quotes around the verbatim quote. Use an em dash without a space to attribute it to the speaker. In the US, terminal punctuation goes inside the quote (“number.”). The exception is with semicolons and colons, but we shouldn’t be using those much anyway.

 
Salutations


Don’t write a dash or hyphen after the person’s name.

Use a comma after the greeting in most salutations. Example: Hello, Tom

But if the salutations is a simple “hi,” omit the comma. Example: Hi Tom

 
Sentence case


Sentence case is easygoing, casual, and comfortable. Use it everywhere except official names and proper nouns.

Do
Find an accountant for your business

See how it works

Get the app and go faster

Run a Profit and Loss

Don’t
Find an Accountant for Your Business

See How It Works

Get the App and Go Faster

Run a profit and loss

 
Signing off


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

Assess whether we need to sign off at all—many emails go out without any kind of signoff, and instead there is a CTA. Ending with a simple “Thanks” is just fine.

Do
Thanks! The QuickBooks Team
Don’t
SincerelyBest

Regards

Hugs

Xoxo

—The QuickBooks Team

QuickBooks Customer Success Manager

 
Symbols (%, &, #, @)


Use “%” with a number, but not when there isn’t a specific number to reference.

Do
85% of attendees agreed to be interviewed.We’re pretty impressed with the high percentage of responses.

 

 

Use “&” sparingly in place of the word “and” to reference two related subjects. Keep ampersands in company names, titles, and other proper nouns. Ampersands are OK for content with space restrictions, like tweets.

Do
@BradSmith & @johndoerr to honor Bill Campbell at Fortune #BrainstormTechQuickBooks Learn & Support Home

Voice & Tone

PG&E

 

 

Everyone uses hash marks for hashtags in tweets—hashtag away. Where we don’t use a hashtag is in place of the word “number.” Go with “No.” instead.

Do
Attn. #smallbiz: Here’s how to use #PokemonGo to lure more Pokemon and customersInvoice no.
Don’t
Invoice #

 

 

Spell out the word “at” unless it’s part of an email address or a mention on social media.

Do
accountant_support@intuit.comNever give up. 3 tips from @anutewary on being a successful #entrepreneur.

 
Time


Express time as H:MM AM/PM timezone. Include a space before AM or PM, but no periods. Include minutes, even if it’s on the hour (for example, available from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM). Noon and midnight can be referred to as just that, or as 12 AM and 12 PM.

Do
8:00 AM PT

11:00 PM ET

3:00 PM to 4:30 PM PT

7:00-9:00 PM
noon

midnight

 

 

Outside of North America, use the 24-hour clock and UTC offsets.

Do
Singapore: UTC+6New York: UTC-5

 
Underline


Underlined URLs are a thing of the past. Make them blue so they stand out. The underline should appear when the user hovers on them.

Do
Featured QuickBooks app Bill.com offers recurring invoices and electronic payments.Track billable time, import contacts, and create invoices from calendar events with Google Calendar for QuickBooks (Beta)

 
Units of measure


Leave a space between the number and the unit of measure and use open punctuation (no periods). Use a hyphen if you’re using the number with the unit of measure as an adjective. Provide metric equivalents in parentheses after the English measurement where it’s appropriate.

Do
35 mph8 fl oz

25 lbs

128 MB of RAM

on hold for 3 minutes

3.4-GHz processor

2-day workshop

one inch (2.54 cm)

 
URLs


Within apps and on web pages, use descriptive links to send users to websites. To spell out a URL, use lowercase, even if it refers to a product name.

Don’t specify the scheme/protocol (http, https), and don’t include the usual www part of the domain.

Do
Go to quickbooksconnect.com

Visit intuit.wespire.com

Check out developer.intuit.com for more info

Don’t
https://community.intuit.com

https://www.irs.gov

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