Digital Style Guide

Everyone writing for CFA Institute should follow the CFA Institute Style Guide.

Here are additional guidelines specific to writing for the web.

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Boldface

  • Use very sparingly for things like distinctions between requirements or categories or to specify certain directions.
  • Punctuation marks following boldface or color should be dealt with case by case, depending on how the boldface is used.
    • If the boldface terms are but a part of the surrounding sentence, the punctuation should not be set in bold (e.g., “Will the installation remain until I accept?”)
    • If the punctuation next to the boldface terms belongs with them, the punctuation should be boldface (e.g., “Figure 6. Title page from book” or “For sale: Books on tape”)

Bulleted List Styles

  • If each bullet point is its own sentence, end each with a period.
  • If you are breaking up one large sentence with bullet points, separate each point with the appropriate punctuation (comma or semicolon); the second-to-last item should end with an “and.” Punctuate each item as you would in a normal sentence with no bullets.
  • If each bullet point is its own separate idea, word, or incomplete sentence, no punctuation is needed.

Capitalization

  • Titles (including subtitles) should be written in headline-style capitalization (i.e., use capital letters only for the principal words). Do not capitalize prepositions, articles, or conjunctions unless one is the first word or the first word after a colon or dash.

Please see the Capitalization section in the CFA Institute Style Guide for further help.

Commonly Used Words and Terms

When referencing login actions

  • Login (n.), log in (v.) A login is considered both username + password. Do not use “Log on” or “Sign in.”
  • Password
  • Username

When prompting users on a webpage

  • Avoid generic prompts such as “Learn more…”
  • Be specific.
    • Examples:
      • Discover more about member benefits.
      • Find out how to become a charterholder.

 Primary content asset structures

  • “View the full [reading/article/survey report]”
    • Link this text to a PDF that has a short description/abstract on the page in a primary content asset structure.

For people/contact reference

  • First name (given name)
  • Last name (family name)
  • Postal code (not “zip code”)
  • Cardholder
  • Mobile device (not “cellphone,” “mobile phone,” or “smartphone”)

Please see the CFA Institute Full Word List for a more complete list.

Contractions

You may use contractions as long as your content reflects our professional yet conversational tone.

Currency

Currency will be listed as currency type (using ISO currency codes), followed by a space, followed by amount. When in paragraph form or being used for marketing purposes and when the amount is even (no change), it is not necessary to include the decimal point and cents. For example:

USD 849

Dates, Times, and Time Zones

Dates

  • All dates on the website should follow the global date style: 22 May 2013.
  • Use a date instead of days of the week except when referring to events at specific times and locations and in specific time zones, such as live conferences and exam days.

 Times

  • AM and PM should be uppercase.
  • Include a space between the numeral and AM or PM.
  • Hours should be written out (e.g., 9:00 AM, not 9 AM).

 Time zones

  • On the website, we usually refer to just the Eastern Time Zone as “ET” and do not reference daylight savings or standard time. Other time zones are used on a case-by-case basis. Events usually use the local time of the event in that time zone.
    • Example: The webinar takes place at 8:00 AM ET.
  • Standard time format should be used (e.g., 11:30 PM).
  • CFA Institute events sometimes use other formats, on a case-by-case basis, when appropriate for their host location (e.g., 22:30 PM).

 Dashes

  • Em dash: Treat the em dash as a word, with spaces on either side. (This helps text flow better on the web.) Em dashes are used to create a break in text or to offset text (similar to parentheses).
    • Example: Local hosts — typically, our member societies — and CFA Institute…
  • En dash: Do not use spaces. Use an en dash with ranges of dates, pages, money amounts, and so forth. Also, use an en dash to indicate joint research or development.
    • Examples: 1998–1999; July 2005–June 2007; Black–Scholes model; the Berry–Dreman research
  • Be specific and avoid generic indicators, such as “click here for more information.”
  • Avoid the word “click” because depending on their device, users may not be able to “click.”

Next Step Links (Action Links)

  • Always link the whole phrase.
  • Example: View the GIPS standards.
  • Make sure you’re using the “Next Step Link” component, not inserting a next step link into a text box.

In-Text Linking (Definition Links)

Hyphenation

Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style Hyphenation Table.

Images

  • Follow image sizing requirements laid out in the Brand Center.
  • Image names will become part of the URL on upload, so they should be named according to SEO standards.
    • Name the document by its title (or according to its purpose).
    • Use all lowercase letters.
    • Separate words using dashes, not underscores or spaces.

Numbers

  • Numbers one through nine are spelled out in text.
    • However, you may use numerals in scenarios such as infographics or tables.
  • Numerals are used for 10 and all higher numbers up to 1 million.
  • If it is the first word in the sentence, always spell it out.
  • Please see Numbers in the CFA Institute Style Guide for further help.

Percent (%)

Use the % symbol when used with a number (15%). Spell out “percent” when used without a number in a sentence.

Period (Spacing)

Periods ending sentences should be followed by a single space. Pasting copy from Word into the CMS will result in double spacing between sentences and will need to be edited out. Please only paste in copy from Notepad.

PDFs

Document names will become part of the URL on upload, so they should be named according to SEO standards.

  • Name the document by its title (or according to its purpose).
  • Use all lowercase letters.
  • Separate words using dashes, not underscores or spaces.

SEO Considerations

To enhance page ranking and search engine placement, the following are essential elements if adding metadata.

  • Page Title: Keep titles within 65 characters (the Google cutoff).
  • Description: Keep short descriptions under 160 characters (the Google cutoff).
  • Keywords: Use keywords that are not found in the title or short description and pertain explicitly to the page content. Do not add “CFA Institute.”
  • Alt Text: Do not include “image of” in image alt text. Screen readers will already say this.

Slashes

  • For usability purposes, in descriptions, slashes should appear with a space preceding and following.
    • Example: First / Given Name
  • Everywhere else, there should be no spaces around slashes.
    • Example: The CFA Program and CIPM Program will open in November.
  • Do not use slashes instead of the word “or.”
  • You may use slashes with fractions.
    • Example: In the United States, fewer than 1/5 of CFA Institute members are women.

Spelling (US vs. British)

  • If the content regards the United States, use US spelling. If the content regards the United Kingdom, use British spelling.
  • For general content, use either US or British spelling, but be consistent within individual documents/pages.

Text Styles

(see also Bulleted List Styles)

  • Do not use all caps or underline for emphasis.
  • For other text styles, refer to the Boldface section.
  • “Normal” text is the default.

Title Styles for Publications, Websites, Blogs, Podcasts, and Video Blogs

Printed Publications

  • Italicize the titles of publications (newspapers, books, magazines), but put in quotes the titles of articles that are from those publications (if it is a single article).
  • “The” is typically not italicized: the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Independent, the New York Times. However, The Times of London is correct.

Website Names

  • Titles of websites are set in Normal style and use headline-style capitalization.
  • Titled sections or pages within a website are placed in quotation marks.
    • Examples:
    • Website title: On the website Creative Live,
      • Titled sections or a group of webpages: you may visit “The Creator Pass” page.
    • If the website is an extension of a printed publication, set it in italics and signify that it is the online version.
      • Example: The New York Times online published an article about CFA Institute last week.

Blog Titles

Specific titles of blogs — which are analogous to periodicals — should be set in italics; titles of blog entries (analogous to articles in a periodical) should be in quotation marks.

  • Example: “Work and Leadership: Going It Alone” was recently posted on Enterprising Investor.

Podcast and Webinar Titles (when referring to them in text)

  • Titles of podcasts or webinar series should be italicized.
  • Titles of individual podcast episodes or webinar episodes should be in quotation marks.

Voice

The writing style of web text should be professional yet conversational, using active voice. When referencing members/readers/users, use second person. When referencing CFA Institute, use first person.

  • Examples:
    • “Manage Your Account” not “Manage My Account”
    • “Contact Us” not “Contact CFA Institute”