Writing Style – Currencies

A BizWritingTip reader wrote: “At work, I do a lot of proofreading written by various people in Canada, U.S. and even Europe. One inconsistency I have noticed is how the monetary value of each country is written. For example, when referring to Canadian dollars, I have seen it written: $C, CA and CAD. When referring to US dollars, I have seen it written: $US, US and USD. Is there a grammatically correct way to express this?”

BizWritingTip response: This is a style issue rather than a grammar one. And you are right. There is definitely a lack of consistency.

The style guide for the Government of Canada recommends:
C$20 (to be used only when other currencies are mentioned in the document — otherwise there is no need to prefix the amount)

US$20, A$20, £20 or write 20 pounds, ¥20 or write 20 yen

The style guide for the Government of Ontario and the Canadian Press Stylebook recommend:

$20 Cdn, $20 US, €20

The ISO standard, which has long been used by the banking industry, requires a currency abbreviation consisting of the two-letter country code abbreviation followed by the first letter of the currency name. There is a lack of consistency as to whether to put the abbreviation before or after the amount.

AUD – Australian dollar = AUD 20
GBP – British Pound = GBP 20
CAD – Canadian Dollar = CAD 20
USD – American Dollar = $20 USD
EUR — Euros = €10.00 EUR

Frankly, if there is no industry style, I believe in using the style of the reader so as to avoid any confusion or any distraction from my message.

Does anyone else want to weigh in on this one?

  • Nicholas Ferreira

    It’s nice to see at a glance what the various Canadian and other style guides indicate on this point of abbreviations for currencies. Very helpful in my work as a translator and proofreader. Great summary, thank you for sharing!

  • roblamberti1

    According to the CP Stylebook 17th Edition, the most recent, it appears to be C$800, US$500 (p. 254 and p. 53). Euro seems to depend if one’s computer has the symbol, so the fall back is, for example, 55 euros