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?

Writing Style – Expressing Time

A BizWritingTip reader wanted to know whether to use numbers or words when expressing time.
BizWritingTip response: ?When you are using a.m. or p.m., use the numbers.


We will start the meeting at 8:30 a.m. (Note the space between the number and a.m.)
He can usually be found at the gym between noon and 1:30 p.m.

There is no need to add zeros for time that is “on the hour.”


We will start the meeting at 8 a.m.

When using the word o’clock, you can use either numbers or words.


The ceremony will start at two o’clock in the afternoon. (Used to indicate formality)
You must be ready by 2 o’clock. (Used for emphasis)

If the reader will easily understand whether you are discussing a morning or afternoon timeframe, you can omit the a.m. or p.m. or o’clock. You could either spell the word out for easy reading or use the figures.

Your workday ends at 4:30.
Your workday ends at four-thirty not at four twenty-eight.
Your workday ends at 16 30. (24-hour clock)