Typographic codes

Use of capitals

  • On the web, avoid typing whole words, titles, catchphrases, etc. in capitals. These characters are difficult to read on a screen and equate to “shouting” which gives an impression of anger or annoyance.
  • In English, position names are capitalised: the Director, the Chief Executive Officer, the Prime Minister.



Stuck to the previous character and followed by a space:

  • full stop
  • comma
  • ellipsis

Preceded and followed by a space:

  • colon
  • semi-colon
  • question mark
  • exclamation mark
  • inverted commas
  • percent sign
  • the + and - signs (> + 3 %) C

Stuck to the text they surround:

  • brackets
  • square brackets



Stuck to the previous character and followed by a space:

  • full stop
  • comma
  • ellipsis
  • colon
  • semi-colon
  • question mark
  • exclamation mark

Stuck to the text they surround:

  • Brackets
  • square brackets
  • inverted commas

French/English comparison 

French                                                                                              English

1 500                                                                                                   1,500

5,6 %                                                                                                   5.6%

+ 25,3 %                                                                                             + 25.3%

126 M EUR                                                                                        126 million euros

 126 Md EUR ou 126 G EUR                                                        EUR 126 bn

126 milliards d’euros                                                                    126 billion euros

Au 31.12.2003                                                                                  At Dec. 31, 2003

4ème producteur                                                                           4th largest producer

1er, 2ème, 3ème                                                                            No.1, No.2, No.3 ou #1, #2, #3

Abc !                                                                                                    Abc!

Abc ?                                                                                                   Abc?

Abc ; efg                                                                                             Abc;efg

Abc : efg                                                                                             Abc:efg

“abc”                                                                                                   “abc”

The non-breaking space

It is a space inserted between two words (or a word and a punctuation mark, or inside a number) that cannot be separated by any automatic line break.

Specific HTML code: “ ”

Include non-breaking spaces to avoid:

  • orphan punctuation marks at the beginning of a new line;
  • orphan digits or figures at the end of a line.

This is also valid for the space included:

  • before the ‘%’ sign in French;
  • in the middle of a date (‘4 May’, ‘May 2019’).


”Etc.” is never followed by an ellipsis

It is always preceded by a comma and followed by a full stop.

For example: “Mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc.” OR “Mangoes, pineapples, bananas, …” BUT NOT “Mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc...”


Figures and amounts

  • Include a comma from the thousands and another comma from the millions.
    For example:  7,700, 15,400, 320,650 and 1,132,56

  • The decimal point is materialised by a full stop.
    For example: 326.69 (no space after the full stop)
  • Currencies are written by their monetary code when accompanied by an amount and spelt out in lower case in all other cases.
    For example EUR 23,156 (not €23,156) and “life insurance contracts in euro”.

    Exception for CFA francs: Write F CFA 100,000 instead of XOF/XAF 100,000.

  • Numbers are generally spelt out in the text; however customs permit to write the following in figures:
    • measurements,
    • percentages and interest rates,
    • amounts (EUR 495),
    • dates and time indications (45 minutes)

      For example: There is no point in writing “Provide two (2) identity photos”, “Provide two identity photos” is sufficient.


Abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations are written in capitals when the letters are pronounced separately, and in lower case when it is read as a name (first letter capitalised only).

For example : FBI and Unesco