Style Guide

By following these guidelines, ACAMS can ensure consistency that will result in a timely and informational publication for our readers.

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Table of Contents

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

L

M

N

O

P

R

S

T

U

W

Y

A

academic degrees
Lowercase degree if it is followed by the area of focus. For instance: “a master’s degree in criminal justice.” If it does not follow the area of focus, capitalize the degree. For instance: Master of Science.
ACAMS Advanced AML Audit Certification (CAMS-Audit)
ACAMS Advanced Financial Crimes Investigations Certification (CAMS-FCI)
acronym
Acronyms should be defined. Format: Term spelled out (acronym in parenthesis). Do not place the acronym in quotations. Your article should continue to use only the acronym, once the term is already first introduced.
act
Capitalize act when it is part of the name for a pending or implemented legislation: the Taft-Hartley Act.
aka
apostrophe (‘)
PLURAL NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: The alumni’s contributions, women’s rights PLURAL NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add only an apostrophe: the churches’ needs, the girls’ toys, the horses’ food, etc.
NOUNS PLURAL IN FORM, SINGULAR IN MEANING: Only add an apostrophe: General Motors’ profits, the United States’ wealth, etc.
SINGULAR NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: Add ‘s. The church’s needs, the girl’s toys, the horse’s food, the ship’s route, the VIP’s seat.
SINGULAR PROPER NAMES ENDING IN S: Only add an apostrophe: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Hercules’ labors, Moses’ law.
Asian, Asiatic
Use Asian or Asians when referring to people. Some Asians regard Asiatic as offensive when applied to people.
Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
awards
Capitalize and italicize award names. For instance: ACAMS Today Article of the Year Award

B

Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)
Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML)
Bible
Capitalize, without quotation marks. Lowercase bible as a nonreligous term: My dictionary is my bible.
Bitcoin
Bitcoin (singular with an upper case letter B) to label the protocol, software and community; and bitcoins (with a lower case b) to label units of the currency.
box-ticking
brackets
Square brackets should be used for interpolations in direct quotations: “Let them [the poor] eat cake.” They may also be used to break up a point within a parenthesis.
bullet points
If the bullet point is a complete sentence, end it in a period and capitalize the first letter of the first word. If it is a list, capitalize the first letter of the first word, end the bullets with a semicolon and end the last bullet with a period.
Bureau
Capitalize when part of a formal name for an organization or agency (ex., the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Lowercase when used alone.
bylaw
byline
Bylines are placed at the end of the article. It should be written as follows: first name and last name, CAMS (if you have this designation), title, company, city, state or province, country, email address.

C

cannot
cash-intensive businesses
cash-out limits
Catch-22
census
Capitalize only in specific references to the U.S. Census Bureau. Lowercase in other uses: The census data was released Tuesday.
century
Lowercase and spell out numbers less than 10: the first century, the 20th century. For proper names, follow the organization’s practice: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund.
clearing house(s)
Cliffs Notes
Cold War
Colon
Capitalize the first word after a colon if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence. (Ex., “He promised this: The company will make good all the losses,” or “There were three considerations: expense, time and feasibility.”)
combating
comma
Do not add a comma before the concluding conjunction. For instance: “I have a dog, cat, bird, rabbit and a duck.”
committee
Capitalize when part of a formal name: the House Appropriation Committee. Do not capitalize committee in shortened versions of long committee names, for example: the appropriation committee.
composition titles
Italicize all magazines, newspapers, reference books, books, films, TV shows, art, speeches, conferences, etc.
Congress
contractions
Do not use contractions. For instance, spell out the words: can’t, don’t, won’t, haven’t, etc. Only use contractions if there is a contraction within a quote used.
counter-terrorist financing (CTF)
Use counter-terrorist financing (CTF) or combating the financing of terrorism (CFT).
cryptocurrency
currency
Use the $ sign to report U.S. dollar amounts. For all other currencies, spell out the name of the currency in parentheses by the equivalent in U.S dollars. For instance: “Japan approved a 1.8 trillion yen ($18 billion) extra…” When it comes to euros, write out “euros” instead of the euro symbol. When dealing with a dollar currency of a country other than the U.S., use the following abbreviations before the amount: AU$ (Australian dollars), CA$ (Canadian dollars), SG$ (Singapore dollars), NZ$ (New Zealand dollars), HK$ (Hong Kong dollars), NT$ (New Taiwan dollars), ZW$ (Zimbabwe dollars).
currency transaction report (CTR)
cyber attack(s)
cybercops
cybercrime
cybercriminals
cybersecurity
cyberspace
cyberterrorism
cyberterrorist
cybertheft
cyberthieves

D

data
Treat data as a plural noun. Thus, it should be written as “data are” and not “data is.”
dates
If it is referencing a paper written by an international government agency use: day, month, year. Other than this, use the preferred style: month, day, year. In addition, always use Arabic figures without: st, nd, rd, th.
day-to-day
decision-maker
decision-making
Department of Justice (DOJ)

E

e-book
e-gold
email
em dash (—)
An em dash often demarcates a break of thought. Em dashes can be used in place of commas to enhance readability.
emphasis added
If you are italicizing a particular word or sentence within a quote (in order to emphasize it), write emphasis added in brackets. For instance: “The dog went to the park and found the missing toy [Emphasis added].”
enterprise-wide
European Union
Use EU with no periods.
executive branch
Always lowercase.

F

façade
face to face
Only hyphenate adjective before a noun.
FARC
First time FARC is introduced it should be listed as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). On subsequent references it should be FARC and not the FARC.
FATF Recommendations
When referring to one of the FATF Recommendations, do not spell out the number. For instance, instead of FATF Recommendation eight, use FATF Recommendation 8.
federal
Lowercase when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities: federal assistance, federal court, the federal government, a federal judge. Capitalize when used as part of a formal name: the Federal Trade Commission.
financial institutions
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), MetLife Inc. (MET), Morgan Stanley (MS), etc.
financial intelligence unit (FIU)
Fintech
footnotes
The footnote superscript should be placed after the punctuation mark. If it is a quoted sentence, place the footnote after the quotation mark. However, if it is only defining a single word in the sentence, the superscript footnote should be placed next to the word.
Citation rules are as follows: First name and last name, source title, and page number(s).
Web sources: First name and last name, “Title of the article,” Publishing organization or name of website, publication date and/or access date if available, URL.
Online magazines/newspapers: First name and last name, “title of article,” Name of magazine or newspaper in italics, publication date and/or access date if available, URL.
foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs)
foreign words
Place foreign words in italics and provide an explanation. For instance: ad astra per aspera, a Latin phrase meaning “to the stars through difficulty.”
formal titles
Only capitalize formal titles if they precede an individual’s name. For example: Major John Sue or John Sue, mayor of…
Founding Fathers
Capitalize when referring to the creators of the U.S. Constitution.
Fourth AML Directive
front line (n.) front-line (adj.)

G

government
Always lowercase, never abbreviate: the federal government, the state government, the U.S. government.

H

headlines
For print publication capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns. For Web publication use up-style: Capitalize the first letter of the first and last words and of all words besides short (fewer than five letters) articles, conjunctions and prepositions. Short verbs, nouns and adjectives are capitalized; for example, in There Will Be Blood, (Be is capitalized because it is a verb).
heat map(s)
Hezbollah
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)
high-risk
higher risk
human trafficking
Human trafficking should be lowercased, unless it is the first word of a sentence. In addition, the first time it is introduced write the word followed by: (HT).

I

Internet
inquire

K

know your customer (KYC)

L

labor-intensive
League of Nations
look-backs

M

money
When referring to money, use numerals. For cents or amounts of $1 million or more, spell the words cents, million, billion, trillion etc. Examples: $26.52, $100,200, $8 million, 6 cents.
money services business (MSB)
Also, MSB should be preceded by an and not a.
multi-
In general, do not use a hyphen with “multi.” For instance, multicolored, multilateral, multimillion, multimillionaire.
must-have(s)

N

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
nationwide
noncompliance
nongovernmental
nonprofit
nonresident
numbers
Everything higher than 10 is spelled out. However, when starting a sentence with a number, the number should be spelled out.

O

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
Osama bin Laden
overrepresenting

P

passport
pastor
Lowercase “pastor.” Do not use pastor before an individual’s name. However, if it appears before a name in a quotation, capitalize it.
people/persons
Unless it is a direct quote, always use people instead of persons.
percentage
When writing percentages, write the number and then spell out percent. For example: 10 percent.
policymakers

R

record keeping
road map(s)

S

side by side/side-by-side
Use side by side if it is an adverb and side-by-side if it is an adjective.
skillsets
smash and grab
Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list
stand-alone (adj.)
state
Lowercase state and keep it lowercased in all state of constructions: the state of Maine, the state of Maine and Vermont, etc.
statewide
stored value card
suspicious activity report (SAR)

T

therefor and therefore
Therefore means “for that reason,” “consequently” or “thus,” whereas therefor without the E just means “for that” or “for it.” Therefore example: Therefore, the Court found the evidence unconvincing. Therefor example: The applicant must submit the application form and any supporting documentation therefor in two weeks’ time.
thirdhand
time
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
titles
Capitalize titles if they are used directly before an individual’s name. For instance: Executive Vice Present John Byrne. Lowercase the title if the name and the title are set apart by commas: John Byrne, executive vice president, said he loved the conference.
toward
Not towards.

U

under secretary
See titles.
U.N.
Use this abbreviation for United Nations.
U.S.
Use this abbreviation for United States.
unsuspecting
up-to-date

W

watchlist(s)
web
website
Western
withdraw
(verb) To remove (money) from a bank account; to take (something) back, so that it is no longer available; to take back (someone that is spoken, offered, etc.). For example: She withdrew $200 from her checking account or They have withdrawn the charges.
withdrawal
(noun) The act of withdrawing; the process of giving up a narcotic drug, typically accompanied by distressing physical and mental effects. For example: The general authorized the withdrawal of troops from the fields or She experienced symptoms of nicotine withdrawal after she quit smoking.
White House
Also capitalize White House officials.
white paper
working group(s)
worldwide

Y

years
Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1890s, the 1800s.