Style guide for french translation and localization projects

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PREPARED BY: Contextual Communications

a division of Carmazzi Global Solutions

January 2009 /


Purpose of this Style Guide 1


Acronyms 2

Abbreviations 3

Most Common Symbols 4



General Guidelines 6

Geographic Names 6

Institutional Names, Government Departments, Agencies 6

Document Names 7



General Guidelines 9

Comma 9

Colon 9

Dash, Hyphen 10

Periods, Parentheses, Brackets, Quotation Marks 10

Semi-colon, Exclamation Mark, Interrogation Mark 11

Slash 11


General Guidelines 12

Consistency in Structure and Tone 12

Italics 12

Footnotes 12

Line Breaks in Titles, Subheads 12


General Guidelines 14

Commas, Decimals 14

Dates 14

Time 14

Ranges of Numbers, Dates, Pages 15

Ordinal Numbers 15


General Guidelines 16

Units of Measurement in Text 16

Percent, Percentage Point 16

Billion, Trillion 16

Currency 16

Phone Numbers 16


Country Names 17

Other Geographic Areas 17

Country Classifications 17




The IIA and Its French-Speaking Institutes 20

Grammar, Punctuation, Dictionaries and Books 20


Overview 22

Grammatical and Orthographical Differences 22

Key Vocabulary Differences 22


A translation is not just a transcription from one language into another. It needs to render not only the meaning of words and sentences but also the correct meaning of the original product. Good translation reads as if the text had originally been written in the target language.

Bearing in mind that the various French-speaking countries have their own linguistic customs and preferences, the aim in translating IIA products is to use “international” French in terms of style, syntax and vocabulary (also avoiding Anglicism)—in short, a language acceptable to the widest possible French-speaking audience. However, the Appendix provides a short list of distinctions between French European and French Canadian vocabulary, style and grammar rules. .

Purpose of this Style Guide

This Style Guide aims to establish grammar, style and terminology guidelines for IIA internal staff and freelance translators, editors and proofreaders with regard to the language preferences to be used in English to French translations and localizations that are carried out for or by The IIA. This document is directly primarily towards translators with the understanding that it will be used by other aforementioned parties as well. This Style Guide is considered a “living” document with periodic updates to be expected as terminological changes and stylistic preferences are approved by IIA.
As a general rule, and unless instructed otherwise, you, the translator, are expected to respect and replicate the format of the source text. In addition, translations need to reflect direct correspondence to the original text, accuracy of content and style as well as term consistency. The key to achieving success in this direction lies in your scrutiny of all aspects of the original document and supporting your choice of proper terms based on a glossary that will be provided. This is particularly important when dealing with proprietary product names and slogans.

Consistency also means double-checking to verify that:

  • Items in a table of contents match section/chapter headings (unless there actually is a divergence from the original text).

  • Company slogans and non-trademarked products names are translated identically each time they appear.

  • When titles of charts, tables and graphics are used within the body of the document, they match the actual titles used as captions with graphics.

You should strive to maintain the same voice and style in every translation. Keeping the original voice and style helps to render the translated document as a true translation of the original. Of course, these elements do not always translate easily into the target language. Please use your best judgment. "Doctoring” should only be applied for the purpose of improving the readability of text and the clarity of meaning. However, always do your best to avoid literal unnatural translations.



Acronyms are formed with the initial letters of a word or by combining the initial and final letters of a word or series of words. They behave as common nouns. An example is "IIA" which stands for "The Institute of Internal Auditors ", as this is the proper name of our organization, it should always be kept as that when talking about IIA Global Headquarters. In addition, please note how to treat the translation of the The IIA belonging to different countries. 1
The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing specifies that…

Les Normes internationales pour la pratique professionnelle de audit interne de l’IIA stipulent que...

The IIA-UK and Ireland produced a useful position paper on fraud in 2003.

L’IIA du Royaume-Uni et de l’Irlande a publié une importante prise de position sur la fraude en 2003.

In general, acronyms are translated into French the first instance they appear in the text, with the English acronym and name in parentheses. Thereafter, the English acronym is used.

Individuals may also install a rogue access point outside an organization’s premises and purposely broadcast its Service Set Identifier (SSID) — a sequence of characters that uniquely names a wireless local area network access point... According to Microsoft, when a client computer is near two wireless access points, it will connect to the one that is broadcasting its SSID, regardless of the preferences configured in the computer’s Preferred Networks List.

Des individus peuvent aussi installer un point d’accès non autorisé à l’extérieur des locaux d’une organisation et diffuser intentionnellement son identifiant (SSID - « Service Set Identifier ») – une séquence de caractères qui identifie de façon unique un point d’accès sans fil au réseau local...Selon Microsoft, un ordinateur client placé près de deux points d’accès sans fil se connectera à celui des deux qui diffuse son SSID, indépendamment de la configuration des paramètres enregistrés dans la liste des réseaux auxquels il accède habituellement.
However, the use of abbreviations and acronyms is not as common in French as it is in English. Avoid overusing them in French texts.
“There has to be a dialogue among the chief audit executive (CAE), senior management, and the audit committee to ensure respective roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. The first role of CAEs is marketing”, Tobin argues.
« Il doit y avoir un dialogue entre le responsable d’audit (RAI), la direction générale et le comité de audit pour s’assurer que les rôles et les responsabilités respectives sont claires et acceptées. Le premier rôle des responsables d’audit est le marketing », selon Tobin.

Acronyms that have official translations and are known worldwide should be translated: ONU, CE, OEA. Avoid coining acronyms on your own. Whenever available, you should use the French abbreviation or acronym instead of the English one. As a general rule, abbreviations of country names (e.g., É.-U.) or other common ones should never be used in text (their use in tables or bibliographies is acceptable). For other types of abbreviations, the same rules as in English generally apply in text: the name or term should be spelled out on its first occurrence, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, and the abbreviation can be used in later occurrences.

For example:

Une augmentation du produit national brut (PNB) par habitant
Unlike in English, acronyms and abbreviations are never pluralized in French. The article (un,

une, le, la, les, etc.) will differentiate between singular and plural. For example:

Correct: Un CIA, les CIA

Incorrect: les CIAs

Correct: Les MPA

Incorrect: Les MPAs


In general, abbreviations should only be used if there is a space restriction (i.e., in tables and similar forms of display) but, as a general rule, not in text. However, this does not apply to abbreviations used in titles of address preceding a proper name.
Correct: Mme Mary Brown…

Incorrect: Le Bilan est transmis au dépt. financier pour révision.

When the last syllable or syllables are cut in order to abbreviate a word, the abbreviated word cannot end in a vowel.
Correct: exemple = ex., français = fr.

Incorrect : exemple = exe., français = fre.
Words should not be abbreviated by omitting only one letter.
Correct: numéro = no

Incorrect: numéro = numér.

A word can be abbreviated by contracting it, for example “cie” for “compagnie”. The following table contains a list of common abbreviations.










et cetera

et cetera








for example

par exemple

p. ex.

first / firstly



second, third

deuxième, troisième

2e, 3e















Regarding the abbreviation of the names of months, the following rules of style apply: jan., févr., mars*, avr., mai*, juin*, juil., août*, sept., oct., nov., déc.

*no abbreviation
Please also remember that abbreviations should always be written with a final period.
Nevertheless, please do not treat units of measurement as abbreviations. They are, in fact, symbols and never carry a period. For example, km, m, l. Additionally, when using symbols or units of measurement, a space needs to be inserted between the number and the corresponding symbol or unit. Be sure to use a non-breaking space to avoid splitting the figure and the symbol or unit over two lines.
English correct: 5cm, 53%, 25°C, 25°

French correct : 5 cm, 53 % 25 °C, 25 °

Most Common Symbols

The following table contains a list of the most commonly used symbols:





degré Celsius





cubic meter

mètre cube



degré Fahrenheit
































As in English, French compound words (mots composés) formed with prefixes or composite elements (e.g., anti-, bio-, co-, extra-, post-, pre-, socio-, sub-) are spelled closed, with no hyphen. For example: anticonstitutionnel, bioénergie, coprésident, extrajudiciaire, etc.

The prefix and the radical of compound nouns beginning with anti, auto, inter, intra, pluri, mono, multi, poly, super and ultra are kept together, except in case of a hiatus (ex.: monoposte, multitâche, mono-utilisateur, kilo-octet, méga-octet).

Non and quasi require a hyphen when followed by a noun, but not when followed by an adjective (ex.: des applications non-Windows / des opérations non automatisées). The exception to this rule is when quasi or non are used as adverbs before an adjective (ex.: non avenu, non seulement, quasi mort, quasi jamais).

Regarding the plural form of compound nouns, when the second term of a compound noun is considered as a noun rather than as an adjective, it remains in singular case. For example, des objets feuille (the word 'feuille' refers to a type of object and is used as a noun, not as an adjective).


General Guidelines

As a very general rule, take into account that, most frequently, French capitalizes only the initial letter.
À la recherche du temps perdu

Rapport de la Commission sur l'égalité en matière d'emploi

The following terms are not capitalized in French:

  • Names of days, months, years and seasons

  • Languages (ex.: l’anglais est la principale langue de communication)

Use an upper case letter after the following punctuation marks: full stop (.), exclamation mark (!), question mark (?), suspension points (...).

In theory, accentuated vowels keep their accent when capitalized. However, this rule (recommended by the Académie française) varies from one French-speaking region to another. Both French European and French Canadian keep the accents on capitalized letters.

Geographic Names


As a general rule, use lowercase for common nouns unless they are part of the proper name. Nouns referring to country nationals and related adjectives should be lowercased. The word “État” is always capitalized when it designates a state or a government. For example: État du Mexique (le Mexique), l’État de Floride (aux États-Unis), l’État de Uttar Pradesh (en Inde); Ville de Dawson, la ville de Paris, les utilisateurs français et européens, le gouvernement belge. However, nouns designating country inhabitants should be capitalized (ex.: les Français sont des Européens).

Regions, Geographic Features

Capitalize all geographical proper names that refer to a definite region and parts of the world or regions of a continent denoting political or geographical divisions. Some geographical names require the use of an article, which should be lowercased (e.g., les Alpes) unless it is part of the name (e.g., La Paz). Lowercase nouns and adjectives derived from those terms and adjectives modifying names of regions. For example: les Balkans, la région des Balkans, l’économie des Balkans, les pays balkaniques; l’Amazonie, le bassin amazonien; le désert du Sahara, le désert saharien.

Capitalize points of the compass when included in the official name of a region, or when designating a region; lowercase them in all other cases. Also, use lowercase for all adjectival forms designating those points. For example: le Pôle Nord, le nord de l’Argentine; Amérique du Sud, hémisphère Sud, le sud du continent.
Use lowercase for terms that designate areas but are not geographic in nature. Finally, in geographic names made up of common names (such as ville, océan) in apposition with proper nouns, always lowercase the common name unless it is part of the whole name. For example: zone franc CFA, océan Atlantique, la cordillère des Andes, Sierra Nevada.

Institutional Names, Government Departments, Agencies

In official documents, capitalize names relating to a specific, unique government or governmental department or agency in full form. Use lowercase for similar names when used as generic terms.

For example: le gouvernement du Royaume-Uni, le gouvernement élu de la France, les gouvernements de l’Europe; le ministère de l’Économie; le ministre de l’Éducation, la gestion de notre ministère.

However, the word Ministère is capitalized if it refers to a specific Department. For example: Le Ministère a lancé ce programme…

Document Names

When referring to a specific document by its name, capitalize the initial letter of the first word, but, if you are talking generically, capitalization should not be used.
Le Code de déontologie associé au « Cadre de référence des pratiques professionnelles » et les autres déclarations de l'Institut fournissent les lignes de conduite pour les auditeurs internes.
Le code de déontologie va au-delà de la définition de l’audit interne et inclut deux composantes essentielles… 
Bien que ces différences puissent influencer la pratique de l’audit interne dans chaque environnement, le respect des Normes internationales pour la pratique professionnelle de l’audit interne est essentiel pour que les auditeurs internes puissent s'acquitter de leurs responsabilités.


When listing credentials after someone’s name, always place CIA first, then other IIA designations. The only exceptions are doctoral titles (e.g., Ph.D., JD); these should appear before CIA. Do not list masters -or undergraduate-level designations (e.g., MBA, BA, etc.).

Pierre Lamonte, CIA

Président du CRI

Christian Depardieux, CIA, CP

Président du comité d’audit

Jean-Edouard Perrier, Ph.D., CIA

Directeur d’audit

Fabien Descartes, JD, CIA

Membre honoraire


General Guidelines

Punctuation rules in French differ from those in English. The websites for the Académie française ( and the Office de la langue française ( provide detailed information in this regard. This section gives some examples of punctuation issues commonly raised in French translations.


A comma is used to separate a series of three or more elements. In French, the comma before the conjunction should not be used when the conjunction joins the last two elements in a series.
If a risk assessment is not performed, documented, and communicated, the auditor should flag it as a control deficiency.
Si l’évaluation d’un risque n’est pas effectuée, documentée et communiquée, l’auditeur doit le signaler comme une insuffisance en matière de contrôle
If the enumeration is complete, a conjunction (mais, ou, est donc, or, ni, car) without a comma should precede the last element.

Did the internal auditors fail that company, or did management make incorrect assumptions about the assignment auditing carried out, and about its role more widely?

Les auditeurs internes ont-ils induit cette société en erreur, ou alors les dirigeants se sont-ils fait une fausse idée de la mission de l’audit et plus généralement de son rôle?
Nevertheless, if there is a conjunction (“et”) on a previous segment, a comma is necessary to separate blocks of ideas.
Internal controls include policies, procedures, and practices at every organizational level, and both management and internal auditors must possess a thorough understanding of controls to document them.
Les contrôles internes comprennent les politiques, les procédures et les pratiques en usage à chaque niveau de l’organisation, et la direction tout comme les auditeurs internes doivent posséder une connaissance approfondie de ces contrôles pour être en mesure de les documenter convenablement.
Use commas with introductory phrases, as well as before and after phrases that use adverbs such as “toutefois”, “cependant”, “en revanche”, “désormais”, “ainsi”, “enfin”, etc.
Lastly, auditors need to validate that the prescribed controls operate effectively.
Enfin, les auditeurs doivent s’assurer que les contrôles prescrits fonctionnent réellement.


Use colons to introduce lists and procedures. Do not use colons to introduce tables, sections or illustrations. The colon should be preceded by one hard space and followed by one soft space.
Unless the sentence starts on the next line or the text following the colon is a complete quotation, use lower case after the colon.
Les auditeurs doivent être attentifs à trois types émergents de vulnérabilités, les accès frauduleux au réseau à l’aide : de périphériques mobiles, de points d’accès sans fil non autorisés et de tactiques d’ingénierie sociale associées aux périphériques USB. 

Dash, Hyphen

As in English, hyphens (trait d’union) are used in French for ranges of figures, dates or page numbers, and years ,e.g., "Voir page 167-180".
“Em” dashes (tiret cadratin ou tiret long) are used to enclose clarifications or to indicate a sudden break in thought or to add emphasis. In this case, commas and parentheses can be used instead. Unlike in English, however, the opening dash should always be preceded by a space and the closing dash followed by a space. Also, an “em” dash should never be left alone at the end of a line.
In French, three types of dash characters are used:

  • Hyphen (trait d’union: -): Used to divide words at the end of a line (e.g. “appli-cation”) and for compound words (e.g. “clavier-écran”). A hyphenated compound should not be split between lines. If possible, use a non-breaking hyphen. Titles should not have hyphenated words.

General rules to follow regarding hyphenated words include the following:

  • Words are split in syllables; respect their syllabic structure (e.g.: milli-/mètre).

  • As much as possible, try to keep at least 3 letters at the end of a line and 3 letters at the beginning of the following line.

  • Do not bring silent syllables to the next line.

  • Take the etymology of words into account (e.g.: inter-/actif, in-/stable).

  • Do not end a line with an elision (e.g.: incorrect: l'-/utilisateur; correct: l'uti-/lisateur).

  • Do not hyphenate proper names such as product or trademark names.

  • Do not divide between two vowels (e.g.: incorrect: thé-/orique; correct: théo-/rique).

  • In words such as au-dessus or ci-après, use a non-breaking hyphen so that words are not split.

  • No hyphenation before x or y; after x or y, before a vowel or an h (e.g.: con-/nexion).

  • Nowadays, hyphens are less used. New words in French, in particular, do not contain hyphens (e.g.: programme utilisateur and ingénieur système).

  • Em” dash (tiret demi-cadratin or tiret court: – ): Used as a minus sign with a space before and after.

  • Em” dash (tiret cadratin or tiret long: —): Used to enclose comments not syntactically connected to the rest of the sentence. Similar to using brackets. The use of “em” dash in the English text does not always warrant its use in the French translation. Depending on the context, it can be replaced with a comma or brackets.

Periods, Parentheses, Brackets, Quotation Marks

Periods should be followed by one space only. In a sentence ending with a term within quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets, the period should go outside the closing marks. For example:
Les Normes de mise en œuvre concernent les activités d’assurance (indiquées par la lettre "A" après le numéro de la Norme, par exemple 1130.A1) et les activités de conseil (indiquées par la lettre "C" après le numéro de la Norme, par exemple 1130.C1).
Insert a full stop before the closing parenthesis only if the segment between parentheses is a full sentence.
As in English, both opening and closing parentheses may be used next to letters or numbers setting off items in a list or in subparagraphs.
Les Normes font partie du Cadre de référence des pratiques professionnelles. Il

comprend la définition de l’audit interne (1), le Code de déontologie (2), les

Normes (3) et d'autres orientations.
Elles comportent généralement deux intervenants : (a) la personne ou le groupe qui fournit les conseils en l’occurrence — le vérificateur interne, et (b) la personne ou le groupe donneur d’ordre auquel ils sont destinés — le client.
English quotation marks must be replaced with the French chevrons (« and »). Note that a non-breaking space must be inserted after the opening chevron («) and before the closing chevron (»). In English, when the text between quotation marks appears at the end of the sentence, the period may appear inside the quotation marks. In French, the period should go outside the quotation marks. However, if the whole sentence is between quotation marks, the period goes inside them.
The 2006 fbi/csi survey reports that “there is a substantial increase in the respondents’ perception of the importance of security awareness training.”
Le rapport d’enquête conjoint du FBI et du CSI de 2006 indique qu’« il y a une augmentation substantielle dans la perception des entreprises interrogées quant à l’importance de la sensibilisation à la sécurité ».
Articles of journals, magazines or newspapers, as well as chapters or sections of publications, should be set between quotation marks. Also, documents that have not been printed should be quoted between quotation marks. For example, an article in the magazine Internal Auditor would be noted as follows:
English: “Documenting Internal Controls” by Andreas G. Koutoupis

French: « La documentation des contrôles internes » par Andreas G. Koutoupis

Semi-colon, Exclamation Mark, Interrogation Mark

See Appendix for these guidelines as there is a distinction between French European and French Canadian.


In French, a slash (barre) is an auxiliary sign that has a prepositional value in different expressions such as 60 km/h (60 kilometres à l’heure). It is also used to separate elements in dates (periods or hyphens can be used instead), numeric expressions, etc. In these cases, there are no spaces before or after the slash. For example: 85 mètres/heure (85 m/h), 90 kilomètres/heure (90 k/h), 25/10/2003 (25 octobre 2003), 3/2/2004 (3 février 2004), 3/4 (trois quarts). In French, slashes are not common and tend to be replaced by the conjunction “ou”.


General Guidelines

As a general rule, the style of headings and titles (i.e., format, placement, etc.) in the translation should mirror that of the source text, but language-specific capitalization rules should be followed. (See also specific rules below regarding line breaks.)

Consistency in Structure and Tone

Following good editorial practice, the contents of same-level heads (i.e., chapter titles, section heads, etc.) should be consistent in structure and tone. For example, if the head of one section reads
Mise en place d’un environnement propice aux investissements
following section heads will say, for example,
Amélioration des services publics et de la gestion de l’État (instead of Améliorer) et protection de l’environnement (instead of protéger…)
The same rule applies to lists.
Les Normes ont pour objet:

1. de définir les principes de base que la pratique de l’audit interne doit suivre ;

2. de fournir un cadre de référence pour la réalisation et la promotion d’un large éventail d’activités d’audit interne apportant une valeur ajoutée ;

3. d’établir les critères d’appréciation du fonctionnement de l’audit interne ;

4. de favoriser l'amélioration des processus organisationnels et des opérations.


As in English, italics are used in French for emphasis, for the titles of laws and regulations, for book titles and names of periodicals, and to identify foreign words that have not become common in French. For example:
La présente Modalité pratique d’application contient des recommandations qui concernent plusieurs Normes de mise en œuvre pour l’activité de conseil.
Les junior colleges complètent la formation générale


In French, the footnote reference (notes de bas de page) must be placed immediately after the last word to which it refers and before all punctuation marks. For example:
Pour arriver à ces fins, les vérificateurs internes peuvent se former aux Normes ISO1. Une intégration de vérificateurs internes sur des missions qualité et réciproquement de vérificateurs qualité sur des missions d’audit interne peut également être recommandée2.

Line Breaks in Titles, Subheads

As a general rule, words in titles and subheads should not be hyphenated, and closely related words (e.g., an adjective and the noun it modifies, or a preposition and its object) or one-syllable words such as prepositions, conjunctions and articles should not be separated by a break. Notice the breaks in the following subheads:
Agrandissement dans le but d’améliorer

la santé de la population mondiale

La sélectivité de la Banque, engagement

et capacité d’emprunt

In titles and subheads centered on multiple lines, it is good practice to use the inverted pyramid style (with each successive line shorter than the one above), as long as a logical grouping of words is maintained.


General Guidelines

Single-digit numbers should be used as numerals in the case of percentages, amounts of money or currency, or large amounts (this also applies to tables and graphs):

5 %

10 millions de dollars

2 milliards (or / 2 000 000 000)

Note: When a number is the first element of a sentence, it should be spelled out. However, it is sometimes advisable (and possible) to edit the sentence so the number does not fall at the beginning. For example:

Cent-trente-trois pays membres ont collaboré dans quarante-deux projets approuvés par la Banque Mondiale
Instead of:
Vingt-trois personnes ont répondu au questionnaire
Au total 23 personnes ont répondu au questionnaire

Commas, Decimals

See Appendix for these guidelines as there is a distinction between French European and French Canadian.


There are different ways to mention dates in French texts: only words, a combination of numbers and words, and only numbers. The preferred model for text documents in French is the combination of numbers and words in an ascending order: i.e., day, month, year (e.g., 15 mai 2004). In tables or graphs, dates can be abbreviated, also in an ascending order, in two different ways: 25 févr. 2004 or 25/02/04.
Regardless of the style selected, care should be taken to be consistent throughout the text. When using numerals, a zero preceding a single-digit day or month should be avoided (correct: 4/9/98; incorrect: 04/09/98).
Starting in year 2000, the use of an article before the year became common (for example, le 25 août de l’an 2000; mars de l’an 2004). This, while not incorrect, should be avoided. However, if the word année is used along with the number of the year, an article should be used (e.g., 20 novembre de l’année 2003). In French, the styles for decades (décennie) are, for example, la décennie 1990, la décennie de 1980-89, les années quatre-vingt but not les quatre-vingt; les années 80, la décennie des années 80.
For the first day of the month, ordinal one is used: le 1er mars 2004 (not le 1 mars 2004).


In French, time can be expressed with words or numbers, depending on the context. Numbers are preferred, and the following criteria apply. The 24-hour model (military time) is preferred in text and schedules (0 heure 00 à 24 heures 00). Heure(s) is spelled out in text but abbreviated as “h” (lowercase, no period) in schedules, tables, or embargos; and a period (not a colon) should be used to separate hours from minutes. For example:

(In text) La session commence à 15 heures 30 minutes

(In embargo) Il ne sera ni publié ou transmis avant 18 h 00 TU -5

(In schedule) Inscription : le 14 avril de 15 h 30 à 21 h 30

Ranges of Numbers, Dates, Pages

In French, as in English, ranges of numbers should be expressed with a hyphen or with an appropriate word, but not with a mix of both. For example, if words like “de … à” or “entre” are used, a hyphen should never follow. Here are some examples of this and other rules of style for number date and page ranges:
Correct: Le chiffre d’affaires est passé de 28 millions de dollars US à 98 milliards de dollars US

Incorrect: …passé de 28 millions $ US - 98 milliards $ US.

Correct: L’Afrique n’a pas connu de croissance entre 1965 et 1999

Incorrect: …entre 1965-99.

Correct: De la page 25 à la page 35 (in text), les pages 30 à 45, or pp. 30-45 (in references and bibliographies).

Incorrect: De la page 25-35 (in text), les pages 30-45, or pp. 30 à 45 (in references and bibliographies).

Regarding amounts above millions or in percentages, the word millions and the sign % should be used in all cases (see above and following examples):
Correct. Le taux de scolarisation est passé de 75 % à 90 %

Incorrect: …de 75 à 90%

Correct: Les importations sont passées de 45 millions de dollars à 50 millions de dollars

Incorrect: …de 45 à 50 millions $

Ordinal Numbers

As a general rule, in French, as in English, ordinal numbers in text should be spelled out. For example: La quarante-quatrième distribution des dividendes de l’Institut, le quatrième trimestre de 2002, le deuxième plan biennal.

Note: When abbreviated, such as in titles of conferences or in tables, French ordinal numerals are displayed this way: 1er, 2e, 3e, 4e, etc.


General Guidelines

It is recommended practice to translate units of measurement contained in the source text but not to convert them (unless specifically required by the text or the translation requester), as doing so raises the risk of conversion errors and may needlessly confuse the reader.

Units of Measurement in Text

In French text, all units of measurement—with the exception of percentages, for which the percent sign (%) is always used—should be spelled out: kilomètre, kilowatt-heure, hectare, tonne, etc. However, measurement symbols are used in tables or graphs, and one should note that these symbols never include a period (e.g., km, kv/h, ha). As in English, it is best practice to repeat the unit for all measurements when ambiguity might result. For example:

entre 5 % et 10 %; de 5 % en 1986 à 15 % en 1989.

Percent, Percentage Point

In French, as in English, the difference between percent (in French, pourcentage or %) and percentage point (centièmes) is often misunderstood, resulting in serious errors of translation. One simple way to make the distinction is to remember that a difference between two percentages is expressed in percentage points. In addition, there should be a hard space between the number and the percentage sign. For example:
D’un taux annuel de 4 % en 1980, le taux d’inflation a augmenté de 1,7 point passant à 5,7 % en 1990.

Billion, Trillion

The word billion (milliard) has different meanings in American and British English: in American usage, a billion is equal to 1,000 millions (in British usage, it is equal to a million millions). In French, “billion” (American English) should always be translated as milliard. Accordingly, one trillion will be translated in French as 1 000 milliards.


When a number is written out, the preferred style is to write out the name of the currency. In publications such as the Annual Report, there is usually a note specifying the currency used throughout the text, which generally is the United States dollar (US$). For example:
(In an Annual Report) L’activité a augmenté de 4 380 millions de dollars.
(In a press release) Les annulations de dettes offertes par l’institut s’établiront à 382,6 millions de dollars.

Note: If abbreviations are used, they follow the amount and are separated from it by a space: 1,2 million de francs CFA, 5 millions de francs CH.

Phone Numbers

For phone numbers, use hyphens, not parentheses, for both national and international numbers. (+1-407-830-7600 or +27-11-797-5338)
Note: The + symbol stands for the number anyone must dial for an international call. Always include “+” before phone numbers. Also, when listing toll-free numbers, remember to include a direct number for overseas callers.


Country Names

For an official World Bank list of country names (in English), click on this link For official country names in other languages, go to UNTERM (

Note: References to Hong Kong and Taiwan in French must conform to the following style:

Hong Kong (Chine); and Taiwan (Chine) or Chine Taiwan

Other Geographic Areas

These are some standard regions (organized by continent). Note the capitalization difference in French concerning the points of the compass. Always use capitalization on all initial letters when it is part of a geographical proper name, but lower case when it refers to a geographical area, not a proper name:
Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa

Afrique centrale, Afrique orientale, Afrique australe, Afrique occidentale

Central America, Latin America, North America, South America

Amérique centrale, Amérique latine, Amérique du Nord, Amérique du Sud

South Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Western Asia

Asie centrale et du Sud, Asie du Sud-Est ou Sud-Est asiatique, Asie du Sud-Ouest, Asie occidentale

Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, South-Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe

Europe centrale, Europe de l’Est, Europe du Nord, Balkans, Europe du Sud, Europe de l’Ouest

Country Classifications

The World Bank’s main country classification is based on gross national income (GNI) per capita and yields the following categories:

  • low-income economies (or low-income countries, LIC) = pays à faible revenu

  • middle-income economies (or middle-income countries, MIC), subdivided into

lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income economies = économies à revenu intermédiaire (ou pays à revenu intermédiare), subdivided into pays à revenu intermédiaire inférieur and pays à revenu intermédiaire supérieur

  • high-income economies = pays à revenu élevé


  • The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) = l’Institut des Auditeurs Internes

  • The IIA = l’IIA

  • The Institute = l’Institut

  • IIA Global Headquarters = Siège mondial de l’IIA

  • Chapter = Chapitre

  • Chapter in formation = Chapitre en formation

  • Institutes = Instituts

  • IIA-Institutes = Instituts IIA

  • Member of The IIA = Membre de l’IIA

  • Member of an IIA-Institute = Membre d’un Institut IIA

  • Board of Directors members = membres du Conseil d’administration

  • International Relations Committee members = membres du Comité des relations internationales


Please use the checklist provided below when proofreading your translation.

  • Run spell check.

  • Check all numbers for typos and accuracy of associated units of measure.

  • Make sure you have not inadvertently skipped any text, particularly when dealing with two or more texts that are similar.

  • Basic formatting. Are the appropriate words/phrases set in bold, italic, underline, centered, ALL CAPS, superscript, etc.?

  • Are all diacritical marks (à, é, î, ñ, ü) and special characters (™, ®, ©, ˚, «, ») in place?

  • Check for consistency

- Technical terms

- Table of contents (headings and page numbers)

- Company names, products & slogans


The IIA and Its French-Speaking Institutes

For a complete list of all the IIA’s French-speaking institutes, please visit

Grammar, Punctuation, Dictionaries and Books

For your information, following is a list of publications we have in our ever-growing library. We have included it in the Style Guide in the hopes that it might hold a title you have been looking for, but equally important, that it might generate suggestions for other references that we can add to our library. In the past, our best source for reference materials has often come from our translators. Our growth is nourished by this spirit of cooperative knowledge.


Le dictionnaire de l’Académie française
InterActive Terminology for Europe (formerly known as Eurodicotom)
Grand dictionnaire terminologique
Vernimmen (financial terminology)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (economics terminology),3414,fr_2649_201185_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
Office québécois de la langue française (Banque de dépannage linguistique)
Bureau de la traduction du Canada (Termium Plus)

Le bon usage: grammaire française

Authors: Maurice Grevisse, André Goosse

Year: 1993

Edition: 3rd

ISBN: 2801110450
Le français au bureau

Author: Noëlle Guilloton

Year: 2005

Edition: 6th

ISBN: 2551196841
Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière

Authors: Louis Ménard, Murielle Arsenault, Jean-François Joly

Year: 1994

Edition: 1st

ISBN: 0888003889
Le Nouveau Petit Robert : Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française

Author: Josette Rey-Debove

Year: 2006

Edition: 2007

ISBN: 2849021334
La nouvelle grammaire en tableaux

Author: Marie-Éva de Villers

Year: 2005

Edition: 1st

ISBN: 2764403062
Multidictionnaire langue française

Author: Marie-Éva de Villers

Year: 2003

Edition: 4th

ISBN: 2764402031
Le guide du rédacteur

Author: Bureau of Translation, Government of Canada

Year: 1996

Edition: 1st

ISBN: 0660953005
Guide anglais-français de la traduction

Author: René Meertens

Year: 1999

Edition: TOP

ISBN: 2877311597
Les mots pour le traduire 2007 : petit dico anglais-français

Author: Luc Labelle

Year: 2007

Edition: 3rd

ISBN: 97829808877322



In general, formal French Canadian applies the same orthography and grammar as French Eurporean. There are a few exceptions (listed below). Lexical and grammatical differences increase with the informality of the language. One major characteristic that distinguishes French European from French Canadian is the tendency of the former to more readily adapt Anglicisms, especially if language used is more informal in nature or if there simply is no “acceptable” French replacement. French Canadian strongly attempts to avoid Anglicisms and will strive to provide an equivalent translation.
IIA usually adheres to French European terms, style and grammar unless a product is specifically targeted toward a French Canadian audience.

Grammatical and Orthographical Differences


In French European a period is used in numbers to separate groups of three digits, and a comma for decimals (with a zero in front of the decimal point for all numbers less than 1). For example: 1.500; 24.675; 7.263.876, 0,25; 27,75

However, in French Canadian a hard space is used in numbers to separate groups of three digits, and a comma for decimals (with a zero in front of the decimal point for all numbers less than 1). For example: 1 500; 24 675; 7 263 876, 0,25; 27,75

In French European, semi-colons, exclamation points and interrogation marks are all preceded and followed by a non-breaking space. In French Canadian, there is no space before a semi-colon, exclamation mark or interrogation mark.

Key Vocabulary Differences

The table below shows terminology that has been approved by IIA to be used for French translation and localization. Note that certain published materials (whether in print or electronic format) have made an effort to incorporate these linguistic differences into a single product and therefore include both French European and French Canadian terms. For example, see the Standards.


French European

French Canadian



la vérification

audit approach

approche d'audit, méthodologie d’audit

approche d’vérification

audit scope

etendue ou domain d’audit

étendue de la vérification

audit staff



audit testing

test, tests d’audit

sondage de verification



la verification





repères/benchmark – benchmarking, analyse comparative, evaluation comparative

évaluation comparative, étalonnage

enterprise risk management

management des risques de l'entreprise, processus de gestion des risques

gestion des risques de l'entreprise

executive management

management, la direction

direction supérieure, haute direction

financial reporting process

processus de reporting financier

processus de divulgation financièrer

The Institute of Internal Auditors

L’Institut des Auditeurs Internes

L’Institut des vérificateurs internes


« outsourcing », externalisation, sous-traitance

sous-traitance ; impartition

risk management

gestion du risque, management du risque

gestion du risque

risk management and control processes

processus de management des risques et de contrôle, processus de management et de contrôle des risques

processus de gestion des risques et des contrôles

1 See Appendix for French Canadian differences in The IIA’s name.

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