Written style guidelines


Korn Ferry is a global company with clients (and therefore readers) in many geographies. But the firm should speak with one voice—visually and verbally—across external channels. The following guide is meant to be used by writers, editors, copy editors, designers, and anyone who might be involved in drafting or proofing thought leadership and marketing collateral materials. Note that press releases, internal communications business development materials may have their own specific rules that differ from these.



Guidelines & best practices Brand conventions glossary Translated boilerplates



Advisor (not adviser)

Boards Board of directors should be lowercase, i.e., “The General Electric board of directors” or “the GE board voted to...”

Boardroom One word, not board room.

Center of Expertise Not excellence. See Practices and markets.

CFO, CMO, COO, etc. For titles except CEO, spell out the title on first reference. Put abbreviations of all but the most common (CFO, COO) in parentheses afterward: chief social responsibility officer (CSRO). Plural forms are CCOs, CFOs, COOs, etc.


Korn Ferry thought leadership uses author-date style references (See Chicago Manual 15.5). The source is cited in parentheses in the text by last name and year of publication, and full details appear in an alphabetized reference list at the end.

Text citation:

Recent research found that updating competencies has a beneficial effect across the business (Loew and Garr 2011). Studies have shown...

Reference list entry:

Bowen, David E., and Cheri Ostroff. 2004. “Understanding HRM-Firm Performance Linkages: The Role of ‘Strength’ of the HRM System.” Academy of Management Review 29 (2): 203-21.

There may be circumstances where heavily documented material makes parenthetical references clumsy or overwhelming, in which case numbered notes can be used. Footnotes (at the bottom of the same page) should be reserved for substantive comments, not citations.

C-level or C-suite Note the lowercase l or s.

© Korn Ferry 2018. All rights reserved. Korn Ferry first, year second.

Company names

Executive Search Refer to as Korn Ferry Executive Search in the first instance; after that refer to as Search.

Futurestep Refer to as Korn Ferry Futurestep in the first instance; after that refer to as Futurestep, not Future Step or FutureStep.

Hay Group Refer to as Korn Ferry Hay Group in the first instance; after that refer to as Hay Group, not the Hay Group or Hay.

Intellectual property In line with the new written style, any item or content label that is part of a Korn Ferry IP framework should not be capitalized or have italicized words. Existing print materials where this is the case, should be updated with this more contemporary style as and when new materials are required.

Job titles In general, confine capitalization of titles to those used before an individual’s name. For example: Chairman Roberta Johnson, or Ford Vice President Jeff Miller. Use lowercase when job titles appear after a name, such as: “Michelle Grafton, chief operating officer, says that...” See also CEO, CFO, etc.

Korn Ferry, not Korn/Ferry. Korn Ferry is often on second reference referred to as “the firm” which should be always be lowercase. “Company” is also lowercase in “a Korn Ferry company,” as the company is generic in this instance. Never break the name Korn Ferry in body text (Korn on one line, Ferry on the next).

Names Korn Ferry should not be too familiar by using nicknames in writing. If in doubt, use the person’s name as it appears in a corporate biography.

Notes and references See citations.

Numbers Spell out numbers zero to nine in running text, and use numerals 10 and above. Always use numerals with percentages, e.g. 6%. Use numerals exclusively in all parts of charts, graphs and tables. Spell out numbers if they begin a sentence, or recast the sentence.

OK With no periods. Not “okay.”

Percentages Use a % sign with all numbers in running text and charts.

Practices and markets Korn Ferry practice groups, markets, and centers of expertise should be capitalized in running text and consultant biographies, e.g. “...is a senior client partner in the Financial Officers Center of Expertise.”


Recent An event or reference should be called “recent” only if it occurred in the last six months.

Run-in text Use one to two bold introductory words before a series of related paragraphs, such as a list of competencies, or best practices. End each phrase with a period, not a colon.

The Korn Ferry Institute Lowercase “the” in the Korn Ferry Institute in the middle of a sentence. Lowercase “the institute” on second reference.

Trademarks Korn Ferry and its subsidiaries have trademarked a number of their intellectual property. But the TM or ® are unnecessary in white papers, reports and articles. They may be used if desired in marketing materials such as brochures, or in assessment tools (such as a book jacket). But they are distracting to readers, and should be utilized sparingly or only on first reference.

UK Preferable to use United Kingdom on first reference, but UK is acceptable as a noun or modifier.

US United States is preferred as a noun, US as a modifier. US, not U.S. or U.S.A.

Women vs. female Woman or women is a noun, female is a modifier. For example, “The board added three female directors” or “The company added three women to its board.”