HSMS Writing Guidelines and Style Guide.

Official Reference Materials

The official authoritative reference materials for this organization are:

  • Dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s (www.m-w.com)
    For consistency, we only use one dictionary.
  • Style guides: We use three reference sources and generally in the following order:
    • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
    • The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition)
    • The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition), Strunk and White

When the AP does not answer the question, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

Common Writing Mistakes to Avoid

It doesn’t matter what department you work in, or what your job title is. You most certainly write to clients, vendors, or coworkers (or all three).  It can be as simple as an e-mail or a support ticket, or as complex as a manual, e-book, or web copy.

The people reading what you write judge our product, our company, and our credibility by how we portray ourselves in text form. Along with correct facts, they pay attention to word choice, grammar, and tone.

Watch out for these common writing mistakes.

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

Always try to use active voice as much as possible. Take the time to reword the sentence if necessary. Too many passive phrases makes your text boring to the reader. The end result is that you lose the reader’s attention, and your piece fails in its purpose.

MicroMD submits the information to the carrier.
The system submits the information to the carrier.
You submit information to the carrier.

The information is submitted to the carrier.

Which vs. That

This is another common problem area for many. Many times, writers interchange these two words when they are not interchangeable:
“Which” does not restrict the meaning of the sentence and requires a comma.
“That” affects the meaning of the sentence and is therefore necessary.

The system generates a primary EOB report that is similar to the one received from the carrier.

The system generates a primary EOB report which is similar to the one received from the carrier.

It’s vs. Its

This is another major problem for people around the world, even though it is quite simple:
“it’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has”
“its” is the possessive form of the pronoun “it”

Examples (all RIGHT, all RIGHT, all RIGHT):
It’s up to you.
It’s been a long time.
The company lost its assets.
Its sheer will to live is the sole reason it’s survived.


Numbers one through nine should be spelled out. Use Arabic numerals for numbers 10 and beyond.

Providers can choose to report on four objective measures.

Providers can choose to report on 4 objective measures.

Desire vs. Want

Avoid using the word “desire” in content. Always use the word “want” instead. “Want” is more assertive and professional than “desire”. As much as we are lovers not fighters, we aren’t writing a love story.

Choose the measures you want for the report.

Choose the measures you desire for the report.

Voice and Tone

We write content that empowers by being aware of our voice and our tone. What’s the difference between voice and tone? Our voice doesn’t change from day to day, but our tone changes all the time. These are some guiding principles to follow in order to maintain our voice and tone with every piece of content we publish.

Conversational but not aimless.

Be approachable and employ a casual and friendly tone in your communications, but keep it concise and focused on a goal.

Guiding but not patronizing.

Consider the expertise of your audience (internal and external) and deliver your communications accordingly. Also, keep in mind, even though we know our products and our value, we don’t know everything.

Positive but not inauthentic.

Don’t shy away from being passionate in your communications. We are evangelists of our products and services. We don’t overstate our value or functions but advocate the benefits we offer.

Pragmatic but not automated.

We are people. We are not our products. Avoid overly mechanical language to convey a human element. Use sensible and realistic direction in your communications.

Enthusiastic but not unprofessional.

Show your MicroMD team spirit and have fun! But remember, your communication is representative of the Henry Schein company.

Grammar and Mechanics

The way we structure content increases comprehension for our users.

Write for all.

Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive (but brief) headings and subheadings.


Create a hierarchy of information and lead with the main point or the most important content.

Be concise.

Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.

Be specific.

Avoid vague language. Cut the fluff.

Be consistent.

Stick to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.

Spelling Preferences and Words to Watch

The following words and phrases are either an accepted difference from the spelling and/or use in the dictionary, or they are commonly misused/misspelled words within the writing of our organization.

Spelling Comments
Appointment Book Initial caps always (EMR)
Appointment Module Initial caps always (PM)
AutoCharge one word, capital C
AutoPayment one word, capital P
AutoPosting one word, capital P
back up verb, two words
backup noun, one word
CD-ROM hyphenated, all caps
check mark noun, two words
checkmark verb, one word
checkbox one word
checklist noun, one word
clearinghouse one word
CliniGuide capital “G”
Clinigration lowercase “g”
Code Load two words, title case
co-pay hyphen
crosscode one word
cutoff one word, no hyphen, noun and adjective
cut off two words, verb
day sheet two words
double-click hyphen
drag-and-drop hyphens always
drill-down adjective – hyphen
drop-down hyphen always
e-mail hyphenated, ALWAYS
e-Prescribing hyphenated, capital P
Encounter Builder Initial caps always
Encounter Wizard Initial caps always, but “Encounter Wizard template”
Form Encounter Initial caps always, but “Form Encounter template”
front-end adjective, hyphen
front end noun, two words, no hyphen
hard copy, hard copies two words
hard drive two words
healthcare one word
HIPAA two A’s, not two P’s
in-house hyphen always
key code noun, two words, always
left-click hyphen
list not listing
login noun, no hyphen
log in verb, two words
logon noun, no hyphen
log on verb, two words
mail merge no hyphen, per Microsoft usage
online one word, no hyphen, always
pop-up hyphen always
post-op hyphen
pre-collection hyphen
preventive use “preventive”, NOT “preventative”
refile not hyphenated in any form
right-click hyphen always
scroll bar noun, two words
set up verb, two words
setup noun, one word
shortcut always one word, no hyphen
shutdown noun, one word, no hyphen
shut down verb, two words
stand-alone adjective, hyphenated
start up verb, two words
start-up adjective, hyphenated
strikethrough one word, no hyphen
super bill two words, no hyphen
Text Encounter Initial caps always, but “Text Encounter template”
to-do adjective – hyphen
toolbar one word
tool tips two words
trade show noun, two words
user interface two words, no hyphen
web site two words
workflow one word always
workstation noun, one word
write off verb, two words
write-off noun or adjective, hyphen
X-ray noun, always cap “X” and hyphenated
x-ray verb, lowercase “x” and hyphenated

Common Abbreviations and Their Meanings

The following abbreviations have been researched over time and listed here for easy future reference.

Abbreviation Explanation
ACI Advancing Care Information
ASP Application Service Provider
API Application Programming Interface
CAL Client Access License
C-CDA Consolidated Clinical Data Architecture
CCD Continuity of Care Document
CCR Continuity of Care Record
CIN Clinical Interoperability Network (sometimes written as “Surescripts CIN” since we go through the Surescripts Clinical Interoperability Network)
CHADIS Child Health and Development Interactive System
CLIA Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendment (provider performing laboratory tests must have a CLIA certificate in order to receive reimbursement from federal programs)
CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
CPT Current Procedural Terminology
These are procedure codes.
NOTE: This is a registered trademark.
CQM Clinical Quality Measure
EGHP Employer Group Health Plan
EOB Explanation of Benefits
EOMB Explanation of Medical Benefits
EPCS Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances. This is a DEA-regulated certification that helps to reduce fraud and abuse of controlled substances like prescription opioids.
ERA Electronic Remittance Advice
HCPCS Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System
These are procedure codes.
HIPAA The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
ICD-10-CM International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification
These are diagnosis codes.
IMO Intelligent Medical Objects. The company specializes in developing, managing, and licensing medical vocabularies.
LGHP Large Group Health Plan
MACRA Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act
MIPS Merit-based Incentive Payment System
MSO Management Services Organization
NPI National Provider Identifier
NQF National Quality Forum
PACS Picture archiving and communication system
PCMH Patient-Centered Medical Home
PHO Public Health Organization
PI This can actually be one of two abbreviations. Practice Insight or Promoting Interoperability. Practice Insight is our preferred clearinghouse for submitting insurance claims and retrieving eligibility information. Promoting Interoperability is one of four categories in the Quality Payment Program track of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System through Medicare.
PQRS Physician Quality Reporting System. This program is no longer active.
QIN Quality Innovation Network
QIO Quality Improvement Organization
QPP Quality Payment Program
RBRVS Resource-based relative value scale. RBRVS is a schema used to determine how much money medical providers should be paid.
SNOMED CT Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms
SQL Structured Query Language
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
THIN The Health Information Network
This is a clearinghouse, although MicroMD does not treat this as a traditional clearinghouse.
UNC Universal Naming Convention


Copyright is a bundle of exclusive legal rights that vary depending on the type of original work like video, audio, or short stories. A copyright owner can grant some or all of those rights to others through a license. Copyright notice on work is not required but it is recommended, since it cuts off a defense of innocent infringement.

Copyright law applies to most pieces of digital and printed content that Henry Schein Medical Systems (HSMS) creates, from our website to blog posts and other content that we produce. At minimum, these copyright notices read, “© [YEAR] Henry Schein Medical Systems, Inc.”  For example:  © 2020 Henry Schein Medical Systems, Inc.

Trademarks and Company Names

It’s always important and respectful to write a company’s name correctly and to provide a trademark indication if known.  Imagine if a third-party vendor or a reseller continued to write “Micromd” as our product name in their collateral? That propagates around the world and weakens our brand recognition.

A trademark can be a word, name, sign, design, or a combination of those. It’s used to identify the provider of a particular product or service. They’re usually words and images.  A trademark is only valid for as long as it indicates the source of that good or service. We have to be careful about how our own product marks are used to protect our trademarks.

Always use the ® or ™ mark in the first instance of the marked text, even if that first reference is in a headline. This is true for ALL marks of ALL companies, unless otherwise indicated in their specifications.

NOTE: This list is a living list and is meant as guidance only. When in doubt, verify with the company, either through their web site or an actual legal department.

Trademark or Company Name Comments
Adobe® Acrobat®
Adobe® Reader®
AutoRemind capital R, no space, no registration
Citrix® Citrix Systems product
CompTIA A+® Certified Professionals
CPT® First use in each chapter/section. The following terminology must appear at the bottom of every page where a CPT code or “CPT” appears: CPT only © 2008 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Demandforce All one word, lowercase “f”
Drs Keiser Computers product (a MicroMD reseller), note no trademark and title case – not all caps or a period
DXOne Dentrix product. Note the capital “DXO”
First Databank® “Databank” is one word with lowercase “b”
Fortune 500® ® after the “500″
Ghostscript all one word
HeartCentrix® capital C, all one word, a product of Cardiac Science
Hewlett-Packard or HP
HyperACCESS® note ACCESS in all caps
Intel® Pentium®
InterFAX note FAX in all caps
MedlinePlus note there is no capital L and it’s all one word (KH01262022: verified on their website)
Medpod note there is no capital P (KH120919: verified on their website)
MicroMD® Use the registration mark on the first use in the document. None of the products themselves are registered trademarks; however, you can list them as follows on their first reference in text:
MicroMD® PM
MicroMD® EMR
MicroMD® PMR
MicroMD® DMS
MicroMD® Rx
MicroMD® CHC
MicroMD® Patient Portal
MicroMD® ARS
Microsoft® Windows® xxx first use in document.  You can find the most current list of Microsoft® products using the following link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/intellectualproperty/trademarks/en-us.aspx.
Midmark no registration
Palm OS®
Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™ Surescripts operates this exchange
PowerBuilder® note capital B and no space between
Providerflow lowercase f and all one word
RxHub note capital H and no space between
Surescripts formerly Surescripts-RxHub, note lowercase “scripts”, no trademark
Sybase® SQL
Symantec pcAnywhere™ note pc in lowercase and Anywhere in title case
Terminal Services Windows product – no registration
Transworld note “W” is not capitalized. Also known as TSI and Transworld Systems. It is our debt collection interface.
VisualDx note capital “D” and all one word
WatchGuard note capital G and no space between
Welch Allyn two words, no hyphen
Windows® xxx first use in document
Worldpay one word, lowercase “P”, no registration