CAOT Style Guide

To assist CAOT with maintaining a consistent style in our publications and presentations, we are pleased to share our preferred references with our contributors.  Whether you are writing for the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Now, a CAOT publication, professional development or conference presentations, we offer the following as a guide:

For Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapy Now:

The American Psychological Association 6th edition (APA 6th)   is the primary resource for submitting articles and manuscripts for CAOT publications in English.  APA referencing format is considered a publishing standard and is mandatory for CJOT and Occupational Therapy Now submissions.

Refer to the CJOT author guidelines document for more information.

Refer to the Occupational Therapy Now author guidelines document for more information.

For CAOT workshop and webinar presenters:

PowerPoint presentations, handouts, promotional materials and other publications often use bullet point content, lists and photographs.  For a shorter, convenient style reference, CAOT recommends using the CIHR English Style Guide, produced by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), for titles, capitalization, running text, spelling and punctuation.  A French-language guide is also available, titled Guide de rédaction française des IRSC

General style guidelines: CAOT asks that all content authors and contributors adhere to the following general terms:

  • Cite references: Acknowledge someone else’s ideas by citing the original source with an in-text citation and the full reference in a reference list. Please refer to the American Psychological Association Style Guide (6th edition) for standard format. The OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab: APA Style is a convenient guide to many common situations and questions regarding APA style referencing.
  • Respect copyrights. All content authors, contributors and presenters are responsible for (1) ensuring that all necessary permissions for the use of any textual, illustrative or other materials of any source are obtained and (2) demonstrating that permission has been obtained next to the copyrighted materials (e.g., “Used with permission.”). For CAOT copyrighted figures, please follow CAOT Copyright Policies and contact for additional information.
  • Review your choice of terminology. Ensure terminology is free of any sexual or social remarks. For example, terminology used to describe a person with an impairment or disorder should reflect respect (e.g., do not use 'an autistic', 'the epileptics'), should protect dignity (e.g., do not use 'suffering', 'case'), and should be free of stereotypes (e.g., do not use 'confined to a wheelchair', 'victim'). Avoid language with a bias against race or gender or sexual orientation. 
  • Use Canadian spelling. Use Canadian spelling in articles, presentations and handouts.  For example:
    • ‘u’ within words such as behaviour, colour,
    • ‘re’ spelling in words such as client-centred
    • per cent (two words)
    • focused, focusing (not focussed, focussing)
    • program (not programme)
    • analyze not analyse
    • to practise (verb); the practice (noun)
  • Be ethical. Do not plagiarize.

Specific CAOT style guidelines: 

Please adhere to these terms:

  • Use of the abbreviation ‘OT’: ‘Occupational therapy’ and ‘occupational therapist’ should be written out in full and not abbreviated to ‘OT’ in the content of an article or as part of a permanent resource or set of materials. This will lessen confusion as to which term the abbreviation is referring to.  Where space is constrained, such as in a PowerPoint presentation, it is acceptable, although not preferable to shorten ‘occupational therapist’ to ‘OT’ after the first usage of the word is written in full, with the abbreviation next to it. Do not use ‘OT’ as an abbreviation of occupational therapy.
    Note:  CAOT is in transition on this abbreviation policy and is not in compliance. CJOT, OT Now and OT Weekly are established CAOT brand names where ‘OT’ represents occupational therapy.  At this time, the abbreviation policy will refer to running text only.
  • Academic titles and credentials: In Canada, the provincial regulatory colleges provide the rules regarding display of occupational therapist credentials, for example OT Reg. (Ont.) for Ontario and erg. for Quebec.  As a result, there is not a common set of rules to apply to academic titles.  In general:
    • Degrees are placed after the name.
    • The highest professional degree should be stated first, followed by the credential as set out by the provincial regulator.  It is not common to list undergraduate degrees if you also have a Master’s or PhD level.  This is personal choice, however, and may highlight a degree that distinguishes your credentials.
    • Eliminate punctuation in the degree designation but place a comma between each category.
    • Do not use an academic title before and after a name; for example, either Dr. Mary Smith or Mary Smith, PhD.
    • When writing out a degree in full, the apostrophe ‘s’ is used depending on context; for example, Bachelor of Science but Master’s in Education.
  • Trade names: Use the generic term unless the brand name makes a specific point or adds colour or impact to a story.  For example, the app is available to iPad users. She uses cotton swabs (vs. Q-Tips) to apply the glue.
  • Occupational therapy practice terms: When describing persons with disabilities, always put the person before the disability; for example, persons with traumatic brain injury, not traumatically brain-injured persons or a brain injury person; a person with schizophrenia, not a schizophrenic, nor an alcoholic, diabetic, psychopath, etc.

Language consistent with client-centred practice includes using the term intervention rather than treatment and client rather than patient. There are certain exceptions, such as a specific practice description, where the term patient may be used.

  • CAOT lexicon: A CAOT Lexicon document listing 332 occupational therapy terms in English and French is available, with the intent to provide the profession with a specific and universal language framework.

Other resources:

 The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing (2015), an English style guide produced by the Translation Bureau of Public Works and Government Services Canada for the federal public service.


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