The example that I have is from South Africa. Chartered accountants here abbreviate their titles in emails to:


This is meant to abbreviate "Chartered Accountant (South Africa)". I feel, however, that this may be a mistake that is propagated by a precedent set by other accountants.

Is it not more correct to use a space?


Orthographically, this seems more consistent to me.


There is no question about spaces in the original phrase: "Chartered Accountant (South Africa)". Instead, the question is about whether parentheses need spaces when the whole phrase is abbreviated.


The general question is: How does a bracket, preceded by a space, compile to an abbreviation? When the phrase in question refers to a named entity it seems like common courtesy is to use whichever style the entity itself prefers.

  • 2
    Does it really matter? And if so, why? – BillJ Oct 19 '18 at 16:21
  • I am not sure what constitutes whether something matters, but I prefer there to be a correct way, even if multiple options are correct. – mikorym Oct 20 '18 at 17:09
  • But from functional point of view, all South African accountants sign their emails with "CA(SA)" so it is a abbreviation in common circulation. Commonly used language usually appears in style guides with recommendations; however, in this case I have not seen any linguistic recommendations. Specifically, I am curious about how a phrase containing parentheses compiles to an abbreviation. – mikorym Oct 20 '18 at 17:16
  • Possible duplicate of Do parentheses need spaces either side? – Jason Bassford Oct 20 '18 at 17:26
  • The difference here is that the whole of "CA(SA)" / "CA (SA)" is an abbreviation. However, your link does explain why I prefer there to always be spaces before an opening parenthesis. – mikorym Oct 20 '18 at 17:30

The first thing to consider is that we all have a right to our name, and second we need to understand the original concept and needs of the users.

While I was at university, a student living next door had his name changed by deed poll to 'Dill the dog'. This was his right, and if I had told he was wrong then I would have been in the wrong.

Chartered accountants deal with a lot of data, which often ends up being squeezed into innumerable tables, so they have a tendency to choose concise acronyms and titling.

I cannot access the SAICA page at the moment, but I can see that the Wikipedia page uses CA(SA) and the plural CAs(SA), and that it is used to express their qualification of chartered accountant. Wikipedia

  • Thanks for your input. I understand that when referring to a name, correctness is more subtle. But in general, are there style guidelines for a phrase that contains parentheses? – mikorym Oct 20 '18 at 17:17
  • @mikorym There are so many different style guidelines for different publications that that is an impossible Q. to answer. As regards comments about a space before the brackets, if you followed that to its logical conclusion, you would have to write "C A (S A)" because there are spaces between all the words in the original. Why put spaces before the brackets, but not before the individual word contractions? – TrevorD Apr 21 at 13:38

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