Writing foundations

Write copy that’s clear, concise and inclusive. These writing foundations can help you write copy that's easier to read and easier to understand.

By following these guidelines, you can start building better conversations with your audiences.


Be conversational

Helpful, human language is always better than text that sounds like a robot.

Do
Got it
Don't
Request fulfilled

Write how you would talk to another human being.

Do
Tell us about yourself
Don't
Provide the following personal details to proceed

Use abbreviated words like you’re, it’s, we’ll and we’ve to set a casual tone.

Do
You're nearly there
Your account isn't set up for notifications
We'll be right with you
Don't
You are nearly there
Your account is not set up for notifications
We will be right with you

Avoid using abbreviated words that sound awkward when you say them out loud.

Do
Your password must not be over 50 characters
Don't
Your password musn't be over 50 characters

Use simple words

Use simple, common words that are clear and easy to understand.

Do
Turn off delivery tracking
Don't
Deactivate delivery tracking

The average reading age in the UK is around 9 years old, so avoid technical words and sentences.

Do
Set up your account details
Don't
Configure your account information

Be inclusive

Using inclusive language means choosing words that are respectful and considerate. As our users are a diverse group of people, we want the way we speak to them to take account of their preferences and differences.

Use gender neutral terms over gendered ones where possible.

Gender neutral terms
you
they
spokesperson
businessperson

As a general rule, you should avoid referencing gender, age, disability, ethnicity or religion unless it's absolutely relevant to the content you're producing.

If disability is relevant to the content you’re writing, use positive terms. Remember that 'disability' is a description, and not a group of people.

Do
Person with a disability
Wheelchair user
Person with diabetes
Don't
The disabled/handicapped
Confined to a wheelchair
Suffering from diabetes

It's important to remember when you're writing that people don't always agree on what are the most inclusive terms, and they can change over time.


Be consistent

Use consistent language across your experiences.

Do

Log in to Luna

Don't

Sign in to Luna

Avoid using different words for the same action.

Do

Remove item from order?

Don't

Delete item from order?


Be concise

Use as few words as possible without losing the meaning.

Do
Save changes?
Don't
Would you like to save your changes?

Make sure every word has a purpose by removing any unnecessary language.

Do
Log in to check out
Don't
You must log in to check out

Too much information can overwhelm the user, so only reveal detail when it’s needed for the experience.

Do
Add to order?
Don't
Add to order? You won’t be able to check out unless you’re logged in.

Try to frontload the most important words into the beginning of any communication with your user, as this makes it easier for users to scan your content.

Do
Your password is a 4-digit number on the back of your membership card.
Don't
Your membership card has a 4-digit number on the back which is used as your password.

Use descriptive headings

The main message should be in the title and then expanded upon in the copy.

Do
Update your address

Are you sure you want to update your address details?

Don't
Are you sure?

Are you sure you want to update your address details?

Do
Struggling to find a delivery slot? Because of high demand, you might find it hard to find a delivery slot. Please keep checking back.
Don't
Oops! There’s a problem Because of high demand, you might find it hard to find a delivery slot. Please keep checking back.

Address users clearly

Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ when speaking to the user instead of ‘my’ or ‘I’.

Do
Log in to your account
Don't
Log in to my account

If something goes wrong, don’t address the user as ‘you’. This can blame the user for the error.

Do
That password doesn't look right. Please try again.
Don't
You entered the wrong password. Please try again.

Only use ‘I’ when the user is agreeing to something.

Do
I agree to the terms and conditions
Don't
You agree to the terms and conditions

Use ‘we’ or ‘our’ when referring to the brand you’re writing for.

Do
We value your privacy
Don't
Luna values your privacy

Use an active voice

Using an active voice makes your sentences shorter and easier to read.

Active voice
We’ve updated your delivery address
Passive voice
Your delivery address has been updated

An active voice takes responsibility and builds trust with your users.

Active voice
We’ve locked your account
Passive voice
Your account has been locked

Avoid using a passive voice. It’s indirect, long, and confusing to users.

Active voice
We’re investigating the problem
Passive voice
The problem is being investigated

If you’re unsure, you can use the Hemingway Editor to check whether you’re using an active or passive voice.


Get in touch

We can help you answer any questions around copy or help with your next project.