Writing Style

Clarity, confidence, and consistency in messaging promotes product reliability.

Words give meaning to your meticulously designed product. Without the proper messaging for your product’s navigation and functionality, uncertainty creeps into your users minds. The messages and naming conventions you use throughout your product complement its design. No matter how well-constructed your design, poor messaging can doom your product’s effectiveness. Clarity, confidence, and consistency in messaging promotes product reliability.

Be Clear

Longer messaging is not always more helpful. Be concise; understand your user’s needs in a given situation, and provide them with just enough information to be successful. If an interaction is obvious, don’t add messaging. A wordy product is an eyesore.


Do

Don't

Initiates the process

If you click this button, then you will initiate a process that does something. Doing something is essential for something else.

Be Confident

Be bold! Take confidence in what you say! The way you provide information sets the tone for what users expect. Products that exude confidence put users at ease when making difficult decisions.


Do

Don't

Click this to save your work.

Clicking this should save your work.

Be Current

Use present tense throughout product messaging. Promote the product as being alive; it helps you now, telling you what to do now. If you click a button, it won’t do something later; it accomplishes the task immediately.


Do

Don't

Saves the form

This will save the form.

Be Consistent

Consistency gives users peace of mind. You want people to feel comfortable navigating your product. Surprises and uncertainty make people uncomfortable. Consistent messaging gives users freedom to focus on what they’re doing, instead of worrying about what the product is trying to tell them. Below are two example techniques you can apply for consistent phrasing:

1. Apply Text Styles Consistently

Formulate the styling you want to use in your product and stick to it. For example, you could assign styling standards to messaging types in your product (e.g., headings, instructions, checkboxes, etc.).

  • Title: Capitalize all words (except articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions) and omit any trailing punctuation.
  • Phrase: Capitalize only the first word and all proper nouns, and omit any trailing periods (question marks allowed).
  • Sentence: Capitalize only the first word and all proper nouns, and use normal punctuation.

Tone, capitalization, and punctuation should follow a similar style on any given interface.


Do

Don't

Writing Style Do Example with checkboxes

Writing Style Don't Example with checkboxes

2. Address Your Users the Same Way

For example, don’t refer to them as we, the user, and you in the same context.


Do

Don't

Writing Style Do Example with checkboxes

Writing Style Don't Example with checkboxes


Remember, your writing style sets the tone for your product. Show people you care by guiding them with sensible, consistent messaging.

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