Tone of Voice

Selecting the right words can help users understand and complete processes with no confusion. How you phrase the words together also offers a glimpse into your entity's personality. The tone of voice we use influences how users think and feel about us. Don't forget to make your voice sound Human because it needs to: build trust, make things easier, and help develop a positive relationship with users.

Our Principles


It should be


Content personality should come across as thoughtful, welcoming and approachable.


It should be


Content should be concise, and direct to improve user recall.


It should be


The content outlook should be progressive, and optimistic.

General aim

Empowering users to take advantage of the entitiesʼ services with ease by concisely providing all necessary information.

Voice stays consistent; tone adapts to the need or situation.


Voice expresses the core of the entityʼs personality, whether spoken or written. It is one of the most fundamental ways a user will associate with an entity; therefore, it needs to be consistent in all forms of communication.

Our voice is corporate yet approachable.

The content is mainly formal, but itʼs also user-centric, as the final aim is to make the entity websites more accessible and user-friendly

When is our voice at its best?

  • - It has a clear point of view
  • - Itʼs simple and logical
  • - Itʼs confident and straightforward
  • - It focuses on and elevates facts and outcomes
  • - It engages the user by speaking like the user


The tone describes how the entityʼs voice is expressed and, as such, will need to be adapted to suit various user needs and situations. For example, the words on an error message will be short and to-the-point, communicating the main point. In the FAQ or Legal section of a webpage, the content will be longer with complete sentences and explanations.

For example

good vs. bad error messages:

Be clear about the error
so users can understand and potentially rectify their mistakes.



Be short and meaningful

the second image error has way too much information that could intimidate the user



Donʼt use technical jargon

the user isnʼt concerned with the error code. They need a simple explanation for the issue theyʼre facing.



Be humble and use positive words

instead of blaming the user for the error.





Give clear direction to the user

to help action their next steps.





For more information see the copywriting section in Select & Input.

Quick tip

Do not use ALL CAPS in any of the error, caution or success messages. Itʼs harsher on the eyes and can come off as rude or angry instead of friendly and approachable

We donʼt want to overload our audience with unnecessary information, choices or complex ideas and phrases. This is especially important when the user is visiting the page for the first time (i.e. is a new user) or is stressed out trying to find relevant details to their situation. Keep sentences, paragraphs and procedural steps focused and concise

List of Approved
Formal & Informal terms:

Formal Terms

to denote website sections/relevant text

Informal Terms

to denote website sections/relevant text

  • About Us
  • Service Directory/Our Services
  • Open Data/Data
  • Digital Participation
  • Media Centre
  • About Us
  • Services
  • Linked Resources
  • eParticipation
  • Media

Content Style for Formal Voice:

ot use ALL CAPS in any of the error, caution or success messages. Itʼs harsher on the eyes and can come off as rude or angry instead of friendly and approachable



Keep content formal yet conversational

For instance, referring to the TDRA as “we” gives an element of personalisation and relates on a human level to the end-user instead of using “the entity” or “TDRA” across all sentences which comes off as unapproachable.


Simple communication

Look for simple words to communicate the message while staying true to the entityʼs vision, mission and values.


Be human

Use pronouns like “we”,“us”,“you”


Use long, confusing or jargon words

These words intimidates the user

Additionally, the content should not be too playful, witty or sarcastic - for instance, using extremely technical ICT related words (e.g. proxy server and CSS are not commonly understood terms) can sound confusing and intimidating to a user

Additionally, using too many cultural reference terms (aside from the ones understood such as Ahlan Wa Sahlan or Marhaba) can make the content seem irrelevant to a user who isnʼt familiar with the UAE, so it would be ideal to keep these to a minimum.

Content Style for Formal Voice:


Be specific about what youʼre communicating and keep it simple by keeping content clear


Be vague or use acronyms that users do not easily understand

Content Style for Formal Voice:


Use active voice with positive words

E.g.“You successfully logged in” vs “The account was logged into by you”.


Use passive voice with negative words

such as canʼt, shouldnʼt, etc. Try to find a way to rephrase the content to avoid sounding too negative.

English language:


Select a style of English that will appear on the website

either British or American English and implement across all entity webpages


Mix both British and American English

Despite being a common language, there are differences in spelling that must be taken into consideration.


Group similar content:


Structure content smartly by grouping related ideas together.


Put together two different ideas in a single paragraph or sentence or leave content haphazard or unstructured.

Stay relevant to the title:


Add specific links to related content wherever necessary

When a user clicks on a particular section, he/she expects to find the answer they are looking for. In order to create weighted content that is relevant and adds credibility to the entity, add in specific links to related content wherever necessary.


Stray too far from the title

If you find that you are getting too far from the intended topic, you may need to create a separate but related section.

Strive for simplicity:


Be clear as possible by using simple words and phrases

Limit the number of sentences per paragraph and for any relevant information, indicate where further details can be found (such as, “Our Legal Resources section explores this in greater detail”) instead of overloading the paragraph/sentence.


Overload the sentence with technical words or messaging that will frustrate or confuse the user.

Grammar & Punctuation Guidelines

Arabic Rules

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There is a chance that users might not recognise specific acronyms such as ICT.To avoid confusion, spell out the word when used the first time and then add the acronym in parentheses, such as Information Communication Technology(ICT). If the acronym is well known, such as HTML or API, use it without spelling it out.


To keep the voice consistently formal, keep contractions to a minimum.Do not use emojis.


Spell out a number when it begins in a sentence, for example, ‘Seventy percent of UAE’s
population is happy with their lifestyle...’ When denoting a numeric figure in the middle of
a sentence, revert to the number, such as ‘A recently conducted survey shows 70% of UAE
residents are happy with…’
Numbers over 3 digits should be denoted with commas, such as 1,000 or 200,000 and so on.


Don’t capitalise random words in the middle of a sentence unless they are proper nouns.
Some words are not capitalised in the middle of sentences, such as internet, email, online
and website.
Always remember to use sentence case – capitalise the first letter of the word in any sentence.

Use sentence case

Don't use title case

Headings and Subheadings

Organise content with H2 and H3. - Use H2s for higher-level topics or goals - Use H3s within each section for supporting information or tasks.

For instance:

H2: Resources

H3: Best practices

H3: Reports

H3: Useful links

General tips:

  • - Keep headings to a single sentence not longer than five words
  • - Use simple, clear language
  • - Avoid using punctuation in headings - no full stops, commas or semicolons
  • - Write in sentence case (capitalise the first word, proper nouns and official titles only, for example, Minister of Energy, Dubai, This is a heading)

Ordered lists

Use ordered lists for step-by-step instructions only.
Separate steps into logical chunks, with no more than two related actions per step (e.g. Open the ‘Downloads’ page and click on ‘Form XIV). When additional explanation or a screenshot is necessary, use a line break inside the list to add in this information.

Exclamation points (!)

To keep in line with the corporate tone of voice, avoid exclamation points. Do not use them in error messages or alerts

Question marks (?)

If there is a quote from a higher authority that is part of the content, the question marks go inside the quotation marks (“What do you think?“).

If a parenthetical (i.e. bracketed) text is part of a larger sentence such as “We are happy to assist (and advise) you on XXX”, the question mark falls outside the brackets.

If the bracketed sentence stands alone, the question mark falls inside the bracket, for instance, (What is the message you would like to convey?)

Quotation marks (“ “)

Use quotes to refer to words and direct quotations.

Full stops and commas go within the quotation marks. For the placement of question marks with regards to quotation marks, please see the “Question marks” section.

Commas (,)

When writing a list, use the Oxford comma, e.g. “We offer services such as X, Y, and Z (the Oxford comma is the comma that comes before ‘and’). If you are unsure, read the sentence out loud and use a comma wherever you find yourself taking a pause for breat

Full Stops (.)

Full stops go inside quotation marks and outside brackets when the bracketed sentence is part of a larger sentence.

For example:

“We offer advice (and assistance with building a business plan) tailored to your needs.” “We can help you write a plan (and stick to it too.)”

Dashes and Hyphens

Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into a single phrase (such as words like all-round, expert-led guidance) or to indicate a span or range (e.g. Monday -Friday).
Use an em dash (—) without spaces on either side to place a divider between two relevant points in a sentence. A pair of em dashes can be used in place of commas to enhance readability. Note, however, that dashes are always more emphatic than commas.

For instance:

“Even though the snack table at the party had plates full of doughnuts and cupcakes— Joe’s favourite desserts—he turned his head away so he could resist the temptation.”

Colons (:)

Use colons to symbolise a list.

For example:

“We offer the following services”:

  • - Proofreading
  • - Copywriting
  • - Editing
  • - Writing Advice

A colon can also be used to join two related sentences.

For instance:

“A college degree is still worth something: a recent survey revealed that college graduates earned roughly 60% more than those with only a high school diploma.”

URLs and Websites

Capitalise the names of websites and web publications, such as Health First or Google.

Avoid spelling out URLS, but when you do, include the http://www.

Semicolons (;)

Go easy on the semicolons They usually support long, complex sentences that can easily be broken down with a conjunction or preposition (e.g. but) or separated using an em dash (—). Alternatively, the sentence could be simplified by splitting into two.


Ampersands (&)

Don’t use ampersands unless it is part of a company or a brand name.

e.g. Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson. Spell it out as ‘and’ within sentences.

Writing For Accessibility

Users with different abilities may rely on text alternatives for visual or audio content. The below tips are good practice to help meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements.


Provide informative, unique page titles

For each web page, provide a short title that describes the page content and distinguishes it from other pages.

(e.g. About Us, Milestones, Corporate Values).

The page title should stay consistent with the main heading of the page, unless this heading is a quote or a statement, in which case, the title should sum up the page contents so users know what to expect.


Use headings to convey meaning and structure

Use short headings to group related paragraphs and clearly describe the sections. Good headings provide an outline of the content. For instance, if your heading reads “Open Data” , the content of the page should show relevant links pertaining to open data or if you have a heading that reads “About The Founder” , then the page clearly illustrates details about the founder, their background and their present role in the entity.


Write meaningful text alternatives for images

Write link text so that it describes the content of the link target instead of using ambiguous text such as “click here” or “read more”. Indicate relevant information about the link target, such as “Read about our cookie policy” or “Open Tenders”.


Write meaningful text alternatives for images

For every image, write alternative text that provides the information or function of the image. For decorative images, alternative text is not required.

An example is illustrated below:


Create transcripts and captions for multimedia

For audio-only content, such as a podcast, provide a transcript. For audio and visual content, such as training videos, provide closed captions and transcripts. Include spoken information and sounds in the audiovisual (AV) in the transcript such ‘door closingʼ or ‘end creditsʼ so the content is understood. Include peopleʼs names and indicate their actions, e.g. ‘Salah leaves the roomʼ.


Provide clear instructions

Ensure that instructions, guidance and error messages are clear and easy to understand. Refrain from using technical language. For instance, “Password should be at least eight characters with at least one number (0-9) and one special character (!@£$%^&*) Describe input requirements, such as date formats (DD/MM/YYYY)


Keep content clear and concise

Make brevity your best friend when writing content. Use simple language and format in line with the context.

Here are some basics to keep in mind:

  • - Write in short, clear sentences and paragraphs - less is more. - Avoid using unnecessarily complex words and phrases. Consider providing a glossary of terms users may not know that they can refer to to understand context.
  • - Expand acronyms on first use. For e.g. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). - Consider using images, illustrations, video, audio and symbols to help clarify meaning.