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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
to denote website sections/relevant text
to denote website sections/relevant text
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.
Look for simple words to communicate the message while staying true to the entityʼs vision, mission and values.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Always remember to use sentence case – capitalise the first letter of the word in any sentence.
Use sentence case
Don't use title case
Organise content with H2 and H3. - Use H2s for higher-level topics or goals - Use H3s within each section for supporting information or tasks.
H3: Best practices
H3: Useful links
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.
To keep in line with the corporate tone of voice, avoid exclamation points. Do not use them in error messages or alerts
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?)
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.
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 go inside quotation marks and outside brackets when the bracketed sentence is part of a larger sentence.
“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.)”
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.
“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.”
Use colons to symbolise a list.
“We offer the following services”:
A colon can also be used to join two related sentences.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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)
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: