2.2.1.Using plain language
Plain language is a way to reach clarity. Here are some examples on how to reach it:
- The principles of plain language are clarity, simplicity, brevity and warmth.
- Avoid turning verbs into nouns. Words that end in -tion are warning signs. Instead of “Better results were achieved through utilization of the button,” say “People who used the button had better results.”
- Do not use long words when short ones will do. Buy instead of purchase, help instead of assist, use instead of utilize, about instead of approximately… and so on.
- Avoid jargon, acronyms, and cliches. Try using words that people use, making the writing more accessible and inclusive. Technical terms that are known can be used but please be sure to define it the first time you use it with a nontechnical reader.
If you’re having trouble writing in plain language, step back and imagine you’re having a one-on-one conversation with your reader.
2.2.2.Minding voice, tone and style
Voice is our personality. Tone is the way we express it within a certain context. Style is the choices we make about what we say.
Voice: When we speak as a company, it might be through a product, through email, social media, notifications or anything else.
Tone: You only have one voice, but you use it differently in different situations. That breadth of usage is tone. Daimler´s tone is informal but not casual, not playful. It´s a clear and direct tone.
Style: Style comes from choices we make about how we speak. Daimler´s choices reflect our values of clarity, and inclusion.
- Use the active voice. People think in stories, and passive voice obscures the roles and the action.
- Use short words. And short sentences. They’re easier for everyone to understand. Air around the words invites us in, assuring us that a courteous human being is speaking. But vary your sentence length to sound natural. Short sentences are useful. They make their point. And they march forward. But too many is boring. All ears want variety. Give your readers a healthy mix of short, medium, and long sentences. It’ll keep their attention and keep them happy.
- Break up long sentences and long paragraphs. If a sentence has fewer than 14 words, readers understand 90% of the content. At 25 words, sentences are much harder to figure out.
- Address the reader in implied second person. If possible, avoid pronouns in the UI. However, if a personal pronoun makes possession clearer, remember you’re having a conversation with the reader, so the UI should say “Your” instead of “My.”
- Do not let caveats, exceptions, or minor details dictate unwieldy grammar. “You can” rather than “You may be able to”.
- Write positively. Instead of “You cannot start a project because you have no properties selected,” say “Select a property to start a project.”
- Do not be redundant — it’s disrespectful of your reader’s time. Avoid repeating information, especially information that is already present in headers or labels. Instead, use structure to create meaning and take words off the page.
We want everyone to understand what we write — even those who have to work harder at language, seeing, or hearing. Every word added to a page weighs down the brain on its climb to comprehension. Tired brains give up. And most people only read 20–30% of the text on a web page anyway.
- Write for skimming. Structure your content with headings and lists, and put the most important information first.
- Do not use ALL CAPS. It's harder to read, and we do not yell at our readers.
- Do not use negative contractions. They’re easy to mistake for their positive counterparts, especially when skimming.
- Use gender neutral pronouns. If you know your subject’s pronouns, use them.