Write using the same, everyday words you use in conversation.
- Use common contractions, such as it’s, you’re, that’s, and don’t, to create a friendly, informal tone.
- Don’t mix contractions and their spelled-out equivalents in UI text. For example, don’t use can’t and *cannot *in the same UI.
- Never form a contraction from a noun and a verb, such as beqom*‘s developing a lot of new cloud services.*
- Avoid ambiguous contractions, such as there’d, it’ll, and they’ll.
Use simple words, concise sentences
Make every word count. Concise, clear sentences save space, are easy to understand, and facilitate scanning. Use simple words with precise meanings, and remove words that don’t add substance. Use your judgment to avoid sounding abrupt or unfriendly.
Choose simple verbs without modifiers. Whenever you can, avoid weak or vague verbs, such as be, have, make, and do.
|Use this||Not this|
|use||utilize, make use of|
|remove||extract, take away, eliminate|
|tell||inform, let know|
Don’t use two or three words when one will do.
|Use this||Not this|
|to||in order to, as a means to|
Whenever possible, choose words that have one clear meaning.
|Use this||Not this|
|Because you created the table, you can change it.||Since you created the table, you can change it.|
Omit unnecessary adverbs—words that describe how, when, or where. Unless they’re important to the meaning of a statement, leave them out.
- Use one term consistently to represent one concept.
- Use words that can be both nouns and verbs carefully—file, post, mark, screen, record, and report, for example. Use the sentence structure and context to eliminate ambiguity.
Use technical terms carefully
Technical terms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re everyday words that are given new meanings, like cloud, batch, or dashboard. Other times, common words are combined to create technical terms, like telemedicine or email. Over time, some technical terms become widely understood, but before that happens, they can be confusing to people who aren’t familiar with them. Use technical terms when they’re the clearest way to communicate your message, but use them with care.
Use common words whenever possible
Don’t use a technical term when an everyday term will do. For example, don’t use rip to refer to copying files from a CD if you can use copy instead.
Don’t assume everyone will understand technical terms
When you must use technical terms for precise communication, define them in context.
Use technical terms consistently
When you’ve decided to use a technical term, use that term consistently across products and services, tools, websites, and marketing communications. Aim for one term, one concept.
Use industry-specific terms for professional audiences
Many industries and professions have their own terminology: banking, healthcare, construction, IT, and project management, for example.
If you’re writing for an industry or profession, use the words your audience uses. First, verify beqom and industry usage. Check the A–Z word list and The American Heritage Dictionary. Then look to authoritative industry resources:
- Terminology websites, such as Webopedia.com, BusinessDictionary.com, and Whatis.TechTarget.com.
- Industry standard sites, such as W3C and IEEE.
- Industry research organizations, such as Forrester Research and Gartner.
- Domain books, such as the PMI Lexicon of Project Management Terms or the FDIC List of Abbreviations and Glossary of Terms (Appendix B).
Don’t create a new term if one already exists
Don’t create a new term if an existing one serves your purpose. If you must create a new term, verify that it isn’t already being used to mean something else.
In the right context, for a particular audience, jargon serves as shorthand for well-understood concepts. But for less technical audiences, jargon can impede understanding.
Don’t use jargon if:
- You can use a more familiar term, such as symbol instead of glyph.
- The term is familiar to only a small segment of your readers.
- The term isn’t specific to software, networking, cloud services, and so on.
Avoid business, marketing, and journalistic jargon, such as using leverage to mean take advantage of.
Testing for jargon
Differentiating jargon from technical terminology is tricky. First, check the A–Z word list. If you don’t find the term, the following checklist can help.
- If you think a term is jargon, it probably is.
- If it’s an acronym or abbreviation, it may be jargon. Spell it out for clarity.
- If a reviewer questions your use of a term, it may be jargon.
- If the term is used in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, or in general-interest magazines, such as Time or Newsweek, it might be appropriate for some audiences.
- If the term is used in technical periodicals such as CNET or Recode, it’s probably OK to use for technical audiences.
Use US spelling and avoid non-English words
When the spelling of English words varies by locale, use the US spelling. For example, use license, not licence.
Avoid non-English words or phrases, such as de facto or ad hoc.
Avoid Latin abbreviations for common English phrases.
Exception It’s OK to use etc., in situations where space is limited.
|Use this||Instead of this|