DEV 4.1 - Use clear and simple language

The web is different from print. All web users demand information and action instantly.

Clear and simple language makes your content easy to read and helps all people gather information faster from your site

  • Cut out excess words and fluff:
    • 'In order to' becomes 'To', 'For the purposes of' becomes 'For', etc:
    • Aim for about 50% of a printed document.
  • Avoid unfamiliar language:
    • Modify all technical jargon, colloquiums, slang, organisation or department speak into everyday language.
  • Use the active rather than the passive voice:
    • The active voice is less wordy and more direct. See examples;
    • Generally, this involves identifying who is doing the action and making them the subject of the sentence;
    • NB: Almost every book on writing effective English provides a section that explains the importance of avoiding the passive voice. There are also a multitude of Web sites that can help.
  • Use an informal, inter-personal style of writing if possible:
    • Use 'you' and 'we' wherever possible.
  • Avoid 'big' words just for the sake of it:
    • 'Come into possession of' becomes 'Get', 'Unostentatious' becomes 'Simple', etc.
  • Use short sentences:
    • Try to keep below 21 words.
  • Use short paragraphs:
    • Try to keep below 65 words.
  • Expand acronyms & abbreviations first time used:
    • Expand on every page;
    • Unless the acronym is known to be a well known one for your target audience.

Essential: Do not just mirror printed documents or brochures on the website - the content must match the medium. The web is different from print and people interact with it differently.

Use: keep it simple, not: endevour to ensure that simplicity... Use: Get, not: In order to come into posession of On buttons use simple language, not teccie jargon like submit

Active v Passive voice:

Tom made a decision.
A decision was made by Tom.


The professor submitted a paper.
A paper was submitted by the professor.

The girls will eat the apples.

The apples will be eaten by the girls.