Voice and tone

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What do we mean by voice? Voice is how we talk—or in this case, write—to people. It’s the personality, substance, tone, and style of our content, which should represent BriteCore.

Though our voice is constant regardless of who we’re talking to or what we’re saying, we adapt our tone—from serious to empathetic to lighthearted—to fit the context and the customer’s state of mind.

Voice principles

Our voice hinges on crisp simplicity. Bigger ideas and fewer words. Less head, more heart.

Our voice should be:

    • Warm and relaxed: We’re natural. Less formal, more grounded in real, everyday conversations. Occasionally, we’re fun. (We know when to celebrate.)
    • Crisp and clear: We’re to the point. We write for scanning first, reading second. We make it simple above all.
    • Ready to lend a hand: We show customers we’re on their side. We anticipate their real needs and offer great information at just the right time.
    • Customer-focused: We talk to our customers in a way that’s warm and relaxed, crisp and clear, and ready to lend a hand, which reflects our commitment to empowering people to achieve more.

Active voice

In general, use active voice and avoid passive voice.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence has the action done to it.

Examples

Yes: Marti logged into the account.

No: The account was logged into by Marti.

Words like was and by may indicate that you’re writing passive voice sentences. Scan for these words and rework sentences where they appear.

One exception is when you want to specifically emphasize the action over the subject. In some cases, this is fine.

Example

Your account was flagged by our abuse team.

Additional examples of the benefit of active voice

Sentences written in active voice flow better, are easier to understand, and are more straightforward and concise.

  • I really love this dog.
  • Monkeys live in the jungle.
  • She threw the ball to John.
  • The dog ran back to the car.
  • I made a mistake.

Sentences using passive voice are often harder to understand. Passive voice can also make sentences awkward and vague.

  • This dog is really loved by me.
  • The jungle is where monkeys live.
  • The ball was thrown to John.
  • The car is where the dog ran back to.
  • A mistake was made.

Positive statements versus negative

Instead of can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, or doesn’t types of statements, rewrite the sentence using can, will, should, or does. These communicate warmth and personability.

Positivity affects how your readers will react to your content. Readers will sense when your words convey warmth. Negative statements can be perceived as demeaning or threatening.

Example

Negative phrasing: If you don’t subscribe to our newsletter, you will miss out on the latest BriteCore updates.

Positive phrasing: By subscribing to our newsletter, you will always have the latest updates from BriteCore.

Style tips

Get to the point fast. Start with the key takeaway. Put the most important thing in the most noticeable spot. Make choices and next steps obvious. Give people just enough information to make decisions confidently. Don’t get in the way.

Communicate like a person. Choose optimistic, conversational language. Use short everyday words, contractions, and sentence-style capitalization. Shun jargon and acronyms. And never miss an opportunity to find a better word.

Simpler is better. Everyone likes clarity and getting to the point. Break it up. Step it out. Layer. Short sentences and fragments are easier to scan and read. Prune every excess word.

For more quick techniques, check out Microsoft’s Top 10 tips for style and voice.

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