Text content principles

This section outlines a set of rules that stakeholders should follow upon writing texts for Interactive Design product interfaces. These rules help put together interfaces into a single ecosystem at the text level.
The rules apply to all interface. The rules apply to all interface texts: windows, menus, buttons, errors, hints, promo sections. The rules do not apply to texts in social media, promotional emails, promotional landing pages, marketing materials, and other texts that we use outside the interfaces.e texts: windows, menus, buttons, errors, hints, promo blocks.

General principles

Solve the user's problem

A person uses the interface to solve specific problems. Texts must be written to help solve these problems here and now. If texts fail to do this or if they solve irrelevant problems, do not use them.

Speak the user's language

The interface must speak the same language as the user. We make products for a wide audience, so the interface language should be universal and easy to understand for everyone.

Do not overload

Homogeneous parts of sentences, complex syntax, and redundant information overload the text. A text that is difficult to understand does not help to solve problems. Texts must be brief, simple and to the point.

Adhere uniformity

Texts should be uniform in structure, design, and vocabulary. Uniformity helps a user navigate faster in a familiar interface and not get confused in a new one.

Sentence

Determine the agent and the action

In order to be strong, voluminous, and concise, a sentence must have an agent and an action - a subject and a predicate.
The subject can be false or true. A true subject is an agent that actually performs an action.
A false subject is a word that is formally a subject, but in reality does not perform an action. The false subject should be replaced by the true subject.
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A false subject often appears in sentences with a passive voice. It is best to avoid using passive voice where it is not justified.
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There is no need to indicate the agent if the sentence sounds concise and clear in passive voice.
The use of passive voice in short phrases is acceptable: messages, errors, statuses, tips.
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Predicate (action) can also be false and true. A true predicate is a real action: do, add, create, write, send, and so on. A false predicate is a state: to be, to appear, to become.
The first type of predicates is used in texts, but the second must be removed as the text will not suffer without them.
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Sentence

Determine the agent and the action

In order to be strong, voluminous, and concise, a sentence must have an agent and an action - a subject and a predicate.
The subject can be false or true. A true subject is an agent that actually performs an action.
A false subject is a word that is formally a subject, but in reality does not perform an action. The false subject should be replaced by the true subject.
Wrong
Correctly
A false subject often appears in sentences with a passive voice. It is best to avoid using passive voice where it is not justified.
Wrong
Correctly
There is no need to indicate the agent if the sentence sounds concise and clear in passive voice.
The use of passive voice in short phrases is acceptable: messages, errors, statuses, tips.
Wrong
Correctly
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Predicate (action) can also be false and true. A true predicate is a real action: do, add, create, write, send, and so on. A false predicate is a state: to be, to appear, to become.
The first type of predicates is used in texts, but the second must be removed as the text will not suffer without them.
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Do not split the sentence

Parceling is an artistic technique, intentional splitting of sentences into smaller parts. Each sentence sounds out of context if read separately. It adds expressiveness in literature, but interfaces are not a literary genre, so we do not split sentences.
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Addressing on behalf of the team — 'we', on behalf of the service — 'it'

In the interface, we speak on behalf of the team, or describe the actions of the service in the third person.

On behalf of the team

When speaking on behalf of the team, we use ‘we’. First-person narration is used for non-automated actions and during manual operations.

On behalf of the service

When it is implied that the service performs an action, then you need to speak in the third person. Third-person narration is used for automated actions, i.e. those performed by a program, service, or algorithm.
Do not animate the interface and avoid addressing the user in the first person.
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Politeness if appropriate

A correct attitude is about taking care of the user, not just words. Keep balance with politeness and fill the text with useful information.'Sorry', 'We apologize', 'Unfortunately' are used only if the user has suffered or may suffer through our fault.
"Sorry", "we apologize" is inappropriate to apologize if the user has been warned about the consequences of their actions in advance. In such a case, it would be correct to offer a solution to the problem, if there is one. It is acceptable to express sincere regret.logize", "we apologize", "sorry", "unfortunately" are used only if the user has suffered or may suffer through our fault.
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'Please' is used when asking the user to perform an optional action.
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Avoid using more than two courtesy markers in the text.
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Draw attention by offering care, not with the word 'attention'

Do not draw attention to important information using exclamations, such as: ‘Attention!’, ‘Important information!’, ‘Read this!’ It does not provide care for the user. Instead, place the main idea in the heading or highlight it graphically.
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Use meaningful words instead of professional terms and slang

IT terminology, lingo, and slang are not meaningful outside a narrow audience: IT professionals, geeks, tech-savvy users.
The audience of Interactive Design products is wide and diverse. Therefore, in our interface texts, we focus on the user not bearing special knowledge. IT terminology, lingo, and slang should be replaced with understandable synonyms.
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There are terms that do not have a widely used analogue. If you have to use such a word, provide explanation.
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Write names as written by their bearer

If you need to use a name of a company, service or application in the interface, take the information from the official website and rewrite it verbatim.

Write numerals for convenience

Write the numeral using numbers, if it is a range or a numeral with a unit of measurement: currency, percentage, measure of area, length, volume, volume of information, temperature, month, year, etc.
In numbers with four or more characters, the digits are separated by commas.
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If there is no unit of measurement, then numerals from one to ten are written in words, and from 11 to infinity in numbers.
If the number is measured in thousands, millions or billions, then it is acceptable to replace zeros with words.

Write dates and times for convenience

Date in text

If the date is in the text and refers to the current year, write the date using numbers, the month using a word, and do not write the year.
Infra will be unavailable on the night of October 15. We are sure that everything is fine with the service, but just in case we will check it for vulnerabilities so that your projects are not affected.
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The year in the date is indicated only if it is either past or future. In this case, it is permissible to write the entire date in numbers separated by periods.
The date range is written with a short dash (–) and is separated by spaces on both sides
Do not abbreviate the month and the numerical designation of the month if the date is in the sentence.
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Weekdays

The days of the week are always written with an uppercase letter.
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It is permissible to shorten the weekdays if it is not possible to write it in full. Abbreviations without a period.
Abbreviations of weekdays are always written with an uppercase letter and with no period at the end.Abbreviations are used only when it is necessary to save space. In other cases, words are written in full.

Time

The time, with hours and minutes, is written with a colon - 15:30. Do not write the time with a period or with the notation 'hour', 'minute'.
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Hours and minutes are indicated when it is necessary to indicate the duration of the time interval. It is recommended to write both words in full and without abbreviations. If both words must be used in a sentence, then they can be abbreviated.
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