Web writing style guide – Writing style

Learn the basics to achieving a consistent web writing style through plain language, voice and tone.


Good web writing style starts with these principles:

  • write in plain language
  • use a consistent voice
  • change tones depending on audience

Plain language

Write all web content in plain language. Writing in plain language achieves clarity and has shown to be more trustworthy with online audiences.

Plain language writing tips:

  • use active voice (subject-verb-object)
  • aim for short sentences and paragraphs
  • write for Grade 8 reading level
  • be concise
  • avoid slang, jargon, legalese, government speak and acronyms
  • avoid filler text, such as welcome messages or department, program and unit history
  • avoid using ministry, unit or business names

Voice and tone

To understand the difference between voice and tone, think of them in the following ways:

  • voice is consistent and authoritative
  • tone adapts to the audience


To achieve a consistent and authoritative voice, write to be:

  • clear
  • direct
  • conversational

Use first and second pronouns (I, we, us and you) to be more conversational.


Tone changes depending on the topic of content.

You may use a more cheerful tone when describing a fun event for families. However, if writing about a Remembrance Day ceremony, the tone is more serious and somber.

General guidelines for government content begins with the following tones:

  • respectful – be aware anyone searching the web may stumble upon your content
  • inclusive – gender neutral language
  • professional