Content style guide

Better writing for all

Welcome to our short and snappy writing style guide. We hope it inspires you to write enjoyable, user-centric content across all channels, from PR and blogs to case studies and whitepapers. From here, you’ll get useful links to make the most of the wonderful English language and help you avoid some common errors.

NB: All Emakina agencies use British English spelling and grammar.

Writing 101

Writing is fun but not a piece of cake. It’s difficult to know where to start and how to develop entertaining content that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Here are guidelines to get your foundation right (writing goals, style and tone), as well as a few general basic tips.

Goals

Every piece of content we create should mirror the Emakina values. So, we aim to:

  • Enlighten

  • We share news, trends, insights and information that add value to a reader’s life and empower them with information.

  • Be considerate

  • As the User Agency, we put ourselves in others’ shoes to give them standout experiences.

  • Share know-how

  • Let readers into our world by generously sharing our expertise in a way that’s useful and meaningful to them.

  • Solve problems

  • Create content that makes life easier for readers. Be the missing link that turns challenges into wins.

Style

Creativity, design, business, strategy, technology and innovation form the backbone of our business. Everything we write should tick these boxes:

  • Be entrepreneurial

  • We always look for ways to make the world better. We’re forward thinking and pushing, and we love to talk about new opportunities for our clients and our industry. You’ll see this in our hacker-like roots, in our start-up management style, and in our daring vision for the future.

  • Be daring

  • From our founding days, we’ve always been rule breakers and innovators. Tell us something can’t be done and it fuels our maverick spirit. We have the guts to take risks, to try and fail – and try again. Anything to create success stories for our clients.

  • Be innovative

  • Give us something and we’ll find a way to make it better. We’re user activists obsessed with crafting experiences. Every word, picture and pixel must make something meaningful, relevant and valuable.

  • Be visionary

  • We live in the future but take everyone on a journey with us. When we describe something new, make it evocative and emotive.

  • Be user-centric

  • We write for audiences not for our vanity. Everything must have a clear user-focused purpose. If our audience wants information, make sure they get all the expert input they need. If they want inspiration, we make sure they leave with a head full of ideas.

Tone words

Use the following words as a guide when thinking about the feeling or attitude you want your piece to convey:

  • Warm and approachable

  • Dynamic

  • Positive

  • Action-orientated

  • Inspiring

  • Witty

  • To the point

General tips

90% of the time we write for digital so remember that our readers are busy, located all over the world and not necessarily native English speakers. Keep plain language principles in mind:

  • Use contractions (don’t, we’ll).

  • Never use the passive voice if active voice works.

  • Break up your text with sub-headings for scan reading. Use bullets if it helps.

  • Use short words and sentences (aim for max 20 words).

  • Always use sentence case.

  • Don’t overuse adjectives.

  • Write how you speak. Read your writing out loud.

  • Get to the point: lead with your most important content.

  • Be consistent (check our language and grammar guide).

  • Avoid slang, idioms, and clichés.

About Emakina

  • When we’re talking about ourselves, always write in the first person: ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’.

  • We are the User Agency (upper case ‘U’, upper case ‘A’– not The User Agency).

  • Take a look at the specific rules we have about writing the word Emakina in Brand architecture.

Inclusive language

As a proudly multi-cultural business celebrating diversity, it’s important not to use words or phrases that give a prejudiced, stereotyped or discriminatory view of particular people.

  • Avoid anything ‘-ist’ (sexist, racist, ageist).

  • Use ‘they’, not ‘he’ or ‘she’.

  • Avoid young, old, elderly, or any other word describing a person's age.

  • Avoid words like blacklist, whitelist, grandfathered, slave, master, deaf, blind and any other racist or abelist terms.

Inclusive language evolves all the time. Check out Conscious Language and Atlassian’s inclusive writing tips to keep a check on your writing and tone.

Language & grammar

Emakina agencies use British English spelling and grammar. When in doubt, visit the online Cambridge Dictionary. If you have any questions about grammar, see the full guide here.

SEO & accessibility

When writing content, make sure that it’s optimised for the web and accessible to all readers. Check our guide here.

Content types

Now that you have the foundation right, take a look at our very specific guidelines per content type:

Word list

Is it ‘whitepaper’ or ‘white paper’? Covid or COVID? Our handy word list takes the guesswork out of writing. Download it and keep it close when you’re writing. Also, no-one like pompous language, so also download the handy guide of alternatives from the Plain Language Campaign to help you write in simple, plain English.