Voice & tone
Just as products should look and behave consistently, they should also speak consistently. Learn how to apply Pluralsight’s voice and choose the right tone for the experience you're creating.
Our writing voice is friendly, as if you’re speaking to a relative or colleague. We don’t want to come across as stuffy or as if we’re talking down to our reader, but we do want to come across as credible and knowledgeable. This does not mean that you should forgo basic style guidelines. But, it does mean that you shouldn’t be afraid to start a sentence with conjunctions like “but” or “and.” You should also use contractions (didn’t, don’t, haven’t, hadn’t) freely.
We follow these three core principles in our writing:
Be simple and direct. Avoid long, hard words and formal language. Try not to say too many things at once. Avoid hedging language and evasive phrases such as “seems like” and “according to.” Steer clear of empty words like “world class,” “robust” and “high quality.”
Stay positive by avoiding comparisons designed to elevate one idea by diminishing another. Assume success and stay away from fear. Celebrate the craft. Our audience appreciates the skill that goes into their work, so shine light on it whenever possible.
Show our audience you relate to their joys and frustrations. That you know they have interests outside of work. Infuse your writing with the unexpected and engage in wordplay but not at the expense of being clear. At times, be light-hearted but not light-headed.
Generally, write in second person, addressing the audience as “you,” “your,” etc. Talk to your audience directly, addressing them as “you” not as “one,” “persons,” etc. Avoid phrases like this: “To take a skill assessment, one needs to select…” This language feels formal and unnatural.
One exception to this is when writing for hands-on learning exercises. To be more inclusive and encouraging to the learner, write in the first-person-plural point of view to show that we're on this learning journey with them.
Write headlines in sentence case, meaning only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns.
Measure your skills
Only punctuate a headline when it uses more than one sentence.
Measure your skills. Learn something new.
We do not use a serial comma, a comma in front of the conjunction connecting list items.
At Pluralsight we are big fans of pizza, Indian and Chinese food.
Exception: We do use a serial comma when the phrase before the conjunction also has a conjunction or if the phrases separated by the commas will be less confusing if commas are used throughout.
While studying for certifications, it’s important to use flash cards, practice tests, online or instructor-led training, and study guides.
Avoid over-using exclamation points, unless offering congratulations on having completed a complex flow. Exclamation points aren’t a substitute for creating excitement.
Buttons should always be clear, direct and actionable. A link should be descriptive of the place it's taking the user. Do not use text such as ‘click here’, or anything that does not make sense when read out of context.
- Learn now
- Get started
- Get your IQ
- Watch a course
- Start a path
- Tell us more
Do all you can to prevent errors, but when they occur, use the opportunity to help users understand what happened and how to get through it. Follow these 3 guidelines when writing error messages:
Be clear about what’s going on. Give the right amount of detail, but don’t get too technical. Write in a way that anyone could easily understand without using jargon.
Your credit card has expired
Update your payment method to restore your subscription.
After you explain what happened, tell the user what they can do to resolve the issue. If possible include a button, a link, or another call to action.
There was a problem loading the video
Unable to play video
Avoid being robotic or silly. Remember, something went wrong, now's your time to help them through it in a friendly way.
That password doesn’t match. Try again?
Yo, big problemo! The password you provided doesn’t match. Wanna try that again?
Follow AP conventions, only listing a.m. or p.m. on one of the times unless the time spans both a.m. and p.m. Drop :00 from any times that start at the hour. Use noon or midnight vs. 12 a.m. and 12 p.m.
10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Do not use contractions (st, th, etc.) within a complete sentence. Do not use leading zeros on days. Feel free to abbreviate months. Use four digit year.
On May 15, Microsoft announced…
Jan 23, 2017
For numerals over 999, insert a comma for clarity.
When listing duration of long content, round to the nearest hour or minute, with no leading zeros. For approximate durations, round to nearest appropriate value. For short and exact duration, display standard time format, no leading zeros.
About 1 hour
About 30 minutes
When listing a single author or owner, display full name. If listing multiple and space is limited, abbreviating to last name only is acceptable. Do not use “By” in the beginning of an author(s) string.
Gary Eimerman, Troy Hunt
Gary Eimerman, Troy Hunt, Lars Klint