Voice and Tone

Our Personality

Tuts+ should help people learn in a precise, concise, and approachable way. Everything we write, or say, should be:

  • concise but not abrupt
  • confident but not cocky
  • friendly but not sloppy
  • precise but not pedantic
  • comprehensive but not complicated
  • approachable but not patronising
  • fun but not goofy

Active Voice

Use the active rather than passive voice. It’s clearer and more direct. For example:

Active:

  • Tie the ribbon around the candle.
  • Increase the canvas size to 800px.
  • Change the shutter speed to 1/250s.

Passive:

  • The ribbon is tied around the candle.
  • The canvas size is increased to 800px.
  • The shutter speed is changed to 1/250s.

Addressing the Reader

Where possible, address the reader as “you”. It makes our content more personal when we speak to them directly. For example:

  • In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a really simple button.
  • I hope you’ve found the tutorial helpful.
  • If you have any problems with this step, refer back to the introduction.

Referring to the Author

When referring to the instructor, use “I”. It creates a more personal connection between the instructor and reader:

  • I hope you’ve found the tutorial helpful.
  • In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a really simple button.

Concise and Precise

You should:

  • use contractions (e.g. can’t)
  • not let caveats dictate unwieldy grammar – e.g. say ‘You can’ rather than ‘You may be able to’
  • not use long sentences where a short sentence will suffice

Plain English

Where appropriate, choose plain English over complex language. Don’t use formal or long words when easy or short ones will do. Use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’.

Gender Neutral Text

Our text should be gender neutral wherever possible. Attempt to restructure any gender-specific sentences with this goal in mind.

No: “A good photographer keeps his gear neatly organized.”

Yes: “Good photographers keep their gear neatly organized.”