Writing

Text should be understandable by anyone, anywhere, regardless of their culture or language.


Principles

Clear, accurate, and concise text builds trust and makes interfaces more usable.

Be concise

To facilitate navigation and discovery, write UI text in short, scannable segments that focus on a limited number of concepts at a time. Send money...

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To facilitate navigation and discovery, write UI text in short, scannable segments that focus on a limited number of concepts at a time.

Send money to anyone in the US who has an email address. It’s fast, easy, and free.

Do.

Send (and receive) money with friends and family in the US with an email address. It’s a two-step process with little latency and there aren’t any charges for the recipients.

Don’t.

Read the instructions that came with your phone

Do.

Consult the documentation that came with your phone for further instructions

Don’t.

Write simply and directly

Use simple, direct language that is easy for users to understand. Save changes? Would you like to save your changes? Message sent Message has been...

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Use simple, direct language that is easy for users to understand.

Save changes?

Do.

Would you like to save your changes?

Don’t.

Message sent

Do.

Message has been sent

Don’t.

Register to vote

Do.

You must register before you can vote

Don’t.

Address users clearly

The user can be addressed either using the second person (you or your) or the first person (I, me, or my), depending on which is...

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The user can be addressed either using the second person (you or your) or the first person (I, me, or my), depending on which is suitable and clearest for the situation.

Each form of address is recommended for the following contexts:

  • Second person, “you” or “your”: Use this conversational style for most situations, as though the UI is speaking directly to the user.
  • First person, “I” or “my”: In some cases, you may need to use this form of address to emphasize the user's ownership of content or actions.

Quickly open the camera without unlocking your screen

Do.

Speak directly to the user with the second person.

I agree to follow the Google Terms of Service

Do.

Emphasize ownership of actions with the first person.

Your places

Do.

Speak directly to the user with the second person.

My Account

Do.

Emphasize content ownership with the first person.

Avoid combining forms of address

Avoid using both "me" or "my," and "you" or "your,” in the same phrase. It can cause confusion to address the user in two different ways within the same context.

Change your preferences in My Account

Don’t.

Communicate essential details

Communicate essential details, without a lot of extra text, so that users can focus on their own tasks. Sometimes the most effective UI contains no...

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Communicate essential details, without a lot of extra text, so that users can focus on their own tasks. Sometimes the most effective UI contains no text at all.

Signing in...
Your phone is contacting Google. This can take up to 5 minutes.

Do.

Signing in...
Your phone needs to communicate with Google servers to sign in to your account. This may take up to 5 minutes.

Don’t.

Write for all reading levels

Use common words that are clearly and easily understandable across all reading levels. Turn on Location History Enable Location History Avoid industry-specific terminology or names...

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Use common words that are clearly and easily understandable across all reading levels.

Turn on Location History

Do.

Enable Location History

Don’t.

Industry terms and feature names

Avoid industry-specific terminology or names invented for UI features.

Preparing video…

Do.

Buffering…

Don’t.

“Ok Google” isn’t supported on your phone

Do.

“Ok Google” is only supported on dual-core devices

Don’t.

Write in the present tense

Use the present tense to describe product behavior. Avoid using the future tense to describe the way a product always acts. When you need to...

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Use the present tense to describe product behavior. Avoid using the future tense to describe the way a product always acts.

When you need to write in the past or future tenses, use simple verb forms.

You have 3 messages

Do.

You have three messages

Don’t.

Use numerals

Use numerals in place of words for numbers, such as writing “1, 2, 3,” not “one, two, three.” An exception is when mixing uses of...

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Use numerals in place of words for numbers, such as writing “1, 2, 3,” not “one, two, three.”

An exception is when mixing uses of numbers, such as "Enter two 3s."

You have 3 messages

Do.

You have three messages

Don’t.

Skip unnecessary punctuation

To help readers scan text at a glance, avoid using punctuation in places where it isn’t necessary. Avoid using periods on solitary sentences within these...

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To help readers scan text at a glance, avoid using punctuation in places where it isn’t necessary.

Periods

Avoid using periods on solitary sentences within these UI elements:

  • Labels
  • Hover text
  • Bulleted lists
  • Dialog body text

Use periods on:

  • Multiple sentences
  • Any sentence followed by a link (links themselves should not be full sentences)

Periods in longer text

Longer or complex sentences can use periods if doing so better suits the context. For example, if the rest of your app’s flow doesn’t use periods, introducing them in a few places may appear inconsistent.

Share your photos with friends. Learn more

Do.

Place periods after sentences followed by a link.

Share your photos with friends. Learn more.

Don’t.

Sentences followed by a link should place the period before the link, not after.

Undo bulk edit?
Everything you changed will go back to its previous state

Do.

Skip periods after solo sentences of body text.

Undo bulk edit?
If you undo this bulk edit, everything you changed will go back to its previous state.

Don’t.

If there is only a single sentence, don’t place periods after body text.

Colons

Skip colons after labels.

Share with

Do.

Share with:

Don’t.


Content flow

Begin with the objective

When a phrase describes an objective and the action needed to achieve it, start the sentence with the objective.

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When a phrase describes an objective and the action needed to achieve it, start the sentence with the objective.

To remove a photo from this album, drag it to the trash

Do.

The text starts with the objective (removing a photo) and ends stating the user action (drag to the trash).

Drag a photo to the trash to remove it from this album

Don’t.

Don’t state the action the user takes (drag a photo) before the objective (to remove it from an album).

Reveal detail as needed

Every detail doesn’t need to be described in a user’s first interaction. Reveal increasing detail about features as the user explores them and needs more...

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Every detail doesn’t need to be described in a user’s first interaction. Reveal increasing detail about features as the user explores them and needs more information.

Remove downloaded book?

Do.

If the user is in the process of performing an action, only information about that task is needed.

Are you sure you want to remove this downloaded book? You won’t be able to access it unless you’re online.

Don’t.

Use consistent words in all parts of a feature

Use verbs in a consistent manner across your UI.

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Use verbs in a consistent manner across your UI.

Remove photo

a
Remove photo from page?

Do.

Remove photo
a


Delete photo?

Don’t.

Refer to elements by label

UI labels identify what a control or element does, and they appear either on or near the control itself, such as the text on a...

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UI labels identify what a control or element does, and they appear either on or near the control itself, such as the text on a button. When referring to UI controls or elements, use its label text, not the element or control itself.

Click Continue

Do.

State the UI element’s label only.

Click the Continue button

Don’t.

Don’t state both the label and the element on which it appears.


Punctuation

Use punctuation to add clarity or be grammatically correct.

Glyph/character

HTML entity

Unicode

Usage

Example

Colons

:

:

\u003A

Omit colons on labels.
Use them above lists.

Two things:

  • First
  • Second

Commas

,

Place commas inside of quotation marks.
Use the serial comma in a list of three or more items, except when using an ampersand (&).

Double angle brackets

>>

<<

&laquo;

&raquo;

\u00AB

\u00BB

Omit double angle brackets from links or buttons that open another page or step.

Em dash

&mdash;

\u2014

Use en dashes, not em dashes

En dash

&ndash;

\u2013

Use an en dash instead of a hyphen to indicate a range, without spaces.
Avoid using dashes to separate text. If you must use dashes for this purpose – like this – use an en dash surrounded by spaces.

3–5 kg

Ellipses

&hellip;

Use ellipses to indicate an action in progress or incomplete or truncated text, without a space before the ellipses.
Omit ellipses from menu items or buttons that open a dialog or start a process.

Downloading…

Exclamation points

!

Avoid exclamation points, as they may come across as shouting

Hyphen

-

Use hyphens to represent negative numbers, or to create compound words

-5

5-mile walk

Midline ellipses

• • •

Midline ellipses are used to represent numeric truncation and the redaction of sensitive data..

SSN • • • 5678

Parentheses

( )

Use parentheses to define acronyms or jargon

SSL (secure socket layer)

Periods

.

Omit periods on fragments and single sentences, but use them when in a group of two or more sentences.
Place periods inside quotation marks.

Primes

&prime;

&Prime;

\u2032

\u2033

Use prime (′) only in abbreviations for feet, arcminutes, and minutes.
Use double-prime (″) only in abbreviations for inches, arcminutes, and minutes.
Don’t use generic quotes ", ' or free-standing accents `, ´ for primes.

3° 15′

3° 15′ 35″

Quotation marks

&ldquo;

&rdquo;

&lsquo;

&rsquo;

\u201C

\u201D

\u2018

\u2019

Use quotation marks, not the inch or foot symbols.
Use the right single quotation mark for apostrophes.
Never use generic quotes ", ' or free-standing accents `, ´ (\u0022, \u0027, \u0060, \u00B4) for quotation marks, apostrophes, or primes.