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PSDocs Style Guide: Writing style

Style Guide for Public Services Documentation

Basic writing guidelines

Clarity is key. Too much text can crowd the page and overwhelm the user.

  • Use short, descriptive sentences and paragraphs.
  • Create bulleted lists where possible.
    • Use bullets where the entries in the list are of equal importance and do not follow a sequence.
  • Use numbered lists where the entries must follow a sequence.
    • Use a separate step for each action.
    • If a step involves a number of substeps, consider breaking the procedure into sets of actions.
  • Be careful about hyphen usage: do not over use them.

Be brief

No: Yes:

Do not write: "Make sure you use your Aleph login to log in to Aleph at the beginning of your shift."

Write: "Log in to Aleph at the beginning of your desk shift."


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Active voice / imperative mood

No: Yes:

Don't write:

  • "X should be clicked"
  • "The X button allows you to Y"
Write: "Click X"

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Consistent terminology

No: Yes:

Do not use terms like "Staff Barton"

Use "Aleph" instead "Staff Barton."

Refer to the terminology list for when to use "login" vs. "log in" and other common terms.


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Abbreviations and acronyms

Define acronyms and abbreviations (in parentheses) following their initial use on a page.

No: Yes:

Do not create new acronyms.

Use known acronyms.

Do not use "eg.", "eg", "etc", "ie." or "ie"

Use "e.g." ,"etc.", "i.e."

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