The Skylight Content Guide goes into depth on many subjects. It may be more information than you need. Here are the most important things to know.
Good content is:
Voice and tone
Skylight’s voice is:
While our voice is constant, our tone should change depending on the emotional state of the person we’re addressing. In general, we take a conversational tone with our writing: everyday talk that’s easy to understand and feels approachable.
We write with a person-first perspective. Being aware of the impact of your language will help make Skylight a better place to work and a better steward of our values in the world.
- Don’t reference age or disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.
- Avoid gendered language and use the singular “they.”
- When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns; if you don’t know those, just use their name.
Related resource: The Conscious Style Guide.
- Some people will read every word you write. Others will just scan. Help everyone by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.
- Focus your message, and create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content.
- Use active voice and positive language.
- Use short words and sentences.
- Avoid unnecessary modifiers.
- Use specific examples.
- Avoid vague language.
- Be consistent. Adhere to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.
- Feel free to use contractions.
- Use the serial comma. Otherwise, use common sense.
- Don’t use underline, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.
- When in doubt, read your writing out loud.
- Organize your page around one topic.
- Use clear, descriptive terms that relate to the topic in titles and headings.
- Give every image descriptive
- Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Use sentence case.
- Use sentence case for checkboxes and radio buttons.
- Use sentence case for drop-down menu names and menu items.
- Use sentence case for form titles and form fields. Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for irrelevant personal information, like gender.
- Use sentence case for main navigation and subnavigation.
- Use sentence case for headings and subheadings.
- Organize headings and subheadings in a hierarchy, with heading first, followed by subheadings in order.
- Include the most relevant keywords in your headings and subheadings.
- Provide a link whenever you’re referring to a website, relevant content, and trusted external resources.
- Don’t say things like “Click here!” or “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Instead, link relevant keywords.
- Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of info. Set up your list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order of information is important.
Writing for accessibility
- Create a hierarchy, with the most important information first.
- Place similar topics in the same paragraph, and clearly separate different topics with headings.
- Use plain language. Write short sentences and familiar words.
- Links should provide information on the associated action or destination. Avoid saying “click here” or “learn more.”
- Avoid using images when descriptive text will do.
- Avoid directional instructions or language that requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page.
- Label inputs on forms with clear names and use appropriate tags. Think carefully about what fields are necessary, and especially which ones you mark as required.
Writing for translation
- Use active voice.
- Avoid double negatives.
- Use contractions with caution.
- Avoid using synonyms for the same word in a single piece of writing.
- Write briefly, but don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity. You may need to repeat or add words to make the meaning of your sentences clear to a translator.
- Avoid slang, idioms, and cliches.
- Avoid unnecessary abbreviations.