Your writing style

Android’s Voice


When writing text that appears in your app, keep it concise, simple, and friendly.

Concise

  • Describe only what the user needs to know.
  • Eliminate redundancy, such as titles that restate the body of an information box.
  • Keep text as short as possible.

Avoid wordy, stilted text

Don’t
Consult the documentation that came with your phone for further instructions.
Do
Read the instructions that came with your phone.

Don’t provide unnecessary information

From a Setup Wizard screen
Signing in…
Your phone needs to communicate with
Google servers to sign in to your account.
This may take up to five minutes.
From a Setup Wizard screen
Signing in…
Your phone is contacting Google.
This can take up to 5 minutes.

Simple

  • Use short words, active verbs, and common nouns.
  • Put the most important thing first. “Front-load” the first 11 characters with the most salient information in the string.
  • Don’t try to explain subtle differences. They are lost on most users.

Focus on the user’s concern, not technical details

Don’t
Manually control GPS to prevent other apps from using it
Do
To save power, switch Location mode to Battery saving

Put top news first

Don’t
77 other people +1’d this, including Larry Page
Do
Larry Page and 76 others +1’d this

Put the user’s goal first

Don’t
Touch Next to complete setup using a Wi-Fi connection
Do
To finish setup using Wi-Fi, touch Next

Friendly

  • Use contractions.
  • Talk directly to the reader. Use “you” to refer to the reader.
  • Keep your tone casual and conversational, but avoid slang.

Avoid being confusing or annoying

Don’t
Sorry!
Activity MyAppActivity (in application
MyApp) is not responding
Do
MyApp isn’t responding
Do you want to close it?

Words to avoid

Don’t use Use
one, two, three, four, … 1, 2, 3, 4, …
application app
cannot, could not, do not, did not will not, you will Contractions: can’t, couldn’t, don’t, didn’t won’t, you’ll, and so on
okay, ok OK
please, sorry, thank you Attempts at politeness can annoy the user, especially in messages that say something has gone wrong.
Exception: In Japanese, “please” is mandatory and imperative verbs should be localized accordingly (turn on -> please turn on).
there is, there are, it is
and other “disappeared” subjects (grammatical expletives)
Use a noun as the subject
abort, kill, terminate stop, cancel, end, exit
fail, failed, negative language In general, use positive phrasing
(for example, “do” rather than “don’t,” except in cases such as “Don’t show again,” “Can’t connect,” and so on.)
me, I, my, mine you, your, yours
Are you sure? Warning! Tell user the consequence instead, for example, “You’ll lose all photos and media”

Formatting text


Capitalization

  • Use sentence-style capitalization for all UI strings: “Words to live by.”
  • Capitalize all important words in:
    • App names (Calendar, Google Drive)
    • Named features (Android Beam, Face Unlock)
    • Proper nouns (Statue of Liberty, San Francisco Giants)
  • Be conservative. Don’t capitalize words that aren’t part of a formal feature name:
    • Sim card lock, Home screen, not Sim Card Lock, Home Screen.

Punctuation

  • Period. Don’t use a period after a single sentence or phrase used in isolation, such as in a toast, label, or notification. Wherever two or more sentences run together, use a period for each sentence.
  • Ellipsis. Use the ellipsis character (…) (Option-; on MacOS and … in HTML) to indicate
    • Incompleteness, such as an action in progress (“Downloading…”) or truncated text.
    • That a menu item (such as Print… or Share…) leads to further UI involving significant choices. Exception: Commands whose wording already implies further (but limited) UI, such as Find in page or Pick a date, do not require an ellipsis.

About the author: Danny Johnson