How we sound
Get to know our tone of voice and how to use our house style when you write
The words we use create an impression in people’s minds.
Whenever we communicate for Girlguiding, we want to sound true to ourselves, our purpose and our brand.
What is our tone of voice?
Our tone of voice helps us bring our brand personality to life so that we create the right impressions of Girlguiding. It helps us get our messages across clearly so every piece of Girlguiding communication is easy to read and accessible for everyone. Our tone of voice techniques and stylistic choices are based on readability research. We’re a brand that welcomes all.
We have 3 tone of voice characteristics that work together to help us reflect our brand whenever we communicate:
- Straight talking: we’re refreshing, clear and direct
- Thoughtful: we’re people focused and empathetic
- Encouraging: we always sound helpful and positive
Sounding straight talking is about being easy to understand, clear and simple.
How to sound straight talking:
- Use everyday language
- Get to the point
- Keep sentences short
- Use more verbs than nouns
We aim for a reading age of 9, the same age that the government uses when they write. Apps like Hemingway can help you check the reading age of your writing.
Sounding thoughtful is about being people-focused, empathetic and warm.
How to sound thoughtful:
- Put people first
- Acknowledge why things matter using warmth and empathy
- Help people find key information through good signposting like clear headings, lists, links and calls to action
Sounding encouraging is about being positive, energetic and motivating.
How to sound encouraging:
- Imagine it’s a conversation
- Be positive, where you can
- Show, don’t just tell
- Be playful (when the time is right)
The best way to see if your writing is in the Girlguiding tone of voice is to read it out loud. Does it sound natural as you speak? Does it sound like something you’d actually say? If not, keep working on it until it does.
Read more about these characteristics, and find more tips and examples in our tone of voice guidelines.
Our house style
Whenever we write, we need to be consistent and without any errors. This shows people that we’re professional and credible – some people really notice the details and expect us to get them right.
Use our tone of voice guidelines for the specific details of our house style.
As most of our communications are online, our style reflects best practice for readability on screens– putting accessibility at the heart of our stylistic decisions.
Key things to remember
All the specific details of our tone of voice and writing style are in the guidelines, but here are a few key things to remember:
- Always refer to us as Girlguiding unless it's in a business, financial or legal context.
- Girlguiding describes who we are - guiding describes what we do. Because guiding's an activity, guiding doesn't have a capital letter.
- Screen readers struggle to read out abbreviations and acronyms, so keep them to a minimum. If you have to use an acronym, spell it out the first time with the abbreviation in brackets, like this: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- Studies have shown that capital letters catch the eye and slow down reading. We’ve minimised our use of capitals to be more accessible.
- We do capitalise: The first word in any new lines of text, titles, headings and subheadings, hashtags for readability - #AdventuresAtHome and the names of brands, places, people, awards (but not the word award itself) and unique marketable Girlguiding events such as Magic and Mayhem.
- We don’t capitalise: Things in general; uniforms, trainings materials, policies, volunteers, activity centres. Job titles, volunteer roles, teams and committees; badges, schemes, theme, topics, qualifications or unit meeting activities. The words we use to describe Girlguiding areas such as ‘regions’ or ‘divisions’, words in URLS or any word to make it feel more important.
- Dates are written: day, month, year, such as 12 January 2023. We don’t use suffixes (12th) as these can cause spacing issues and affect readability.
- Write times using the 12-hour clock (9.30am, 11pm).
- Write all numbers as digits, it’s much better for readability on screens.
- Don’t use italics as they affect readability.
Finally, don’t forget to:
Need more advice? Take a look at our tone of voice guidelines, for more on our tone of voice and house style, including inclusive language and our glossary of terms.