Writing accessible content

Accessible content is easy to scan and comprehend. Keep your messages simple, even when talking to experts.


    Use plain language

  • Know your audience, context, and user path. Be mindful of the preceding and following screens to keep the conversation natural.
  • Keep the writing jargon-free, clear, and concise. People scan, not read.
  • Minimize acronyms. If you need them, define them first.
  • Remove redundancies and lengthy introductions ("In today's world...", "We'd like to invite you to try a new feature our team has been working on...").

    Easy is best

  • Make active voice your default choice.
  • Use passive voice only in some cases. For example, to avoid blaming the user for an error.
  • Stick to a simple tense and construction. Say, "You worked on more projects this year," instead of "We noticed you were working on more projects this year."
  • Feel free to use simple contractions (you'll, it's, there's, etc.) to make your writing more conversational.
  • Avoid negative (can't, shouldn't, etc.) and conditional (should've, could've, etc.) contractions, as it's easy to overlook them. Rephrase or spell them out.

    Helpful over witty

  • Be conversational and joyful, but do not take it too far. Humor varies from person to person and between cultures.
  • Avoid idioms and slang to ensure all users can understand your message, including speakers of English as a second language.
  • Use emojis carefully. They add a lot of noise and may be interpreted differently in some countries.

    Simple formatting rules

  • Organize your text with headings to group related paragraphs and outline their content.
  • Create bulleted lists when appropriate.
  • Think top-down, left to right.
  • Don't justify your text. That would negatively affect its readability for all users.

    Descriptive links

  • Keep your links concise but descriptive enough to know where they lead to.
  • Say "Learn more about pricing" instead of just "Learn more." It will give users the confidence to click it and make it easier for those using screen readers.
Link naturally within your text:
"Visit the MDN guidelines for guidance on accessible hyperlinks."
Do not create links such as "click here," "here," or "link" as they are not screen-reader friendly.

    Embrace the numerals

  • Keep your numbers as numerals, as they are easier to scan and enhance credibility and usability.
  • Does Grammarly suggest spelling out numbers? Consider it only when they do not refer to specific data ("In a thousand years from now...").

    Bold and italics

  • You can use bold or italics to highlight a word or two.
  • Avoid overuse, as nothing will stand out then.
  • Do not create blocks of italics. It makes scanning difficult for everyone, especially people with dyslexia.
  • Screen readers do not read bold or italics by default, so never rely solely on them to emphasize crucial information.

    Placeholders in forms

  • Do not replace labels and helper text with placeholders when creating forms. People multitask, and that makes switching contexts even more difficult.

    Singular they

  • When referring to a person of unknown gender, use they instead of he or she. For example, "Remove this user? They will no longer have access to the project."

See also

For more insight into writing accessible content, visit WCAG or the NN Group website.