Voice and Tone
One of the key aspects of writing for us is to be well aware of our brand’s voice and tone.
Aren’t voice and tone the same thing? 🤔
No, they aren’t the same thing but it is possible to confuse one for the other often. In this section, we will try and explain the difference between the two and also show you how they apply to Freshdesk.
Imagine this — when you talk to someone, you talk with the same voice. However, depending on the person you are talking to, the subject that you are talking about, or the place that you are in, your tone changes. You wouldn’t talk to your friend at a cafe in the same tone that you use to talk to your client at a conference. Your tone also changes based on the emotional state that you or the person you’re addressing is in. The same is true when you write because writing is just another form of talking.
What’s Freshdesk’s voice?
At Freshdesk, we want our voice to be as human as possible — one that is familiar to our readers. It’s open, confident, honest, and helpful.
What’s Freshdesk’s tone?
We prefer an informal tone to a formal one. Here’s a little tip that you can keep in mind when you are struggling with the tone. Add a bit of humour if it comes naturally to you and if you think it is appropriate. Be cheerful. Take a hint from what the reader is expecting from your article. They are curious and want to learn something new from your blog post.
Grammar et al.
Grammar is not the monster we often claim it be. It’s what keeps our writing in check and it doesn’t hurt to follow a few rules if it can help you write a better copy.
American English. No Doubt about It!
At Freshdesk, we use American English. Here are some of the differences that you need to remember.
- Words ending in ‘-ise’ change to ‘-ize’.
Organise becomes organize
- Words ending in ‘-yse’ change to ‘-yze’.
Paralyse becomes paralyze
- Words ending in ‘-our’ change to ‘-or’.
Colour becomes color
- Words ending in ‘-re’ change to ‘-er’.
Theatre becomes theater
- Words ending in ‘-ogue’ change to ‘-og’.
Catalogue becomes catalog
- Words ending in ‘-l’ do not double.
Traveller becomes traveler
- Words with ‘-ae’ and ‘-oe’ change to e.
Encyclopaedia becomes encyclopedia
- Words with ‘-oeu’ change to ‘-eu’.
Manoeuvre becomes Maneuver
- Words with a soft ‘c’ change to ‘s’.
Defence becomes defense
- Use the Oxford commas (the comma that you put before the ‘and’ in a list)
Dispatch’r, Social Signals, and Customer 360 are some of the features of Freshdesk.
- Treat brands as a singular verb.
Freshdesk rebranded itself to Freshworks.
Active Voice or Passive Voice?
This is going to be a short one because there are no two ways to answer this question. We have a preference for active voice because it reads like a more confident piece and is conversational.
Active voice — I love working at Freshworks.
Passive voice — It’s great to work at Freshworks.
We Need to Talk about Jargons
We think that using jargons makes our writing cool. It’s easy to get into arguments about whether or not it’s okay to use jargons in your writing. It all boils down to how you define a jargon (is it a technical terminology or a buzzword), your audience, and the context in which you are using them.
If the jargon sums up your idea and will go down well with our audience, then by all means, use it. For example when talking about GDPR, there’s no reason why we can’t use terms like ‘stakeholders’ because it refers to people who are involved in product decision making. However, words like ‘going forward’ are buzzwords because they mean different things to different people. Does it mean ‘in future’, ‘henceforth’, or both?
Here are two tips to help you deal with jargons better.
Keep it simple stupid!
We are big fans of the KISS principle. Ask yourself if there is a simpler alternative for a word. If there is one, there’s no excuse to not use it. When you can’t find a simpler word, explain or define the technical jargon.
Using ‘stakeholders’ in a GDPR related blog article may be okay. If you say marketing ops instead of marketing operations, then it’s not cool!
Buzzwords we recommend you avoid —
fits like a glove
on the go
slice and dice your data
unique business needs
All About the Numbers
Spell out a number if it begins a sentence or if it is a single digit numeral. The same rule applies for first, second, third, up to ninth. But if you’re using numbers to denote duration (for example, 9-10), then it would be all numerals.
Here are a few examples to help you get a hang of it—
- Ten of our customer stories were big hits this year.
- There were nine articles listed in our newsletter.
- There were 20 features we rolled out this month.
- In our third year, we launched Freshservice.
If you are beginning a sentence with a number over 20, then use a hyphen.
- Forty-five college graduates were hired last week.
Use a comma in numbers over 1,000. And it’s after every 3 zeros that you add a comma.
- We have a monthly marketing budget of $80,345,120. (We wish!)
If numbers are part of an adjective (descriptive word), then add a hyphen.
- There was a five-hour training session on customer support last week.
- We had an eighteen-year old intern join us last summer.
Spell out million and billion.
- Stats tells us that the population of the US is expected to reach 402 million in 2050.
If you’re writing a duration or a span, use ‘to’ when you’re writing in words and an en dash when you’re writing in figures.
Here come the exceptions—
If you are talking about prices, then use numerals. It’s easier for the reader to calculate or to add it all up.
- Freshdesk’s Blossom plan starts at $19.
You need to apply the same exception when you referring to a unit of measurement or page numbers.
The Curious Case of Contractions
Use contractions but use them sensibly. Contractions allow you to be informal and sound conversational. In fact the U.S government advocates the use of contractions encouraging people to ‘write as you talk’.
- We’ve rolled out a new feature this week.
Do not use them when you are quoting something. Keep it as is.
- One of our customers said, “We have been using Freshdesk for six months now and we love it.”
Avoid contractions in formal writing or in legal documents. But of course, this is a style guide for blogs.
It’s not OK. Not O.K. Not ok. Or just k.
Here are words you might not realize you’re spelling wrong.
sign up when it’s a verb. sign-up when it’s a noun or an adjective.
- Sign up for a free trial of Freshdesk.
- Add a sign-up button to the website.
Ditto for the words log in and login.
acknowledgement not acknowledgment.
anytime when it’s a noun. any time when it’s adjective.
- We decided that we could discuss our next content strategy anytime.
- We didn’t have any time until Monday to discuss our next content strategy.
any more is always two words. Period.
dependent — whether it’s a noun or an adjective.
effect or affect? They sound and are spelled similar so it is easy to confuse the two. An easy way to remember the difference is (Edgar Allan Poe’s) RAVEN — Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun. But there are exceptions to the rule where affect becomes a noun and effect becomes verb. Yikes!
You can use effect as a verb when you mean ‘to bring about’.
- We hoped to effect a change in the way businesses use software for customer support.
You can also use affect as a noun when you are referring to a mood someone’s in.
- Our team displayed a happy affect when our campaign was a big hit!
But they sound ‘eew’. Don’t they? So let’s go back and stick to the RAVEN rule.
email is one word. But e-commerce is hyphenated.
every day is two words except when it’s an adjective.
- We publish a post every day.
- Writing is an everyday activity for me.
focusing not focussing. focused not focussed.
in to or into? ‘In to’ with a space in between is short for ‘in order to’ while ‘into’ refers to some sort of movement of something.
- She poured some milk into her cup.
- She poured some milk in to make her coffee taste better.
See how a tiny space between two words can change their meaning?
learned not learnt because we write in American English for our blog.
license not licence. Remember the soft c rule?
online is one word with no hyphen.
practice not practise. This is the exception to soft c rule.
stationary means to stand still and stationery is pens, pencils, etc.
straight away is two words without hyphens.
web page is two words while website is one.
a lot is two words. It’s never one word.
- We had a lot of marketing activities lined up for the month.
nowhere, somewhere, anywhere are all one words.
Get the complete list of tricky words. Download here.
When mentioning a company name, go with the naming convention they follow on their website.
- It’s Freshdesk, not freshdesk or FreshDesk
That or Which?
These two words cannot, we repeat, cannot be interchangeably used. That is used to define something and which is used to add information.
- That is the campaign we were working on.
- The campaign, which we were working on, is a huge hit.
Pro tip — if you remove the words that follow (the conjunction) and the meaning of the sentence changes, then use ‘that’. If it doesn’t, use ‘which’.
To or To Not Hyphenate
When in doubt, take help from a dictionary. Preferably Merriam Webster. There are only two situations where you’ll be using a hyphen.
When you have a compound adjective (adjective thats made of two or more words) you need to hyphenate it.
- We provide round-the-clock support for our customers.
However, if the first word of the adjective ends with ‘ly’, or if the adjective comes after a noun, then you shouldn’t hyphenate it.
- Customer 360 is a specially crafted feature for customer support agents.
- Our knowledge base is up to date.
- Freshdesk has an up-to-date knowledge base.
If you are adding a prefix, use a hyphen.
- GDPR doesn’t apply to non-EU countries.
If you are adding a prefix, use a hyphen.
- co-worker so that people don’t pronounce it is ‘cow orker’
Dates and Time
Format dates this way —
- 2nd July 2018
- July 2, 2018
Group years like this —
- 2018–2019 and not 2018–19 (That’s an en dash and not a hyphen)
When you are talking about period of time, write it as half a day and not 0.5 days.
If you want to refer to a particular decade, don’t use an apostrophe before the ‘s’.
Write time like this —
- 2.pm (without space and the ‘am’ and ‘pm’ in lower case)
‘An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.’ — F Scott Fitzgerald
Exclamation marks are littering our writing thanks to the internet and text messaging. Stay away from using the exclamation mark as much as you can. If you must absolutely use it, then use just one. And never ever pair it with a period or a question mark.
Bulleted and Numbered Lists
If the sentence introducing the bullets ends with a colon or an em dash —
- start each point in lower case
- don’t punctuate at the end of each bullet except the last one.
If the sentence introducing the bullets does not end with a colon or an em dash then bullet them like this.
- Begin each bullet with a capital letter.
- Punctuate at the end of each bullet.
If your list of items needs to follow a particular order, then number your list. This is usually the case when you are listing instructions.
1. Read our guidelines.
2. Choose a topic relevant to our audience.
3. Draft your content.
4. Review and then submit it.
We’ve already discussed the hyphen so, on we go to discuss the dashes.
En dash is used to break up text or mark our phrases in a sentence. Think of it as a replacement for commas or brackets.
It is also used in place of a semi colon.
Use an en dash to denote range of figures and not things.
- 10-20 (without the space) but it’s Tuesday to Thursday
Em dash is more of an American thing and it is used sometimes instead of an en dash.