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Tone and voice

How to write in an appropriate tone and voice for Government.


Writing must be:

  • straightforward
  • human
  • authoritative
  • impartial — expressing information in a neutral way.


  • ‘You can apply for’ — not ‘you may be able to apply for’.
  • ‘You can get’ — not ‘you may be eligible for’.



  • plain, familiar language
  • the active voice, where possible
  • ‘you’ and ‘your’ when talking to the reader
  • respectful, gender-neutral language

We, you, our, your, my in the Readability Guidelines


  • ‘Take a copy of your [document] to [location]’ — not ‘provide supporting documents’.
  • ‘Inland Revenue will send you’ — not ‘we send you’ or ‘you’ll be sent’.

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