Voice & Tone

Before you write for Nine Labs, it’s important to think about our readers. While we need to be clear about who we are, what we do, and how we do it; we must keep the focus on the reader’s perspective and needs. We should write as though we’re speaking directly to the reader, one-on-one in casual conversation.

Our Brand Voice

  • Authoritative but not elitist.
  • Confident yet playful.
  • Professional yet casual.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to say?
  • What words will express it to someone who isn’t technical?
  • What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  • Is this image or idiom fresh (recent and relevant) enough to have the desired effect?

Guidelines for Writing

Whether it’s an email to a client or an article to be published on our website, we want our writing to be clear and consistent.

We generally subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style and Orwell’s Rules for all our content, and have added a few of our own to further guide you in your writing.

  1. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  2. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  3. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  4. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  5. Never start a paragraph with “We”. Our focus should be on the reader, not ourselves. Starting with “We” makes it about us.
  6. Use definite, specific, concrete language.
  7. Keep your exclamation points under control!!!
  8. If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.
  9. Break any of these rules if it makes the reader happy or makes the message better.

Keep it Simple

Avoid using industry or project specific acronyms wherever possible. It might feel like extra words to spell things out, but it’s necessary. The people who know the acronyms will glide right past the full phrase, while the people who don’t will get stuck on the acronym and it will impair their ability to follow along.

The Oxford Comma

Commas save lives. The Oxford Comma is the difference between having a breakfast of eggs, toast, and orange juice - and a breakfast of eggs, toast and orange juice.

Formatting

Headings

Headings should be less than 12 words, and should always be in Title Case.

(e.g. “Why Now Is the Best Time to Invest in New Technology”)

Paragraphs

Paragraphs should be as short as possible and easy to scan in the page. Typically each paragraph should be between 30 and 100 words.

Dates and Times

All dates and times are written using the following formats:

  • Headlines and Mastheads:
    • Wednesday August 5th, 2020
      • full day name
      • full month name
      • numeric date (no leading zero), including the ordinal abbreviations st, nd, rd, th
      • four-digit year
    • 5:30pm ET
      • numeric hour (12-hour notation, no leading zero):numeric minutes
      • lowercase am/pm (no leading space between time and am/pm)
      • 2 character time zone in western notation
  • In paragraph text, social media posts, or content metadata:
    • Jul 8, 2020
      • abbreviated month name
      • numeric date (no leading zero),
      • four-digit year
    • 5:30pm ET
      • numeric hour (12-hour notation, no leading zero):numeric minutes
      • lowercase am/pm (no leading space between time and am/pm)
      • 2 character time zone in western notation

Call to Action

A call to action is typically on a button or image, and should be active and exciting.

  • Good CTAs: Download the PDF, Subscribe Now, Get the Details
  • Bad CTAs: Click Here, Learn More,

Words to Use

Some words are more effective than others.

Persuasive Words

yourself results love money health discovery save easy proven new safety guarantee free why announcing sale yes how now benefits fast secrets suddenly now announcing introducing improvement amazing sensational remarkable revolutionary startling miracle magic offer quick easy wanted challenge compare bargain hurry

Strong Verbs

accelerated achieved administered analyzed arranged built completed conceived conducted confirmed consolidated contacted contracted controlled converted created cut delivered demonstrated designed developed directed doubled edited eliminated established exhibited expanded founded generated handled headed implemented improved improvised increased installed invented launched led managed maintained negotiated operated organized originated oversaw performed planned prepared presented produced promoted proposed provided purchased recommended reduced renewed researched revised serviced sold solved sparked strengthened structured succeeded supervised supported taught transferred transformed translated trimmed unified verified won worked