This guide aims to provide product design teams at Dell with a single set of standards and best practices for user interface content. Reference the content writing rules in this guide as you build experiences for our customers and internal users.
This guide may not include rules that are relevant for marketers, technical writers and people working outside realm of the Dell Design System.
Use plain language: When you design with plain language, you allow the broadest range of users to understand and use our products easily.
Use conversational language. Avoid overly technical jargon. If you are unsure if a term sounds too technical, check the Dell IDD Acrolinx Word List.
Use active voice whenever possible, and use passive voice sparingly. Passive voice can confuse readers at all reading and neurological levels.
What is active voice: When you write content in the active voice, a subject (who or what) performs the action of the verb.
What is passive voice: When you write content in the passive voice, you are stating that an object receives the action, but the subject is never explicitly stated.
Tip: Ask yourself who or what is receiving the action. Begin the text with that subject, followed by the verb and the object.
Examples of active and passive voice:
When to use passive voice: You can use passive voice when you don’t know the performer of the action, you don’t want to reveal the performer of the action, or you want to emphasize the receiver of the action. You should also use passive voice as necessary to avoid unsupported product claims.
Calls-to-action: Call-to-action (CTA) labels provide clear, logical paths to actions that people visiting our website intend to take. A CTA can navigate the user somewhere else or complete a task for them
Inline text links are hyperlinked text within another sentence or following a sentence of paragraph copy. Only use inline text links to provide navigation pathways for users.
Types of capitalization: There are three primary forms of capitalization: Sentence case, title case, and all caps.
Usage: Use sentence case for most content, including all headlines (except for h1), component labels, banner content and paragraph copy, except when that copy includes a proper noun or brand name.
What is sentence case?
Usage: Only use title case for page titles (h1), call-to-action (CTA) labels, navigation labels, brand names and proper nouns.
What is title case?
What is all caps? All caps refers to the practice of capitalizing every letter of a word in a single word or group of words.
Usage: Do not use all caps, except when using acronyms and initialisms. Note: Some Dell properties, such as Alienware and the delltechnologies.com marketing website, have their own brand UI rules that may conflict with Dell Digital Design.
For UI styling, see the notifications component page.
There are four overarching rules for writing an error alert message:
Usage: Titles are optional for error and alert messages that use our yellow alert UI component. In some cases, a title may help draw attention to the message. In cases of very short errors and alerts, a title may be redundant. Don't use titles for field validation errors.
Usage: All notifications, alerts, and errors should contain body copy.
In most regions and in global files, it’s best to include both U.S. customary and metric measurements to ensure clarity. If including both, list the U.S. customary measurement first, followed by the metric measurement in parentheses.
Exceptions: In certain regions, such as EMEA, the metric system may be used exclusively. And in India, legal regulations now prohibit the explicit mentioning of inches in measurements of screen size. However, the measurement in inches should still be included as a simple number — enclosed in parentheses — following the centimeter measurement. Example for India: 35.6 cm (14)
Spell out the full words for units of measure unless space is limited. In some cases, an abbreviated unit format may be more common than the spelled out word format.
Use abbreviations for metric units in accordance with the International System of Units (SI) guidelines.
Punctuation and spacing: With abbreviated units, use a period only when the abbreviation could be mistaken for a word (as with the abbreviation in. for “inches”), and never pluralize unit abbreviations by adding the letter s. Unit abbreviations represent both singular and plural forms. Always use numerals with abbreviated units. With most units, include a space between the numeral and the unit abbreviation. Exceptions include temperatures measured in degrees and the following technical abbreviations, which may be closed up with the numeral in accordance with industry convention: KB, MB, GB, TB, MHz and GHz.
Singular and plural units: When a measurement is less than or equal to 1, the unit should be singular. When you abbreviate the unit of measure, you do not have to indicate whether the unit is singular or plural.
Distance measurements (height, width, depth): When you write distance measurements (height, width, depth) in a “[number] by [number]” format, use a lowercase x, with space on either side, to indicate “by.” If all three dimensions are given, always put them in height-width-depth order.
Dell's most common units of measurement and approved abbreviations:
For the purposes of this guide, abbreviations include acronyms, initialisms and truncated words. More specifically, here’s how these terms differ:
Latin abbreviations are often used to indicate that some text is placeholder. This can cause translation and readability issues. Use plain-English alternatives or a colon instead.
Avoid using the numeric format for dates (00/00/0000 or 00-00-0000 formatting). Instead, use the written word format for day and month, along with the numerically written year. If your team decides to use a fully numeric format, the date content must go through localization. Or you can use the universally acceptable International Organization for Standardization (ISO) style: YYYY-MM-DD. In the ISO style, the elements progress from largest to smallest (year, month, day), the year always includes all four digits, and one-digit days or months are always preceded by a zero. Also note that this style calls for hyphens rather than slashes.
It isn’t necessary to include a day of the week in most UI contexts. You can include a day of the week for emphasis on a specific date, such as a scheduled maintenance day. Punctuation: Note that the day should be followed by a comma. Include the comma regardless of whether the month or the day comes first in the date.
Abbreviation: Spell out days of the week rather than abbreviating them.
Abbreviation: If the month is part of the full written date (month, day, year), it is acceptable and preferred to abbreviate the names of months that are more than five letters long. Do not abbreviate a month used alone with only a year in paragraph content. You do not have to punctuate the abbreviated month.
Abbreviation: It’s best to write all four digits of a calendar year rather than shortening to just the last two. If you must abbreviate the year, note that the two-digit form is preceded by an apostrophe (not an opening quotation mark).
There are two ways to represent time:
Both ways to represent time are acceptable depending on the use-case.
Write times in terms of the 12-hour clock, not the 24-hour clock.
Use numerals to indicate minutes and hours except for 12:00 noon and midnight. For noon and midnight, use the words noon and midnight, rather than 12 p.m. and 12 a.m.
Time of day: Use the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. lowercase, with periods. Include a space between the numeric time and the time-of-day abbreviation. It is not necessary to include minutes (:00) with on-the-hour times, but do include them when necessary for consistency with other times.
Real-time absolute timestamps must be localized to the individual user’s location, and a time zone indication isn’t required.
When time content is meant to inform the user of a singular event, such as a scheduled maintenance period, include a relevant time zone abbreviation for clarity. Capitalize the time zone abbreviation. Do not punctuate the letters with periods. The time zone should immediately follow a.m. or p.m. Refer to the dates chapter for accurate date representation.
A comprehensive list of time zone abbreviations can be found at timeanddate.com