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Luton Borough Council

Style and tone of voice

 

Top tips for all your communications

  1. Use ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘your, ‘our’ where possible, it will make your writing sound more personal and sincere.
  2. Use everyday spoken language, not formal jargon (that’s plain English).
  3. Express sympathy, be caring and friendly where relevant – but don’t patronise your reader.
  4. If you have to write a negative letter, be gracious and understanding, not imposing.
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Striking the right tone

This guide is designed to help everyone working at Luton Council communicate in a simple, straightforward and consistent way.
 
This will ensure we project a positive, engaging and professional image to our residents and partners.
 
As of 2018, this guide has been updated to take into consideration the latest recommendations for writing for audiences in a more engaging and conversational way as the web and social media play an increasingly vital role in our communications activity.
 
It’s important to remember, however, that though our style will be consistent, tone of voice will be adapted for the relevant platforms and audiences.
 
Legal or democratic reports, for example, would still take a more formal tone and structure.
The tone of your writing will tell people about our attitude to our customers. Using the right tone, together with plain English, will help generate a positive image of the council and will also get your message across in the simplest way.
 
Using the wrong tone, or lots of jargon, can have a huge effect on how well your message is received because the reader may react negatively to the way you're writing.
 
Before you create any piece of communication, consider your content and answer these essential questions:
  • Is the communication necessary?
  • What is the key message?
  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • Who is it for and what do they need?
  • If working online only - does this information exist somewhere else, and if so can I just link to
    it?

Put your most important point first

Where possible, get straight to the point. Most readers will look at the first few words of a paragraph and decide whether it’s worth reading the rest. The majority of our online users access the site from mobile or tablet devices, making brevity even more important.

Keep it concise

Big chunks of text act like a brick wall, particularly if your document is being viewed on a mobile device. Try to follow these rules when writing content:
  • keep sentences simple with no more than 20 words
  • use bullet points instead of a list in sentence form
  • paragraphs should be no longer than four to five lines
We aim to meet level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. See Usability.GOV for further advice on how to write user friendly content.

Download a copy of our style guide

© 2022 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ