Writing for accessibility
We’re always working to make our content more accessible to users with different mental and physical abilities. For the latest accessibility best practices, check out the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Using plain language improves the experience of users with cognitive and learning disabilities. It includes common words, simple tense, literal language, and active voice. In general, aim for a 6th grade reading level (you can check with tools like the Hemingway App).
Use familiar words, avoiding jargon and slang. If users might benefit from specialized terms, supplement them with definitions where you can.
Use simple tense for the past, present, and future. Use simple present tense even for the future, unless simple future tense improves clarity. Avoid perfect and progressive tenses.
Use words in their usual or most basic sense, avoiding metaphor. If users might be engaged or entertained by a metaphor, supplement it with a more literal interpretation.
Write sentences so that the subject performs the verb’s action. Use passive voice sparingly, to put the focus on the object instead of the subject.
Using hierarchies improves scannability and encourages understanding. Organize content into different sections by using nested headers and subheaders, and put the most important information first.
Avoid any language that requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page.
Alt text serves users who have difficulty seeing or understanding images and use assistive technologies to navigate our products. A few tips for writing alt text:
- Alt text depends on context. If an image helps users interact with or understand the content, then it needs descriptive alt text. If an image is just decorative, then it needs alt text that tells assistive technologies to ignore it.
- Alt text needs to convey the same meaning as the image. Users who can’t see the image should come away with the same information as if they had. For example, alt text for a search button should be “search,” not “magnifying lens."
- Alt text doesn’t need to include the words “button,” “link,” or “image of” (screen readers automatically provide that information).