WordPress Brand Writing Style Guide

Howdy! If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in contributing to the marketing and communications efforts of the WordPress open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. project. Welcome, and thanks for getting involved.

About this Guide

Consider this your field guide to feeling comfortable writing in the WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ brand voice. It’s also your reference point for the details that can help keep WordPress.org marketing and communications content consistent—and engaging. 

This guide is based on research gathered by observing how the brand has already been communicating, alongside discussions with Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy and other influential contributors within the WordPress community. 

While this guide can be helpful for writing posts for Make Team blogs, its primary focus is on content for marketing and communications channels like:

  • WordPress.org website
  • WordPress.org/News blog
  • WordPress.org social media (Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest)
  • Press releases
  • WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. US, WordCamp Europe, WordCamp Asia marketing

This is a living document meant to adapt as the brand continues to grow and change. Save the link to quickly reference this guide as you need it. The Marketing Team will make every effort to keep it up to date (and can always use help to keep this guide updated).

For the WordPress brand visual identity and guidelines, visit the WordPress Design Library in Figma for the most up-to-date information.

For the Marketing Team visual identity, icons, and graphic assets, visit the Marketing Team Visual Identity page.

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Voice

A brand’s voice is an expression of its personality and values. It’s the way a brand defines its relationship with others; how it presents itself to the world. The WordPress.org brand voice has evolved over its lifetime. Originally modeled after co-founder Matt Mullenweg, it’s now more reflective of the project’s global reach and impact.

To effectively write in the WordPress brand voice, it’s important to consider the words you choose, and the way you want people to feel when they engage with your content. 

This is how the WordPress brand voice can be described:

FriendlyShow kindness. Be open and welcoming. Let your audience feel invited into the conversation. 
EmpoweringBe helpful and willing to meet your audience where they are. Help them feel confident, capable, and supported.
ClearLeave jargon, technical speak, and fancy words behind. Keep sentences short. Let your audience understand your point as quickly and effortlessly as possible. 
InclusiveWrite for everyone: across cultures, experiences, and identities. Help your audience feel included with language that doesn’t depend on cultural context. Humor, in particular, is best avoided as it’s often regional.
ComposedBe calm and confident. Write as a reliable source. Be moderate in how you express emotion in your writing. Bring things back to neutral where needed.
Charming* Where appropriate, find points of delight and accessible playfulness. Remember: you can be engaging without depending entirely on humor. 
*This attribute is secondary and should be used sparingly.

For examples of the voice in action, consider reading the following content from across the project:

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Tone

The general tone for WordPress brand writing will have the following characteristics:

  • Casual, while still being respectful.
    Write like you’re having a comfortable conversation with someone you’ve met before. There’s a level of familiarity, but you’re still trying to leave a good impression.

    💡Quick tips:
    • Choose words that are easy to understand for a general, non-technical audience.
    • Aim for short, simple sentences.

Compare these examples:

Casual/informalIt’s easy to experiment with your site’s design when you’re using blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. themes.
FormalIt is simple to experiment with designs for your website when you are utilizing block themes.
  • Neutral, while leaning toward positive.
    Be factual and clear by using solution-oriented language. Positivity brings your audience along with you and adds warmth to your writing.

    💡Quick tips:
    • Where it makes sense, include words that feel positive and helpful (e.g., powerful, easy, benefit, effective, support).
    • Lead with the solution instead of the problem where possible (e.g., The latest default theme is getting an update vs. The latest default theme isn’t ready yet).

Compare these examples:

Neutral + positiveThe WordPress open source project has evolved progressively over time—supported by skilled, enthusiastic developers, designers, scientists, bloggers, and more.
NeutralThe WordPress open source project has changed over time—with work done by developers, designers, scientists, bloggers, and more.
Neutral + negativeThe WordPress open source project wouldn’t have had such a progressive evolution without the help of developers, designers, scientists, bloggers, and more.

💡Quick tip:
Think about who you’re writing for (audience) and where it will appear (medium). The tone can be a little flexible based on context. For example, a press release for a developer-focused publication will have a slightly different tone than a social post from an official WordPress account. The voice, however, should be carried through everywhere.

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Writing About WordPress

There are a few important things to remember when writing about (and on behalf of) WordPress:

  • WordPress is always spelled with a capital ‘W’ and capital ‘P’.
    As a brand name and registered trademark, this is something to always check. 
  • Be clear about which WordPress you’re writing about.
    There are a few different pieces of the WordPress brand. Remember to contextualize to help guide your audience:
    • The WordPress open source project
    • The WordPress platform or software
    • The WordPress community
  • Only the WordPress community is a “we”.
    Always refer to WordPress as WordPress when you’re writing about the open source project or platform. If you’re being specific about the WordPress community, then you can refer to WordPress as “we”.

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Style and Grammar

Writing in English comes with lots of different rules and expectations. It can be challenging even for someone who is extremely comfortable with the language. There’s a lot to remember. 

Fortunately, this section will cover the most common and important notes about grammar, style, and formatting when writing on behalf of WordPress. (After all, you probably have more important things to commit to memory.)

Note: WordPress style is based on the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Unless specified in this guide, use the CMOS for reference.

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General Style Notes

  • Use active voice wherever possible.
    Active voice is when the subject of a sentence is doing the action. Passive voice is when the subject is being acted on. Active voice is often clearer, uses fewer words, and helps the reader feel more engaged. 

Examples:

Active voiceDownload WordPress now.
Passive voiceWordPress can be downloaded now. 
Active voiceLet’s shape the future of the web.
Passive voiceThe future of the web can be shaped by us.
  • Use US (American) English.
    WordPress is a proudly global project with an origin story based in the US. Even as the project has grown beyond borders, the spelling and language has stuck. Use Merriam-Webster as your reference dictionary for spelling.

    Examples: 
    • Color, neighborhood, honor (-or instead of -our)
    • Traveler, traveling, traveled (single consonant instead of double)
    • Center, meter (-er instead of -re)
    • Exercise, organize, organization (-ize instead of -ise)
  • Spell out acronyms. 
    Use the full name or phrase the first time it appears in whatever you’re writing. Add the acronym in brackets afterward.

    Example:
    • Registration for WordCamp US (WCUS) is opening soon.

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Punctuation

  • Use the serial (Oxford) comma. 
    Remember to put a comma before the conjunction (e.g. ‘and’, ‘or’, etc) in a series of three or more.

    Example:
  • Use exclamation points (!) in moderation.
    There’s always something exciting going on with WordPress. While exclamation points can help convey that energy in writing, too many can overwhelm your audience. Or make them feel like you’re over-exaggerating.    

    💡Quick tips:
    • Have your writing read out loud. Do the exclamations make it feel sincere?
    • Try different words or sentence lengths to show excitement in your writing instead of exclamations.
    • Save the exclamation point for something really special to make the biggest impact. Make it count!
    • A jazzy graphic or other visual accompaniment can often add more than enough excitement.

Example:

DoThe WordPress Photo Directory is a great place to discover free, high-quality photos contributed by the community. You too can help grow this project! Empower other creators by sharing your own images.
AvoidThe WordPress Photo Directory is a great place! You can discover free, high-quality photos contributed by the community! You too can help grow this project! Share your own images and empower other creators!
  • Use an em dash (—) without spaces.
    Em dashes can step in when a comma isn’t enough and brackets feel restrictive. When you choose to use it, it’s okay to let it touch the words it’s close to—it doesn’t need more space.

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Dates and Numbers

  • Write the date as Month Date, Year or Month Year.
    Whether you use the full date (e.g., May 27, 2003) or just the month and year (e.g., May 2003) will depend on the context of the piece you’re writing. 

    Guidelines:
    • Use the number only (cardinal number), do not add -th, -st, etc (ordinal number).
      • Example: May 27, 2003
    • Use a comma before the year when writing the full date.
    • Use a comma before and after the year when writing the full date in a sentence.
      • Example: On May 27, 2003, WordPress was created.
  • Spell out numbers zero to nine, and use numerals for 10 and above.
    Some channel-specific communications (like social media) have exceptions for this. See the channel-specific guidelines for more details.

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Formatting

  • Headlines and subheadlines are sentence case, without final punctuation.
    Sentence case can help make headlines easier to read (or scan). 

    Compare these examples:
Sentence caseOne platform, millions of possibilities 
Title caseOne Platform, Millions of Possibilities

💡Quick tip:
Headlines phrased as questions that need the question mark for clarity are an exception.  

Example:
You’ve got WordPress. What’s next?

  • Lists can be full sentences or fragments; just be consistent in syntax and punctuation.
    Keep ordered content (e.g., steps or directions) in numbered lists; otherwise use a bulleted one. 

    Compare these examples:
  • WordPress is an open source platform you can use in many ways:
    • Blogs
    • Ecommerce
    • Apps
  • Find out what’s new in WordPress 6.1:
    • You can choose from 10 different style variations with the new Twenty Twenty-Three default theme.
    • You can apply locking settings to all inner blocks with just one click.
    • You can use ready-to-go headerHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes. and footer patterns for any theme.

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Channel-Specific Guidelines

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Website

These guidelines are meant for the WordPress.org website. For individual Make Team blogs, refer to that team’s handbook for guidelines.

  • Make calls to action (CTA) clear, concise and sentence case.
    This applies to both buttons and text links that act as CTAs. Buttons do not need final punctuation. 

    Guidelines:
    • Always use an infinitive verb (e.g. start, get, build, explore, learn).
    • Keep CTAs as short as possible, between two to four words.
    • Make your CTA clear about the action you want a visitor to take.
    • Consider the context of your CTA to inform the words you use (e.g. Is it a prominent part of a landing page? Should it complement a preceding headline?)
    • Empower visitors by using second person pronouns (e.g. Start your website vs. Start a website).

      Examples:
      • Download now
      • See all WordPress features
      • Learn with WordPress
      • Join your local meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area.
      • Get involved
  • Use descriptive text for inline links.
    Clear link text helps visitors know exactly what to expect when they interact with a link. It’s also an important consideration for screen readers.

    Guidelines:
    • Provide as much information as possible about where the link leads.
    • Make links as concise as you can without dropping important details.
    • Link keywords within a sentence.
    • Don’t link articles (e.g. a, or, the) or final punctuation if the link appears at the end of a sentence.

Compare these examples:

Descriptive linksTake part in this release by helping to test key features or translating WordPress.
Find out more about getting involved in the Community Handbook.
Non-descriptive linksTake part in this release by helping to test key features or translating WordPress.
Find out more about getting involved in the Community Handbook. Click here to read it.
  • Include descriptive alt text for images.
    Images that are decorative and don’t have an informative purpose are an exception and don’t need alt text.

    Guidelines:
    • Consider how the image is being used when writing alt text. (e.g. Does it contain important information? Is it symbolic of a concept? Does it help illustrate a feeling? Is it just there to look nice?)
    • If there’s text in the image, make sure it’s included in the alt.
    • Be concise and use punctuation if writing a full sentence.

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/News Blog

This is the main source of WordPress news and product updates. It lives on the WordPress.org website.

  • Main headlines (titles) are title case without final punctuation.
    This is an exception to the general formatting recommendation for consistency across older and future /News posts.

    Guidelines:
    • First, last, and major words are always capitalized.
    • Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives are capitalized.
    • Articles are lower case (e.g. a, an, the).
    • And, or, but, for are lower case.
    • Prepositions are lower case (e.g. on, around, up, down, etc).
    • Try this Title Case Converter for help.

      Examples:
      • Contributor Stories Live from WordCamp US
      • The Month in WordPress
      • WordPress 6.0 BetaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. 4 Now Ready for Download

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Social Media

While the WordPress brand voice and tone should always be present in your writing, here are some extra considerations for social platforms:

  • Keep social posts short.
    Being concise on social platforms helps boost engagement. Here are some recommended character counts (including spaces):
    • Twitter: 70-100 characters OR 240-259 characters
    • LinkedIn: 100-140 characters
    • Facebook: 50-80 characters
    • Instagram: 125-150 characters
    • Pinterest: Up to 500 characters (helpful for SEO)
  • Rethink the call to action (CTA).
    This is optional, but not all posts need a CTA. Think of other ways to engage that might help strike up a conversation, like a question.
  • Limit emoji use.
    In general, emojis should only be used sparingly. Otherwise, follow these guidelines:
    • Make sure it fits the subject of the social campaign you’re writing for.
    • Be mindful of what emojis may mean in other cultural contexts.
    • Opt for object emojis over faces or hand signs.
    • Use only one emoji at a time.
    • Add the emoji only after the important information.
  • Use numerals for all numbers (e.g. write ‘5’ instead of ‘five’).
    Unless the written number is part of the proper name of something (e.g. Five for the Future).
  • Use hashtags that are the most relevant to your campaign. 
    Hashtags help social content get a wider reach, make it searchable within platforms, and let brands join (or start) conversations. Consider the following guidelines when including hashtags:
    • Use the ones that will have the biggest impact or most directly relate to your message. (e.g. #WordPress vs. #CMS)
    • Consider the social platform to know how many hashtags to use.
      • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn: 1-3
      • Instagram: 3-5 
    • Include hashtags at the end of your message to make sure they’re not interruptive for screen readers.
    • Write hashtags in title case, with each word capitalized, to help make them more accessible.
  • Include descriptive alt text for images.
    If you’re posting through a third-party social media manager, this may affect whether or not you can include alt text. If you’re posting directly through the platforms, the following can support adding alt text:
    • Instagram: Look in ‘Advanced Settings’ when posting an image.
    • Twitter: Set an image description.
    • Facebook: Override the auto generated alt text for more accuracy.
    • LinkedIn: Add a description.

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Other Writing Resources

The following resources are meant to help expand on what’s included here, offer additional perspectives from around the project, or are tools you can use to finesse your writing. 

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Thank You for Contributing

Hopefully, you’ve found everything you need to get started writing on behalf of WordPress.org. 

If you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions related to this writing guide, bring them forward in the #marketing channel. Or open a GitHub issue in the Marketing repository, referencing “Brand Writing Guide Update:” in the title, and add the “Documentation” tag.

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