cmlabs Official Writing Guideline for The UK Region

Written by cmlabs | Last updated at Jun 13, 2024

NO. 00281/PP/CID/VI/2024

1. Language Aspects

A. Dominant Dialects

  • Rich Dialectal Variety: The UK boasts a wealth of regional accents and dialects, ranging from Cockney in London to Scouse in Liverpool and Doric in Scotland.
  • No Official Dialect: Although English serves as the unofficial national language, no specific dialect is prescribed for use.
  • Use Standard Written English (SWE): This is a safe choice. SWE uses grammar, spelling, and vocabulary understood across all UK regions.
  • No standardise guide since every party has its own style guide. 

B. Slang

  • In UK writing for the web, the use of slang can add an informal and engaging tone to the content, making it more relatable to the audience, especially younger readers or those familiar with contemporary colloquialisms.
  • It's essential to use slang judiciously and consider the context and audience.
  • Example: Peckish, Posh, Wolf it down, etc.
  • Slang glossary: British Slang Words & Phrases Dictionary | Oxford International English 

C. Common Expressions

Common expressions come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Here are some of the example:

Idioms

Meaning

It's raining cats and dogsHeavy rain.
To be chuffedTo be pleased or proud.
To have a butcher'sTo have a look.
To be guttedTo be disappointed or upset.
To keep mumTo keep quiet or not reveal information.
To hit the hayTo go to bed or go to sleep.
To cost an arm and a legTo be very expensive.
To kick the bucketTo die.
To be in the same boatTo be in the same situation or predicament.

D. Communication Styles

The communication style of UK writing for the web often reflects a balance between formality and informality, depending on the context and audience. Here are some notes:

  • Clarity and Conciseness: UK web writing tends to prioritise clarity and conciseness. Sentences are often straightforward and to the point, with a focus on conveying information efficiently.
  • Formal Tone: While UK web writing can be less formal compared to traditional print media, it generally maintains a level of professionalism. This includes using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Engaging and Informal: Despite its formality, UK web writing often adopts an engaging and conversational tone. This can involve the use of anecdotes, humor, and colloquial language to connect with readers on a personal level.
  • Audience-Centric: UK web writing is typically tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience. This may involve using culturally relevant references, idioms, and examples that resonate with UK readers.
  • Inclusive Language: UK web writing strives to be inclusive and sensitive to diversity. This includes using gender-neutral language, avoiding stereotypes, and respecting cultural differences.

E. Word Choices

When writing for a British website, here are some preferred word choices that differentiate British English from American English:

  • Temperature is in Celsius degrees.
  • Measurement units are in kilometers, meters, centimeters, and millimeters.
  • In British English, use “lorry” (not “truck”), “boot” (not “trunk”), “torch” (not “flashlight”), “crisps” (not “chips”), “post” (not “mail”), “biscuit” (not “cookie”), and “holiday” (not “vacation”).

2. Technical Aspects

A. Grammar and Spelling

Write for all readers. Make sure that the writing is easy to read for all levels of readers. Therefore, you need to create a hierarchy of information in the article (H1, H2, H3).

British English uses active voice and avoids passive voice as much as possible. For example:

  • Yes: cmlabs use SEO to boost their website performance.
  • No: SEO is used by cmlabs to boost their website performance.

For UK grammar checking, we better use a tool. 

Rules for Writing Acronyms and Abbreviations

In UK writing, minimise the use of abbreviations and acronyms whenever possible. If you must use one, spell it out upon first mention, followed by the abbreviation or acronym in brackets. Subsequently, utilise the abbreviated form for all subsequent references in the content.

  • First use: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), do not use full stop (S.E.O)
  • Second use: SEO

Rules for Writing Numbers

Here are some examples of writing rules for numbers on UK websites:

  • Spell out the words from one to nine and then numerals from 10 upwards.
  • Numbers with more than three digits take commas.
  • Date: Spell out days of the week and months without ordinal numbers. (15 August 2024)
  • Currency: When writing about currency, use the symbol before the amount. (US$20, ¥1, €1)
  • Telephone numbers: Use a space to separate the area code from the rest of the number. (+44 12 345678)
  • Time: Use numerals and am or pm, with no space in between. (10.30pm)

Rules for Writing Names

  • In UK writing, both the first and last names of a person are capitalised.
  • Titles like Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. all take periods after them.
  • Only capitalise formal titles when used directly before a name (e.g., Vice President of cmlabs).
  • Do not capitalise titles that follow a name (Anya, writer team lead,....).
  • Do not use a hyphen for the title (vice president).

Punctuation

  • Colon: Do not capitalise the first word after a colon. (SEO: a strategy to...)
  • Comma: Do not use serial comma. (This tool helps the website to generate, analyze and rate their performance)
  • Quotes: Uses double quotes (“x”), and puts the punctuation inside the final double quote: “x.”
  • Slashes: Avoid using the slash (/) symbol. (laptop or PC)

3. Cultural Aspects

A. Social Values

The United States is a diverse country, and inclusivity is highly valued. Content should reflect respect for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. Therefore, you need to refer to the British social value when writing a personalised content. (back to the clients)

B. Cultural Sensitivities

  • Gender Sensitivities: Be aware of gender inclusivity and avoid language that reinforces gender stereotypes or excludes non-binary or transgender individuals. Use gender-neutral language where appropriate.
  • Cultural References: Consider the cultural context of your audience when using references, idioms, or humor. What may be familiar or humorous in one culture could be misunderstood or offensive in another.
  • Historical Sensitivities: Understand the historical context of certain events or topics, especially those related to sensitive issues such as slavery, colonization, discrimination, or genocide. Approach these topics with sensitivity and accuracy.

Overall, while the underlying principles of cultural sensitivity are likely to be similar between the UK and the US, there may be some variations in the specific language, examples, or historical contexts emphasised in their respective writing style guides.

4. Prohibited Content

There are two types of prohibited content in the UK: offensive content and illegal content.

Here are some categories of illegal content in the UK.

  • Online abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide
  • Pornography  
  • Sexual images or videos of someone under 18 
  • Encouraging terrorist acts 
  • Encouraging crime or violence
  • Videos or images of violence
  • Videos or images of cruelty
  • Grooming 
  • Online sexual harassment
  • Online bullying
  • Phishing and scams
  • Fake news and misinformation
  • Videos or images of war

For more information regarding prohibited content you should not promote is on Google Guideline.

5. Additional Information

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