Tone of voice

Tone of voice isn’t what we say but how we say it. It’s the language we use, the way we build sentences, the sound of our words and the personality we communicate.

Effective Planning and Structuring

When planning and structuring a website, the hierarchy of content on the page and on the entire site can help inform both tone and presentation:

  • Home page and higher-level landing pages should contain short text, headlines, and a greater number of graphics and images.
  • Think of the higher-level pages as the user walking into Caerphilly Council receptions and getting a feel for the place. This could be their first impression of CCBC.
  • Lower-level pages can and often need to go into greater detail.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful things to note regarding tone of voice:
Use the first person to address your audience. For example:
Instead of:
Caerphilly Council runs a series of events in December for resident.
We invite you to one of our events in December

  • Stop and think before you start writing. Make a note of the points you want to make in a logical order.
  • Do not use formal or long words when short ones will do. For example, use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’ and ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’.
  • Use everyday language.  Avoid jargon, abbreviations and acronyms which are unfamiliar to your readers. Use plain language to make sure people can understand what you are trying to communicate.
  • Use short sentences. Keep your sentences to an average of 15 to 20 words. Try to stick to one idea per sentence.
  • Be concise
  • Write conversationally. We should use the same language as our users to make things easy for anyone to read and understand. A good way to do this is to follow this process:
  • Think of someone you know who is in your target audience
  • Imagine them sitting with you
  • Read out what you’re writing to them
  • Decide whether you would talk to them like this

Choose simple words

We follow GOV.UK and aim for a reading age of 9 so our content can be understood by as many people as possible. You can check how readable your content is using apps like Hemingway or Readable.

Address the user as ‘you’ and use the active voice

Address the user as ‘you’ where possible and use the active rather than passive voice. This means the user will feel like you’re talking directly to them and is less formal.

For example, say ‘You can apply online’ rather than ‘It is possible for Caerphilly residents to apply online’.

Use Active Voice and avoid using Passive Voice for example:


Bananas are adored by monkeys.

The money was counted by the cashier.

The squirrel was chased by the dog.


Monkeys adore bananas.

The cashier counted the money.

The dog chased the squirrel.

Active vs. Passive Voice: What's the Difference? | Grammarly