Writing in plain language

Date adopted: 
June 2, 2021
Last update: 
June 4, 2024

Government writing needs to be accessible for everyone. It needs to be easy to understand, concise and relevant. 

Tips for keeping your writing clear

  • Aim for a reading level of Grade 6 to 9. This is the standard for Government of Yukon web writing. We also recommend it for all public materials.
  • Use the language people are using – for the web, use Google Trends to check for terms people search for online.
  • Write conversationally – picture your audience and write as if you were talking to them 1-to-1 and with the authority of someone who can actively help.
  • Use contractions such as "we're" and "you’re" so that you're writing is conversational and not stilted. 
  • Avoid words ending in "–ion" and "–ment" as they tend to make sentences longer and more complicated than they need to be.
  • Avoid using long sentences – check any sentences with more than 25 words to see if you can split them up to make them clearer.
  • For web content, avoid negative contractions such as "can't" and "won't" by writing them out as "cannot" and "will not" – this is because they're easy to misread when we scan web pages.
  • Follow a consistent style. 

What you write should be:

  • specific;
  • informative;
  • to the point but not terse;
  • clear; and
  • focused on the facts.

Find out about how people read.

Use the active voice

Use the active rather than passive voice.

The active voice makes it clear who's responsible or doing the doing. 

On Yukon.ca, name the action the person using the website wants to take. For example – apply for funding, find an office, register for a workshop, get your Yukon health care card.

In active voice the subject performs the action expressed by the verb.

Active voice: Register your personal property lien through a professional.

In passive voice the subject receives the action expressed by the verb.

Passive voice: Personal property liens can be registered through a professional.

Address the user as 'you'

Address the user as "you" where possible. Content on the site often makes a direct appeal to citizens and businesses to get involved or take action. For example, "You can contact us by phone and email" or "Pay your vehicle registration".

Using ‘we’

When you write "we", make it clear as much as possible who the "we" is. Do not assume the audience will know. I’s not obvious who "we" is in all content. For example, web users might enter the content in the middle of a page or section. They could arrive at a heading from the navigation bar on the side or skim read from the top until they find the section they want. Use the full name of the department or program area if there's ambiguity who "we" refers to.

Writing for Yukon.ca

Plain language is mandatory for all of Yukon.ca. Yukon.ca needs to be accessible for everyone. 

Follow the Government of Yukon Style Guide and all the guidelines on this site.