A guide for business by


How people read online

People scan the web. They look for clues to see they are in the right place. People check the headings, images, buttons to see what the page is about. If it looks interesting they might read from the top to the bottom, as long as they aren’t distracted. 

Also, people read every word. Especially people with low literacy because

  • they never learned to read well
  • they have a reading disability such as dyslexia 
  • English is their second language 

Reading guidelines

  1. Write clear headings, in sentence case (no capital letter at the start of each word) 
  2. Use ordinary words, short sentences and short paragraphs. 
  3. Write as if you are talking to your reader (they might even be listening to your words)
  4. Use the active voice, not the passive.
  5. Avoid ableist language - words like “crazy”, “dumbing down”, “disAbled”
  6. Capitalise hashtags #CapitaliseWordsInHastags (easy to read) #capitalisewordsinhashtags (hard to read)
  7. Emoticons created from text are hard to read, especially for assistive technology :-( 
  8. Don’t use too many emojis. Assistive technology reads the name of the image. Never put an emoji between each word of a post. 

For example


is read as: 

“Clapping hands Well clapping hands done clapping hands everyone clapping hands”

  1. Be careful of the meaning of an emoji. 😐 is “intended to show a neutral sentiment but often used to convey mild irritation and concern or a deadpan sense of humor”. People’s mood can easily sway the way they see an emoji. 

Reading list

Readability Guidelines is a collaboratively developed, universal content style guide, based on usability evidence.

Writing election information that everyone can read  

Lydia XZ Brown: Ableism/Language

Tools for words

Hemingway Editor - an online editor to help make your writing clear

Readability Guidelines App - a Google Docs Add-on to help you follow the Readability Guidelines

Write in Ernest - A simple editor for Google Docs to help you write clearly 

📙 Emojipedia — 😃 Home of Emoji Meanings 💁👌🎍😍 - find out how assistive technology will say the emoji