7 Practical Tips for Better Microcopy

Good microcopy is one of the fastest ways to improve an interface. Try doing an audit on your UI with these tips to see how it stands up.

1) Use personal pronouns

Address the reader instead of just talking out loud. Use the word you. People pay more attention when you talk directly to them.

2) Start with a verb

Names for interactive elements should begin with an action verb. The same goes for important copy. Starting with a verb is more direct and engaging.

3) Prevent concerns

Point out concerning actions before your user can worry about your motives. Be transparentmake sure they understand what they’re doing and why.

4) Use natural language

Write conversationally, like you’re one-on-one. Be professional but get rid of jargon. Use familiar, simple words with a friendly, relaxed tone.

5) Default to active voice

Most of the time, active voice is the way to go. It’s easier to understand than passive voice, feels more personal, and is often shorter and stronger.

6) Show useful error messages

Avoid negative, threatening, or overly technical words. Be friendly, show empathy, take the time to explain what’s going on, and be helpful.

7) Write iteratively

We write code iteratively, so not why everything else? Things probably won’t be perfect the first time around. Test, refine, ship again. It adds up.

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