Government writing tends to be dry, complicated, and obscure. It doesn’t take into account who is reading it or why, and often talks at readers rather than to them.

Likewise, many government websites provide an overwhelming amount of information with few cues on how to navigate it. This can cause confusion, frustration, and a feeling of powerlessness for readers.

We think Philadelphia can do better.

We want to make government services more accessible and understandable to everyday people. We want to give people the information they need, to do what they need, in a way that fosters trust. This guide can help you achieve those goals.

How to use this guide

We created this guide for reference on an as-needed basis. It’s here when you’re not sure how to capitalize job titles, for instance, or when you’re wondering how to create a friendly, informational tone.

We’ve structured the guide into sections based on the topic covered. Browse the list of contents to find what you’re looking for.

Our guidelines rely on the Associated Press Stylebook and the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and you should look to those resources if you don’t find what you are looking for here. You can also see the References for this guide for our favorite helpful sources.

This guide will continue to grow and change as we learn more about how people use our content. If you feel the guide is incorrect, inconsistent, or missing something, by all means, let us know so that we can address it.

Together we can help create a better online experience for everyone who interacts with the City.