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Writing style

Unless writing for a North American audience, the writing style used is modern English, so we choose -ise and -isation in words like organise and organisation, rather than ‘-ize’ and ‘-ization’. 

Use US spelling only in formal names that require it eg World Trade Organization, US Department of Defense.

Use an active voice

Use an active rather than a passive voice to make the copy more upbeat. Instead of the passive, ‘The recycling service was transformed by Serco’, use the active, ‘Serco transformed the recycling service’. (Note: in the passive, extra words like ‘was’ and ‘by’ make the sentence clumsier). Choose crisp, lively verbs to add energy to the description.

Use ‘you’ and ‘we’

Use ‘you’, even if the audience is only one of many people you are talking to. Think about the language you would use if you were talking face to face. For example, instead of saying ‘Further information is available at’ say ‘You can find out more at’. 

Always refer to Serco as ‘we’ and ‘us’.

Serco 'is'

Always use the singular Serco 'is' not Serco 'are'.

Think of your audience

Adjust your tone of voice to suit different audiences and cultures; the military will expect a more formal tone than those working in healthcare. Consider how some cultures internationally expect a more formal tone than others (e.g. China and the Middle East).


Use a capital when referencing a specific government, eg The US Federal Government. Use lowercase when not, eg 'We are a provider of government services'.


We do not criticise competitors.

Be concise

To keep content understandable and concise you should:

  • use contractions (e.g. can’t).
  • not let caveats dictate unwieldy grammar – e.g. say ‘You can’ rather than ‘You may be able to’.
  • not use long sentences with complicated sub-clauses. (Note: words ending in ‘–ion’ and ‘–ment’ tend to make sentences longer and more complicated than they need to be).

Use plain English

Plain English is a generic set of principles for writing clearly. The principles are:

  • don’t use jargon or acronyms.
  • be specific rather than general.
  • use active verbs (eg perform, activate, launch, build...).
  • use simple, everyday words rather than complex words.