Write

This is where you can get the good word on the SportsEngine writing style. It’s divided into three sections: basics, proper usage, and style. Write on.

Basics

When thinking about writing well, most people think about the structure of writing. The particular “rules” we follow. While structure does matter, you will see many of the “rules” of writing are difficult to pin down. Adhering to certain rules of grammar and mechanics helps us keep our writing clear and consistent. This section will lay out our house “rules.”

AP Style.

We use the AP Stylebook unless otherwise noted. For a complete guide to AP style, writers should consult the most recent edition of the Associated Press Stylebook or visit the AP Stylebook website.

Be consistent.

Let’s just say it: English is hard. Frankly, many of the things you were taught as “rules,” aren’t actually rules at all. Some are preferences. Some are outright wrong. So what do you do? First, when possible, refer to the AP Stylebook and this guide. Second, be consistent—not just within the same piece of content, but across the variety of content you produce.

Edits encouraged.

Most word processing programs have a built-in editing tool. Unfortunately, most aren’t very good. Grammarly is a free app that is a definite step-up over your word processor.

But there’s no substitute to human proofing. Read your writing out loud. Read it from back to front. But even the most knowledgeable grammarian will have a hard time self-editing. We’re too close to our writing, and our brain assumes it sees what should be there. So don’t be afraid to ask another person to give your writing a read through.

Proper Usage

It’s important we are consistent in how we refer to SportsEngine products, tools, and features.

Diagram of Proper Usage

Company

Though we may have a few nicknames and that familiar little peacock in the logo, always refer to the company as simply SportsEngine, no matter the form or capacity.

Product

Since SportsEngine is a whole-product solution, you should never refer to a tool or an feature as a product. SportsEngine itself is the product.

Tools

The first time you refer to a tool, use the full product + tool name: SportsEngine Registration. On subsequent uses, you can use just the tool: Registration.

Legal

Basic legal: © Copyright 2017 SportsEngine. All Rights Reserved. Versioned legal: Copyright © 2017 SportsEngine. 01.01.16 v1

Focus your message

Headlines

should pique interest while demonstrating an understanding of your audience’s needs. Use sentence caps if a full sentence, title caps for phrases.

Subheads

are more direct, helping to guide the flow of information. Use all caps and no end punctuation, unless a question.

Body copy

should be simple, straightforward, and approachable. Always explain:

  1. what problem you’re solving
  2. how you help solve it
  3. and, when appropriate, what the next steps should be

Style

When we talk about style, we mean how we say what we want to say. Style is set by the words we use, the voice we use to say it, and the tone we employ. A consistent and clear style is every bit as important as our structure.

Style Examples

SportsEngine Voice

  1. The SportsEngine voice is human. It’s familiar, friendly, and clear. One of the best ways to understand the SportsEngine voice is to compare what it is with what it is not.
  2. The SportsEngine voice is:
    • Educational but not patronizing
    • Confident but not arrogant
    • Accessible but not sloppy
    • Passionate but not zealous
    • Inviting but not pleading
  3. The SportsEngine voice has a friendly determination that every user gets the information and support they need so they can get back to doing what matters most to them.

Style Tips

Use active voice.

SportsEngine is about movement and activity. About the joy of sports. So it makes sense that we want our writing to reflect our passion for all things active. You can do this by using the active voice and avoiding passive voice

In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence has the action done to it.

YES SportsEngine created a new website.
NO A new website was created by Sport Ngin.

Lead with the benefits.

Focusing on the benefits allows you to make a deeper, emotional resonance with your audience. It also provides an immediate connection to a real world problem.

To help focus on benefits, ask yourself:
  • What is the tool?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • What positive, emotional benefit does it provide?
For example, take PowerPay.
  • It features total visibility into your organization’s finances in a centralized location [...]
  • So you don’t have to hunt through multiple versions of spreadsheets [...]
  • So you can spend less time managing your organization’s finances and focus on what matters to you.

Once you find your core benefit, lead with that.

YES Stop burning personal hours struggling with spreadsheets.
NO PowerPay’s enhanced security and easy, mobile-first design increase your payment compliance.

Keep it positive and direct.

Make definite assertions, avoiding vague or noncommittal phrasing.

YES There are two reasons the site would need restructuring.
NO There are not many reasons the site would need restructuring.

Know your medium.

People reading a sales brochure have different needs and expectations than someone reading a tutorial or a tweet. Always consider where and how the audience is consuming your content.

Talk to your audience.

Literally. Your communications should be directed at your audience. Instead of talking about what SportsEngine provides, tell the audience what they get.

YES You get an all-in-one solution that reduces registration headaches.
NO SportsEngine provides an all-in-one solution that makes registration easier.

Be brief. Be valuable.

Any piece of content you produce is an interruption to your audience’s day. Make it worth their time. Say how you can help them as directly as you can, and let them get on with their day. Don’t clog your piece with extra words or filler. Shorten formal phrases. Eliminate slow wind-up sentences. Avoid adverbs unless absolutely necessary. (Yes, the adverb there is absolutely necessary.)

YES Because [...]
NO Due to the fact that [...]

YES The registrar’s decision [...]
NO The decision of the registrar [...]

YES We engineered a solution to verification hassles.
NO We strategically engineered a solution to verification hassles.

Have a question?

Good writers ask questions. If you’re unsure or can’t find what you need, we can help.

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