Our Style

Voice and tone

OEC’s voice is consistent across the website:

  • Empathetic, not patronizing
  • Friendly, not unprofessional 
  • Well-informed, not overwhelming or technical

The tone of the content is more flexible, but is usually dictated by the type of content. For example, a press release about a parent education class might have an upbeat, welcoming tone, while a licensing update would be more formal. 

Active voice

Use active voice, not passive. Active sentences are stronger, clearer, and usually shorter. Here’s an example:

Do (active):Don’t (passive):
Applicants can file an appeal if they disagree with the board’s decision.An appeal can be filed by an applicant if they disagree with the board’s decision.

Sentences in the passive voice can be confusing or even seem evasive — exactly what we don’t want from OEC content. 

Don’t (passive):
A consensus was reached to close the facility.

This passive sentence sounds less trustworthy and invites questions. Who made the decision? Why aren’t they named?

Want a simple way of checking whether your content is in the active or passive voice? Try the Zombie Test. 

People-first language

Put the person before mentioning a health condition or disability. For example, say:

  • “A person with diabetes” not “a diabetic”
  • “A person with a disability” not “a disabled person”


In general, don’t use “he or she” or “his or her.” Although it’s not what you learned in school, using “they” or “their” instead is now widely accepted. 

Ask your child’s pediatrician what they would recommend.Ask your child’s pediatrician what he/she would recommend.
Last updated February 26, 2021