Tone of voice

Our verbal identity is as important to our brand as our visual identity. Just like our focus on clean design sets us apart from competitors, so does our focus on clear communication. We achieve our tone of voice by abiding by the five values we set out earlier.

We’re open

Why?

Our purpose is to transform access to education. To do this, we must turn complex, academic concepts into simple, accessible ideas, which everyone can understand.

How?

We use plain English, choosing short words and sentences over long ones. We’re direct, giving our audience clear instructions on what they should do next. We’re selective about jargon and specialist terms, only using them if we know our audience will understand.

We empower others

Why?

The majority of our learners come from overseas and speak English as a second language. To help them fulfil their potential, we must always write for an international audience.

How?

We use concise, precise language, striping out the filler of adverbs and adjectives. We choose the active voice over the passive, and use the present tense wherever possible. We avoid slang, humour and other cultural references that are unlikely to translate.

We think big

Why?

We want to change our learners’ lives, our partners’ and clients’ businesses, and the world. So we’re optimistic in our outlook and strive to inspire our audience.

How?

We ask big, and sometimes difficult, questions, prompting our audience to think about their place in the world. We highlight the benefits and impact of lifelong learning, not just the features of the FutureLearn website. We use motivational language, congratulating readers on their successes and celebrating their progress with them.

We learn together

Why?

We’re building a global community, where everyone learns together. We reflect this by ensuring that our writing feels like a one-to-one conversation between FutureLearn and our audience.

How?

We address each reader individually as “you” and refer to FutureLearn as “we”. We use informal, but not colloquial, language, including common contractions such as “can’t” or “let’s”. We ask questions within copy and subheadings so that our writing becomes a two-way dialogue.

We have fun

Why?

We want to make online learning enjoyable for our learners and partners alike. So we strive to make our writing engaging and charismatic, not boring and dry.

How?

We tether lofty ideas in the everyday, so our readers understand not just the theory, but how they can apply it. We use short sentences. And we also use longer ones like this, to keep our audience on their toes. We’re lighthearted. We’re unafraid to use rhythm, rhyme or alliteration, to retain our audience’s attention.