- Style guidelines and principles
- Basics of good writing style
- Language and culture
- Special instructions for the UI
- Special instructions for technical writing
This document provides generic style guidelines for Sailfish OS. The target audience for this documentation is everyone translating Sailfish OS-related material. The goal is to create contemporary translations that provide a high-quality user experience.
Sailfish OS audience and target group for the translations is young, active users accustomed to social media and therefore its language.
- Write in a personal style, engaging and involving the user.
- Use active style and present tense. Use imperatives and talk to the user.
- Make sure the text is consistent and clear and correct in grammar and spelling.
- Write in short sentences.
- Use a positive tone, avoid negative expressions.
- Avoid ambiguity. Make sure that pronouns point clearly to the relevant nouns, and avoid long strings of modifiers or nouns.
Remember we are sailing on a jolly boat. Have fun! Play with the language. Be innovative and guide the readers onto a journey. Do not attempt to use humor, but use fresh and fun tone where it naturally fits. Remember that the most important part is delivering a clear message.
Note that in technical writing, descriptions and instructions should not include text that is written from a marketing point of view.
Because our communication is targeted to international use and part of it will be translated, try to keep the language culturally unambiguous, be careful of religious references, and avoid using idiomatic expressions or slang. The key aspects are clarity and simplicity. Consider these targets when adapting the jolly tone to the texts. In software UI translations: Respect the source text, but do not create word for word translations. Take the context into account when translating.
Please try to be informal if that feels natural in your language. Avoid mentioning pronouns.
Keep addressing consistent: e.g. if a paragraph was started using the second person, retain it throughout all its sentences (as opposed to switching to third person or neutral mood).
Use the present tense. For example:
- Correct: Media player selects songs: 媒体播放器会选择歌曲
- Incorrect: Media player will select songs: 媒体播放器将选择歌曲
Follow the tense of the source language. For example: Configuring your system…: 正在配置系统…
Whenever possible, use the active voice. Keep the message clear and the sentences short.
- Correct: Create Account Setting: 创建帐户设置
- Incorrect: Account Settings are created: 帐户设置被创建
Use the imperative form.
- Correct: Go to Settings: 转到“设置”
- Incorrect: User goes to Settings: 用户转到“设置”
Capitalise application names and company names.
In the UI, start the first word with a capital letter.
Respect capitalisation rules of the language in question.
User Interface menu items are named using verbs.
User Interface empty states are typically written in the 2-sentence form, using verbs and active tone and, where possible, guiding the user towards the next possible steps to take. Keep sentences short and content informative. Where possible, guide user to reflect the good sides of an application or service (like referring to friends instead of contacts in the People app). For example:
(tell the situation, what items are missing) (point user to next actions)
No contacts yet. Pull down to add your friends.
App covers (that are shown in the Home) for empty states aim to be short informative messages. Length is typically two words.
In Chinese, always use the double-byte punctuation.
In UI strings, do not use a full stop at the end of a sentence if there’s only one sentence. If there are two or more sentences, use full stops normally.
If the segment ends with the colon or ellipsis, the translation should follow the source.
In technical writing, use common abbreviations. Do not use Latin abbreviations.
In the UI, use common abbreviations, including Latin abbreviations. Make sure text clarity does not suffer. If in doubt, do not use an abbreviation.
Do not use a full stop in or after acronyms or initialisms, e.g.:
- Correct: WLAN
- Incorrect: W.L.A.N.
Do not use a full stop with unit (measurement) symbols, e.g.:
- Correct: kg
- Incorrect: kg.
Use a full stop with Latin abbreviations, e.g.:
- Correct: e.g., ca., etc.
- Incorrect: eg, ca, etc
Do not use contractions (e.g. aren’t, should’ve) in technical writing.
In the UI, contractions can be used when needed if the space is limited. Make sure that information given to the user is not lost because of such shortcuts.
Before using a contraction, try to rephrase the text so that contraction can be avoided. Omit words that are not essential for delivering the message clearly. If contracting cannot be avoided, minimize the number of words contracted. It is better to contract one word more than to contract several words a little.
Change the plural form of abbreviations to the singular one. For example: This product is shipped with several CD-ROMs: 本产品随带了若干个 CD-ROM。
Respect language’s quotation rules. A comprehensive list of marks can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Summary_table_for_various_languages
In technical writing, write lists with bullets.
In the UI, write lists without bullets or colons.
In technical writing, create structured, consistent and accurate headings. Consider verb structures in headings.
In technical writing, make sure each module can be read independently, containing all the needed information so that modules do not need to be read in any certain order.
In technical writing, when describing procedures, make sure to describe the steps clearly with only one task per step. Describe the expected results of those steps.
Write numbers as digits, including numbers below 10.
- Correct:1 message received: 收到了 1 条消息。
- Incorrect: One message received: 收到了一条消息。
Use numerals for measurements.
Use a space between the numeral and the unit, except with degree and percentage sign. E.g.:
- Correct: 5 cm, 20°, 20 °C
- Incorrect: 5cm, 20 °, 20°C
Sailfish OS has a separate Terminology project to maintain consistency. Use that approved terminology when available.
Do not translate company names unless there is an official, translated name available.
Do not translate product names or trademarks.
Warnings, cautions, and notes are legal texts that need to be confirmed with legal department. In case of legal texts, follow the instructions carefully and ask for more information if needed.
Please handle them as follows:
- country: 国家/地区
- Taiwan: 中国台湾
- Hong Kong: 中国香港
- Macao: 中国澳门
|parentheses||single-byte||No space between it and the adjacent Chinese characters.|
A space between it and the adjacent English characters.
|double quotation mark||double-byte|
|colon||single-byte||A space between it and the character after it.|
|question mark||single-byte||No space between it and the Chinese character before it.|
A space between it and the sentence after it.
|exclamation mark||single-byte||No space between it and the Chinese character before it.|
A space between it and the sentence after it.
Use single-byte parentheses to enclose shortcut keys and leave no space between Chinese characters and parentheses. For example:
- \&File: 文件(\&F)
- About \&ABC: 关于 ABC(\&A)
- &50%: 50%(&5)
- \&Font…: 字体(\&F)…
- Le\&ft: 左(\&F)
When translating UIs in documentation (or other technical writing), always follow its terminology for consistency.
- There should be a space between Chinese characters and single-byte characters (such as English characters, numbers and single-byte punctuation).
- There should be no space before and after double-byte punctuation, including Chinese parentheses.
Please see the table below for UI reference format (source: http://www.ccjk.com/common-rule-on-translation):
|Menu name||Use double-byte double quotation mark||The File menu||“文件”菜单|
|Command name||The Page Setup command||“页面设置”命令|
|Dialog box title||The Options dialog box||“选项”对话框|
|Tab name||The View tab||“视图”选项卡|
|Option name||The Portrait option||“纵向”选项|
|Button name||The Cancel button||“取消”按钮|
|List box name||The File of Type list box||“文件类型”列表框|
|List box content||Choose Arial from the Font list box.||从“字体”列表框中选择“Arial”。|
|Text box name||The Password text box||“口令”文本框|
|Check box name||The Read Only check box||“只读”复选框|
|Radio button name||The None radio button||“无”单项选择按钮|
|UIs that are enclosed with format tags (such as bold and italic)||Follow the source format and don’t use double-byte double quotation mark||Click <b>Close</b> button||单击<b>关闭</b>按钮|
|Press <:cs “Helvetica9ptBold” 1>CALL/ANSWER<:/cs>.||按<:cs “Helvetica9ptBold” 1>呼叫/应答<:/cs>。|
|Window name||Use double-byte double quotation mark||The Print window||“打印”窗口|
|Window (general description)||Don’t use double-byte double quotation mark||In the document window||在文档窗口中|
|Manual name||Use double-byte book title mark||See Chapter 6 in the User’s Guide.||参见《用户指南》的第 6 章。|
|Chapter and appendix||Use double-byte double quotation mark||See “To Copy files” in chapter 2, “Managing files.”||参见第 2 章“管理文件”的“复制文件”一节。|
When finalising translations for the UI, check the following:
- Everything has been translated to your best knowledge.
- Spell check is done.
- Check consistency with the other translations done for the language.
- Ensure correct Sailfish OS terminology is used. If needed, propose new term entries.
- Confirm legal texts are consistent with the source.
- Company and product names, trademarks, symbols, and measurements have not been hyphenated.
- Ensure regional formats are retained, such as date, time, numeric and quotation literals.
When finalising texts for the technical writing, check these points as well:
- Titles and headings are structured and accurate.
- Language is clear and consistent.
- Sentences vary in length and have a clear form.