- Style guidelines and principles
- Basics of good writing style
- Language and culture
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).
In Polish language use the second person singular and informal (i.e. ‘ty’) when addressing the reader.
Use gender-neutral or all-inclusive terms to refer to human beings, rather than terms that include man, woman, and similar masculine and feminine terms.
Use the present tense. E.g.:
- Correct: Odtwarzacz multimediów wybiera utwory
- Incorrect: Odtwarzacz multimediów wybierze utwory
Whenever possible, use the active voice. Keep the message clear and the sentences short.
- Correct: Utwórz konfigurację konta w…
- Incorrect: Konfiguracja konta może być utworzona w…
Use the imperative form.
- Correct: Wybierz opcję Ustawienia
- Incorrect: Użytkownik wybiera opcję Ustawienia
Capitalise application names and company names. However, do not blindly copy English capitalisation. In application names, only the first word is capitalised, unlike in English. The same refers to titles and program, dialog, checkbox names etc.
Please remember that the days of the week, months, seasons and language names are not capitalized in Polish.
In software UI: Start the first word with a capital letter.
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 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
When you need to use an acronym in a form other than nominative, add the ending after a hyphen, e.g.:
- w DOS-ie
More information on the use of abbreviations in Polish can be found here: http://www.slownikskrotow.pl/other/rules.html
Polish uses syllabic hyphenation. The hyphen is usually placed after a vowel in an open syllable, and between two consonants in a closed syllable. Please consult a good dictionary (such as “Słownik ortograficzny języka polskiego”) each time you need to move part of a word to the next line.
Compound words could be hyphenated (e.g. czarno-biały). Avoid hyphenating two-syllable words.
- Em dash: —
- En dash: –
- Hyphen: -
An Em Dash (myślnik, alt+0151) is used to separate two parts of a sentence (space before and after the dash).
An En Dash (alt+0150) is used to mark a range of Arabic numeric literals; note that it is written without spaces (e.g. str. 236–238).
A hyphen (łącznik) (no space before and after the hyphen) is used to:
- join two words (e.g. Bielsko-Biała, północno-zachodni, MS-DOS);
- add the ending to the acronym (e.g. w DOS-ie);
- join a number with a word (e.g. 30-procentowy, 25-stopniowy) and replace the ending of multiple compound adjectives that have different first elements (e.g. 16- i 32-bitowe).
More on the subject: http://so.pwn.pl/zasady.php?id=629831
Please use non-breaking space after one-letter words (i.e. conjunctions, such as a, z, w, o, etc.) to avoid leaving them at the end of the line.
In Polish there is no comma before the conjunction word “i”, unless “i” appears in the beginning of a parenthetic phrase or after it. The same applies to “lub”:
- Utwórz konto, aby się zalogować, lub wybierz opcję Anuluj, aby zamknąć instalację.
See “Słownik ortograficzny języka polskiego” for detailed rules on using commas with subordinate and co-ordinate clauses.
Do not create plurals with parentheses. Consult translation tool user guide for handling the plurals.
- Incorrect example: Masz 3 komunikat(y)
Use a comma to separate elements in a series except for the last two elements.
- Utwórz, zmień i usuń.
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: Masz 1 wiadomość
- Incorrect: Masz jedną wiadomość
In Polish, the grammatical form of nouns depends on the number preceding the noun. Three forms are used: singular, plural for numbers 2–4, plural for number 5 onward, i.e. 1 2–4, 22–24, 32–34… 5–21, 25–31, 35–41… This may lead to serious errors in UIs if not handled properly at the translation stage. Please consult the translation tool manual about handling complex plurals.
Use numerals for measurements.
Use a space between the numeral and the unit, except with degree and percentage sign.
There is no space before the percent sign: 5%
Degrees have no space before the degree mark:
- Zakres temperatur: 10°C do 30°C
- Kąt: 45°
In contrast to English, a space is always required between the symbol and letters indicating the currency of a given amount:
- 150,00 PLN
Non-breaking space characters should be used whenever possible when abbreviations include spaces or figures accompanied by a unit.
- 150,00 PLN (non-breaking space between 150,00 and PLN)
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.
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.