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Style guidelines and principles

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.

Basics of good writing style

  • 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.

Language and culture

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.

“Subtitle” style

Romanian allows short and a long form of a word or expression, the longer being often more “academic”. Use the short form whenever possible:

  • este -> e
  • astăzi -> azi
  • atunci când -> când
  • cu 10 minute în urmă -> acum 10 minute, de 10 minute
  • în imagine puteți vedea -> în imagine vedeți, în imagine se vede
  • poți să -\> poți ex - poți să deschizi -\> poți deschide
  • care se refera la -> referitor la, privind
  • unul dintre obiecte -> unul din obiecte, un obiect



When possible, leave out articles.

For example:

  • Correct: Deschide fișier
  • Incorrect: Deschide fișierul/un fișier


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 gender-neutral or all-inclusive terms to refer to human beings, rather than terms that include man, woman, and similar masculine and feminine terms.

For example:

  • Correct: Utilizator, Invitat
  • Incorrect: Utilizatoare, Invitată


The future tense versus the present tense

English future can be translated as future or present. The use of the future tense will imply a logical consequence of something previously mentioned. The use of the present will create a more direct style. E.g.:

  • Media player will allow you to select songs: Playerul (îți) permite să selecționezi cântece.

Use of imperative

The instructions and commands addressed to the user should be translated in the imperative. For example:

  • Use this area to select options that must be activated: Folosește această zonă pentru alegerea opțiunilor care trebuie activate.

The literal translation of “could”, “should”, “may” and “might” using the conditional should be avoided. These forms should be replaced by the present tense. For example:

  • Determine which file should be installed on your system: Determină ce fișier trebuie instalat pe sistem


Whenever possible, use the active voice. Keep the message clear and the sentences short.

For example:

  • Correct: Crează configurarea contului în…
  • Incorrect: Configurarea contului e creată în…


Use the imperative form.

For example:

  • Correct: Go to Settings
  • Incorrect: User goes to Settings


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.

Empty states in the UI

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.


End 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.

Use of punctuation signs

In Romanian commas, periods, colons, semicolons, question and exclamation marks, suspension points - follow immediately the character preceding them. For example:

  • Correct: Vrei să continui?
  • Incorrect: Vrei să continui ?

Opening and closing quotes, brackets, etc. stick to the included part without space.

  • Correct: Salvează (fără schimbarea numelui)
  • Incorrect: Salvează( fără schimbarea numelui )

After period, comma, exclamation and question mark there should only be one space. Comma: In the enumerations separated by commas, the last element is normally preceded by a conjunction. Do not use a comma before this conjunction. Colon: After a colon, lower case is generally used, except where the sentence is a quote, a proper name, or where more than one sentence follow the colon


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.


Hyphenate in object-verbal noun compounds.

  • Correct: read-only file
  • Incorrect: read only file or readonly file

Independent clauses

Use a comma between independent clauses joined by and, but, and or.

  • Example: To open Account, go to Settings, and create new.


Use Romanian diacritics and symbols. Bellow there’s a list of (char -> unicode) correspondences:

  • î -> U00EE
  • Î -> U00CE
  • â -> U00E2
  • Â -> U00C2
  • ă -> U0103
  • Ă -> U0102
  • ș (cu virgulă) -> U0219
  • Ș (cu virgulă) -> U0218
  • ț (cu virgulă) -> U021B
  • Ț (cu virgulă) -> U021A
  • – (ndash) -> U2013 Ex. București–Pitești, 14:00–15:00


Do not create plurals with parentheses. Consult translation tool user guide for handling the plurals.

Quotation marks

English quotes must be replaced with the „ for opening and ” for closing („99 down” and „99 up”, respectively). The « and » (French chevrons) must only be used when a quotation has to be made within another quotation.

  • „ -> U201E (99 down)
  • ” -> U201D (99 up) Ex: „Un citat”, no spaces between quoted text and quotes
  • « -> U00AB
  • » -> U00BB Ex: „O idee «creață»”


Use a comma to separate elements in a series, except before the last element - usually introduced by a conjunction.

  • Correct: Crează, modifică și șterge
  • Incorrect: Crează, modifică, și șterge

Use a semicolon to separate items in a series when one or more items have internal punctuation.


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.

Only the first word of a heading must be capitalised. Following words preserve their capitalisation rules (names are Capitalised, etc)

Text modules

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.

For example:

  • Correct: 1 mesaj primit
  • Incorrect: Un mesaj primit


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

Use metric units. Use a non breaking space between the numeral and the unit, including degree and percentage sign. Their abbreviations should not be followed by a full stop (see Abbreviations too)


Sailfish OS has a separate Terminology project to maintain consistency. Use that approved terminology when available.

Company names

Do not translate company names unless there is an official, translated name available.

Product names and trademarks

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.