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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 impersonal style, that does not involve users. Use industry standard forms to maintain the highest quality:
    • Correct: Выбор из музыкальных файлов.
    • Incorrect: Выбери из музыкальных файлов.
  • 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 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.



Be formal in all cases. Please avoid gender-specific language, as well as avoid using pronouns. Yet if otherwise impossible, use the second person plural formal pronoun «вы».

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.


Use the present tense. E.g.:

  • Correct: Потребуется перезапуск
  • Incorrect: Твой телефон перезапустится


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

For example:

  • Correct: Выберите Удалить все, чтобы удалить сохраненные сообщения
  • Incorrect: Сохраненные сообщения удаляются с помощью опции Удалить все


Use the imperative form.

For example:

  • Correct: Переход к настройкам
  • Incorrect: Перейди к настройкам


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.


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

In case of Russian language, where possible, avoid using abbreviated forms unless they are widely recognised.

Use common abbreviations and acronyms as regular entries and use «см.» references to them from their expanded forms. Use «см. также» references when you want to direct the reader to related information.

When you need to explain English abbreviation or acronym, which has no equivalent in Russian, give your explanation in parentheses when you first introduce the abbreviation or acronym.


If there is a need of dash make sure to use em-dash (Alt+0151). Do not confuse it with the hyphen (-).

A dash is longer and has a space before and after it. Using dash instead of hyphen and vice-versa is an error.

En-dash is rarely used in Russian. Instead, please use em-dash in the following situations:

  • 1917 — 2013
  • 100 — 150

Hyphen is used in phone numbers: тел. 5-13-43

Hyphen is also used in syllabic hyphenation of the Russian words.

Independent clauses

Use a comma between independent clauses joined by and if you logically can substitute «и» with «а»:

  • Данные первого контакта объединяются с данными второго контакта, и первый контакт более не отображается в списке контактов.


Use a comma to separate elements in a series, except for the last two elements: Создать, изменить и удалить.

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


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

Quotation marks

Respect language’s quotation rules. A comprehensive list of marks can be found here:

For technical writing in Russian: use «» quotation marks instead of ‘’ or “”. If necessary, please use curly quotation marks as inner quotation marks. Please, keep consistency in this particular subject throughout the whole text.


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.

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.

  • Correct: Получено 1 новое сообщение
  • Incorrect: Получено одно новое сообщение


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

Please consult the State system for ensuring the uniformity of measurements (edition ГОСТ 8.417-2002) to use correct spacing with the units of measurement.


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.