Language

Guidelines should ensure common language and understandibility across services in Altinn.

Usually you should use guidelines from the norwegian language council (nb/nn) while writing. We have also defined some more specific rules for Altinn which we recommend following.

We encurage writing form content in both bokmål, nynorsk and english.

General recommendations

  • Write in a spoken and simple language
  • Write directly to the user (use “you”)
  • Explain the next step
  • Write short, clearly and clickable
  • Write skimmable texts
  • Be specific about the content, but make sure to write it in a way so that everyone understands.

Avoid:

  • Long words
  • Long sentences
  • Cryptic or lyrical labels
  • Multiple points in the same sentence
  • Multiple points in the same paragraph
  • CAPITALS (big letters)

Length of text:

  • Headlines/Labels: max. 8 words
  • setninger: 15-20 words
  • paragraps: 40-80 words

Write with purpose

Formal language is often put together in a way where the statement (verb) comes at the end of the sentence. This means that the user has to read and remember many words before the actual content is reached. This demands more attention of the user, which has to process more information to read the sentence. The verb should be as early as possible in the sentence, and as close to the subject as possible.

Example:
The employer has some duties that must be completed →

The employer must complete some duties

Avoid verbal nouns

Verbal nouns make the text unnecessary difficult to read. A verbal noun is a noun created from a verb, for example “to investigate” becomes “to do an investigation”, where investigation is the verbal noun. Most verbal nouns end with “-ion”.

A text with many verbal nouns often becomes abstract because it removes itself from the actions they really describe. The text becomes more concrete when we use the verbs instead.

Examples:

  • New inquiry → Inquire
  • Registration of error → Register error

Write activly, not passivly:

In legal language it is often written that something has to be done and that it isn’t desired to say who should do it. In Altinn’s solutions there are often multiple people who have to do something, but we can directly address the user.

Example:
Preperations and planning activities must be done ahead of development of a service. →

Make preperations and plan well before you start developing your service.

Seperation of numbers

Correct and consequent seperation of numbers assist the user in reading and seperating different types of numbers. None of the numbers should be seperated by a comma, only by spaces. In fields where the user will write longer numbers, it is usefull to indicate the number of digits.

  • Organisation numbers are seperated in groups of 3: 123 456 789
  • Bank account numbers are seperated into 4, 2 and 5: 1234 56 78901
  • SSN should be divided into 6 and 5: 123456 78901
  • Mobile numbers should be divided into 3, 2 and 3: 987 65 432
  • Land lines and fax is divided into groups of 2: 98 76 54 32

Time and date

  • Time is only written with hours and minutes, never seconds. Time is written like this: 13:45
  • Dates should mainly be written like this: 05.06.2017
  • Sometimes dates can be written in text: 5. juni 2017