ICC content style guide
- Landing section template and examples
- Standard template and examples
- Biography template and examples
- Contact template and examples
- How we work template and examples
Overview - Writing for the ICC
The new ICC website aims to serve existing users better as well as to attract and engage a wider audience about the importance of the ICC and the effects of its work.
- Quicker, easier, clearer
- More vibrant, more human, more engaging
- More efficient, more effective
- Accessible by everyone, everywhere
The following guidance will help us achieve these aims and make information on the ICC website clear and easy to understand.
Start with user needs
- Write with a particular user in mind
- Ask yourself: what am I trying to say?
- What is the specific thing a user is trying to do?
- How can this page help him or her to achieve it quickly and easily?
- What response (if any) would you like?
The most important personas for the ICC website are: international journalist, national journalist (situation country), academic/lawyer, NGO legal officer, diplomat. Don't think about audiences though, think about activities. Find out more about the needs and frustrations of these users by reviewing the personas.
Use the active voice rather than passive voice whenever possible.
- Omit needless words
- Use short sentences (don't exceed 20 words)
- Don't create walls of text. Use sections (250 words max) with clear and informative headings
- Use bullet points and lists if appropriate
Clarity at all costs
- Try to start sentences with clear subject, verb and object
- Use strong verbs
- Change –ion nouns to verbs, e.g. the ICC is concerned with the protection of witnesses = the ICC protects witnesses
- Make everything you write speakable
- When answering a yes/no question, always start with “Yes” “No” or some form of maybe, such as “It depends” or “Not necessarily”. Start with the answer, not the background information
Don’t be stuffy
- Try to use the language of every day speech
- Avoid legalese, jargon, euphemisms, obscure Latin terms, unexplained acronyms and abbreviations
- Check the terms users search for and incorporate them. Take a look at the terms users have searched for most on the ICC website.
Don't duplicate information
Avoid including chunks of text when that text has been published elsewhere on the site. For example, refer to an article in the Rome Statute and link to the article rather than including the article in the text.
In practice, there will always be a balance between providing context and explanation and linking to a reference, but the idea is to cut down the amount of text (c.f. current ICC site) and to avoid repetition across the site.
Think beyond text
Talk to PIDS if you think a certain section can be better communicated as a graph, image or video. We can delete entire paragraphs of texts with effective visuals.