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An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


This guide is intended to help team members create content that is consistent and accessible to our users.

We follow the 18F content guide and federal plain language guidelines. This guide is intended as a supplement to those guides.

We follow the AP Stylebook for grammar. If you have a grammatical question that is not answered here, please use it as a reference.

Content principles

Reference the 18F content principles.

Voice and Tone’s voice is…

  • Friendly
  • Informative
  • Helpful
  • Supportive

In-app content hierarchy

Alert appear at the top, when applicable

Call to action

More information that explain what we're asking for and how it affects the user.

Form fields / interaction space

Common terms and phrases

Correct term or phrase Common errors More information Login;; Login.Gov;; LOGIN The “L” in is always capitalized. Previous guidance suggested the “L” only be capitalized when at the beginning of a sentence.
Online identity proofing, prove your identity Identity verification, verify your identity,  
two-factor authentication (2FA) multi-factor authentication (MFA) Always write out on first use
authentication method authentication device; secondary authentication devise; authentication factor; two-factor authenticator; security option; security method; security factor  
sign in; sign in to log in; sign into; log into For better readability and visual differentiation from
Must; have to should Do not use “should” when it is a required action
can may “Can” add clarity
Identity verification; verifying your identity Proofing your identity, IAL2 IAL2 is only used internally and when communicating with partners who are looking for NIST standards. Never use IAL2 when communicating with users in the app. It’s acceptable to explain with “prove you are who you say you are”
Users Citizens, Americans Use inclusive language when referring to our users
email e-mail  
U.S. US  
AM or PM am/pm, a.m./p.m., A.M./P.M., military time  
Add Enable  
Delete Disable, Remove For permanent removal account profile Example: You sign in to your account to see your USAJOBS profile
  Encrypt Avoid using “encrypt” in the UI. If needed, do not use it as a call to action and use explanatory text
Government application SP When referring to SPs in general terms. When, possible name the specific SP in the UI.
Security code one-time password (OTP) The code users receive by phone or authentication app. OTP is for internal use only.


In addition to English, we translate content into French and Spanish. Write content that is straightforward, active voice,


If an English acronym is used, include the acronym, a comma and sigla en inglés (GSA, sigla en inglés).

Common translations

English Spanish French
Authentication app Aplicación de autenticación Application d’authentification
Authentication method Método de autentificación Méthode d’authentification
Backup codes Códigos de respaldo Codes de sauvegarde
Government applications Aplicaciones gubernamentales Applications gouvernementales
Government employee ID (PIV/CAC card) Identificación de empleado del gobierno (tarjeta PIV/CAC) Numéro d’employé du gouvernement (Carte PIV/CAC)
Personal key Llave personal Clé personnelle
Phone Teléfono Téléphone
Security key Llave de seguridad Clé de sécurité
Two-factor authentication Autenticación de dos factores Authentification à deux facteurs

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