Writing style

The way you write can be an effective way to convey HelpAge’s core values – optimistic, expert, committed, supportive – and personality attributes – positive, challenging, empowering and confident.

In the past, we’ve tended to write formally, even academically. But, in order to reflect our new brand, we now want to move towards a more vibrant, direct and engaging way of writing.

This is a summary of the Writing style guidelines. You can read the full version, with examples, in the HelpAge brand guidelines booklet, which you can download at the bottom of this page.

Guidelines on content

The content you select, as well as the writing style, can help get across the essence of HelpAge’s ethos. For instance:

Reinforce age helps at every opportunity

Use content that shows older people contributing, finding their own solutions, and talking confi dently about their achievements.

Highlight results

Tangible proof of our ability to make a difference will underline our expertise and credibility.

Opt for personal, real-life content

Case studies, quotes and concrete examples all help make your writing relevant and engaging.

Guidelines to bring your writing style to life

Be direct

As an expert organisation, we have the knowledge and authority to make strong claims.

Challenge, engage and include your reader

By speaking directly to your reader – addressing them as ‘you’ – you’ll instantly draw them into your writing. To really grab their attention, ask them a direct question, or suggest they imagine a particular situation.

Stir your reader's emotions

While talking directly to your reader, use emotional cues to arouse their empathy. But be careful not to make your writing too emotional – it may come across as melodramatic and sensationalist. Balance emotional cues with facts and figures to engage your reader's head as well as their heart.

Remember your audience

The balance of "head" and "heart" in your writing will be affected by who your reader is. If you’re writing for policymakers, you’ll want to emphasise the facts and figures.
But with the general public, you can give more weight to emotion.

Use plain English

HelpAge is an international organisation – and many of your readers will not speak English as their first language. Stick to simple words and short sentences, and avoid
abbreviations, such as UNHCR, WHO and NGO (unless you’re sure your reader will understand).

Use respectful language rather than "labels"

For instance, "older people" not "the elderly"; "people living with HIV" not "AIDS victims".

HelpAge brand guidelines

The HelpAge brand guidelines has the full version of the writing style guidelines, with examples. Download a copy to the right of this page.

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HelpAge brand guidelines

Download PDF


Contact the London brand team:

brand@helpage.org or +44 (0)20 7148 7628