Talk to your friends
We know the basic grammar rules and some obscure ones, but we’re not sticklers. When in doubt, we pick the conventions of everyday conversation over the grammar book.
Writing for Intuit is like having a chat with a friend. Our writing in Mint, ProConnect, QuickBooks, and TurboTax is less formal and by-the-book than what you’ll read in a newspaper—and that’s OK.
Be clear and precise
Customers look to us for answers and guidance. So when you explain things, be as definitive and precise as you can. And use simple terms consistently.
Consistent use of definitive words improves user comprehension and also helps out with accessibility and translation.
There will be times, of course, when you don’t know exactly what’s going on. That’s a good opportunity to push your partners to improve the experience so you can speak more directly to what’s happening. But if all else fails and things still aren’t clear, try to be as straightforward as possible.
We can’t connect to your Square account right now. Give us a few minutes.
Looks like there might be a problem with your Square account. Try again later.
End sentences with prepositions
It’s fine to end sentences with prepositions most of the time. We prefer it, in fact. Just be careful not to slip into something that’s too informal. If you’d never say it in conversation, then don’t write it that way.
- What are you looking for?
- Who should this invoice go to?
- Where is it?
- Share this story with anyone you talk finances with!
- For what are you looking?
- To whom should this invoice go?
- Where's it at?
- Share this story with anyone with whom you talk finances!
Speak to customers as "you"
Use first person when we talk about ourselves
Use we, our, and us when you write as Mint, TurboTax, QuickBooks, or ProConnect. It’s one way that we make experiences feel more personal. We want customers to know that there are people behind Intuit products and that we’re in this with them.
Just don’t be creepy. We never want them to think we’re spying on them.
Exception: when you’re referring to the actual product, especially in marketing and sales, use it, not us.
- Let’s get started. What’s your email address?
- Pick a tax category and we’ll take care of the rest.
- Still need help? Contact us.
- We’ll help you create professional-looking receipts and invoices.
- QuickBooks helps you get organized. It saves people about 8 hours per week.
- Let’s get started. Tell us your email address and we’ll add it to your account.
- We see your app hasn’t updated since 3/10/10. Want us to update it now?
- QuickBooks helps you get organized. We save people about 8 hours per week.
Use second person for customers, except for buttons and legal stuff
Our product experiences are a conversation with customers. We talk directly to them, so use second person to address them.
Buttons can be the exception, though. Sometimes they represent the customer’s side of the conversation, so it’s OK to use first person there to represent the customer’s voice and maintain the conversational quality of the experience.
Note that first person in buttons is an option, not a mandate.
- You added 5 new customers this month!
- Add my customers (button label)
- Connect my first account (button label)
- Enter your email address and phone number.
- See a snapshot of where you stand.
- Make any changes you want.
- I agree
- Welcome to Mint! What’s your name?
- 5 new customers were added this month!
- Add customers (button label)
- Connect first account (button label)
- Enter an email address and phone number.
- See a snapshot of where I stand.
- You agree.
Use third person for people who aren’t the customer, and keep things gender neutral
Use third person when you refer to someone (or something) other than the customer performing the action.
We work with plenty of small businesses, so we use third person when referring to those small business’s customers, vendors, partners, accountants, and so forth.
Try to keep things gender neutral, including pronouns. If you find yourself in the awkward spot where the subject’s gender is unknown, write your way around it. Don’t use she/he, s/he, or one. If you can’t write your way around it, then it’s OK to use they, them, or their.
For more, check out our gender-neutral language guidelines.
You’re reading content created in U.S. English. Not all our customers experience our products or marketing in this way. As Intuit reaches more people around the world, here are some things to consider.
To make U.S. English copy work in other languages, things are going to change. Word order, grammatical gender, and copy length will affect the content design. In Romance languages like French, Portuguese, and Spanish, the content will be longer. Prepare to be flexible and work toward designs that can accommodate copy variations.
Localization for culture fit
Direct translations of content aren’t enough. Copy also needs to be culturally appropriate and correct for the region it appears in. Intuit products need to reflect local variations in currency, taxes, dates, times, government and business regulations, and other things that are important for our customers’ finances.
Writing tips that can help
Consistent, clear, specific word choice
Try to choose one specific term and stick to it. Instead of saying purchase, register, or get, maybe consistently write buy.
Contractions are an essential way of making U.S. English conversational, but they get tricky in translation. Work with your regional content designers to decide how to handle them. And follow the guidelines for contractions.
Try to be gender-neutral and inclusive in copy, and be aware that this is challenging in languages that build gender into the grammar. See gender guidelines.
Slang and jargon
Idioms are specific to cultures and languages. Use slang when it works, and partner with regional content partners to find the right fit for other regions.
Try to limit sentences to no more than 20 words. For more information, see our guidelines on keeping it simple.
Similes and metaphors
Some metaphors might not translate well for other languages and cultures. Feel free to use metaphors, but be careful and test it if you can. What sounds good to you may not resonate with others.
- Everyone needs sleep, even our servers. They’ll be down for maintenance 9:00–9:30 PM PT, so you can both get some shut-eye.
- Think of interest rates and APR like a bill at a restaurant. The interest rate is just the cost of the food. But APR includes the food, tax, and tip.
- Unlike real life, here you can easily visit your past. Just select the year you’re interested in to step back in time.
- Think of an interest rate like the price of gas when you pay with cash, APR when you pay with a credit card.
- Our servers are like insomniacs—every so often they need a medically-induced nap.
- Ready for a blast from the past? Step into our time machine and check out last year’s data.
Use active voice
We use active voice most of the time because it’s clearer, more direct, and easier to read than passive voice. It’s also more conversational. Need a quick refresher? Active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action. With passive voice, the subject receives the action, and doesn’t necessarily appear in the sentence.
- Quickly categorize your transactions.
- The team conducted usability tests with customers.
- Your transactions can quickly be categorized.
- Usability tests were conducted with customers.
Active voice also conveys responsibility. When we talk to customers, we’re as transparent as possible. We don’t want them to feel like they did something wrong.
If there’s a problem that’s our fault, we say so. And if we’re taking care of something for them, we explain that.
- We couldn’t save your changes. Try again in a bit.
- We’re taking a look at the info you sent.
- Your changes weren’t saved.
- Your documents will be reviewed.
Sometimes it makes sense to use passive voice. Confirmation messages are a good example. If you need to let a customer know the status of a task, it’s fine to just say what happened. And that type of content often shows up in small spaces, like toast messages or inline alerts.
Passive voice in these contexts may sound less conversational than active voice. That’s OK if you’re being diagnostic or just providing a quick summary.
- Changes saved
- Invoice 4107 sent to Travis Waldron
- 34 invoices sent.
- The system saved your changes.
- We sent invoice 4107 to Travis Waldron.
- You sent 34 invoices.
You can also use passive voice when you want to soften the impact of a bad situation. If you can’t fully explain why something happened (for legal or other reasons), try to help customers focus on what they can do.
- Your account was suspended. Give us a call so we can help you get back on track.
- We suspended your account. Contact us for more info.
For instructional or descriptive content like help articles or tooltips, we try to use active voice as much as possible. In some cases, though, passive voice makes the info shorter and more concise. And it can be a good choice if the customer doesn’t need to know who performed the action.
- Mapped drives aren’t displayed and can’t be monitored.
- First, make sure QuickBooks Desktop was properly installed on your server.
- E-file your 1099s early so they can be processed and sent to your contractors by January 31.
Use everyday contractions
Use the contractions of everyday conversation. Just don’t get carried away.
Don’t use regional contractions like ain’t, shan’t, y’all (sorry, Austin), mustn’t, and so on.
Don’t turn nouns into contractions.
And be aware that contractions get tricky when it comes to translation. Work with your regional content designers to decide how to handle them.
- We’ll get you every deduction and credit you’re entitled to.
- Ready to create an invoice?
- It’ll help later, we promise.
- Thanks! We’ll send you an email when we know more.
- The agent has spent over two hours with a customer.
- We will make sure you get every deduction and credit you are entitled to.
- Y’all fixin’ to create an invoice?
- This’ll help later, we promise.
- Thanks! An update’s on the way.
- Your feedback’s valuable to us.
- The agent's spent over two hours with a customer.
Here’s a list of contractions that are usually fine.
Use simple verb tenses
For the most part, write in simple tenses—past, present, and future. They’re direct, clear, and short.
Try to stay away from progressive tenses unless you need to convey ongoing action.
Simple verb tenses are also easier for non-native speakers to understand and for translation teams to translate.
- You got a discount for QuickBooks
- You were getting a discount when you unsubscribed. (past progressive)
- You had gotten a discount for months when you unsubscribed. (past perfect)
- You had been getting a discount for months when you unsubscribed. (past perfect progressive)
- You get a discount for QuickBooks
- Review your transactions
- You’re getting a discount. (present progressive)
- You’ve gotten a discount since January. (present perfect)
- You’ve been getting a discount since January. (present perfect progressive)
- You’ll get a discount for QuickBooks
- You’ll be getting a discount next year. (future progressive)
- You’ll have gotten a discount all year. (future perfect)
- You’ll have been getting a discount for months when you unsubscribe. (future perfect progressive)