Style Guide

Mailchimp, a leading email marketing software, uses a comprehensive style guide to craft compelling and effective communication no matter the audience or purpose. The very thorough guide emphasizes clear, useful, and friendly content that resonates with readers, using a voice that is always human, familiar, and straightforward, but still adaptable to many different situations.

When writing about people, the guide promotes a person-first perspective, avoiding references to age or disability and using inclusive language. Grammar and mechanics tips include grouping related ideas, using active voice, and employing short sentences for maximum impact. The guide also offers insights into button language, form design, navigation, and the use of headings and subheadings.

Accessibility and translation are also prioritized within Mailchimp's Style Guide. It recommends creating a hierarchy of information, using plain language, and providing only genuinely meaningful links. These practices help to break down communication barriers and reach diverse audiences.

With Mailchimp's Style Guide, teams can easily create clear and engaging messages that represent their brand well and leave a lasting impact with customers.

Style Guide

This style guide was created for Mailchimp employees, but we hope it’s helpful for other content and communications teams too.

If you work at Mailchimp

This is our company style guide. It helps us write clear and consistent content across teams and channels. Please use it as a reference when you’re writing for Mailchimp.

This guide goes beyond basic grammar and style points. It’s not traditional in format or content. We break a number of grammar rules for clarity, practicality, or preference.

We’ve divided the guide by topic based on the types of content we publish, so you can reference it as needed or browse in order. The entire guide is searchable, so you can go straight to the item you’re looking for.

If you work at another organization

We invite you to use and adapt this style guide as you see fit. It’s completely public and available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. All we ask is that you credit Mailchimp.

We welcome any feedback for improving the guide.

Writing goals and principles

With every piece of content we publish, we aim to:

  1. Empower. Help people understand Mailchimp by using language that informs them and encourages them to make the most of our products.
  2. Respect. Treat readers with the respect they deserve. Put yourself in their shoes, and don’t patronize them. Remember that they have other things to do. Be considerate and inclusive. Don’t market at people; communicate with them.
  3. Educate. Tell readers what they need to know, not just what we want to say. Give them the exact information they need, along with opportunities to learn more. Remember that you’re the expert, and readers don’t have access to everything you know.
  4. Guide. Think of yourself as a tour guide for our readers. Whether you’re leading them through our educational materials or a task in our app, communicate in a friendly and helpful way.
  5. Speak truth. Understand Mailchimp's place in our users’ lives. Avoid dramatic storytelling and grandiose claims. Focus on our real strengths.

In order to achieve those goals, we make sure our content is:

  1. Clear. Understand the topic you’re writing about. Use simple words and sentences.
  2. Useful. Before you start writing, ask yourself: What purpose does this serve? Who is going to read it? What do they need to know?
  3. Friendly. Write like a human. Don’t be afraid to break a few rules if it makes your writing more relatable. All of our content, from splashy homepage copy to system alerts, should be warm and human.
  4. Appropriate. Write in a way that suits the situation. Just like you do in face-to-face conversations, adapt your tone depending on who you’re writing to and what you’re writing about.

Voice and tone

One way we write empowering content is by being aware of our voice and our tone. This section explains the difference between voice and tone, and lays out the elements of each as they apply to Mailchimp.

What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you're out to dinner with your closest friends, and a different tone when you're in a meeting with your boss.

Your tone also changes depending on the emotional state of the person you’re addressing. You wouldn’t want to use the same tone of voice with someone who’s scared or upset as you would with someone who’s laughing.

The same is true for Mailchimp. Our voice doesn’t change much from day to day, but our tone changes all the time.


At Mailchimp, we’ve walked in our customers' shoes, and we know marketing technology is a minefield of confusing terminology. That’s why we speak like the experienced and compassionate business partner we wish we’d had way back when.

We treat every hopeful brand seriously. We want to educate people without patronizing or confusing them.

Using offbeat humor and a conversational voice, we play with language to bring joy to their work. We prefer the subtle over the noisy, the wry over the farcical. We don't take ourselves too seriously.

Whether people know what they need from us or don’t know the first thing about marketing, every word we say informs and encourages. We impart our expertise with clarity, empathy, and wit.

All of this means that when we write copy:

  1. We are plainspoken. We understand the world our customers are living in: one muddled by hyperbolic language, upsells, and over-promises. We strip all that away and value clarity above all. Because businesses come to Mailchimp to get to work, we avoid distractions like fluffy metaphors and cheap plays to emotion.
  2. We are genuine. We get small businesses because we were one not too long ago. That means we relate to customers’ challenges and passions and speak to them in a familiar, warm, and accessible way.
  3. We are translators. Only experts can make what’s difficult look easy, and it’s our job to demystify B2B-speak and actually educate.
  4. Our humor is dry. Our sense of humor is straight-faced, subtle, and a touch eccentric. We’re weird but not inappropriate, smart but not snobbish. We prefer winking to shouting. We’re never condescending or exclusive—we always bring our customers in on the joke.


Mailchimp’s tone is usually informal, but it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining. When you’re writing, consider the reader’s state of mind. Are they relieved to be finished with a campaign? Are they confused and seeking our help on Twitter? Once you have an idea of their emotional state, you can adjust your tone accordingly.

Mailchimp has a sense of humor, so feel free to be funny when it’s appropriate and when it comes naturally to you. But don’t go out of your way to make a joke—forced humor can be worse than none at all. If you’re unsure, keep a straight face.

Style tips

Here are a few key elements of writing Mailchimp’s voice. For more, see the Grammar and mechanics section.

  1. Active voice Use active voice. Avoid passive voice.
  2. Avoid slang and jargon Write in plain English.
  3. Write positively Use positive language rather than negative language.

A note about Freddie

Freddie has been around in various forms since the company's beginning, and he captures the spirit of our brand’s personality. He smiles, winks, and sometimes high-fives, but he does not talk. Don't write in his voice. For more on how to use Freddie, see our brand assets.

Writing about people

We write the same way we build apps: with a person-first perspective. Whether you’re writing for an internal or external audience, it's important to write for and about other people in a way that’s compassionate, inclusive, and respectful. Being aware of the impact of your language will help make Mailchimp a better place to work and a better steward of our values in the world. In this section we'll lay out some guidelines for writing about people with compassion, and share some resources for further learning.

As part of an audience

  1. Don’t capitalize “audience” unless it’s grammatically necessary.
  2. Don’t refer to an audience as “it.” Audiences are made up of real people, so always use “they.”
  3. This goes for contacts, too. Contacts are real people, never pieces of data.
  4. There’s a feature in our app called “lookalike audiences,” which is a way for our customers to market to people who are similar to their existing contacts. Always use the “lookalike” qualifier when referring to this feature to avoid confusion.


Don’t reference a person’s age unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. If it is relevant, include the person’s specific age, offset by commas.

  1. The CEO, 16, just got her driver’s license.

Don’t refer to people using age-related descriptors like “young,” “old,” or “elderly.”


Avoid disability-related idioms like “lame” or “falling on deaf ears.” Don’t refer to a person’s disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. If you need to mention it, ask whether your subject prefers person-first language (“they have a disability”) or identity-first language (“they are disabled”).

When writing about a person with disabilities, don’t use the words “suffer,” “victim,” or “handicapped.” “Handicapped parking” is OK.

Gender and sexuality

Don’t call groups of people “guys.” Don’t call women “girls.”

Avoid gendered terms in favor of neutral alternatives, like “server” instead of “waitress” and “businessperson” instead of “businessman.”

It’s OK to use “they” as a singular pronoun.

Use the following words as modifiers, but never as nouns:

  1. lesbian
  2. gay
  3. bisexual
  4. transgender (never "transgendered")
  5. trans
  6. queer
  7. LGBT

Don’t use these words in reference to LGBT people or communities:

  1. homosexual
  2. lifestyle
  3. preference

Don’t use “same-sex” marriage, unless the distinction is relevant to what you’re writing. (Avoid “gay marriage.”) Otherwise, it’s just “marriage.”

When writing about a person, use their communicated pronouns. When in doubt, just ask or use their name.


Use “deaf” as an adjective to describe a person with significant hearing loss. You can also use “partially deaf” or “hard of hearing.”

Heritage and nationality

Don't use hyphens when referring to someone with dual heritage or nationality. For example, use "Asian American" instead of "Asian-American."

Medical conditions

Don’t refer to a person’s medical condition unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.

If a reference to a person’s medical condition is warranted, use the same rules as writing about people with physical disabilities and emphasize the person first. Don’t call a person with a medical condition a “victim.”

Mental and cognitive conditions

Don’t refer to a person’s mental or cognitive condition unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. Never assume that someone has a medical, mental, or cognitive condition.

Don’t describe a person as “mentally ill.” If a reference to a person’s mental or cognitive condition is warranted, use the same rules as writing about people with physical disabilities or medical conditions and emphasize the person first.


At Mailchimp, when we write about a culture or ethnicity, we capitalize the name. For example, we capitalize Black as it refers to Americans in the African diaspora while we keep white lowercase since white refers to the color of a person’s skin and not a group of people.


Use the adjective “blind” to describe a person who is unable to see. Use “low vision” to describe a person with limited vision.

Grammar and mechanics

Adhering to certain rules of grammar and mechanics helps us keep our writing clear and consistent. This section will lay out our house style, which applies to all of our content unless otherwise noted in this guide. (We cover a lot of ground in this section—the search feature will help if you're looking for something in particular.)


Write for all readers. Some people will read every word you write. Others will just skim. Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.

Focus your message. Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages.

Be concise. Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.

Be specific. Avoid vague language. Cut the fluff.

Be consistent. Stick to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.


Abbreviations and acronyms

If there’s a chance your reader won’t recognize an abbreviation or acronym, spell it out the first time you mention it. Then use the short version for all other references. If the abbreviation isn’t clearly related to the full version, specify in parentheses.

  1. First use: Network Operations Center
  2. Second use: NOC
  3. First use: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
  4. Second use: UTC

If the abbreviation or acronym is well known, like API or HTML, use it instead (and don’t worry about spelling it out).

Active voice

Use active voice. Avoid passive voice.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence has the action done to it.

  1. Yes: Marti logged into the account.
  2. No: The account was logged into by Marti.

Words like “was” and “by” may indicate that you’re writing in passive voice. Scan for these words and rework sentences where they appear.

One exception is when you want to specifically emphasize the action over the subject. In some cases, this is fine.

  1. Your account was flagged by our Abuse team.


We use a few different forms of capitalization. Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. Sentence case capitalizes the first letter of the first word.

When writing out an email address or website URL, use all lowercase.


Don't capitalize random words in the middle of sentences. Here are some words that we never capitalize in a sentence. For more, see the Word List.

  1. website
  2. internet
  3. online
  4. email


They’re great! They give your writing an informal, friendly tone.


Emoji are a fun way to add humor and visual interest to your writing, but use them infrequently and deliberately.


Spell out a number when it begins a sentence. Otherwise, use the numeral. This includes ordinals.

  1. Ten new employees started on Monday, and 12 start next week.
  2. I ate 3 donuts at Coffee Hour.
  3. Meg won 1st place in last year’s Walktober contest.
  4. We hosted a group of 8th graders who are learning to code.

Sometimes it feels weird to use the numeral. If it's an expression that typically uses spelled-out numbers, leave them that way.

  1. A friendly welcome email can help you make a great first impression.
  2. That is a third-party integration.
  3. Put your best foot forward with the all-in-one Marketing Platform that grows with you.
  4. After you send your newsletter, Freddie will give you a high-five.

Numbers over 3 digits get commas:

  1. 999
  2. 1,000
  3. 150,000

Write out big numbers in full. Abbreviate them if there are space restraints, as in a tweet or a chart: 1k, 150k.


Generally, spell out the day of the week and the month. Abbreviate only if space is an issue in the app.

  1. Saturday, January 24
  2. Sat., Jan. 24

Decimals and fractions

Spell out fractions.

  1. Yes: two-thirds
  2. No: 2/3

Use decimal points when a number can’t be easily written out as a fraction, like 1.375 or 47.2.


Use the % symbol instead of spelling out "percent."

Ranges and spans

Use a hyphen (-) to indicate a range or span of numbers.

  1. It takes 20-30 days.


When writing about US currency, use the dollar sign before the amount. Include a decimal and number of cents if more than 0.

  1. $20
  2. $19.99

When writing about other currencies, follow the same symbol-amount format:

  1. ¥1
  2. €1

Telephone numbers

Use dashes without spaces between numbers. Use a country code if your reader is in another country.

  1. 555-867-5309
  2. +1-404-123-4567


Use the degree symbol and the capital F abbreviation for Fahrenheit.

  1. 98°F


Use numerals and am or pm, with a space in between. Don’t use minutes for on-the-hour time.

  1. 7 am
  2. 7:30 pm

Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period.

  1. 7 am–10:30 pm

Specify time zones when writing about an event or something else people would need to schedule. Since Mailchimp is in Atlanta, we default to ET.

Abbreviate time zones within the continental United States as follows:

  1. Eastern time: ET
  2. Central time: CT
  3. Mountain time: MT
  4. Pacific time: PT

When referring to international time zones, spell them out: Nepal Standard Time, Australian Eastern Time. If a time zone does not have a set name, use its Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset.

Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years.

  1. the 00s
  2. the 90s

When referring to decades more than 100 years ago, be more specific:

  1. the 1900s
  2. the 1890s



The apostrophe’s most common use is making a word possessive. If the word already ends in an s and it’s singular, you also add an ’s. If the word ends in an s and is plural, just add an apostrophe.

  1. The donut thief ate Sam’s donut.
  2. The donut thief ate Chris’s donut.
  3. The donut thief ate the managers’ donuts.

Apostrophes can also be used to denote that you’ve dropped some letters from a word, usually for humor or emphasis. This is fine, but do it sparingly.


Use a colon (rather than an ellipsis, em dash, or comma) to offset a list.

  1. Erin ordered 3 kinds of donuts: glazed, chocolate, and pumpkin.

You can also use a colon to join 2 related phrases. If a complete sentence follows the colon, capitalize the 1st word.

  1. I was faced with a dilemma: I wanted a donut, but I’d just eaten a bagel.


When writing a list, use the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma).

  1. Yes: David admires his parents, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake.
  2. No: David admires his parents, Oprah and Justin Timberlake.

Otherwise, use common sense. If you’re unsure, read the sentence out loud. Where you find yourself taking a breath, use a comma.

Dashes and hyphens

Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into single phrase, or to indicate a span or range.

  1. first-time user
  2. Monday-Friday

Use an em dash (—) without spaces on either side to offset an aside.

Use a true em dash, not hyphens (- or --).

  1. Multivariate testing—just one of our new Pro features—can help you grow your business.
  2. Austin thought Brad was the donut thief, but he was wrong—it was Lain.


Ellipses (...) can be used to indicate that you’re trailing off before the end of a thought. Use them sparingly. Don’t use them for emphasis or drama, and don’t use them in titles or headers.

  1. “Where did all those donuts go?” Christy asked. Lain said, “I don't know...”

Ellipses, in brackets, can also be used to show that you're omitting words in a quote.

  1. “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, [...] a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”


Periods go inside quotation marks. They go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

  1. Christy said, “I ate a donut.”
  2. I ate a donut (and I ate a bagel, too).
  3. I ate a donut and a bagel. (The donut was Sam’s.)

Leave a single space between sentences.

Question marks

Question marks go inside quotation marks if they’re part of the quote. Like periods, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

Exclamation points

Use exclamation points sparingly, and never more than one at a time. They’re like high-fives: A well-timed one is great, but too many can be annoying.

Exclamation points go inside quotation marks. Like periods and question marks, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

Never use exclamation points in failure messages or alerts. When in doubt, avoid!

Quotation marks

Use quotes to refer to words and letters, titles of short works (like articles and poems), and direct quotations.

Periods and commas go within quotation marks. Question marks within quotes follow logic—if the question mark is part of the quotation, it goes within. If you’re asking a question that ends with a quote, it goes outside the quote.

Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

  1. Who was it that said, “A fool and his donut are easily parted”?
  2. Brad said, “A wise man once told me, ‘A fool and his donut are easily parted.’”


Go easy on semicolons. They usually support long, complicated sentences that could easily be simplified. Try an em dash (—) instead, or simply start a new sentence.


Don't use ampersands unless one is part of a company or brand name.

  1. Ben and Dan
  2. Ben & Jerry’s

People, places, and things

File extensions

When referring generally to a file extension type, use all uppercase without a period. Add a lowercase s to make plural.

  1. GIF
  2. PDF
  3. HTML
  4. JPGs

When referring to a specific file, the filename should be lowercase:

  1. slowclap.gif
  2. MCBenefits.pdf
  3. ben-twitter-profile.jpg
  4. ilovedonuts.html


If your subject’s gender is unknown or irrelevant, use “they,” “them,” and “their” as a singular pronoun. Use “he/him/his” and “she/her/her” pronouns as appropriate. Don’t use “one” as a pronoun.

For more on writing about gender, see Writing about people.


When quoting someone in a blog post or other publication, use the present tense.

  1. “Using Mailchimp has helped our business grow,” says Jamie Smith.

Names and titles

The first time you mention a person in writing, refer to them by their first and last names. On all other mentions, refer to them by their first name.

Capitalize the names of departments and teams (but not the word "team" or "department").

  1. Marketing team
  2. Support department

Capitalize individual job titles when referencing to a specific role. Don't capitalize when referring to the role in general terms.

  1. Our new Marketing Manager starts today.
  2. All the managers ate donuts.

Don't refer to someone as a “ninja,” “rockstar,” or “wizard” unless they literally are one.


The first time you mention a school, college, or university in a piece of writing, refer to it by its full official name. On all other mentions, use its more common abbreviation.

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech
  2. Georgia State University, GSU

States, cities, and countries

Spell out all city and state names. Don’t abbreviate city names.

Per AP Style, all cities should be accompanied by their state, with the exception of: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington.

On first mention, write out United States. On subsequent mentions, US is fine. The same rule applies to any other country or federation with a common abbreviation (European Union, EU; United Kingdom, UK).

URLs and websites

Capitalize the names of websites and web publications. Don’t italicize.

Avoid spelling out URLs, but when you need to, leave off the http://www.

Writing about Mailchimp

Our company's legal entity name is "The Rocket Science Group, LLC." Our trade name is "Mailchimp." Use "The Rocket Science Group, LLC" only when writing legal documents or contracts. Otherwise, use "Mailchimp."

Always capitalize the first “M” and lowercase the “c” in Mailchimp.

Refer to Mailchimp as “we,” not “it.”

Capitalize branded terms, like Mailchimp Presents. We also capitalize pricing plan names (Premium, Standard, Essentials, and Free) to distinguish them from generic use of those adjectives.

Don’t capitalize descriptive product or feature names, like email or landing pages.

  1. templates
  2. Mailchimp’s mobile app
  3. Essentials plan

Writing about other companies

Honor companies’ own names for themselves and their products. Go by what’s used on their official website.

  1. iPad
  2. YouTube
  3. Yahoo!

Refer to a company or product as “it” (not “they”).

Slang and jargon

Write in plain English. If you need to use a technical term, briefly define it so everyone can understand.

  1. Mailchimp's Ops team is constantly scaling our servers to make sure our users have a great experience with our products. One way we do this is with shards, or partitions, that help us better horizontally scale our database infrastructure.

Text formatting

Use italics to indicate the title of a long work (like a book, movie, or album) or to emphasize a word.

  1. Dunston Checks In
  2. Brandon really loves Dunston Checks In.

Use italics when citing an example of an in-app Mailchimp element, or referencing button and navigation labels in step-by-step instructions:

  1. When you're all done, click Send.
  2. The familiar A/B testing variables—Subject lineFrom name, and Send time—have now been joined by Content, and up to 3 combinations of a single variable can now be tested at once.

Don’t use underline formatting, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.

Left-align text, never center or right-aligned.

Leave one space between sentences, never 2.

Write positively

Use positive language rather than negative language. One way to detect negative language is to look for words like “can’t,” “don’t,” etc.

  1. Yes: To get a donut, stand in line.
  2. No: You can’t get a donut if you don’t stand in line.

Every piece of content we publish is supported by a number of smaller pieces. This section lays out our style in regards to these web elements, and explains our approach to the tricky art of SEO.


Alt text

Alt text is a way to label images, and it's especially important for people who can’t see the images on our website. Alt text should describe the image in a brief sentence or two.

For more on how and why we use alt text, read the Accessibility section.


Button copy should always include verbs. Keep things clear and concise, and use sentence case. It’s OK to use an ampersand in button copy.

Standard website buttons include:

  1. Log in
  2. Sign up free
  3. Subscribe
  4. Email us


Use sentence case for checkboxes.

Drop-down menus

Use title case for menu names and sentence case for menu items.


Form titles should clearly and quickly explain the purpose of the form.

Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields.

Keep forms as short as possible.

Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for information that could be considered private or personal, including gender. If you need to ask for gender, provide a field the user can fill in on their own, not a drop-down menu.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings organize content for readers. They should include the most relevant keywords and cover/highlight the main point(s) of the page.

Headings and subheadings are written in sentence case. Avoid using end punctuation except for question marks or when a heading is two or more sentences.

Organize headings and subheadings hierarchically, with headings first, followed by subheadings in order.. (An H2 will nestle under H1, an H3 under H2, and on down.)

  1. Headings (H1) give people a taste of what they’re about to read. Use them for page and blog titles.
  2. Subheadings (H2, H3, etc.) break articles into smaller, more specific sections. They give readers avenues into your content and make it more scannable.

Provide a link whenever you’re referring to something on an external website. Use links to point users to relevant content and trusted external resources.

Don’t include preceding articles (a, an, the, our) when you link text. For example:

  1. Yes: Read the automation guide for details.
  2. No: Read the automation guide for details.

If a link comes at the end of a sentence or before a comma, don’t link the punctuation mark.

Don’t say things like “Click here!” or “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Write the sentence as you normally would, and link relevant keywords.

Links should look different than regular copy, strong text, or emphasis text. They should have a hover state that communicates they’re interactive, and should have a distinct active and visited state. When setting the hover state of links, be sure to include focus state as well, to help readers using assistive technologies and touch devices.


Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of information. Give context for the list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order is important, like when you’re describing steps of a process. Don’t use numbers when the list’s order doesn’t matter.

If one of the list items is a complete sentence, use proper punctuation and capitalization on all of the items. If list items are not complete sentences, don’t use punctuation, but do capitalize the first word of each item.


Use title case for main or global navigation. Use sentence case for subnavigation.

Navigation links should be clear and concise.

Radio Buttons

Use title case for headings and sentence case for button fields.

Sometimes a long piece of copy lends itself to a list of related links at the end. Don’t go overboard—4 is usually plenty.

Related articles should appear in a logical order, following the step down/step up rule: The first article should be a step down in complexity from the current article. The second one should be a step up in complexity to a more advanced article.

If you can, avoid repeating links from the body text in related articles.


Titles organize pages and guide readers. A title appears at the beginning of a page or section and briefly describes the content that follows. Titles also tell search engines what a page is about, and show up in search results.

Titles are written (you guessed it) in title case. Don’t use end punctuation in a title unless the title is a question.


We write for humans, not machines. We don't use gross SEO techniques like keyword stuffing to bump search results. But we also want to make it easy for people and search engines to find and share our content. Here are some not-icky ways to do this:

  1. Organize your page around one topic. Use clear, descriptive terms in titles and headings that relate to the topic at hand.
  2. Use descriptive headings to structure your page and highlight important information.
  3. Give every image descriptive alt text.

How to write educational content

At Mailchimp, educational content appears within our Help Center, as well as within our workshops, certain marketing materials, and internal training documents. This section lays out the guiding principles for writing educational content, and discusses the main types of educational content that exist at Mailchimp.


Someone taking in educational content is usually looking to answer a specific question. That question might be broad or narrowly focused, but either way our goal is to provide answers without distraction.

For each project, consider your audience’s background, goal, and current mood. Ask these questions:

  1. Who is your audience? Are they Mailchimp employees, a Mailchimp user, a developer?
  2. What is this person’s goal? To complete a task? To research a topic?
  3. What is this person’s mindset? Are they in the middle of a task, or in a hurry? Could they be frustrated or feeling overwhelmed?

We don’t want to overload our audience with unnecessary information, choices, or complex ideas or phrases. This is particularly important since we always consider the neurodiversity of our audience, and that learning something new can often feel overwhelming.

When writing educational content, remember to stick to the topic at hand. Keep sentences, paragraphs, and procedural steps focused and concise.

Types of educational content

We create educational content to serve various channels and audiences. We need to not only educate our customers, but also inform our partners and staff around when and how to use our products and features.

Educational content at Mailchimp can include:

  1. Help Center articles, guides, tutorials and troubleshooting advice
  2. Tutorial videos published to our website and YouTube
  3. Webinars and workshops presented live and published to our website and YouTube
  4. Instagram reels and other how-to social content
  5. API documentation and developer resources
  6. Release notes
  7. Staff training materials, courses, and resources
  8. Partner training materials, courses, and resources
  9. Marketing Library articles and resources


Writing educational content

When writing educational content, be sure to follow the style points outlined in the Voice and Tone and Grammar and Mechanics sections. In addition, here are some education-specific goals and pointers to keep in mind.

Stay relevant to the topic

When a reader or viewer clicks on a link to educational content, they expect to find the answer they want. Don’t stray too far from the title or topic at hand. Use links to make related content available. If you find you’re getting too far from the intended topic, then you may need to create a related video, article, or deck.

Keep headlines and paragraphs short and scannable

Readers often scan a page for info that will answer their particular question. When writing educational content, be sure your headlines are short, descriptive, and parallel to help with scanning.

When writing video scripts, describe the outcome before doing the action so viewers feel confident they’re watching content that will answer their question.

Strive for simplicity and clarity

Be as clear as possible. Use simple words and phrases while avoiding gerunds and hard-to-translate words or idioms. Focus on the specific task, and limit the number of sentences per paragraph. Aim to keep your sentences at 25 words or less.

Video scripts should include clear transitional language and cues that introduce a specific visual element or emphasize where the user should focus their attention. E.g. "To do this," or “I see here, there are some suggestions..."

Provide context through embedded screenshots, videos, and GIFs

Screenshots, videos, and GIFs make content more scannable and accessible, especially in written guides, tutorials, and training materials. Keep each visual focused on the action or meaning it conveys. Always crop screenshots tightly around the action.

Formatting educational content

Educational content often uses formatting to help convey meaning. Although various forms of educational content are organized differently, the formatting tips are consistent.


Capitalize proper names of Mailchimp products, features, pages, tools, and teams when directly mentioned.

  1. Creative Assistant
  2. Pre-Built Customer Journeys
  3. Compliance team, Billing team


In step-by-step instructions, capitalize and bold navigation and button labels as they appear in the app.

  1. Navigate to the Reports page.
  2. Click Create.

Writing legal content

Mailchimp publishes many kinds of legal content to protect ourselves and our users around the world. Most of our legal content is written by the Legal department with help from the Communications team. This section gives a general overview of the types of legal content we publish and how those documents are written.

For information about laws that apply to non-legal content, see the Copyright and trademark section.


The way we write, review, and publish legal content is different than how we do many other kinds of writing at Mailchimp. The most important difference is that all legal content either starts with or passes through the Legal team.

But that doesn't mean legal content has to be difficult to read. We try to present our legal information in the most pleasant way possible. Our goals for Mailchimp's legal content are:

  1. Accuracy. Our first and foremost concern is that we present the correct information in a truthful way.
  2. Clarity. We try to avoid legal jargon and overly formal wording. Our users need to understand the agreement they’re making with us.
  3. Succinctness. We want our users to read and understand our legal documents, while also respecting their time.

We publish several types of legal documents, each with their own writing processes and goals.

We keep these in one place on our legal page:

  1. Terms of use
  2. Acceptable use policy
  3. Privacy policy
  4. API use policy
  5. Copyright policy

These policies apply to all of Mailchimp’s users. The Legal and Communication teams work together to make them as transparent and easy to read as possible. When someone signs up to use Mailchimp, they must agree to all of those terms.

All of our public legal documents, and any changes to those documents, are drafted by our in-house Legal team. When new legal documents are published or edited, we notify all our users of the updates and provide a window for them to object before the new terms go into effect.

We also publish guides and technical articles about legal concepts that may affect our users. Here are some examples:

  1. Terms of Use and anti-spam requirements
  2. About the Canada anti-spam law
  3. Stay compliant with CASL

The Legal team performs periodic reviews of all marketing and technical content to make sure all related links and information is up to date.

Customer service messages

We respond to legal questions from users every day. We answer common CAN-SPAM inquiries, like “Why does my mailing address have to appear on campaigns?” We also see questions about our practices and policies, like “How long is data retained?” and “Where are your servers located?” and “Why is my industry or content prohibited?”

Our Support team handles the majority of user communications. If a user raises a legal issue, a support agent will send the proposed reply to the Legal team for review. Users may also contact the Legal team directly.

Common issues can be reviewed and sent by a paralegal or other legal staff member. More complex issues, or issues threatening litigation or criminal wrongdoing, will be drafted by a paralegal and then escalated to a lawyer for review.

Public communications

Occasionally we may have to publish communications about security, privacy, and other corporate issues. This could come in the form of an email to users, a blog post, a public statement, or a press release.

The Communications team works with the Legal team to write and publish these documents, and the executive team reviews them.


When writing legal content, generally follow the style points outlined in the Voice and tone and Grammar and mechanics sections. Here are some more general considerations, too.

Start with the facts

We have some standard language that we use for common issues or requests, but since legal content is so fact-specific, we start there before getting into structure and format. That’s why you won’t see many templates for our legal content.

Use plain language

Legal content is serious business, so the tone is slightly more formal than most of our content. That said, we want all of our users to be able to understand our legal content. So whenever possible, we use plain language rather than legal jargon.

Instead of: “If an individual purports, and has the legal authority, to sign these Terms of Use electronically on behalf of an employer or client then that individual represents and warrants that they have full authority to bind the entity herein to the terms of this hereof agreement”

We say: “If you sign up on behalf of a company or other entity, you represent and warrant that you have the authority to accept these Terms on their behalf.”

There are some legal terms we have to include because either there’s not a sufficient plain language alternative, or case law or statute dictates that term has to be used for the contract to hold up in court. For example, sometimes we need to say “represent and warrant” instead of “confirm” or “agree.” If we use those terms, we can provide an example or quick definition to help people understand what they’re reading. We can't avoid all legal terminology, but we can pare it down to what's necessary.

Some companies have complicated terms and write plain-language summaries so people can understand the agreement. We don’t summarize our legal content, but instead try to write the terms themselves in plain language. We use a sidebar to provide examples or links to further reading for people who want more context.


Using plain language for the terms you define up front can make legal documents easier to read. You’ve probably read contracts that say something like “The Corporation” or “The User” throughout, instead of “we” (meaning the company) and “you” (meaning the user who is agreeing to the terms). There’s a quick fix for that. At the beginning of the document, say something like:

Mailchimp is owned and operated by The Rocket Science Group, LLC d/b/a Mailchimp, a Georgia limited liability corporation (“Mailchimp,” “we,” or “us”). As a user of the Service or a representative of an entity that’s a user of the Service, you're a “Member” according to this agreement (or “you”).

After that, you’re free to use “we,” “us,” “you,” and “your” throughout the rest of the agreement. That simple change makes the document much friendlier to read.


We use contractions in many of our legal documents, which makes them sound more human and flow better with the rest of our content. Contracting words doesn't affect the validity of an agreement.

While we want to inform our users about legal issues related to their use of Mailchimp, we can’t offer them legal advice. Sometimes it’s a fine line. The legal department will check for this in their content review.

We send a lot of email ourselves, and we follow our own best practices to set an example for users. But as devices shrink and the inbox evolves, our oldest tip is still the most important: Only send when you have something to say.

Writing email newsletters


Our email newsletters help empower and inform Mailchimp users. Here are the most common types of content we send by email:

  1. Product and feature announcements
  2. Tips for getting the most out of existing products and features
  3. Regular monthly newsletters
  4. Automated series (Getting Started with Mailchimp)
  5. Event invitations and information about online courses
  6. System alerts about changes to functionality or scheduled maintenance
  7. Internal newsletters


Email newsletters generally follow the style points outlined in the Voice and tone and Grammar and mechanics sections. Here are some additional considerations.

Consider all elements

Every email newsletter is made up of the following elements. Make sure they’re all in place before clicking send:

From name

This is usually the company or team’s name. It identifies the sender in the recipient's inbox.

Subject line

Keep your subject line descriptive. There's no perfect length, but some email clients display only the first words. Tell—don't sell—what's inside. Subject lines should be in sentence case. (Note that this is different from a headline, which you may want to include in the campaign itself.)

Preheader text

The top line of your campaign appears beside each subject line in the inbox. Provide the info readers need when they’re deciding if they should open.

Body copy

Keep your content concise. Write with a clear purpose, and connect each paragraph to your main idea. Add images when they’re helpful.

Call to action

Make the next step clear. Whether you’re asking people to buy something, read something, share something, or respond to something, offer a clear direction to close your message so readers know what to do next.

All campaigns follow CAN-SPAM rules. Include an unsubscribe link, mailing address, and permission reminder in the footer of each newsletter.

Consider your perspective

When sending an email newsletter from Mailchimp, use the 3rd person “we.” When sending a newsletter as an individual, use the 1st person.

Use a hierarchy

Most readers will be scanning your emails or viewing them on a small screen. Put the most important information first.

Include a call to action

Make the reader's next step obvious, and close each campaign with a call to action. Link to a blog post, event registration, purchase page, or signup page. You can add a button or include a text link in the closing paragraph.

More than 50 percent of emails are read on a mobile device. Limit links to the most important resources to focus your call to action and prevent errant taps on smaller screens.

Use alt text

Some email clients disable images by default. Include an alt tag to describe the information in the image for people who aren’t able to see it.

Segment your audience

It’s exciting to send to millions of users at once, but it’s doubtful that every subscriber is interested in every topic. Segment your list to find a particular audience that’s likely to react.

Once you've selected an audience, adjust the language to fit their needs. For example, users who developed custom integrations are more likely to understand and appreciate direct, technical terms.

Test your campaigns

Use the preview mode to begin, and run an Inbox Inspection to see your newsletter in different email clients. Read your campaign out loud to yourself, then send a test to a coworker for a second look.

We use social media to build relationships with Mailchimp users and share all the cool stuff we do. But it also creates opportunities to say the wrong thing, put off customers, and damage our brand. So we’re careful and deliberate in what we post to our social channels. This section lays out how we strike that delicate balance.

Writing for social media


Mailchimp has a presence on most major social media platforms. Here are our most active accounts and what we usually post on each:

  1. Twitter: Product news, brand marketing, events, media mentions, evergreen content, “we’re hiring!” posts
  2. Facebook: Product news, brand marketing, events, media mentions, evergreen content, “we’re hiring!” posts
  3. LinkedIn: Product news, recruiting content, media mentions, evergreen content
  4. Instagram: Design outtakes, cool office visitors, life at Mailchimp, cool stuff we made

These channels are all managed by the Marketing team. We also have a few team-specific accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, Dribbble, and other platforms. The guidelines in this section apply to all of Mailchimp's channels.


Our writing for social media should generally follow the style points outlined in the Voice and tone and Grammar and mechanics sections. Here are some additional pointers, too.

Write short, but smart

Some social media platforms have a character limit; others don’t. But for the most part, we keep our social media copy short.

  1. Twitter: 280 characters.
  2. Facebook: No limit, but aim for 1-2 short sentences.
  3. Instagram: No limit, but try to keep it to 1 sentence or a short phrase. Feel free to throw in an emoji.

To write short, simplify your ideas or reduce the amount of information you’re sharing—but not by altering the spelling or punctuation of the words themselves. It’s fine to use the shorter version of some words, like “info” for “information.” But do not use numbers and letters in place of words, like “4” instead of “for” or “u” instead of “you.”


Do your best to adhere to Mailchimp style guidelines when you’re using our social media channels to correspond with users. Use correct grammar and punctuation—and avoid excessive exclamation points.

When appropriate, you can tag the subject of your post on Twitter or Facebook. But avoid directly tweeting at or otherwise publicly tagging a post subject with messages like, “Hey, we wrote about you!” Never ask for retweets, likes, or favorites.

  1. Yes: “We talked with @lauraolin about turning her awesome emails into a book.”
  2. No: “Hey @lauraolin, can you RT this post we wrote about you?”


We employ hashtags rarely and deliberately. We may use them to promote an event or connect with users at a conference. Do not use current event or trending hashtags to promote Mailchimp.

Do not use social media to comment on trending topics or current events that are unrelated to Mailchimp.

Be aware of what’s going on in the news when you're publishing social content for Mailchimp. During major breaking news events, we turn off all promoted and scheduled social posts.

Writing for accessibility

We’re always working to make our content more accessible and usable to the widest possible audience. Writing for accessibility goes way beyond making everything on the page available as text. It also affects the way you organize content and guide readers through a page. Depending on the audience and country, there may be laws governing the level of accessibility required. At minimum, an accessible version should be available. Accessibility includes users of all mental and physical capacities, whether situational (broken glasses!) or more permanent.


We write for a diverse audience of readers who all interact with our content in different ways. We aim to make our content accessible to anyone using a screen reader, keyboard navigation, or Braille interface, and to users of all cognitive capabilities.

As you write, consider the following:

  1. Would this language make sense to someone who doesn’t work here?
  2. Could someone quickly scan this document and understand the material?
  3. If someone can’t see the colors, images or video, is the message still clear?
  4. Is the markup clean and structured?
  5. Mobile devices with accessibility features are increasingly becoming core communication tools, does this work well on them?

Many of the best practices for writing for accessibility echo those for writing educational content, with the added complexity of markup, syntax, and structure.


Avoid directional language

Avoid directional instructions and any language that requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page. This is helpful for many reasons, including layout changes on mobile.

  1. Yes: “Select from these options,” (with the steps listed after the title)
  2. No: “Select from the options in the right sidebar.”

Use headers

Headers should always be nested and consecutive. Never skip a header level for styling reasons. To help group sections, be sure the page title is H1, top-level sections are H2s, and subsequent inside those are H3 and beyond. Avoid excessive nesting.

Employ a hierarchy

Put the most important information first. Place similar topics in the same paragraph, and clearly separate different topics with headings.

Starting with a simple outline that includes key messages can help you create a hierarchy and organize your ideas in a logical way. This improves scannability and encourages better understanding.

Make true lists instead of using a paragraph or line breaks.

Label forms

Label inputs with clear names, and use appropriate tags. Think carefully about what fields are necessary, and especially which ones you mark as required. Label required fields clearly. The shorter the form, the better.

Links should provide information on the associated action or destination. Try to avoid “click here” or “learn more.”

Use plain language

Write short sentences and use familiar words. Avoid jargon and slang. If you need to use an abbreviation or acronym that people may not understand, explain what it means on first reference.

Use alt text

The alt tag is the most basic form of image description, and it should be included on all images. The language will depend on the purpose of the image:

  1. If it’s a creative photo or supports a story, describe the image in detail in a brief caption.
  2. If the image is serving a specific function, describe what’s inside the image in detail. People who don’t see the image should come away with the same information as if they had.
  3. If you’re sharing a chart or graph, include the data in the alt text so people have all the important information.

Each browser handles alt tags differently. Supplement images with standard captions when possible.

Make sure closed captioning is available

Closed captioning or transcripts should be available for all videos. The information presented in videos should also be available in other formats.

Be mindful of visual elements

Aim for high contrast between your font and background colors. Tools in the resources section should help with picking accessible colors.

Images should not be the only method of communication, because images may not load or may not be seen. Avoid using images when the same information could be communicated in writing.


  1. Accessibility cheatsheet
  2. 18F Accessibility Guide
  3. Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility
  4. Accessible color combinations
  5. WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

Writing for Translation

Mailchimp serves millions of users in hundreds of countries and territories, not just the United States. As our user base grows, it becomes more and more important that our content is accessible to people around the world.

We call the process of writing copy for translation “internationalization.” This section will address things you can do to help international audiences, including translators, better comprehend your text.


Our Technical Content is available to all users in English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese. Sometimes other pieces of content will be translated as well.

We try to write all of our content in standard, straightforward English that can be understood by users with limited English proficiency. It's much easier for a translator to clearly communicate ideas written in straightforward, uncomplicated sentences.

Here are some guiding principles for writing for international audiences:

  1. Use active voice. We always aim for this, but it's especially important when writing for translation.
  2. Use the subject-verb-object sentence structure. It’s not used by all languages, but it’s widely recognized.
  3. Use positive words when talking about positive situations. For example, because a question like “Don’t you think she did a great job?” begins with a negative word, a non-native English speaker may interpret its implication as negative. A better version would be “She did a good job, right?”


When writing for international audiences, we generally follow what's outlined in the Voice and tone and Grammar and mechanics sections. But in this section more than others, some style points contradict what's stated elsewhere in the guide. If you’re writing something to be translated, the guidelines in this section should take precedence.

Consider cultural differences

Mailchimp’s voice is conversational and informal. However, in some cultures, informal text may be considered offensive. Check with your translator to see if this is the case for the particular language you’re writing for.

The translation company should give the option to translate in a formal or informal tone, if the language allows for it. (For example, in Spanish, it is possible to write informally where tú = you or formally where usted = you.)

When writing text that will be translated, be careful about making references to things of local or regional importance. These may not be recognizable to readers outside the US.

Prioritize clarity

Keep your copy brief, but don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity. You may need to repeat or add words to make the meaning of your sentences clear to a translator.

Repeat verbs that have multiple subjects:

  1. Yes: Customers who have ordered online can pick up their food at the cashier. Walk-in customers should stop by the cashier to order their food.
  2. No: Customers who have ordered online or who are walk-ins should stop at the cashier to order or pick up their food.

Repeat helping verbs belonging to multiple verbs:

  1. Yes: Mailchimp can send your campaign on the fly or can schedule your campaign to go out at a set time.
  2. No: Mailchimp can send your campaign on the fly or schedule your campaign to go out at a set time.

Repeat subjects and verbs:n

  1. Yes: The Standard plan offers predicted demographics, but the Essentials plan does not.
  2. No: The Standard plan offers predicted demographics, but not the Essentials plan.

Repeat markers in a list or series:

  1. Yes: Use Mailchimp to send email campaigns, to manage your mailing lists, and to integrate with other applications.
  2. No: Use Mailchimp to send email campaigns, manage your mailing lists, and integrate with other applications.

Leave in words like “then,” “a,” “the,” “to,” and “that," even if you think they could be cut:

  1. Yes: If there is not a list set up in your Mailchimp account, then you’ll need to create a list before sending your first campaign.
  2. No: If there is not a list set up in your Mailchimp account, you’ll need to create a list before sending your first campaign.
  3. Yes: When sending a campaign, it is necessary to have a “From:” name, a “From:” address, and a subject line.
  4. No: When sending a campaign, it is necessary to have a “From:” name, “From:” address, and subject line.
  5. Yes: Be sure that you are truly ready to send your campaign before clicking the “Send Now” button.
  6. No: Be sure you are truly ready to send your campaign before clicking the “Send Now” button.

Avoid ambiguity and confusion

Many words, parts of speech, and grammar mechanics we don’t think twice about have the potential to cause confusion for translators and non-native English speakers. Here are some of the big trouble spots to avoid.

Avoid unclear pronoun references:

  1. Yes: Many believe that buying a list of email addresses and sending to the list through Mailchimp is OK. Such action can actually cause high rates of abuse, bounces, and unsubscribes. Purchasing a list and sending to it may cause your account to be suspended.
  2. No: Many believe that buying a list of email addresses and sending to the list through Mailchimp is okay. This can actually cause high rates of abuse, bounces, and unsubscribes. It can ultimately cause your account to be suspended.

Avoid -ing words:

In English, many different types of words end in -ing: nouns, adjectives, progressive verbs, etc. But a translator who is a non-native English speaker may not be able to recognize the distinctions and may try to translate them all in the same way.

Because of this, we want to avoid -ing words when possible. One exception to this rule is words like “graphing calculator” and “riding lawnmower,” where the -ing word is part of a noun’s name and can’t be worked around.

Here are some other cases where you might see -ing words, and suggestions for how to edit around them.


  1. Yes: In this article we will talk about list subscriber collection.
  2. No: In this article we will talk about getting list subscribers.


  1. Yes: At the top of the page, there is Freddie with a smile on his face.
  2. No: At the top of the page, there is a smiling Freddie.

Parts of verbs:

  1. Yes: Several developers are currently working on that feature.
  2. No: Several developers are working on that feature. (When you can’t easily avoid the -ing word, it may help to add an adverb to clarify the meaning.)

Parts of phrases modifying nouns:

  1. Yes: From our backyard, we could hear the planes that took off from the airport.
  2. No: From our backyard, we could hear the planes taking off from the airport.

Other words and mechanics to avoid:

  1. Slang, idioms, and cliches
  2. Shortened words, even if they’re common in English (use “application,” not “app”)
  3. Uncommon foreign words (use "genuine,” not “bona fide”)
  4. Unnecessary abbreviations (use "for example,” not “e.g.”)
  5. Converting one part of speech into another if it isn’t already commonly used (use "Send us an email” instead of “message us”)
  6. Non-standard or indirect verb usage (use “he says,” not “he’s like” or “he was all”)
  7. Double negatives
  8. Synonyms, generally. Don't use a lot of different words for the same thing in a single piece of writing. Instead of mixing it up with “campaign,” “newsletter,” “bulletin,” etc., pick one term and stick with it.

Beware words with multiple meanings

“Once” (could mean “one time,” “after,” “in the past,” or “when”) - Yes: After you log in, you will see your account’s Dashboard. - No: Once you log in, you will see your account’s Dashboard.

“Right” (could mean “correct,” “the opposite of left,” “politically conservative,” etc.)

  1. Yes: In the File Manager, click the correct image and drag it to the pane at right.
  2. No: In the File Manager, click the right image and drag it to the right pane.

“Since” (could refer to a point in time, or a synonym of “because”)

  1. Yes: Because you already have a complete mailing list, you can send your campaign at any time.
  2. No: Since you already have complete mailing list, you can send your campaign at any time.

“Require” plus an infinitive (could confuse the relationship between subject and object)

  1. Yes: Autoresponders can be configured and sent from paid accounts.
  2. No: A paid account is required to send autoresponders. (This could imply that users with paid accounts are required to send autoresponders.)

“Has” or “have” plus past participle (could confuse the relationship between subject and object)

  1. Yes: The folder contains sent campaigns.
  2. No: The folder has sent campaigns.



When writing for an international audience, use the metric system. Spell out all units and avoid abbreviation.


Many countries call their currency "the dollar," but the value is going to differ between countries. The US dollar is not the same as the Canadian dollar, for example. So it’s important to specify.

Indicate currency by using its 3-letter abbreviation, such as USD or CAD. Don’t use currency symbols, like $ or €. We would say 25 USD, not $25.

Avoid colloquial phrases that relate to money, like “five-and-dime,” “greenbacks,” or “c-notes.” These won’t translate well.

Creating Structured Content

At Mailchimp, we write 2 kinds of content: structured and unstructured. Most of our technical and educational documents are structured, following standardized content templates. These templates make both writing and reading easier. They also help future-proof our documents, making it easier for developers to come in later and add semantic data to make the work reusable outside of where it was originally published.

This section lays out when to use a structured content template and how to create a template of your own.


While some content types are better served by a unique structure created by the writer, others lend themselves to a reusable structure. Blog posts, newsletter content, and most marketing copy are all examples of unstructured content that will vary from piece to piece. The more reusable your content might be, the more helpful a content template will be.

Consider using a template if:

  1. Users would benefit from seeing your content multiple places
  2. Readers need to be able to scan it
  3. Writers need to be able to create it quickly
  4. You want to encourage repeat visits and familiarity with your content

All educational content at Mailchimp relies heavily on content templates. We use templates for Technical Content, Integration Directory descriptions, marketing guides, and more.


If you’re looking for a template for your structured content but can’t find one that meets your needs, you may want to create your own. There are 2 main ways to approach this.

Use a model

If you already have a piece of content that serves its purpose well, use it as a model. Review some of the templates in the style guide to see how granular you might want to get, and look for any elements you might want to add.

As you read through the model document, make a list of all the individual parts that make up the piece. Then briefly describe what they do and how they do it.

Common elements in templates are:

  1. Title
  2. Introduction
  3. Body content (which can usually be broken apart into smaller elements)
  4. Additional links

Keep in mind that the template has to be reusable, so it's best to focus on the high-level goal of the content type, rather than the message of a particular piece.

Start from scratch

If you like outlining before you write, that's a great way to start your template. This will give you an early look at the elements you’ll include in your final template and will help organize your writing process.

You may prefer to write a draft first, then outline later based on how the parts fit together. Read your draft closely and identify the important elements or patterns you've used. Looking for things like introductions, sections with headings, tables, images, and other elements that aren’t topic-specific. Write them out and describe how they inform the meaning or usability of the piece.

Create your template by listing out the elements you identify in your outline or draft. Consider each element and what it contributes to the meaning of the piece. Is its purpose important enough that every content of this type should include it? If so, make it part of your template.

Copyright and Trademarks

Copyright is a bundle of exclusive legal rights that vary depending on the type of work. A copyright owner can grant some or all of those rights to others through a license. This section will lay out our approach to copyrights, trademarks, and Creative Commons licenses.


Copyright protection applies to any original works that are fixed in a tangible medium. This includes works like drawings, recordings of a song, short stories, or paintings, but not something like a garden, since it will grow and change by nature. Copyright does not cover facts, ideas, names, or characters.

Copyright protection begins when the work is first created and it doesn’t require any formal filings. However, to enforce a copyright in the US, you need to register the work with the US Copyright Office. (For further clarity, check out their FAQ page, which is full of gems like “How do I protect my sighting of Elvis?”)

Copyright notice on the work is not required but it is recommended, since it cuts off a defense of innocent infringement.

Copyright law applies to nearly every piece of content we create at Mailchimp, from our website to our blog posts to the gifts we make for our users. We display proper—and prominent—copyright notice on our website site and any other content we produce.

At minimum, these copyright notices read, “© [YEAR] Mailchimp.”

At the bottom of every page of our website, we also include a longer notice to make it clear that all rights are reserved and our marks are registered: “© 2001-2015 All Rights Reserved. Mailchimp® is a registered trademark of The Rocket Science Group.”

Other creators’ copyrights

We respect the copyright of other creators. If we want to use someone else’s copyrighted work, we have to obtain a license from the owners.

A copyright license spells out these terms:

  1. Where we can use the work
  2. How long we can use it for
  3. How much we’ll pay them for the use
  4. Whether or not we’re the only ones who can use the work
  5. What we can do with the work
  6. Any restrictions on our use (for example, that we can use it online but not on a billboard)

A common license will read something like this:

“You grant Mailchimp a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty free license to display, distribute, and publish the Work in our marketing in any medium now known or later developed.”

If you need to get a copyright license for work at Mailchimp or if someone outside of Mailchimp asks to use our copyrighted work, please contact the legal team.

This is an area where the letter of the law and common practice sometimes differ.

Social media posts often include copyrighted elements like pictures, GIFs, or pieces of writing. If you’re using a copyrighted element in a commercial manner on social media, you should request permission from the copyright holder. Since Mailchimp is a company, we defer to the position that our use will be perceived as commercial. But if you’re using it in a more informative or commentary way, like sharing a meme to indicate how you feel about a news story, you may not need to request permission.

Regardless, you should always link to the source of the copyrighted element you’re using, and never make it look like you created work that belongs to someone else.

Mailchimp almost always uses original images in our blog posts. If you use an image, photo, or other design element made by someone outside Mailchimp, get permission first. Once you have permission, always give the copyright owner credit and link back to the original source.

Images retrieved via Google image search are not licensed for fair use, but many images are available under license through stock photo websites, or open for use under a Creative Commons license. Flickr has a great search feature for images available under Creative Commons licenses.

Other licenses

Creative Commons licenses

Instead of the standard “all rights reserved,” some creators choose to make their work available for public use with different levels of attribution required. That’s what we’ve done with this style guide. Find a breakdown of licenses on the Creative Commons website.

Please check with Mailchimp’s legal team before making something you created here available under a Creative Commons license. We love to share our work, but we use these licenses sparingly, because we have to protect our intellectual property and trade secrets.


A trademark, often called a mark, can be a word, name, sign, design, or a combination of those. It’s used to identify the provider of a particular product or service. They’re usually words and images, but in some cases, they can even be a color.

To be protectable, a trademark needs a distinctive element. There’s a “spectrum of distinctiveness” that spans from inherently protectable marks to ones that require additional proof to ones that may never be protected.

  1. Fanciful marks, which are made up words like Kodak or Xerox, are the most easily registered and protected.
  2. Arbitrary marks, which are words which are used out of context like Apple or Sprite, are also easy to protect.
  3. Suggestive marks, which suggest at some element of the goods or services like Greyhound, follow.
  4. Descriptive marks, where the word's dictionary meaning aligns with the goods or services offered, like Mr. Plumber or Lektronic, are not protectable unless they develop a secondary meaning. That means a consumer would immediately associate the mark with only that good or service. This can be hard to prove, so it's best to avoid descriptive marks when possible.
  5. Generic terms, or the common name for a product or service, are not protectable.

We usually classify Mailchimp as a suggestive mark, but it could also be considered fanciful.

A trademark is only valid for as long as it indicates the source of that good or service, so we have to be very careful about how our marks are used. We send out cease and desist letters sometimes, because even the friendliest companies have to protect their trademarks. If a trademark is properly protected, it can last forever and may be a company's most valuable asset.

Displaying trademark notices

To note that something is a trademark, and in the case of registered marks in order to collect damages, the trademark has to be displayed with an appropriate symbol.

Here are the various trademark symbols and when to use them:

  1. For unregistered trademarks of goods, use ™
  2. For unregistered trademarks of services, use ℠
  3. For trademarks granted registration by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, use ®
  4. Note that using ® on marks that haven’t been registered by the USPTO can be considered fraud, so if you’re not sure if a trademark is registered, don’t use ® .

The trademark symbol should appear as close to the mark as possible.

Here’s how to indicate Mailchimp’s trademark:

  1. Include the ® symbol in the upper right-hand corner, above the word: Mailchimp® this use is preferable.
  2. Include the ® symbol in the lower right-hand corner, below the word: Mailchimp®

Marks are also sometimes indicated by using all caps: MAILCHIMP

Our trademarks should be properly noted the first time they’re used in a press release or article, or anywhere else our trademark and copyright notice does not appear.

Registering trademarks at Mailchimp

We register all of our trademarks. Before we decide to use a name for a product, we perform a trademark search to make sure there aren’t any confusingly similar trademarks already in use.

For the most part, our trademarks are “suggestive marks,” which mean the name suggests at some element of the goods or services represented.

If you’re working on a new product at Mailchimp, submit name possibilities to the legal team so they can get a head start on the trademark search. Even if you haven’t used the name yet, we can go ahead and file an Intent to Use application.

Word List

Standardized spellings

These words can be slippery. Here’s how we write them. (If it’s not on this list, defer to the AP Style Guide.)

  1. add-on (noun, adjective), add on (verb)
  2. back end (noun), back-end (adjective)
  3. best seller (noun), best-selling (adjective)
  4. beta
  5. brick-and-mortar
  6. checkbox
  7. coworker
  8. click-through rate (CTR)
  9. cost per click
  10. double-click
  11. drop-down (noun, adjective), drop down (verb)
  12. e-commerce (the industry)
  13. ePub
  14. email (never hyphenate, never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  15. To name
  16. From name
  17. Reply-to name
  18. Subject line
  19. Cc, Bcc
  20. emoji (singular and plural)
  21. front end (noun), front-end (adjective)
  22. geolocation
  23. hashtag
  24. homepage
  25. integrate
  26. internet (never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  27. login (noun, adjective), log in (verb)
  28. Like (the social media activity)
  29. multichannel
  30. nonprofit
  31. OK
  32. omnichannel (use sparingly)
  33. online (never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  34. opt-in (noun, adjective), opt in (verb)
  35. pay-per-click (PPC)
  36. pop-up (noun, adjective), pop up (verb)
  37. pre-sale
  38. product-market fit
  39. signup (noun, adjective), sign up (verb)
  40. sync
  41. third party (noun), third-party (adjective)
  42. tweet, retweet
  43. username
  44. URL
  45. website
  46. WiFi

Words to use carefully

We use plain language, which means avoiding industry jargon. But some jargon-adjacent words can be appropriate in educational contexts. Only use these if you’re writing about marketing education and have room to briefly define them.

  1. buyer journey
  2. conversion
  3. customer lifecycle
  4. integrated marketing
  5. lead generation
  6. marketing funnel
  7. multichannel marketing
  8. omnichannel marketing
  9. product-market fit
  10. value proposition

Words to avoid

  1. automagical (we used to say this a lot, and we’re embarrassed about it)
  2. funnel, incentivize, leverage, disruption, thought leader, learnings, or other fluffy corporate terms
  3. internets, interwebs, or any other variation of the word “internet”
  4. ninja, rockstar, wizard, unicorn (unless referring to a literal ninja, rockstar, wizard, or unicorn)
  5. young, old, elderly, or any other word describing a person's age
  6. crushing it, killing it
  7. crazy, insane, or similar words to describe people
  8. best-in-breed
  9. Silicon Valley cliches like rise and grind, or disruptor/disruption.
  10. activation (when referring to our presence at an event)
  11. blacklist, whitelist, grandfathered, slave, master, deaf, blind and any other racist or abelist terms

Further Reading

We love these style guides:

  1. 18F Content Guide
  2. Buzzfeed Style Guide
  3. A List Apart Style Guide

If you’re working on your own style guide, these resources were helpful to us:

  1. Accessibility Cheatsheet
  2. 18F Accessibility Guide
  3. Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility
  4. Accessible Color Combinations
  5. WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
  6. The Conscious Style Guide
  7. GLAAD Media Reference Guide

Want to adapt our guide to use at your own organization?

  1. Mailchimp Style Guide on GitHub


The Mailchimp Content Style Guide goes into depth on many subjects. It may be more information than you need. Here are the most important things to know.


Good content is:

  1. Clear
  2. Useful
  3. Friendly
  4. Appropriate

Voice and tone

Mailchimp’s voice is:

  1. Human
  2. Familiar
  3. Friendly
  4. Straightforward

Our tone changes depending on the situation, but it's generally informal. We have a sense of humor, but we value clarity over entertainment.

Our priorities are to educate our users about our products without patronizing or confusing them, so they can get their work done and get on with their lives.

Writing about people

We write and build apps with a person-first perspective. Being aware of the impact of your language will help make Mailchimp a better place to work and a better steward of our values in the world.

  1. Don’t reference age or disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.
  2. Avoid gendered language and use the singular “they.”
  3. When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns; if you don’t know those, just use their name.

Related resource: The Conscious Style Guide.

Grammar and mechanics

  1. Some people will read every word you write. Others will just scan. Help everyone by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.
  2. Focus your message, and create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content.
  3. Use active voice and positive language.
  4. Use short words and sentences.
  5. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.
  6. Use specific examples.
  7. Avoid vague language.
  8. Be consistent. Adhere to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.
  9. Feel free to use contractions.
  10. Use the serial comma. Otherwise, use common sense.
  11. Don’t use underline, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.
  12. When in doubt, read your writing out loud.

Web elements

  1. Organize your page around one topic.
  2. Use clear, descriptive terms that relate to the topic in titles and headings.
  3. Give every image descriptive alt text.
  4. Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Capitalize every word, including articles.
  5. Use sentence case for checkboxes and radio buttons.
  6. Use title case for drop-down menu names and sentence case for menu items.
  7. Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields. Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for irrelevant personal information, like gender.
  8. Use title case for main navigation. Use sentence case for subnavigation.
  9. Use title case for headings and sentence case for subheadings.
  10. Organize headings and subheadings in a hierarchy, with heading first, followed by subheadings in order.
  11. Include the most relevant keywords in your headings and subheadings.
  12. Provide a link whenever you’re referring to a website, relevant content, and trusted external resources.
  13. Don’t say things like “Click here!” or “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Instead, link relevant keywords.
  14. Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of info. Set up your list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order of information is important.

Writing for accessibility

  1. Create a hierarchy, with the most important information first.
  2. Place similar topics in the same paragraph, and clearly separate different topics with headings.
  3. Use plain language. Write short sentences and familiar words.
  4. Links should provide information on the associated action or destination. Avoid saying “click here” or “learn more.”
  5. Avoid using images when descriptive text will do.
  6. Avoid directional instructions or language that requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page.
  7. Label inputs on forms with clear names and use appropriate tags. Think carefully about what fields are necessary, and especially which ones you mark as required.

Writing for translation

  1. Use active voice.
  2. Avoid double negatives.
  3. Use contractions with caution.
  4. Avoid using synonyms for the same word in a single piece of writing.
  5. Write briefly, but don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity. You may need to repeat or add words to make the meaning of your sentences clear to a translator.
  6. Avoid slang, idioms, and cliches.
  7. Avoid unnecessary abbreviations.

Mailchimp, a leading email marketing software, uses a comprehensive style guide to craft compelling and effective communication no matter the audience or purpose. The very thorough guide emphasizes clear, useful, and friendly content that resonates with readers, using a voice that is always human, familiar, and straightforward, but still adaptable to many different situations.

When writing about people, the guide promotes a person-first perspective, avoiding references to age or disability and using inclusive language. Grammar and mechanics tips include grouping related ideas, using active voice, and employing short sentences for maximum impact. The guide also offers insights into button language, form design, navigation, and the use of headings and subheadings.

Accessibility and translation are also prioritized within Mailchimp's Style Guide. It recommends creating a hierarchy of information, using plain language, and providing only genuinely meaningful links. These practices help to break down communication barriers and reach diverse audiences.

With Mailchimp's Style Guide, teams can easily create clear and engaging messages that represent their brand well and leave a lasting impact with customers.

Related examples in Writing Style Guides
Help Scout
Help Scout
Content Style
Tone of Voice