Tone of Voice

Overview

Your company’s tone of voice — how the character of your business comes through in the words you write — can make a lasting impression on anyone who reads your content. Here at Acrolinx, we can use our linguistic analytics platform to measure the clarity, and conversational tone of your content. We don't just provide metrics — we also give you specific guidance on how to change your content so that it has the level of clarity and conversational tone that's most suitable for your audience type.

Audience Types

You can use audience types to give your writers an idea of what tone of voice they should aim for. Your Acrolinx guidance package comes installed with an audience type called "Standard." You can update this audience type if it isn't suitable for your content. To set up a new audience type, we've provided two categories, Clarity and Conversational Tone.

  • Choose which level of clarity best suits your audience.

  • You can choose to turn conversational tone on or off for your audience.

For example, if your audience is server administrators who are trying to follow a complex technical procedure, you might want Clarity set to complex and Conversational Tone  set to off. You might call this audience type something like "Technical" or "Administrators".

When writers check content, they can open the scorecard and see if their content corresponds to the tone of voice under Summary.

In the previous illustration, there are three issues that can be improved for clarity and seven issues that can be improved for conversational tone.

  • If you use checking profiles, you can add several audience types for different writers.

    Suppose that you want some writers to create content for marketing professionals. You might decide that the content needs to be clear and simple as well as conversational and engaging. In this case, you might do the following:

    1. Create a new audience type called  Marketing. 

    2. Choose the clarity and conversational tone for that audience.

    3. Assign the new audience type to your writers.

      You do this by assigning a checking profile to your marketing writers. In the checking profile, set the "Target Audience" type to "Marketing". 

  • If you don’t use checking profiles, you can only edit the "Standard" audience type.

    This basically means you can only target one type of audience at a time with the same tone of voice for all content.

Adding and Editing Audience Types

If you use checking profiles, you can add different audience types. If you don't use checking profiles, you can still edit the "standard" audience type that comes with every guidance package.

To add or edit an audience type, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to  Guidance Settings  Tone of Voice,  and select your language.
  2. To add more audience types, click  Add.
    You can only add extra audience types if you use checking profiles.
  3. To edit an audience type, select the name of that audience type and update the tone of voice settings.

    You do this by adjusting the drop-downs to mix and match the tone of voice.

    Your changes take effect immediately.

Deleting Audience Types

If you use checking profiles, you can add multiple audience types. If you no longer require an audience type, you can easily delete it in the Dashboard.

To delete an audience type, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to  Guidance Settings Tone of Voice,  and select your language.
  2. Select a name from the list of  Audience Types.
  3. Click Delete.

    Your changes take effect immediately.

Metrics and Guidance

When we talk about tone of voice, we'll discuss two different ways that Acrolinx can help: metrics and guidance.

Metrics

When you run a check and open the Acrolinx Scorecard, you'll see a section called Metrics.

This section shows you your tone of voice broken down into specific characteristics.

You get a metric for each characteristic. These metrics help you develop the right tone of voice for your audience type. And, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach — one company’s ideal tone of voice may not be at all appropriate for another — it’s important to figure out what tone of voice works for your audience, and then to ensure that you’re consistently writing in that tone of voice.

Guidance

To help you figure out which parts of your content need improvement, Acrolinx gives you specific guidance on how to change your content so that it has the tone of voice that's most suitable for your audience type.

Here's how it works:

You open your editor, check your content, and in the Acrolinx Sidebar you'll see specific hints on what sentences you should change to get the right level of clarity.
For now, the guidance offered is for Clarity and Conversational Tone.

How the Scoring Is Set Up

We set up the scoring for you and include it in your guidance package (formerly  linguistic resources). If you'd like to check for another characteristic that isn't already in your guidance package, you can ask our professional services team to set it up for you.

When checking content with Acrolinx, you don’t need to do anything extra to get scores for your tone of voice. After you install your guidance package, you'll see the scores for each voice characteristic on the Acrolinx Scorecard under Metrics.

For some characteristics, there are special word lists that influence the score. For example, we have a list of words that are overused in marketing copy. These words reduce the liveliness of a document. You can ask the professional services team to customize these lists for you when they set up your guidance package.

What You Can Configure Yourself

There are also some tone of voice settings that you can configure yourself:

  • You can create audience types and assign them to your writers so that they know when to change the tone of voice of their content.
  • If you want to temporarily turn off voice scores, you can turn off voice scores in the core server properties.

Voice Characteristics

Your tone of voice is made up of several characteristics. You receive scores based on how much your content includes each of these characteristics.

For example, your Acrolinx guidance package might be configured to check for clarity, liveliness, and informality. You can ask your Acrolinx professional services team to include more characteristics in your guidance package.

Turning off Scores for All Characteristics

For some people, the scores for individual voice characteristics are more distracting than helpful. This might be the case if tone of voice isn’t your primary focus and you just want to check for the basics such as style and terminology.

In this case, you can turn off the scores for the voice characteristics so that they don't show up in your scorecard. You turn of these scores by updating your core server properties.

To turn off scores for voice characteristics, follow these steps:

  1. Open your overlay of the core server properties file.

    Find the overlay for the core server properties file in the following location: 

    %ACROLINX_CONFIGURATION_ROOT%\server\bin\coreserver.properties


  2. Add the following property:

    voiceScoring.enabled=false

    When this property isn’t present in the core server properties, the default value is true.

  3. Save your changes and restart the core server.

Word Lists

There are some kinds of words that can affect different voice characteristics. For example, the clarity of your content can suffer when you use complex words.

You can ask the Acrolinx professional services team to add a list of complex words to your guidance package. Content that contains words from your "complex words" list will get a lower clarity metric.

The Acrolinx professional services team names each word list when they add them to your guidance package. This name tells you which characteristic the word list applies to. For example, a word list for clarity would be called something like "Complex words for clarity".

Sidebar Guidance for Tone of Voice

Acrolinx doesn't just give you tone of voice metrics — you'll also get guidance on how to change your content. For now, you get guidance on how to improve the clarity of your content, but we're working on including the other characteristics as well.

To get tone of voice guidance in the Acrolinx Sidebar, first make sure that you use a Guidance Profile with the Tone of voice option selected. As a writer, you can see which Guidance Profiles check for tone of voice in the following way:

  1. Open the Acrolinx Sidebar
  2. Open the slide-out menu and go to Options
  3. You'll see the current check options under CHECK. Different Guidance Profiles will have different check options.
    Tone of voice checking is active if the check options include Clarity, Conversational Tone, or Acronym.

Once you check your content, Acrolinx shows you potential tone of voice issues with special cards in the Sidebar.

These cards are magenta colored and work a little differently to other cards.


  • For most issue types, each card corresponds to one individual issue in the content. When you click the card, Acrolinx highlights the relevant text in your content.
  • For tone of voice, each card corresponds to an entire sentence that might contain several issues. When you click the card, the card expands to show you hints about the clarity issues in your sentence. You can also click an individual hint to highlight the specific clarity issue. In the previous illustration, we've selected the hint about adjectives to see specifically where this issue occurs in our sentence.

Acrolinx doesn't provide suggestions for these issues because they usually don't have straightforward solutions. Acrolinx provides you with hints on how to improve the clarity, but we leave the editing to you.