Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Design System

Writing Style Guide

This guide was created specifically for employees who represent MnDOT in written communication with staff, government officials, and the public. This guide, in general, follows the Associated Press Style Book.

The way we write sends messages about the competency and values of our organization. Spelling errors and grammar mistakes can negatively affect our reputation. Tone and word choice may affect the reader’s perception of whether we are living out our agency’s core values. The guidelines in this style guide will support you in creating communications that reflect positively on our organization.

We also encourage you to proof your communications and, when appropriate, ask for second opinions from colleagues who can provide feedback on the clarity and tone of your communication.

If you have questions about this Style Guide, please contact Communication team members.

Best practices when creating web content

  • Avoid jargon and acronyms, especially on entry pages, which often make it difficult for general audiences to understand.
  • Use plain language whenever possible. The average reader reads at an eighth-grade level, so use language that most people would easily understand. Test your content using an online readability tool: https://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
  • Do not use “Welcome to…” or “You’ve reached….” or “Hello!” greetings on any Web pages.
  • Do not include background or history information on the home page. Create Background page if needed.
  • Do not combine topics based on office structure. An office may have more than one topic-based site.
  • Page titles should use this example “I-35W in Minneapolis” or use “I-35 Bridge Rehabilitation” with a sub title that states the cities “Forest Lake”. Consult with Web Team members if you are unsure about how to title your page or site.
  • Do not post content that does not provide a service or have value to our visitors.