Inclusive writing

Avoid acronyms and technical jargon

Technical acronyms and jargon are not always well understood by people who don’t work in software. These terms can be exclusionary and rarely adapt well into local languages or cultures. If using a technical term is required, please include a brief definition and a way for people to learn more.

Avoid colloquial expressions, metaphors, or slang

When striving for a conversational tone, problematic language might slip in. Prioritize clarity over cleverness. Colloquial language is exclusionary, and it’s difficult to adapt into other languages and cultures.

Don’t ask for gender

Firefox products do not require people to designate their gender.

Avoid using icons alone to symbolize an action

Icons alone are rarely broadly recognized and should often be accompanied by a text label. Symbols alone are also not always accessible for low vision users, who can have a hard time distinguishing what an icon is "supposed to" represent. And, icons represent different things in different cultural contexts.

Example: A gear icon could have different meanings to different people. For low-vision users or those using a screen reader, the text clarifies the symbol’s meaning.

If iconography or images are used, consider whether they should be described to assistive technologies, like screen readers. If an icon is accompanied by a text label, exposing the text label alone (and hiding the icon from assistive technologies) is usually sufficient. If the icon conveys additional, important information, add descriptions as appropriate. You might do this, for example, with alt text.

Deprecate terms that reinforce stereotypes and oppressive history

As society evolves, our language must evolve with it. Problematic terms such as ‘master password,’ ‘blacklist,’ and ‘dark pattern’ were once widely accepted industry terms. We hold each other accountable to no longer use these terms. For more information, see this Thoughtful Language in Firefox Lightning Talk presentation.

Problematic Terms

Master password

Primary password

Master-slave is racist metaphor that perpetuates white supremacy. We have no need for terms derived from harmful metaphors when we have plenty of alternatives that are more inclusive and more descriptive. Learn more about why we deprecated this term in Firefox.


block list/allow list

Embedding the concept that white equals good or black/dark equals bad assigns value to physical features. Avoid the metaphorical use of white-black to connote good-evil.

Dark pattern

Deceptive design pattern

Embedding the concept that white equals good or black/dark equals bad assigns value to physical features. Avoid the metaphorical use of white-black to connote good-evil. Learn more about deceptive design patterns.

Native feature

Built-in feature, core feature, default feature

‘Native’ can have negative connotations for some people. It is a general, overarching term that does not account for any distinctiveness between various groups.


Folks, everybody, everyone, all

Using ‘guys’ for a group can be exclusionary. Use one of the suggested indefinite pronouns instead.

Dumb, lame, stupid


These terms reinforce negative connotations around disabilities.

crazy (e.g. Crazy 8s), sanity check, insane, PTSD

Instead of Crazy 8s, to describe the design brainstorming exercise, you could call it 8 Ups.

These terms continue to stigmatize mental health conditions.

When a terminology change is required, follow these steps:

  1. Find a replacement that is clear and direct
  2. Consider recommendations from industry standards
  3. Align with localization to understand impact
  4. Discuss potential implications with legal
  5. Implement the change across products and support content
  6. Transition users to the new term

Writing for specific content types

Text links

Focus where the link goes and the user’s task, not the mechanics of the action in the link. Avoid “click here,” as this isn’t descriptive enough for screen readers. See Why Your Links Should Never Say “Click Here”

ALT text for website images

ALT text should provide useful information to anyone who can’t see images. These users may have their image display disabled, are visually impaired, or use a screen reader. If an image has text on it, rewrite that text in the ALT text. More pointers to write good alt text.

Hover text/tooltips

Tooltips are short text fragments intended to be self-sufficient. Provide brief and helpful content inside the tooltip. In general, shorter tooltips are more efficient for screen reader users, but if a longer tooltip is better for everyone, consistency tops brevity. More tooltip Guidelines from Nielsen Norman Group.

Writing for adults of all ages

Globally, the population of older adults (age 65+) will more than double in the decades to come. The rapid evolution of technology, along with cognitive changes associated with aging, can make digital projects more frustrating and challenging for this age group. It’s important to use research-based strategies to design more inclusive products.

  • Older adults are more inclined to read every word of microcopy, so concise writing and natural phrases can lessen the cognitive load. Breaking down complex processes into multiple screens can also help with comprehension. Include older people in your research to help identify the most accessible language.
  • Older people tend to be more risk-averse, so explain why you’re collecting personal information.




For example, we previously asked for age during account creation without explaining why, which may have triggered some privacy concerns. Now, we clearly explain why we need the information.

Because reaction times slow as we age, it helps to give users control over their pace of tasks; avoid messages that disappear too quickly, and make important actions easy to undo.

For example, this delete bookmark confirmation message allows plenty of time for reading (3 full seconds) and includes an “undo” option.