Less, but better
Weniger, aber besser (Dieter Rams)
Strive for simplicity. The communicator, not the receiver, should do the work.
By the people, for the people
بالشعب و للشعب Bil-shaʿb wa lil-shaʿb
We democratize translation, making it convenient and accessible to all. We’re here to improve the lives of everyone at Gengo—customers, translators and staff alike.
As we work, we improve how we work. This is about listening, observation, research and defining standards, then improving on those standards to scale.
What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations
故兵貴勝，不貴久 Gù bīng guì shèng, bù guì jiǔ (Sun Tzu)
Everyone is focused on our mission, so we reduce bureaucracy. All actions, conversations and messages have purpose.
Click. Boom. Amazing!
Our job is to create experiences that are truly exceptional, memorable and game-changing. At every step we should be thinking, “Am I doing amazing work here?” Truly amazing things aren't quick and flashy, but are solid and take years of hard work.
Empower talented people everywhere to help the world communicate.
Customer-facing: Airline Pilot
We are cool, calm, collected; people trust us to do our job well. We are smart and exude confidence, but have a simple, straightforward communication style. We do a lot more than help customers order—most of the hard work is done before they come on board.
CONFIDENTbut not arrogant
POWERFULbut not complicated
EFFICIENTbut not soulless
HELPFULbut not intrusive
POLITEbut not stuffy
WARMbut not chummy
We set high expectations for all of our translators and strive to get the best out of them. We exhibit expertise and believe in lifelong learning (kaizen). Our lessons are fun and focused. We have strong relationships with our translators and show we care about them as people. We can be stern but calm when translators behave poorly.
INFORMALbut not sloppy
STERNbut not strict
RESPECTFULbut not complacent
DIRECTbut not confrontional
GUIDINGbut not ordering
FUNNYbut not goofy
Voice and tone
Getting the right tone of voice means Gengo customers recognize us as an efficient and solid service and authority on globalization, localization and translation. For translators, it means we are seen as a fair and reliable company and the definitive place to grow as a language enthusiast.
We use clear, straightforward messaging with a human touch. Avoid ambiguity, jargon, and complex wording. Be concise—tap the power of brevity, channel Dieter Rams and strive for simplicity.
Our human element sets us apart and our voice should reflect this. Language should be informal and familiar, active not passive and second rather than third person (e.g., “you” instead of “translators”; “you can publish all your content” instead of “ecommerce, travel and media companies can publish all their content”). If we make a mistake, we acknowledge it, own it and apologize.
Our voice is authoritative, but not dictatorial. We are serious about our mission, and occasionally show our fun side—when appropriate; system errors or payment failure are not laughing matters. We are passionate about breaking down language barriers, but not in a way that’s excitable or immature (i.e. keep emoticons and exclamation marks to a minimum!!!)
Gengo does not belong to any one country or culture. Our customers, translators and staff come from all corners of the earth and many speak more than one language. We are culturally sensitive, and maintain a strong sense of identity across all languages.
All users are important, and our communications should reflect this. If you’re talking about system-wide changes, say “improve your Gengo experience” or “improve the user experience,” not “improve the customer experience.”
Our customers are:
They are a mix of individuals, localization project managers, marketing professionals and product staff looking to translate a wide range of content (personal letters, user-generated reviews, product descriptions, etc.). They come from many countries and industries. Some are deeply familiar with translation processes and others are translating for the first time.
They are searching for an affordable, effective, and efficient alternative to a traditionally expensive and cumbersome process. They make informed decisions based on the intersection of speed, scale, quality, and cost.
They believe in getting things done and dislike unnecessary distractions. They value tools that work well and information that is useful.
Our translators are:
They pick and choose which jobs they work on and when. Gengo is usually one of many employers and they are free to leave at any time.
They are highly proficient in at least two languages and have talent for the written word. They are self-starters, always seeking opportunities to learn and grow. They are proud professionals with a purpose, are tech-savvy, and time-conscious.
They view translating with Gengo as more than a job; it is an opportunity to collaborate with language specialists from around the world, develop translation skills, and help others do the same. They appreciate our fun and friendly atmosphere, and feel part of our community with a stake in Gengo’s growth.
- Use American English, not British English, e.g. realize, not realise
- Always capitalize our company name, i.e. Gengo, not gengo
- Use start case for all buttons and navigation menu items
(capitalization of all words, regardless of the part of speech)
- Use sentence case for general/marketing copy titles
- Spell out acronyms and abbreviations in capital letters at first mention
unless the short form is more common than the long form, e.g. DVD
- Don’t spell out percentages, e.g., 100% not 100 percent
- Don’t spell out small money amounts, e.g., $0.05, not five cents
- Spell out numbers under 10 and numbers at the start of a sentence
- e.g. Twelve tigers ate my two dogs for dinner.
- Use a hyphen to connect a number ending with “y” to another number
- e.g. twenty-seven, not twenty seven
- Use figures when counting more than one thing
- e.g. There are 100 people in 1 million organizations.
- Place a 0 before decimals less than 1, e.g., 0.02 not .02
- In describing quantities in millions, use one decimal place at most
- In describing billions, use no more than two decimal places
- Always use decimals, never fractions
Date and time
- Format dates as follows:
- Long form: month, date, year, e.g. Tuesday, December 1, 2008
- Short form: mm/dd/yyyy, e.g. 12/1/2008
- Do not write in military time. Indicate time of day using using a.m. and p.m. with time zone, if needed
- e.g. 1:33 p.m. PST, not 13:33
- e.g. 2:45 p.m., not 2:45 PM
- Abbreviate time zones in capital letters and be aware of daylight savings time differences. Listing time zones for both parties is a good practice
- e.g. 8:15 p.m. PDT/12:15 p.m. JST
Punctuation and italics
Periods ( . )
- Place periods within quotation marks
Commas ( , )
- Use the Oxford comma when appropriate
- Use a comma to separate two adjectives (if the word “and” can be inserted)
- Use a comma at the end of certain abbreviations (like i.e. and etc.)
- e.g. Letters, packages, etc., should go here.
- Place commas inside the closing quotation mark
Quotation marks ( “ ” and ‘ ’ )
- Always close quotation marks
- Don't use single quotes unless nesting them within double quotes
- e.g. “The guy was like, ‘That’s ridiculous!’ and I was like, ‘Duh!’”
- Periods and commas are always placed within quotation marks
- e.g. We always preferred to “bear those ills we have.”
- e.g. “I don’t think so,” she replied.
- Exception: With computer terms and file names, punctuation is always outside of quotation marks to avoid error
- e.g. Click on Save As; name your file “appendix A, v. 10”.
- Exclamation points and question marks are placed outside of quotation marks unless they belong with the quoted matter
- e.g. Which of Shakespeare’s characters said, “All the world’s a stage”?
- e.g. “Where are the cookies?” she asked.
- Semicolons and colons are placed outside of quotation marks
Semicolons ( ; )
- In general, use sparingly
- Use to connect two independent clauses
- e.g. There are 30 pages to the proposal; don't get discouraged.
- Use for a list of items that contain internal punctuation
- e.g. We traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington.
- Don't use apostrophes for plurals of acronyms, abbreviations and years
- e.g. CPUs, not CPU’s; the 1990s, not the 1990’s
Hyphens and em dashes
- Use hyphens (-) in URLs, email addresses, compound words and number spans
- Em dashes (—) often have the same function as commas, parentheses and colons when setting off distinct thoughts within sentences
- e.g. My friends—that is, my former friends—ganged up on me.
- Don’t use double hyphens (--) to replace dashes
- Making an em dash
- On a Mac: hold down on shift + option and press hyphen ( - )
- On a PC: hold down on the alt key and type 015
Use this, not that
- Don’t use the word “immediately” in reference to translation times
- Don't put two spaces in between sentences
- Don't use technical terminology without explaining it
- Double-check company and product name capitalization (see below)
|Use this||Not this|
|ecommerce (Ecommerce if capitalized)||e-commerce, ECommerce|
|log in/log out (verb)||log-in/log-out/sign-in/sign-out|
|login/logout (adj., noun)||log-in/log-out/sign-in/sign-out|
|online||on line, Online, on-line|
|PayPal||Pay pal, Paypal|
|PowerPoint||Power Point, powerpoint|
|webmaster, webcam, webmail, webzine||web master, web cam, web mail, web zine|
Press releases follow AP style. Be careful of differences relative to Gengo style, especially those listed below:
- With headlines, all letters are capitalized regardless of length
- E-Commerce and e-commerce (AP), not Ecommerce or ecommerce (Gengo)