Writing for a Global Audience

The English language contains thousands of idioms (phrases not meant to be taken literally). We use them in our speech so they may appear in documents. For example, “just as soon” should be “quickly” to avoid confusing readers of our documents in other countries.

The specialized or technical language of a trade or profession is called jargon. Be careful to use only commonly accepted terms. Your local jargon may be unknown to the rest of the world. For example, a “seamless” process should be called a “well-integrated” process.

Eliminate terms in global documents that are uniquely American. Use of a baseball reference, such as “touch base with”, should become “contact”.

Humor may be useful in advertising materials to gain the reader’s attention, but is seldom appropriate for other business documents. Your intended humor may not funny in other cultures.

Most of the world is metric, so provide metric equivalents for the readers in other countries. For example, express dimensions in both inches and centimeters.

We use a date format of mm/dd/yy. Other countries use formats of dd/mm/yy or yy/mm/dd. Express the full date (May 1, 2003) to avoid confusion.