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Learning Centre

Active Vs. Passive Voice

When you're writing web content, you should write all of your sentences in the active voice. The active voice makes web content more engaging and easier to read. If you view the Readability Statistics of a page in Microsoft Word, you can see the percentage of passive sentences in the content.

Passive voice

Here is an example of a sentence written in the passive voice:

  • Children may be registered in the child care program by their parents.

Active voice

Here is an example of a sentence written in the active voice:

  • Parents can register their children in the child care program.

The active voice focuses on the person/thing performing the action first (e.g., parents) whereas the passive voice focusses on the object of the verb receiving the action (e.g., children). By placing the subject of the verb at the beginning of the sentence, you can create the active voice, as seen in the previous samples.

Direct and in the active voice

Try writing content that is both direct and written in the active voice.

For example:

  • You can register your children in the child care program.

Be conversational

Use the active voice by speaking to your audience as if you were talking to them directly in real time. To do this, start by addressing the person and the action (you may, we can, etc.). Reading your content aloud helps to see if you are writing a sentence you might actually say to someone in person or over the phone. To do this, write in a conversational, friendly tone and in the first-person (i.e., you, we, us) as opposed to “one.”

e.g., You can get a parking pass at the front desk. (Conversational, active and in the first person.)

vs. One may retrieve a parking pass from the reception desk. (Indirect and unengaging.)