's tone

Audience First

When writing copy, we don’t write for or at people—we write directly to them. So, ask yourself, “who am I writing this for?”  On one hand, you are writing to anyone and everyone living in the Commonwealth. So, that’s where The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s voice comes into play. However, different agencies have different audiences, and that’s where tone of voice comes into play. 

For example, Pennsylvanians visiting the Department of Motor Vehicle’s site have different needs than those visiting the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

At the same time, within those different audiences, there are different types of people—some may not speak or read English as their first language, some might be in the midst of an emergency, some might be there on behalf of their business, and some might be looking to volunteer. So, it’s important to know and consider your users, so you can write directly to them. 

Types of Pennsylvanians

Not every site visitor is a citizen, and not every citizen is a resident. In most contexts, these names are interchangeable, but some may have specific meanings and uses.


Citizens were born in the US or are naturalized citizens of the U.S.



Visitors are temporarily visiting a property or business in Pennsylvania. 


Constituents are represented by an elected official in the Commonwealth 

Users & Site Visitors 

Users are site visitors who are looking to use products or services. Site visitors access or other websites. 


Residents live in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 



Advocates are representing or acting on behalf of their business or an individual.