Passive voice is not a content killer

By Ollie Horsley, Specialist Content Creator

When writing about tech, it pays to not sound like a robot. Engaging content needs to use a tone of voice that is human and conversational, yet a common misconception is that active voice is everything and passive voice has no place in content today.

Active voice is where the subject of the sentence is performing the action, such as: the cat sat on the mat. Passive voice is where the subject of the sentence has something done to it by something or someone, such as: the mat was sat on by the cat.

Active voice is direct, punchy and gets to the point. It’s great for firmly putting key points and messages across in a strong and confident manner. But it’s not so great when it’s over-used. This can lead to entire articles reading like a series of bold statements and this can be monotonous for the reader.

Here’s a tech-focused example of active vs passive:

Active voice: The IT team can work on more meaningful projects with the solution in place.

Passive voice: The solution allows the IT team to work on more meaningful projects.

As you can see in the tech-focused example, the passive sentence still works. It’s not going to confuse the reader and, if it’s included in a paragraph that’s already leaning heavily on active voice, it can help that paragraph to flow a lot better. Well-crafted content can and should use passive sentences to complement the active sentences.

Say you’re writing about a solution that applies automation to workplace processes. You’re probably trying to pacify an audience that is worried about human jobs being taken over by computers, so you don’t want your content to appear as though it’s been written by an AI.

The truth is, there really are no rules when it comes to style. It’s your choice as a writer to decide what works best. However, using both active voice and passive in moderation is always going to help you write better content as opposed to sticking purely to active voice.

This very blog switches heavily between active and passive voice, so if you’re still reading, here’s your proof that passive voice is not a content killer.

If you’re struggling to articulate the benefits of your product or service through the power of words – or content writing seems like witchcraft to you – enlist the help of the experts. We’ve got a few.