User interface (UI) copy is all the user-facing text in an interface, such as buttons, titles, error messages, and notifications.

User interfaces speak to users through UI copy, and UI copy allows users to speak back by guiding them to the desired action.

For example, in a confirmation dialog, the question “Download package?” asks the user if they want to move forward with an action. This question would be followed by a button, “Download package,” that allows the user to confirm the action.

When a person interacts with a UI, they’re in conversation with it. This conversation influences the person’s feelings about the UI. If UI copy is useful, easily scanned, and action-oriented, users can more easily navigate, explore, and troubleshoot, and they’ll feel better about using the product.


Writing principles for UI copy

Without UI copy, users wouldn't be able to use or interact with applications. But writing UI copy without considering the user-facing impact of each word is almost as bad as having no UI copy at all.

Because words are the most familiar aspect of a UI, users look to them first for guidance. UI copy that is clear, consistent, and concise results in a product that feels helpful and earns trust. UI copy that is confusing, unpredictable, and text-heavy leaves users feeling lost and frustrated.

The purpose of these guidelines is to promote best practices for UI copy in the Unity Editor and to drive for alignment between the UX writers and technical writers who write UI copy at Unity.

UI copy is not easy to write: it involves very few words that must convey complex concepts at a glance. Clear guidelines make writing UI copy easier and more efficient and increase the quality of our UI for our users.

Universal guidelines for UI copy​

Each line of UI copy contributes to the overall voice of the Unity Editor. The characteristics of a product’s voice impact how users feel when using the product. A clear, consistent, and delightful product voice is a powerful differentiator.

All UI copy must be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Consistent
  • Action-oriented
  • User-centric
  • Inclusive

Quality Check

To ensure that your UI copy has these qualities, read your UI copy and ask yourself the following questions:

Are all words simple, common, and familiar to users? Are all technical terms explained by tooltips or descriptions? Would a non-native English speaker understand it?
Are all sentences, phrases, and paragraphs scannable? Are buttons limited to 3 words or less?
Is sentence case used whenever possible?
Do all buttons / CTAs clarify the outcome of using them? Do error messages provide one or more solutions?
Have all references to Unity and “we” been reformatted into “you” and “your” to match the perspective of the user?
Is the tone professional and conversational?

Control labels

Clickable controls that initiate an action or change a condition need clear and actionable copy.


For readability, limit buttons to 1 or 2 words, maximum 3.

When pairing a button with a single-action instruction, match the button's wording to the title. This parallelism adds clarity.

For example:

  • Title: Download package?
  • Button: Download Package

Word choice​​

  • Lead with strong verbs that invite a specific action, such as “Download <file>” or “Import <file>.
  • For example, “Download package” is clearer than “Download.”
  • Use simple, common, specific phrases that are familiar to the user.
  • Avoid unnecessary words and articles such as “the,” “an,” or “a.”
Download the package
Download package
Import data
Save file
Create component

Empty states

  • Empty states are used when a list, table, chart, or other UI element has no items to display.
  • When a feature has not yet been used, an empty state can populate its otherwise empty window to help explain its functionality and invite the user to use it.
  • Empty states set expectations and build excitement while indicating that the space is empty for a reason.


  • State the purpose of the action first, so that users quickly know whether to take the action or continue reading. For example: “To edit this spline, …
  • Provide a one-line description and, optionally, a button.
  • Use one call-to-action button for the most important action that users must take.

Word choice​​

  • Whenever possible, lead with action verbs that state the goal.
  • Explain or provide the first step needed to activate the product or feature. Try to provide only the first step.
  • In buttons, avoid unnecessary words and articles such as “the,” “an,” or “a.”
  • Be encouraging. Don’t make users feel guilty because they haven’t used the feature.

Example UI copy for empty states:

Use the Spline Edit Mode in the Scene Tools Overlay to edit this spline.
To edit this spline, use the Spline Edit Mode in the Scene Tools Overlay.