Can you use emojis when writing about health?

Tone is an important factor in health writing—and it’s easy to get it wrong. A poor word choice can add stigma to sensitive conditions.

An overpromise can make you seem out of touch and aggressive.

An underpromise can make you seem apologetic and unauthoritative.

Fear mongering can leave readers feeling paralyzed or reinforce a sense of Well, screw it. Nothing matters anyway.

And the age-old question: can you ever use emojis ⁉️⁉️⁉️

The list of tone-related questions goes on (and on), but you likely know that already. In fact, worrying about how to hit the right tone might be one of the reasons you stare at a blank screen for hours, never really writing anything.

3 Ways to Get the Right Tone

When you nail the tone of your content, readers will feel inspired, empowered, and interested in your work. Here’s my advice for always getting tone right.

#1 The first step in nailing tone is to know your readers and how you present yourself to them.

How do you present yourself to your potential clients? Are you the sassy women’s health expert who says it like it is? Are you an earnest older brother figure who teaches young men about physique training? Are you a no-nonsense health coach whose mission is to get the world to eat more watercress?

The best tone for your content is the one that flows directly from how you position yourself in the public-facing side of your business. Who are you to your readers? If you’re struggling with tone, take a step back and really explore that question. When you get clear on the answer to that question, tone takes care of itself.

#2 Health is a person’s most valuable asset—and it’s okay to point this out. In fact, helping readers see the value of good health—and how your services can help get them there—is an essential component of creating compelling content. But if you bring in too much talk of life and death readers get freaked out. Bring in too little and readers have no sense of the stakes (and no impetus to hire you).

Your goal, tonally speaking, is to create content that lands in the middle. You want to gently evoke the high stakes when it comes to health, while keeping things conversational, relatable, and grounded in everyday action. You want to raise awareness without raising alarm bells.

#3 Emojis: Can you use ‘em? It all depends on your voice (see tip #1). If you’re the sassy friend who presents herself as a girlfriend talking to her peers, go for it. You’ll still want to use sensitivity and tact—especially if you specialize in physical health. But, when used sparingly, emojis could become part of your content repertoire.

If you’re an authoritative voice in your area of practice and you present yourself as a reassuring source of knowledge, avoid ‘em—no matter how tempting it might seem. It won’t make you look younger or hipper. More than anything, it runs the risk of diminishing your brand and leaving readers wondering if they can trust you. 

The no-emoji rule applies to email subject lines, too. 

So the golden rule is: know your brand. Your tone will flow naturally from there.

Weekly writing affirmation: 😇😇😇.




Laine Bergeson