What is a style guide?
A style guide is a document that sets out an organisation’s ‘house rules’ about language and formatting. It acts as a grammatically correct point of reference for everyone in the organisation who writes or edits documents.
One example of a style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style, an American English guide to writing and citation styles used in publishing. Another example is The Associated Press Stylebook for journalists.
[You will find more examples of style guides here: What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?]
Four Reasons To Have A Style Guide
If your organisation doesn’t have one already, why not compile one? Besides earning you serious writer or editor ‘street cred’, compiling a style guide will help with the following:
- Consistency: It not only allows consistency of language use and tone within a document, but allows consistency across different documents written by different writers in an organisation. It enables your organisation to communicate with one, consistent ‘voice’.
- Quality: Because it sets a grammatically correct standard for language use, it raises the quality of your organisation’s communication.
- Time: It saves both the writer’s and the editor’s time. Time normally spent fretting about a grammar rule or wondering about formatting can now be maximised, and spent on churning out high quality communication, time after time.
- Brand: It preserves your organisation’s brand. Do the different departments in your organisation use the same terminology when writing about your product or service? If there is a discrepancy between the terminology different departments or employees use, it could result in brand confusion within the organisation. This will, in turn, dilute the effectiveness of your organisation’s brand in the public’s eye.
Now that you’re convinced of the value of a style guide, you may ask, ‘What do I put in it?’
Find out here: 6 Basics To Include In Your Style Guide
If you want to learn how to write for business, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
by Donna Radley
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