What is a Writing Style Guide & How to Use One
Did you know that 70% of people prefer learning about products through content advertising than traditional?
With the importance of content marketing being so clear, it’s imperative that businesses maintain a consistent and targeted presence online. After all, the goal is to create familiarity with your target market. An easy way to ensure that your business or brand is being represented consistently is by creating and adhering to an editorial style guide.
Style guides aren’t just for big businesses or publishers. In fact, all businesses from solo trader to corporations need a writing style guide.
So What Is a Writing Style Guide?
- Web copy
- Social media
- Internal documents
A style guide clarifies the way words are used in relation to your business. Guides typically include the way your business name is written (will it be Error Free Me or Error-Free Me?), common abbreviations, grammar, punctuation, numerals, referencing, terminology, voice, and any common mistakes.
Using an editorial style guide with clearly defined rules ensures consistency across all marketing channels and assists in brand recognition. This is especially true when it comes to defining and maintaining brand voice. Following a style guide also helps create and maintain your brand identity while forming a personal connection between readers and your brand.
How Do I Make a Writing Style Guide?
- Style Manual: for authors, editors and printers by DCITA
- The Greenslade Free Australian Style Guide by Amanda Greenslade
- The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing by Dundurn Press and Public Works and Government Services Canada Translation Bureau
For the United Kingdom:
- The Oxford Style Manual by R. M. Ritter
- Copy-Editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Authors & Publishers
For the United States:
Once you’ve picked a suitable base for your guide, it’s time to add in brand-relevant specifications. These specifications should include:
- How the brand name should be presented
- The brand’s voice (a constant personality)
- The brand’s tone (a variable subset of the voice)
- Spelling of common industry-specific terms, jargon, and acronyms (and their alternatives)
- Tricky words (eg ecommerce vs e-commerce)
These are just some examples of elements to add to your editorial style guide. Make it personal! If you find yourself constantly checking what you’ve previously written to ensure something is the same, add it to your guide – your future self will thank you.
I’m Busy Can I Use a Template?
I’ve searched around the web to find some great templates you can use to create your own editorial style guide. Here are some of my favourites:
- Content Style Guide Template by Maria DiCesare at VtldesignWID
- Style Guide Template by Connie Giordano at TechWhirl