Did you know that 70% of people prefer learning about products through content?
With the benefit of content marketing being so clear, businesses must maintain a consistent and targeted presence online.
An easy way to ensure that your business or brand is represented consistently is by creating and adhering to a style guide.
Style guides aren’t just for big businesses or publishers. All businesses, from sole trader to corporations, need a style guide.
What Is a Writing Style Guide?
A writing style guide, sometimes called an editorial or content style guide, is a set of standards for the writing of brand-related content including (but not limited to):
- Web copy
- Social media
- Internal documents
A style guide defines the way you use words when writing about or for your business.
Guides usually include the way you write your business name (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 clear rules ensures consistency across all marketing channels and helps your customers recognise you online.
A style guide is essential when it comes to defining and maintaining brand voice.
Following a style guide also helps you form a personal connection between readers and your brand.
How Do I Make a Writing Style Guide?
An easy way to start creating your editorial style guide is by finding a similar sample.
Here are some style guides to get you started. They’re divided by location, as it gives a good start for location-based spelling differences.
- 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 to present the brand name
- The brand’s voice (overall personality)
- The brand’s tone (happy, confident, friendly, etc)
- The spelling of industry-specific terms, jargon, and acronyms (and their alternatives)
- Tricky words (e.g. ecommerce vs e-commerce)
These are just some examples of elements to add to your editorial style guide. Make it personal!
If you repeatedly check the spelling or grammar of a phrase, add it to your guide – your future self will thank you.
Are there style guide templates?
I’ve searched around the web to find some great templates you can use to create your editorial style guide.
Here are some of my favourites: