Editors Note: This TechWhirl Style Guide Template is one in a series of templates to help readers plan and manage communications and content management activities, resources and deliverables. We welcome ideas and suggestions for other TechWhirl Templates Library materials.
The Style Guide often serves as the final arbiter of questions that arise during the content development process, eliminating time-wasting debate on areas such as formatting, branding and usage, so that writers, editors and other content contributors can focus on creating high-quality content, rather than regularly revisiting questions of style that should have already been settled.
The Style Guide provides guidance and rules to ensure that content created for the organization complies with a given set standards. A style guide enforces branding and messaging, and references higher level corporate resources, governance, and additional resources and best practices followed by other organizations and professionals.
Organizations that produce digital and traditional print-oriented content need ways to enforce quality standards, and bring consistency of messaging and brand to every piece of content. The speed at which content needs to be produced precludes traditional battles over usage, tone, and the fine details of punctuation. A comprehensive and concise style guide that addresses both online and print content can streamline the overall production workflows–editors know what common mistakes to look for, creators know upfront what tags and hyperlinks they must include, and all members of the team understand the voice and tone that the organization wants to reinforce. A good style guide also accommodates emerging requirements for structured content and reuse.
Using the Template:
- Download the Style Guide Template in MS Word.
- Research organizational repositories to identify existing style, branding and formatting guidance (e.g. branding guidelines maintained by marketing, or organizational style rules maintained by corporate communications).
- Review the content types the team is responsible for completing to determine gaps in and exceptions to existing guidance.
- Modify and add to the Style Guide template as applicable to support current content creation processes.
- As needed, review the Style Guide with management of marketing or corporate communications teams to ensure cross-departmental consistency.
- Provide an orientation on the Style Guide to content team members.
- Establish a review/revision schedule to accommodate changes to the organization, tools in use, and or general content trend (limit the frequency of the review schedule).
- Publish the Style Guide to a location accessible to content team members and subject matter experts.
- Developing a Departmental Style Guide (Jean Hollis Weber)
- Create Technical Writing Consistency (Geoff Hart)
- Foundations: the Role of the Technical Editor (Peter Winninger)
Do you have other templates that work well for the products or services you support? Feel free to contact us and submit your templates. We’ll provide credit to you for assisting the TechWhirl community and contributing to the TechWhirl Templates Library.