Style guides always look intimidating if you choose to read straight through. Guides are always designed to be a source of reference. A content style guide codifies and records all the important decisions that the writers make about the style. This allows writers to improve the writing process and brings consistency.
Components of Content Style Guide
The content you publish on your website are also extensions of your brand. The best style guides are designed based on buyer personas and encourage brand consistency. Content Style Guide has three key components: Voice, Tone & Style.
- Voice describes your brand’s personality, rhythm and vocabulary.
- Tone describes how you adapt your voice to different situations.
- Style defines how your writing should appear to the reader – capitalisation, spelling, grammar, formatting etc.
Consider style as the glue that holds voice and tone together.
Why do you need a Content Style Guide?
Content Style Guide is the resource that you believe you don’t need until your prospect calls to point out the typos on your site. Styles guides address all the common problems you would encounter during the writing process and address it up front.
Content Style Guide: Leading Examples
MailChimp’s content style guide as the brand clearly states was developed for the employees. The guide helps the brand to create clear and consistent content across channels. The guide lists down guidelines for different channels like blog posts, web elements, legal content, newsletter and social media. The guide has creative commons license is free for anyone to use and adapt as you deem fit.
Economist Style Guide starts off with George Orwell’s six elementary rules from his bestseller ‘Politics and the English Language’ published in 1946. The guide addresses the complexity that the writers could face at an international magazine like The Economist.
‘The Bloomberg Way’ is the brand content style guide has been designed for journalists writing for the Terminal (the brand’s flagship product). The latest edition of the guide also applies those same principals to new mediums like social, web, broadcast, and mobile products. ‘The Bloomberg Way’ has played a vital role in turning a tiny upstart, which began with just a dozen reporters crammed into two offices in New York and London, into the leading provider of financial and business news around the globe.
Breaking the Rules
The quality of work suffers when the writers are asked to follow the guideline as a draconian rule. Your guide should provide enough levy to diverge from the guidelines if it makes the content better.
“Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
—George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”