Creating Your Own Editorial Style Guide
- Start With a Solid Base.
- Establish Brand Voice and Set the Tone.
- Remember the Big Three: Tense, Voice, and Point of View.
- Establish Standard Formatting.
- Define Image Requirements.
- Incorporate Standards of Performance.
What should an editorial style guide include?
There are six main sections that you should include in your editorial style guide: editing process, writing rules, types of content, style, strategy, and visuals.
How do I create a style guide template?
Build one with these 6 simple steps:
- Kick off your brand style guide with a great brand story.
- Use logo guidelines to create a recognizable brand signature.
- Include your brand’s core color palette.
- Dictate your typography hierarchy.
- Define your brand voice.
- Specify the imagery and iconography that makes up your visual style.
What are editorial styles?
While writing style may refer to a writer’s unique voice or application of language, editorial style refers to a set of guidelines that editors use to help make your words as consistent and effective as possible.
How do you write a content style guide?
In general, it should contain some key areas that include: brand character or persona; content principles; voice and tone guidelines; grammar, punctuation, and formatting; UI text guidelines; and usability guidelines. I’ll go over what each one of these means.
What is a style guide template?
A style guide (also known as a brand guide) is a document that clearly and unambiguously describes the distinctive features of your brand. Each company has a unique style guide template that matches the company’s mission and values. It serves as a framework for all members of the marketing and development teams.
How do I create an online style guide?
How to Create a Web Design Style Guide (In 11 Steps)
- Step 1: Study Your Brand.
- Step 2: Determine Your Logo Usage Rules.
- Step 3: Define Your Color Palette.
- Step 4: Create Rules for Typography.
- Step 5: Set Layout and Spacing Rules.
- Step 6: Consider Icon Style.
- Step 7: Define Guidelines for Illustrations and Imagery.
What is a design style guide?
A style manual, or style guide, is a set of standards for the design of documents, website pages, signage, and any other form of other brand identifier. They cover everything from how and where the logo is used to the brand colours and typography rules.
What makes a good editorial?
To sum up, a good editorial is either one or more of the following: it is an opinion maker, it is reconciliatory between contrary viewpoints or standpoints, it is balanced in its analysis of evidence and events, and it is, manifest or otherwise, crusading in its thrust.
How do you create a guide?
Things to remember when writing your ‘How to’ Guide
- write concise phrases (‘Select the option’, not ‘You should select the option’ or ‘The student should select the option’)
- write in plain English to make your content as understandable as possible.
- structure your steps in the order the user will need to complete them.
Which is the best style guide?
100+ Best Brand Style Guides
- Apple Identity Guidelines.
- Samsung Visual identity Guide.
- Cisco Brand Book.
- National Geographic Style Guide.
- Slack Brand Guidelines.
- NASA Graphics Manual.
- Twitter Brand Guidelines.
- Tesla Branding Manual.
What are some features of templates and style guides?
Depending on your organization, your style guide might include grammar and web standards, copy patterns, voice and tone guidelines, content types with examples, a word list (and a blacklist), and brand basics.
Create an Editorial Style Guide for More Consistent Content (Template)
When you collaborate with a large number of authors, designers, and developers, maintaining brand consistency may be difficult. Content, text, and images that do not match up if you do not provide precise rules for them to follow may result in a bad experience for you. When you take a step back and look at your brand as a whole, your deliverables don’t feel unified. As a result, your company’s brand identity suffers negatively. An in-depth style guide is your option for ensuring that your brand standards are adhered to across several producers.
In addition, it will be easy to bring on new team members and freelancers as the project progresses.
Create Your Own Style Guide With This Template
We understand that creating a style guide from the ground up might be difficult, so we created a template that you can use to follow the recommendations in this guide. Feel free to make any changes, additions, or deletions you desire to make it uniquely yours.
What Is a Style Guide and Why Does Your Brand Need One?
When it comes to marketing material, a style guide is a document that outlines your brand’s style rules and best practices in detail. It may be applied to both internal and external-facing information. Style guidelines are used by brands because they assist with the following tasks:
- Brand consistency: When you keep your marketing deliverables constant, your brand — the “personality” your firm exudes — seems to be more coherent. Customers are more likely to think that you will consistently provide them with high-quality experiences if your brand is consistent. Clarity of content: Style standards frequently contain requirements for the proper use of vocabulary and formatting. When you use the same phrases and forms throughout your material, it will be easier for others to grasp what you’re saying. Get rid of uncertainty in your workflow: When your team members and freelancers have a reference guide to turn to, they will be better able to comprehend your style standards.
Check Out This Editorial Style Guide Example
Before we get into the methods and aspects that go into creating a style guide, let’s take a look at a style guide sample that gets things right the first time around. Marketers frequently point to MailChimp’s style guide as an example of what they should do. What makes MailChimp’s style standards such a good example of a style guide is their simplicity. It accomplishes the following objectives:
- Clear expectations: The Writing Goals and Principlessection outlines the goals and principles that should be followed by writers while creating their material. In addition, all of the other parts of the book give standards that are consistent with these objectives. Formatting that is simple: The parts of this handbook are well defined, as is the navigation. It is simple to locate the rules you want in a certain case. Guidelines in their entirety: A writer’s life is made easier by MailChimp, which contains all of the requirements they need to stay on brand across many content kinds.
The best part is that you are allowed to tweak their style guide to build your own, as long as you give them proper credit. While MailChimp makes its rules available to the public, you may choose to keep yours confidential if you choose.
How Do You Create a Style Guide?
To build an editorial style guide, you must go through three steps:
- Determine the format: We’ve supplied you with a Word template, but you may also publish your rules as a PowerPoint, PDF, Google Doc (PDF), or Google Slides presentation (Google Slides). Additionally, you may host it on a collaborative knowledge platform such as a wiki or a Notion instance. Determine an easy-to-create format that will also be straightforward for your team members to understand
- Determine who will be utilizing your style guide: The substance of your style guide will be determined by who will be reading it. The majority of businesses write their guidelines for marketers, graphic designers, and web designers and developers. This blog article mostly focuses on marketing rules, however it is important to remember to add portions for designers and developers as well as necessary. Select the components that will be included in your guide, such as: It’s time to get down to business, people. You should include any and all of the criteria that you believe will assist your team members in creating on-brand material, text, and images.
What Elements Should You Include in Your Style Guide?
Determine the format: We’ve supplied you with a Word template, but you may also publish your rules as a PowerPoint, PDF, Google Doc (PDF), or Google Slides (Google Slides). Additionally, you may host it on a collaborative knowledge platform such as a wiki or Notion. Determine an easy-to-create format that will also be straightforward for your team members to read; Select the individuals that will be utilizing your style guide: What is included in your style guide will be determined by who will be using it.
Despite the fact that this blog article is primarily on marketing rules, remember to add parts for designers and developers as well if necessary.
For example, It’s time to get down to business, folks.
You should include any and all of the criteria that you believe will assist your team members in producing on-brand material, text, and images.
Some guides provide an overview at the beginning or conclusion of the document that gives a condensed version of the standards that have been addressed. At Buffer, this is referred regarded as the “TL;DR” (too lengthy, didn’t read) approach. For readers who don’t have much time or who need to brush up on their knowledge, this part is quite useful. The TL;DR version of Buffer’s social media style guide condenses each component of the style guide into a bullet point format to make it easier to read on mobile devices.
External Style Guide (If Desired)
In their business style guidelines, many brands adhere to AP Style and address any brand-specific rules that may exist. The Associated Press Stylebook provides thorough standards on a wide range of spelling and grammatical issues, including whether or not to hyphenate the word “antiviral.” When faced with a difficult specialty grammatical problem, you may resort to this guide to help you resolve the issue quickly and efficiently. Both the online database and the spiral-bound book for the AP Stylebook are not free.
Organizations that deal in technical domains may also opt to utilize style guidelines that are relevant to their field.
If you prefer to follow an external style, you may customize it to meet your specific requirements or adhere to its restrictions to the letter.
Brand Purpose or Content Goals
Consider include a brand purpose or content goals in your guidelines to assist content authors in understanding what they want to accomplish with their work. A goals or purpose section will assist your creators in keeping their work in accordance with your company’s aims. Incorporating your brand’s mission statement at the outset of your style guide can help you establish a mentality for artists to adopt as they carry out their job. Take a look at how the Smithsonian Institution incorporates their brand concept into their visual identity guidelines: Would you want to be more specific?
When creating an aims and principles section, follow the steps outlined by MailChimp.
- The goal that I wish to achieve with my material is as follows: Describe what it is that I want my readers to take away from my writing. When it comes to my material, what are the most critical requirements to meet?
Voice and Tone
Your writing’s voice and tone are the personality and formality that you pour into it. Here’s how to tell the difference between each term:
- Voice: The features of your brand’s writing that you communicate via the use of word and sentence structure
- Modifying your brand voice based on the platform and the scenario is what tone is all about.
Because these notions are difficult to define, some firms employ a “we’re but not ” structure to describe them.BenJerry’s takes this technique in their guidelines: “We’re a casual brand, but we’re not a casual brand, but we’re not a casual brand.”
Grammar and Capitalization
Grammar and capitalization are the first things that spring to mind when most people think about editing guidance. The majority of grammar and spelling faults may be addressed by using an external style guide, although you may not use one or have particular mistakes to fix. Furthermore, for many businesses, capitalization restrictions apply to more than just grammatical norms. Microsoft makes use of an external style guide, but its brand style guide also outlines grammatical principles in six extensive parts, which can be found here.
One common grammatical rule to address is the use of the Oxford/serial comma, which refers to whether or not a comma should be used before the last item in a sequence of three or more things.
You may also have special capitalization requirements for words or headers that are exclusive to your brand.
When it comes to header style, some brands utilize title case while others use sentence case depending on whether the header is larger or smaller.
Now, here’s a piece of editing advice you might not have considered adding on your initial pass through the manuscript: perspective. You will learn about first-person, second-person, and third person viewpoints during this phase of the assignment. The way you refer to yourself, the reader, and other people has an influence on the impact of your work. Most marketing best practices recommend that you use the second person (“you”) more frequently than the first person (“I”) in your writing since it puts the reader first and puts the writer second.
Consider how much you talk about yourself in your writing and how you want the reader to feel included in the conversation.
Industry Terminology and Jargon
Every industry has its own language and jargon – phrases that are only understood by those who work in that particular field. Editorial rules for these words often require that jargon be kept to a bare minimum and that any industry-specific phrases be defined in the text. However, in a highly technical industry such as business-to-business (B2B) manufacturing, you may be able to make an exemption.
Inclusive Language Standards
Inclusive language standards assist you in creating text, material, and design that is free of harmful preconceptions and prejudices. Incorporating them into your editorial style guide also demonstrates your commitment to writing about individuals in an equitable manner. Despite the fact that every style guide takes a distinct approach to diversity and inclusion, the following resources might assist you in deciding which rules to include in yours:
- The Trans Journalists Association Style Guide
- The Diversity Style Guide
- The Conscious Style Guide
- The Northern Arizona University Diversity Writing Style Guide
- The Autistic Self Advocacy Network on Identity-First Language
For example, take a look at how Unbouncehas an inclusive language section in their style guide: Take note of how they begin the section with their diversity objectives in order to assist authors in understanding the reasoning behind their use of inclusive language. It’s also fantastic that they recognize that inclusiveness is constantly a work in progress that necessitates collaborative efforts.
Guidelines for Content Types and Channels
Some companies have diverse objectives for different channels or types of information. If you believe yours is one of them, you can benefit from include sections that explain how to adapt your style to different situations in your document. Examples of content types and distribution methods for which you might want to incorporate additional style comments are as follows:
- Blog entries, web pages, press releases, social media, research studies, and email newsletters are all examples of content.
The next parts allow you to clarify your objectives for the content type or channel, the themes you cover, as well as any special formatting or language guidelines you have. For example, theMailchimp Style Guide offers parts dedicated to writing for technical information, legal content, email newsletters, social media, and translation, among other things. These rules include a general description of the channel, as well as information on the sorts of content that should be uploaded on each channel and formatting recommendations.
Brand Standards for Typography
It’s time to go into a couple of extra areas that cross over into writing, design, and programming work.
When you hire someone to design a web page or create visuals for your content, they’ll need to be familiar with your brand’s typography.Make a list of all the specifics that someone need be aware of in order to utilize your brand’s fonts in your text and designs, such as:
- Font names
- The context in which each font is used (logo, images, headers, body text, and so on)
- Font sizes on the web are as follows:
Firefox style guide has all of these specifics, as well as a comprehensive list of permissible header widths, which includes the following examples:
Brand Standards for Visual Assets
Just as your designers should understand what you want them to accomplish with your typography, they should likewise understand what you want them to do with their visual assets. Instructions on the following graphic assets can be included in your visual asset section:
- Making new design assets is as simple as the following: Make a list of the colors, typefaces, picture sizes, and aesthetic aspects that designers may use into new marketing visuals for your company. What to deal with current design assets is a tricky one. Provide examples of what designers may do with assets such as logos, such as their sizes, dimensions, color schemes, and placement
Medium’s logo guidelines demonstrate how you might direct people to make use of already-existing assets. They dissect the logo into two elements — the logo and the wordmark — and offer precise guidelines for each of these components. As an added bonus, this tutorial provides specific examples of what not to do when employing the logo elements:
Content Formatting Guidelines
Web page, blog post, and other forms of content formatting rules instruct authors and developers how to style writing for web pages, blog posts, and other sorts of content. It’s OK to use this area to establish basic formatting standards for your material, as well as specific formatting requirements for each channel. According to the MailChimp style guide, the Web Elements section describes how to format key elements across a variety of content types. Its title and link principles, for example, are applicable in every situation.
Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s
If you have editorial rules in place, your team will be more prepared to succeed when creating marketing materials. However, there is one more step you can take to assist creators in improving the quality of their work. Create a checklist of tasks that your authors, designers, and developers must complete before a project is considered complete. These finishing touches will assist them in identifying frequent errors and improving the overall quality of their work. Starting with a proofreading and editing checklist for your authors might be a great idea.
How to Create an Editorial Style Guide [Step-by-Step Guide]
Time allotted for reading: 8 minutes An editorial style guide is a collection of editorial standards that are used to guarantee that a brand is represented consistently. An editorial style guide is a great resource for copywriters, content creators, editors, and digital marketers when it comes to optimizing content and refining material. We’ve laid down the precise step-by-step procedure that I used to overhaul and revise our internal editing rules in great detail here. Our content creation team’s capacity to generate consistent, great material has improved as a result of our efforts.
What you will not find is a template into which you can simply feed in the necessary details. Content writers will find the most useful editing standards are those that are customized to a certain business and address any and all usual style circumstances that they will experience on a daily basis.
Why Your Marketing Department Needs an Editorial Style Guide
You may already have a compact document that acts as your existing writing style guide, and we understand that. As a result of our extensive expertise, we believe that document is not quite thorough enough to guide your content writers through the writing and editing process. After all, you’re looking for a better option, aren’t you, by reading this blog? No matter if you’re writing blogs, creating ebooks, posting on social media platforms, or creating videos, it’s critical that your content’s voice, tone, and style remain consistent across all mediums and channels.
It’s also critical that your content writers have a guide to go to while they’re creating material for your company.
Types of Style Guides
When referring to a company’s style guide, you may have come across a variety of distinct phrases being utilized.
- They are all effectively the same thing: they specify the style, tone, and language that should be utilized for a brand’s copywriting
- They are all virtually the same thing It is also common practice to utilize web content style guides to establish the rules and principles for copy, but this is done particularly for a brand’s digital material. Visual style guides are often written by or for designers, and they describe the fonts, colors, logos, and overall look that will be utilized on your brand’s website and in the information it provides. In order to give a thorough roadmap to a company’s entire personality, brand style guides should include both content and visual standards.
Visual, brand, online content, editorial, content, and writing are all terms that may be used to define the type of style guide that is being utilized in a certain situation. It is also possible to use the terms “guide” and “manual” interchangeably. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what language you choose as long as it accurately reflects the guidance that you’re providing for your company.
Which Style Guidelines to Use for Your Style Guide
In many cases, grammar tips and tricks are ingrained into our brains at a young age—if you’ve ever recited the letter I before the letter “e,” but not after the letter “c,” in your head while trying to spell receipt, or hummed the song “Conjunction Junction” by Schoolhouse Rock while connecting clauses in a sentence, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Even persons with the best English degrees, however, must use dictionaries and other resources while they write and edit because, let’s face it, the English language is difficult to master!
But have no worry, we’re here to assist you!
AP style, MLA style, and The Chicago Manual of Style are three of the most significant to you and your firm; we’ve listed them here.
More information about its application may be found here.
The Associated Press stylebook provides specific criteria for journalists to follow. Associated Press stylebook The Associated Press Stylebook, often regarded as “the bible of communications writing,” comprises hundreds of standards for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and is published and revised on a yearly basis.
Press organizations such as newspapers, journals, public relations agencies, and other media organizations utilize the Associated Press style as the framework for their style guides, modifying the guidelines as necessary to reflect their particular brand.
Why We Use AP Style for Uhuru’s Editorial Style Guide
We adhere to the guiding principles of AP style, which include consistency, clarity, correctness, and brevity (as opposed to length). While it’s possible that you’re not aware of it, the vast majority of big publications—both print and digital—use the Associated Press style for their material. We offer our material in an official and professional manner by following the Associated Press style guide.
When it comes to literary study and academic papers in the humanities subject, the Modern Language Association style is the most widely employed. Due to the fact that MLA is considered to be the standard reference style at colleges and universities, there’s a high possibility that essay you prepared for your English, history, or philosophy class was structured according to MLA guidelines. You may choose to use MLA as the foundation for your editorial style guide if your business routinely cites books, anthologies, literary works, audio-visual material, and multimedia to support its content pieces.
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style, the first of the major style guides to be published, released its first style sheet in 1903. The style guide was created to provide uniformity in printed materials, and it is still used today by authors, editors, proofreaders, copywriters, publishers, and other professionals for printed books and manuscripts. CMOS, in contrast to its news writing and research paper oriented rivals, is widely regarded as the authoritative resource for non-journalism print media. If your company produces a large amount of physical material (whether in print or digital form), The Chicago Manual of Style may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Include in Your Editorial Style Guide
It is recommended that you include the following six areas in your editorial style guide: the editing process, writing guidelines, categories of content, style, strategy, and graphics (if applicable). Learn precisely what you should include in each of these categories so that you can develop a thorough, comprehensive guide for your marketing team to reference.
Editorial Style Guide Section I. Editing Process
Although the editing process will differ from business to firm, several key parts will remain the same. The following items should be included in this section:
- To keep your content files organized (since we all know how stressful it can be to lose or mix up documents on our computers), employ naming standards and document filing systems. The step-by-step editing procedure that a piece of material undergoes before being published
- In a nutshell, it outlines whose position is in charge of each writing, editing, and reviewing duty
Don’t be dismayed if your first editorial style guide necessitates significant revisions or revisions to the original. It’s probable that when you put your editorial process into action, you’ll discover that there are gaps that need to be filled in and details that need to be fleshed out. Using a Google Doc, for example, you might have copywriters create a blog article and then send their initial draft to an editor. Make specific recommendations for how changes should be carried out rather than just saying “editor performs initial edit.” He or she will utilize the Suggesting Mode, make direct adjustments to the text, or post comments with instructions for the writer’s next draft, depending on what he or she intends to do.
How many revisions will a piece of material go through before it is finalized? What will be the method through which editors and content authors express their questions, comments, and concerns to one another? All of these are questions that should be addressed in this portion of the paper.
Editorial Style Guide Section II. Writing Rules
It is critical to identify the common writing guidelines that apply to your company’s content in order to limit the amount of work your editor needs to perform and the amount of time the quality assurance phase takes on average. Included in this area should be anything from tone and voice to industry-specific jargon and spelling. To guide you through your various grammatical options and help you determine what’s best for your company—or rather, what’s best for your intended audience—use the widely known style guide (AP, MLA, CMOS) that you selected earlier in the process.
Tone and Voice
Despite the fact that tone and voice are frequently used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. It can be defined by characteristics such as helpful, amusing, or kind. Your brand’s voice is the entire personality of your company. Despite the fact that you will be writing for a variety of various sorts of content across a variety of different platforms, your brand’s voice will remain consistent. However, tone, also known as tone of voice, refers to the attitude with which you write for a specific content piece.
An exuberant tone with plenty of exclamation points can be appropriate in an email that welcomes a consumer to an online program, while an apologetic and helpful tone might be appropriate in a customer service response to an incorrectly downloaded file.
Include lots of examples in your guide to voice and tone for your content writers while producing your guide.
Spelling is one component of the English language that does not have many changes, aside from the distinctions between the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms and phrases that are regularly used inside your organization and industry should be listed in this area, with the precise spelling and capitalization used for each word and phrase. For example, the term ebook may be spelt in several different ways: ebook, Ebook, and e-book, to name a few examples. If your organization offers ebooks on a regular basis and promotes them through email series, your content writers should be aware of the proper spelling to employ in their writing.
If you are writing for numerous clients, you may create a client-specific section or page that includes their business and industry spelling variants, as well as any other information they may want to add.
The fact that you’ve been using hyphens, semicolons, and ellipses incorrectly for all of these years may come as a surprise to you. Punctuation marks are often abused in written communication.
Many individuals are unaware that some punctuation marks have two, or even three, separate valid usages depending on which style guide is being used to determine their right usage. This section should be used to describe the proper and/or preferred method of punctuation usage.
Editorial Style Guide Section III. Types of Content
A strong inbound marketing strategy incorporates a wide range of content pieces within its overall approach. Blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, landing sites, emails, and social media postings all demand text that is written to an entirely new set of requirements. Describe all of your company’s regularly utilized content offerings, as well as the parameters for each—such as word count, tone, and structure—in this area of your business plan. Consider these descriptions to be the blueprints for your content authors to work off of.
Editorial Style Guide Section IV. Style
The difference between tone and voice is that tone and voice are the attitude and personality of the written work, whereas style is a set of principles. If your organization has selected a certain styling, you can outline the guidelines that content writers should follow if they have any questions that aren’t addressed in your company’s chosen styling. The usage of title case vs sentence case, writing headline recommendations, and the general layout of a content piece—including when and how to employ H1, H2, H3, and H4 subheadings—are all examples of topics that might be covered.
Editorial Style Guide Section V. Strategy
If you’re involved in any kind of online writing—and you certainly should be—you should detail simple SEO strategies that authors may use to improve their sites’ search engine rankings. Producing digital content differs from writing print or display text in several ways. Despite the fact that they may not require a comprehensive grasp of SEO, content writers nonetheless require a broad awareness of how to develop material that will rank well in search results. You’ll save time and money by streamlining your optimization process and reducing the strain of your strategists.
Provide a checklist of sorts, and be precise about the actions you want to do.
Any type of online writing, and you should be doing it, necessitates the development of simple-to-follow guidelines for authors who want to incorporate SEO. There are significant differences between writing digital material and writing for print or display media. While content writers are unlikely to require in-depth knowledge of SEO, they do require a broad awareness of how to develop material that will rank well. This will speed your optimization process while also reducing the strain of your strategists.
Give your audience a checklist of sorts, and be precise about the actions you expect them to take.
You may want to explore integrating online training tools, such as HubSpot Academyor another online training program, throughout your content writers’ onboarding process, to ensure that they are well-educated before they begin producing content.
- Buyer personas
- Buyer’s journey
- Inbound marketing funnel
- Buyer personas
If you currently have strategy documents that cover these components of your inbound approach, consider including links to them in your editorial style guide so that readers can easily find them.
Editorial Style Guide Section VI. Visuals
It has already been noted that there are many distinct sorts of style guidelines. The next part is not required if your firm has a separate visual or brand style guide. It is necessary to include this part for both designers and writers if you are producing a style guide for your company for the first time. Give examples of the kind of pictures and visuals that will be utilized to create visual consistency across all channels, such as infographics, videos, logos, typefaces, and colors. Specify any requirements that may be in place, such as jpeg file sizes or preferred images, for instance.
Things You Shouldn’t Include in Your Editorial Style Guide
It is not necessary to include every single style decision in your editorial style guide if you have a well-established styling foundation as a starting point. Instead, identify the guidelines you know will be referenced the most frequently by content writers, along with a brief explanation of why your company adheres to that specific guideline. It is not appropriate for your editorial style guide to contain information on buyer personas, buyer’s journey, and other aspects of inbound marketing strategy.
How to Create Your Editorial Style Guide
As soon as you’ve decided on a framework for your editing standards, you should utilize that stylebook or manual as a starting point for developing your company’s editorial style guide document. We’ve broken down writing for your company into six categories, each of which contains information on grammar and spelling norms that will be regularly used while writing for your firm. It is important to remember that your style guide is a live document that will evolve as your editing process changes over time – even highly renowned style guides release new editions on a regular basis, sometimes even annually!
Wishing you the best of success and happy writing!
Learn how we can assist you in achieving your objectives—and whether or not we are a good fit for you.
How to Create an Awesome Editorial Style Guide
Customers have a tendency to treat business messages as if they were sent by an individual. We say things like “Microsoft introduced a new pricing structure” or “Google recommends that we avoid duplicate material,” even though we know that a firm cannot communicate verbally or in writing. The written content we see on these firms’ websites is frequently the result of a large number of writers and editors working together, but to the reader, it is just the company’s own voice in the world. In order to do this, your firm must communicate with a single voice.
How do you ensure that everyone on your team — including employees and freelancers — presents your brand in the same manner every time? The solution is to produce an outstanding editorial style guide.
What is an Editorial Style Guide?
Your marketing team, content writers, and workers will benefit from having a style guide, which will instruct them on how to write in a way that matches the personality of your company. Besides that, it explains how you would want them to refer to your brand and products, translate technical terminology, and utilize language and punctuation correctly. The idea is to maintain consistency across all of your communication platforms while also cementing your brand’s style in the minds of your audience.
You could be tempted to start with a blank editorial style guide template and fill in the blanks, but that approach could result in a lot of bland, uninteresting material. You must be involved from the beginning of the process in order to establish a guide that will help your authors comprehend the persona they are portraying when they write as representatives of your organization. Because the majority of people will only read the first few paragraphs of this content, you should start by discussing voice at the beginning of your paper.
Step 1: Be Clear About Your Brand Voice
You should think about your brand’s personality before you begin if you haven’t already.
- Pick one of the following: if you want your audience to perceive you as authoritative or youthful, classic or cutting edge, light-hearted or highly ethical
- Consider a spectrum of formality, ranging from chatty and casual at one end to academic at the other, and decide where you want your voice to fall on that continuum of formality. The usage of contractions, slang, and sentence-fragmentation will depend on whether you allow your authors to use them. Recognize your target audience. You must decide if you are addressing industry professionals as an experienced professional or newbies as an understanding coach. Your replies should be condensed into a concise statement that presents a clear image for your authors. Consider expressing your company’s voice as if it were a person — a youthful surfer conversing with their pals on the beach, for example, or a college professor explaining hard concepts to their pupils. The content you pick is also influenced by your brand. National Geographic, Intrepid Travel, and Condé Nast are all publications that publish travel writing, but all take a different approach to it. Local cultures are explored in one book, severe ethical concerns are addressed in another, and luxury resorts and cruise lines are covered in the third. Clarify the themes that are appropriate for your corporate voice
- Your company’s mission statement or values may also be appropriate for this portion of the document. Among the best examples is theMailchimp style guide, which begins with a section on Writing Goals and Principles to establish the tone for the company’s brand voice
- You can also use this area to discuss delicate themes such as sexism, racism, ageism, and other concerns that are relevant today. It is highly recommended that you consult The Conscious Style Guide for in-depth examination of these issues.
Step 2: The Details Create the Voice
It’s time to set out the specifics of how your team will communicate the tone that you’ve established for them. Make your specifications as precise as possible so that they may compare their work to your standards.
- Declare if the tone should be official, informal, academic, or any other type of tone. Broken sentences: If you desire a more lively, personal voice, break up your sentences into pieces. They should be prohibited if you want a more intellectual and official tone. For example, the J. Peterman catalog is renowned for employing nearly nothing but fragments to generate compelling product tales.
- Contractions: Using them in your writing will make it appear more pleasant and informal. If that’s what you’re looking for, let your authors know. Satirical, witty, dry, and ridiculous are some of the terms that may be used to describe the sort of humor that should be employed (if any). Make your preference more specific by providing a few instances of what you like and don’t like about anything
- Person: Using the pronoun “you” to address the reader is effective for marketing writing and delivering advise. Third-person writing is more formal and intellectual than first-person writing. Topic headers include: The majority of them are used in modern copy in order to make information scannable. Formatting: Mention elements such as bullet points, pull quotes, action items, FAQ lists, quizzes, and anything else that you’d want to see in your text
- And Reading level:Most articles addressed at the general public are written at an 8th-grade reading level, which is considered easy reading for the typical American. Perhaps you want to be even more approachable, or perhaps your target audience is seeking for more cerebral information
- Either, The length of a sentence and a paragraph: Provide quantifiable, explicit parameters such as “paragraphs of no more than 100 words.” Although word counts have an impact on readability, they may also be utilized to convey your personal style. The authors for Neil Patel’s blog, for example, use a lot of one-sentence paragraphs that may stand alone on the page.
Step 3: Break Down Industry-Specific Terms
It is more pleasant and casual to use contractions in your text if you do so. If that’s what you’re looking for, let your authors know; Satirical, witty, dry, and ridiculous are some of the terms that might be used to describe the sort of humor to be employed (if any). Give specific instances of what you like and don’t like to make your preference more explicit. If you’re writing marketing copy or delivering advise, you should address the reader as “you.” In comparison to first-person writing, third-person writing is more formal and academic.
Aiming at an 8th-grade reading level, most articles addressed for the general audience are simple enough for the ordinary American to understand.
Give explicit, quantifiable parameters such as “paragraphs of no more than 100 words” for sentence and paragraph length.
The authors for Neil Patel’s blog, for example, use a lot of one-sentence paragraphs that may stand alone on the page;
- Euphemisms include, for example, referring to synthetic leather as “vegan leather” or referring to an unemployed individual as “between jobs.” Occupational designations in the industry: Provide clarification on any terms that an outsider could be confused with, such as “gold electroplate” vs. “gold-plated,” and indicate your preferences
- Synonyms or slang expressions that are commonly used: Perhaps your firm sells coffee, and you like to refer to it as a “cup of joe” or “java” whenever possible. Share the words that best describe your own style, as well as your pet peeves. Jargon: Provide your authors with a list of translations for any terminology that they may not be familiar with. Not only should you consider intelligibility, but you should also consider the emotional effect and character of the words you use.
Step 4: Clarify Branded Terms
You should be extremely specific in your guide on how you would like writers to talk about your brand and items.
- Capitalization and spacing: For example, the term “AdSense” has no space between the letters and a capital S in the center. The brand identification of AdSense would be weakened if there were any deviations from this. Trademarks: Indicate the locations where trademarkTM, registered trademark®, and other symbols should be used. Your company’s name and variants on it are as follows: Incorporate the definite article or the words “Company” or “Inc.” into the title of your company to ensure that your writers are aware of this. Make a list of any permissible modifications (for example, The Hershey Company or Hershey’s Chocolate). List the trademarked names that should be used and those that should be avoided (for example, Coca Cola should be used instead of Coca Cola)
- Personal branding are a way of identifying oneself in a crowd. Please mention any strong sentiments your executives may have about the adjectives that have been used to describe them in this section. For example, if your company’s creator likes to be referred to as rather than as Dr.
Step 5: Choose a Stylebook
It is important not to get caught down in little details such as punctuation or capitalization. There are already commercial style guides available for this purpose. Choose the one that you choose so that all of your authors are aware of the guidelines. The following are the two most common style guides to pick from:
- Press Association Stylebook: Journalists and public relations professionals rely on this guidebook for their work. The Chicago Manual of Style: This handbook is probably the more complex of the two, since it covers a wider range of topics, from fiction to academic work.
Specify anything you desire that is different from the style guide you’ve selected — for example, “We use the AP Stylebook, but prefer Oxford commas when writing in a series.”
Step 6: Add Details for Web Content
Some businesses create separate web editorial style guides, but for the majority of businesses, this can be incorporated into the existing style guide.
- Make a list of the keywords and phrases that are important to your overall approach in search engine optimization (SEO). Other optimization techniques might be included in this section as well. The number of internal and external connections you desire, any internal pages that should always be linked, and any rivals that you’d like not to mention are all listed in the Links section.
Step 7: List your Procedures
This is the final thing that you should distribute to your employees and freelancers: a description of the processes that you want them to follow.
- Formats: Inform your content producers if you want content to be supplied in Word documents, Google Docs, or another format. Content planning: If you want authors to reference an online editorial or social media calendar, add a link to it in your content plan. Filing: Include some instructions for your internal employees regarding naming standards and file arrangement so that everyone knows where to go for your content assets.
Step 8: Format and Share your Guide
You now have a thorough set of notes that are ready to be transformed into a style guide for your organization. All that remains is to tidy it up to make it more readable. Check out these samples of editorial style guides if you’re stuck for formatting ideas. Although your end product does not need to be as extensive as the style guides from large corporations such as Microsoft or Google, their overall structure and scannability serve as excellent templates for any style guide to follow, regardless of size.
Make certain that the format you use is simple to look for, especially if your guide is extensive in nature.
The process of developing a style guide is an introspective one. Your staff’s — and your own — knowledge of your organization’s identity will almost certainly be enhanced as a result of the process. As soon as it is completed, your editorial style guide will empower your team to communicate in one consistent, identifiable voice that represents the distinctive spirit of your company. Compose.ly writer Lauren Haas contributed to the creation of this article.
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The Indeed Editorial Team contributed to this article. The date is May 27, 2021. Content marketing is often considered to be a critical component of a company’s overall promotional strategy. Consider creating a detailed editorial style guide to guarantee that your material is consistent, useful, and relevant to your target audience. This document includes all of your company’s standard writing norms in areas such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling, among other things. Here, we will discuss what an editorial style guide is, what should be included in one, and how to put one together from start to finish.
What is an editorial style guide?
An editorial style guide is a document that businesses use as a guide for their staff to follow, and it explains the grammar, tone, and voice that marketing professionals must use while generating brand content for their clients. In one easily accessible spot, editorial style guides compile all of the standards for authoring various types of marketing material for distribution. Marketing professionals may quickly and easily read this paper to gain an understanding of the aspects that must be included in content before it is published.
As a result, the firm becomes more remembered, identifiable, and trustworthy in the eyes of the public.
This will allow you to ensure that each marketing piece serves a crucial objective of informing, educating or amusing your audience. How to Create a Brand Style Guide in 7 Steps is related to this article.
Elements of an editorial style guide
Numerous parts of your style guide, which are interspersed throughout the document, define your company’s standards for creating meaningful, high-quality material that your readers can both learn from and enjoy. The following elements should be included in your editorial style guide:
- Grammar and punctuation: Your company’s taste for the sorts of grammar standards it chooses to follow in its materials may be reflected in your materials. There are a variety of punctuation and grammatical approaches that your company might employ, such as the em dash, semicolon, passive voice, and the Oxford comma. Tone and tone of voice: Establish the tone of your brand and the manner in which your target audience likes you to communicate with them. For example, an audience in the banking business would normally want a professional and formal tone, but an audience in the leisure market could prefer a more informal tone. Resources and links to other sites: Specify how frequently you prefer to include links in your articles and when they are most suitable to use them. In the case of facts, you may want to enable links to go to trustworthy, external sources, or you may want to tell authors that they can only use internal links inside each post. Types of content: Create a list of all of the many sorts of content that your company may provide, such as blog articles, white papers, e-books, and social media postings. Each of these sorts may have its own set of rules and criteria, such as those governing structure, word count, and tone. Writing style format: Your writing style format is normally what each layout of your articles will seem like, and it is determined by your personal preferences. This might involve things like utilizing sentence or title case for subheadings, choosing a typeface, and applying numbered or bulleted lists to each part
- For example, Visuals and graphics: This section describes whether or not you may use photos in your content pieces, how many images you can include in each item, where they should be placed, and what size image you should use. This section can also include information about where you’ll be able to get the photographs for each component.
How to create an editorial style guide
Before you begin creating your editorial style guide, thoroughly analyze your brand’s requirements and conduct extensive audience research to ensure that you’re creating content that will be relevant, relatable, and instructional to your target audience. Follow these steps to build a successful editorial style guide for your publication:
1. Select your writing style
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling norms that you choose to follow are usually reflected in the style of writing in which you express yourself. Employees should be given the opportunity to consult a stylebook when they are unclear of how your company’s name should be spelled or phrases specific terms. The majority of these manuals have their own set of guidelines for organization, formatting, and language usage. You may choose which of these guidelines you would want your brand to follow and which rules you would like it to avoid following.
The following are examples of common style rules that brands often follow for their content:
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- The Associated Press Style
- The Modern Language Association Style
- And others.
This article is related to: The Four Major Writing Styles: When and How to Employ Them
2. Build guidelines for voice, point of view and tone
Decide how you want your pieces to communicate with your target audience. Make some preliminary research on your target audience to learn more about the sorts of material they consume and the types of language they are most comfortable reading. Write in a professional tone and use typical real estate terms if you are writing for a title and mortgage business, for example. Other fundamental considerations include the point of view from which you’re writing, which might be in the first, second, or third person, as well as the audience you’re writing for.
Make an effort to indicate whether you’re writing in the passive or active voice in your material.
You can specify whether you want to use only a little amount of passive voice or none at all in your compositions.
3. Define your audience
When outlining these rules, be specific about who your target audience is and what you hope to accomplish by creating content for them. When creating content, it’s possible that you’ll be targeting more than one audience at the same time in order to reach a larger number of readers. Understanding who you’re writing to and how you’re writing to them may assist your marketing team determine the best tactics for creating content pieces that are relevant to them on a more personal level. Specify your desired outcome for each content item to provide authors with a clear direction for their work.
Possible objectives include establishing the brand as a thought leader, solving specific problems that your target audience is experiencing in their lives, and educating readers on industry themes and updates. Related: What is a target audience and why is it important to define one?
4. Set your formatting guidelines
Your formatting rules are often a description of how you want your material to appear when it is published. This might include information on when authors should use specific headers, how to bold distinct phrases or words, and how to connect various sections of content according to specific criteria. When feasible, try to indicate specific occasions in which it is suitable to use bolded or italicized language and to provide examples of these cases. These standards can also indicate when links should be used, which sources are appropriate to your brand, and how many links should be included in a single content piece.
5. Establish image guidelines
Incorporating photos into your articles and other content types may help you attract your audience’s attention while also providing them with more context for what they’re reading. Photographs and graphics that are appropriate for your target audience are often specified in the image guidelines. For example, stock photographs or custom graphics created by your design team might be included in this category. You may also choose the sizes in which you would want each picture to be shown, as well as any captions you would like to include to properly attribute the sources of the images you use.
How to Create an Editorial Style Guide [Free Template]
It is no longer the case that editorial style guidelines are only for publishing businesses. Increasingly, businesses are assuming the role of publishers in their own right, developing content to attract and engage potential consumers and brand champions. Content is a great marketing tool for both B2B and B2C companies. And with 30% of individuals stating that content is their most effective digital marketing technique, there is no indication of it slowing down anytime soon. According to a recent research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, between 42 percent and 49 percent of marketers create fresh content on a weekly basis.
Consistency is at the forefront of marketing and branding considerations as a result of the deluge of fresh material available to the public.
Moreover, creating an editorial style guide is the quickest and most effective approach to ensure that your material is consistent.
A style guide can cover a variety of topics, such as how to properly use your company’s tagline, whether or not to use the theserial (Oxford) comma, a list of words that your company prefers (for example, “e-book,” “Ebook,” or “eBook”), common grammar questions that your content managers and editors encounter, and much more besides.
The following are the elements of a basic editorial style guide:
- A brief description of your company’s goal or slogan (together with instructions on how to utilize both, if relevant)
- A copy of your company’s preferred dictionary (writers will consult this when they are unclear how to spell or hyphenate a term that isn’t on your word list)
- A copy of your company’s word list A section on the use of one’s voice and tone
- A list of the terms that your firm prefers to use
- A brief section on a few grammatical snags (“which” vs. “that,” how to properly use a semicolon, and so on)
Your clients will instinctively notice if a term has been spelt differently in the last few marketing emails, even if they don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. If your material is inconsistent over time, they will get the impression that something is “wrong.” This might lead to a decrease in trust in your company’s services and goods, which can have a detrimental influence on your company’s financial performance. Style standards are critical for producing consistent, high-quality material across all platforms.
- It would be preferable if authors avoided contacting content managers with the same queries again and over (is it a “standalone” asset, or is it a “standalone” asset?
- The presence of a style guide also provides your content managers with a little amount of extra leverage when it comes to editing the final copy—they can remind authors of the company’s style and link them to a specific page in the style guide.
- Examples of sentences authored by two distinct freelance writers for the same firm are shown below.
- According to Writer2, 67% of those who answered the survey said they were unsure of how to evaluate return on investment (ROI) on social media, blog articles, and newsletters.
- The Associate Director of Gild Media, Danielle Michaels, expressed her confusion about what she should be looking for in order to evaluate return on investment (ROI).
- to monitor return on investment,” Danielle Michaels, assistant director of Gild Media, said.
- Michaels’s sentiments are consistent with those of many Colorado marketers who do not believe they are seeing a return on their content investments.
- The number of differences is three.
- Writer2:The four metrics covered in this white paper—as well as the data that goes along with them—will assist you in improving your content strategy and ensuring that you are getting a return on your investment in content.
To make things simpler for them—and for your content managers and editors, as well—create a style guide that they can use as a reference. Considering creating your own editorial style guide? Are you ready to take the plunge? Here are four easy steps to get you started on your journey.
1. Have a One-on-One with the People Who Edit Content before It Goes Live
What are the problems that they are able to resolve on a daily basis? What could they do to improve the efficiency with which they polish the copy? Provide them with a questionnaire that includes samples of different phrases and style options so that they may get a sense of the style they prefer (or dislike). This will assist you in developing a contemporary and practical editorial style guide.
2. Using These Insights, Draft a Style Guide that Covers the Main Problem Areas
The parts described above are found in the majority of style guides, however each firm has its own set of guidelines. Incorporate a section on design or create a second style guide just for the design department if you find yourself constantly changing visual design and content because the branding and colors are slightly wrong. The trick is to figure out how to make it work for you. Get some ideas for what to include in your style guide by downloading our free style guide template (which is based on Kapost’s own style guide!) and working from there!
3. Share the Style Guide with Stakeholders to Get Their Feedback
Make this a collaborative effort from the beginning. Check in with the individuals who will approve the final content—blog posts, print advertisements, social media updates, and so on—to see if they have any suggestions for changes or additions that should be made. Make use of a review period, and then gather the input and make any required modifications to your plan.
4. Add to and Update Your Style Guide Regularly
A style guide is a live document that is updated on a regular basis. The guide should be updated whenever one of your editors observes that authors are encountering the same problem over and over again, or if someone makes a choice regarding whether to use the phrase “board room” or “board room.” Making use of an auto-fill feature anywhere on the guide (in our free template, it’s in the bottom) that displays the date and time the document was last modified is beneficial in order to prevent duplicating modifications.
If your style guide is too lengthy or too short, don’t be scared to make changes.
Having said that, many corporate editorial style guidelines are between 5 and 15 pages in length, on average.
You are familiar with your organization, your teams, and your workflow.
- In the event that your style guide is more than five pages, create a one-page cheat sheet that will be more beneficial to those who don’t generate a lot of material for your firm. Make an effort not to over-explain grammar: choose a few items that are frequently misused and keep your explanations concise
- A style guide should be considered a live document that should be updated on a regular basis. To get the best results, encourage comments and modification suggestions. This will keep your employees thinking about consistency and branding, which is always a good thing.
DIY Style Guide Template
Allow Kapost to assist you in developing the ideal editorial style for your company. Today is the day to get your FREE style guide!