Where does the apostrophe go? Is it ‘organisation’ or ‘organization’? Do I put a full stop at the end of each bullet point? Everyone who writes is confronted by such style questions all the time. In some cases there’s a definitive answer. In others it’s a matter of personal preference. Creating a company style guide puts an end to the arguments and helps ensure consistent and correct writing across your organisation.
What is a style guide?
A style guide is a set of standards people use when writing communications. It provides practical advice on subjects ranging from abbreviations and preferred spellings to capitalisation and acceptable terminology.
Why use a style guide?
Readers see inaccuracies and inconsistencies in communications produced by your company as a reflection of attitudes. And often assume the same lax approach is applied to delivering products and services. Good style helps win people’s trust. Common standards suggest a cohesive company with a common message.
Should you build your own style guide?
Some style matters will be specific to your profession or company. It’s also useful to clarify issues about which your people struggle to know what to do or where there are frequent errors. So it’s worth developing a short style guide of your own.
It’s not feasible or cost-effective to cover every eventuality in your company style guide. News organisations such as the Guardian, the Economist and the BBC have been building their style guides over many years and have hundreds of entries. So it’s a good idea to refer your people to one of these for the majority of style questions.
Want quick answers to some common style questions?
Look out for more articles in this section in the coming weeks.