What Is a Style Guide and
Why Do You Need One?

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Most successful companies have a style guide in some way, shape or form. Style guides can cover things as diverse as applications of logos and trademarks, to how to write a corporate letter. They are crucial documents because they set the tone for the way a company, its brand and its people are perceived by the public.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. The implementation of a style guide provides uniformity in style and formatting within a document and across multiple documents. A style guide thus serves as a reference point. Its focus is not usually a matter of ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ grammar or style, instead it aims to provide guidance when many possibilities exist.

Furthermore, style guides offer you the chance to present your brand in a consistent way. In case of many authors, they help to ensure that they will all use the same tone of voice. Also, they save time and resources by providing an instant answer when questions arise about the preferred style.

What does a style guide cover?

The voice and tone you want the company to have! This may differ depending on the document and the use. For example, you may need to use a different tone in your marketing communications from the one you use in your internal communications. The best approach is to think of some adjectives that you want to characterize your corporate message and image and explain what these mean to your organization.

Some other considerations that a style guide usually covers are the following:

Vocabulary

– clichés

– idiomatic language

– metaphors

– phrasal verbs

– jargon

– older expressions (eg. whilst, amidst)

– DNTs (Do not translate words)

– a word list (and a blacklist)

Grammar

– active or passive voice

– personal or impersonal structures

– gender

Style

– date formats

– time formats

– name formats

– city names

– currency formats

– number formats

– measurement formats

– bold / italics / underline

– bulleting / numbering

– punctuation (quotation, em-dash, en-dash, hyphen, exclamation point, ellipsis, non-break space, parentheses, brackets, semi-colon)

Intranet & Internet

– naming conventions for filenames

– unlocalized feature names

– keywords, metatags

– SEO guidelines

Logo

– tagline rules

– measurements

– colors

– background

– fonts/typeface

– clearance zone

– localized logo/tagline

– examples of use and unacceptable uses

Finally, don’t forget the most important part: The creation of a style guide is a collaborative process!

Don’t have a corporate style guide yet? Contact our friendly team and we can help you create a consistent business approach for your global audiences!

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