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Developing your style guide
In most organisations, most people are writing every day. Some write reports, others proposals, policy documents, web copy or other online content – and almost everyone writes emails.
That’s a lot of writing.
Whether these communications are for internal use or for clients or customers, they need to do their job and represent your company well.
But consistency is a common challenge. Without guidance, people naturally write with different tones, styles, degrees of accuracy, levels of formality – even different formatting.
And that’s a problem. Consistent writing – better still, consistently clear, accurate and on-brand writing – conveys quality and credibility. But inconsistent writing and even small errors can chip away at a reader’s trust. Perhaps you’re one of the many managers spending extra hours every week checking and correcting their team’s work – often for the same mistakes over and over again.
This is where your own writing style guide can come to the rescue. It becomes the common reference point for all your people, answering the questions that come up (too) often, tackling those recurring mistakes and helping everyone to write in the style and voice you want.
We work with organisations to create the style guide that will work for them.
This means helping them to develop a style guide that answers the questions that are relevant in their sector, industry or niche. It means creating a reference that sets the benchmark for how employees should communicate in writing: outlining best practice, the style choices to follow and terms to use (or avoid).
It’s your guide, so the content is yours to shape. Should your people write healthcare as one word or two? Should they use lower-case initial letters for job titles? Avoid gendered pronouns? How should they structure or sign off an email? Your guide can answer all these questions and more.
And if you’ve worked with an agency to define brand values and a company tone of voice, we can incorporate guidance on that too. You may have identified that your company voice should convey confidence, authenticity and positivity – your style guide is the place you can explain exactly what that looks like in writing.
This is your opportunity to lay out in one place everything that is key to creating the standards of writing that your company expects.
Even once you’re ready to pin down your company style, creating a bespoke guide can seem like an overwhelming task. A great way to make the process easier, more efficient and more cost-effective is by taking an established guide and making it your own.
Most of the clients we work with choose to do exactly that, using our in-house style guide, The Write Stuff, as the foundation for their own.
The Write Stuff is now in its fifth edition and distils everything we know about best practice from over 20 years’ training in business writing (and all the experience that helped create Emphasis). From that solid foundation, we work with you consultatively to adapt the content, amending or adding your own style choices, terminology and tone of voice until you have the guide you need.
We can also begin with a different guide as your base, or we can help you to refresh an existing style guide. And if you’re still in the process of finalising your style decisions, we can facilitate those discussions and help you pinpoint what will be most useful to include.
We’ve adapted The Write Stuff to create tailored style guides for a diverse range of clients, including:
– Boxwood, a management consultancy since acquired by KPMG
– Burness Paull LLP, a leading Scottish commercial firm of solicitors
– Entrepreneur’s Organisation, a global non-profit and peer-to-peer support network for business owners
– Natural England, the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England
– Philips Healthcare, the leading health technology company
– The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for UK recruitment businesses.
If you’d like to talk with us about how we can do the same for you, just get in touch.