A writing style guide for business helps your business create consistent writing that is in line with your branding goals.
If your business creates written works, you need those works to be a good reflection of your brand.
Business writing is a unique style of writing, but even within your organization, you will find that people have different ideas about formatting and overall English writing style. A writing style guide for business can help you encourage your team to maintain a certain standard when they are writing for you.
Creating a writing style guide for your business is not as easy as it might seem. You must address not only the brand voice you wish to express but also the technical English grammar points that need to stay consistent.
This guide will help you craft a content style guide that your business team can follow to keep things consistent.
How to Creating A Writing Style Guide for Business Needs
A writing style guide for your business is a written set of standards that writers must follow for all business documents. It includes details about what abbreviations to use, the language preferences you have, the typography you want to see, and basic grammar rules you wish to have your team follow.
It is given to all people within your organization who create content for you, including your content marketing team.
There are several features that should be in your writing style guide. If you take a look at the Chicago Manual of Style or the APA style guide, you can get an idea of what this guide should contain. Otherwise, here is what you should consider adding.
1. Choose Your Stylebook
One of the first things to do is choose an already published stylebook you like. AP style is considered the standard for news outlets and journalists, and it can also work well for business work. The MLA style handbook is commonly used in academic writing. The Chicago Manual of Style is ideal for book publishing.
Any of these can work for your business content needs, you just need to choose one. Then, add it to your business style guide. This will cover many of the grammar and punctuation questions you have. It will also take a look at word choice concerns.
2. List Your Exceptions
Read through the style guide you chose and see if you have any exceptions you wish to add to your own style guide. For instance, AP style says not to use the Oxford comma, but you may prefer to use this in your business writing. Simply add the exceptions to your house style guide to give your writers an idea of what you want to be included.
Similarly, you may have some rules for creating content that the general style guide does not address, such as abbreviations that are or are not accepted for your specific brand names. Include these as well.
3. Define Your Brand Voice
One of the key parts of a style guide is the brand voice you wish to have for your writing. Is your brand friendly and approachable, or formal and professional? The answer to this question will help your marketers create written content that fits your branding goals.
This can be harder to define than specific grammar rules, Some features to consider include:
- How formal is your brand?
- How much sentiment is allowed?
- What is your overall narrative style?
- Is your goal to persuade or inform?
These types of stylistic questions need to be part of your writing style guide to keep your wiring consistent.
4. Determine Your Writing Style Goals
Next, consider what your writing style goals will be. Some businesses are focused on readability and brevity in their writings, while others have a specific level of formality they want.
In this section of your style guide, discuss specific terminology you wish to use for your business, such as referring to customers as “clients” or “members” instead of customers. You also need to state whether you have a specific dialect to follow, which can be important in regional writing.
5. Establish Writing for Specific Types of Products
Finally, determine if your business has different types of writing products that require a different type of writing.
For example, emojis may be appropriate on social media posts, but not in press releases or white papers. Write down the different types of writing you produce, and indicate in the style guide what type of writing is appropriate to them.
Remember, the best style guides are as specific as possible. Give your writers the tools they need to succeed, and your written content will be more effective.
Communicating Your Style Guide With Your Business Writers
Whether you work with freelancers or in-house business writers, you need to communicate your style guide with them. Create a style guide template that you can give to every content creator on your team. Make it required reading before they write for you.
Keep a copy of your style guide accessible to your team members. Have them refer to it before they write, and you will have greater consistency in your writing.
A Final Word On Creating A Writing Style Guide For Business
Creating a writing style guide for business requires thought and effort, but it is worth doing. Consistency is vital to effective branding, and consistency is necessary for your writing.
Take some time to outline your goals, then write them down. Work with professional writers and editors to determine the elements that your style guide needs. This will help you create a set of standards that your team can easily follow.
FAQS on Writing Style Guide for Business
Why is a writing style guide for business important?
A writing style guide is vital to keeping your writing consistent. While you can apply an already published style guide, like the Associated Press Stylebook, you also need to address the specific writing techniques unique to your business, such as the dialect you will use or the abbreviations you approve.
How Can I Make Sure My Team Follows My Business Writing Style Guide?
Keep the writing style guide easily accessible to your team members. Require them to read it, and announce changes clearly. Hold every freelancer and in-house writer to the guide's standards to ensure consistency.