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A Guide to Style Guides

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Julie Espinosa put together this presentation on creating style guides for the March meetup of Commpose.

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A Guide to Style Guides

  1. 1. A guide to style guides By Julie Espinosa, at March Commpose Reach me: My blog My portfolio @julieespinosa
  2. 2. Why should you care about them? "Hammering out style details at the beginning saves needless time and expense to clean up these small details at the end of a large project." —Angie Halama, of Brain Traffic
  3. 3. Purpose Consistency Clears up confusion among multiple contributors to a project One centralized resource Resolves questions on frequently problematic elements Tool in editorial strategy, part of a larger content strategy Project- or subject-specific. What it isn't exhaustive, i.e. it should not replicate or replace a whole dictionary (or Google)
  4. 4. Essentials Capitalization Abbreviations Tone and brand voice Spelling Usage Punctuation Specify primary reference material and a real person If it’s not listed here, please consult the AP Stylebook. If you still can’t find it, call Edith Editor at 555-CAT-SUPQ or e-mail her.
  5. 5. Add what you need It should be project-specific, so consider: Trademarks or legally required language If content is done in-house or by freelancers (more detail if latter) Whether content might be recycled online or in print See "Developing a Departmental Style Guide" on last slide Demonstrate actual examples of tone (words to use or not use) or the word bank (hat tip: Brain Traffic)
  6. 6. Don't include ... The following are important, but IMO part of a larger content strategy and don't belong in a style guide: Process information Design and developer standards Linking policy Community policy Content management strategy SEO strategy Metadata strategy
  7. 7. Points of contention Conventions of AP vs. Chicago vs. normal people vs. your client To name only a few: Phone numbers Email or e-mail, Web site or website, Internet or internet Serial commas List punctuation Sentence vs. title case Hyphenation
  8. 8. Tips to create your own style guide 1. Decide today to put together a guide for the project(s) you're currently working on. 2. Survey all your content for inconsistencies/queries. 3. Assess any guidelines you do have and update/reconcile. 4. Put your guide somewhere you can collaboratively edit and share (online page, Google Docs, wiki, etc.) 5. Plan how to review and regularly update the style guide. 6. Decide who will decide. 7. Use it, share it and keep it up to date.
  9. 9. Questions?
  10. 10. Resources Developing a Departmental Style Guide by Jean Weber Web Content Style Guides that Don’t Suck by Kristina Halvorson 5 Tips on Working with a Style Guide by Elizabeth Saloka apstylebook.com The Chicago Manual of Style The Elements of Style

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