A style guide is a reference document that can speed up your approval process and help you communicate more efficiently with writers.
You may wonder why style is so important in writing. Isn’t the content itself what readers will pay attention to? Yes, great content is important, but the style is part of what makes that greatness.
A good style guide will lead to better communication with writers and fewer editing requests. It will also help you develop content that’s more consistent, especially as you scale up content production.
Is your current guide effective? Here are six tips to improve it.
Share your mission
Content creators need to get a sense of who you are as a company. Catch them up on important topics such as how your business started, significant milestones, core values, and your most recent mission statement.
Your mission statement will give them a better idea of how the content they create supports your goals. This section of your style guide can inform important decisions about matters like word choices, arguments, and opinions.
Establish a go-to tone and voice
Think of your guide as a document that defines how you want your brand identity to be reflected. Defining your tone and voice will make your branding more consistent across the different content you publish.
Do you want to use a casual, conversational tone full of humor? Or do you want to stick with a professional, formal tone written in third person? Be as specific as possible, and give examples of the tone and voice to emulate.
Choose the right readability level
Determining your audience’s reading level will result in a better experience. It can keep readers engaged and ensure they actually understand the content.
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the Flesch Reading Ease score are popular tools for measuring the readability of a text. Use them to set clear expectations for your content.
With Tempesta Media, keeping a consistent readability level is easy. Our solution enables you to set a readability range so all of your articles appeal to the same knowledge level. This allows your readers to easily understand everything you publish.
A higher score will make your content more accessible and easy to skim. A lower score would make more sense for a B2B campaign aimed at educated professionals who expect more value and who understand technical concepts.
Don’t forget about formatting guidelines
Adding a section about formatting to your guide will help you save time when getting content ready for publication. It will also make your content look more uniform.
Do you use AP Style (the standard style guide for business and journalism)? You should discuss unique requests regarding font, lists, hyphens, commas, and more. Update this section to reflect the current publication channels you use and recent content marketing trends too.
Tell writers about your objectives
What are the main objectives of your content marketing program? Do you create content to entertain, educate, or empower? Are you looking for copy that sells?
Writers should have an accurate idea of what you want to accomplish with the content they’re creating. It will help them figure out the right approach for a topic, find the best structure to convey important ideas, and allow them to write compelling calls to action that support your goals.
Optimize your style guide
If you don’t have a guide, it’s time to create one to improve communication with content creators and develop articles that are more consistent. If you already have one, it’s most effective when you update it regularly. Make sure your guide reflects your mission and goals, and set clear expectations for branding, tone, voice, formatting, and readability level.
Tempesta Media makes creating a style guide easy with our proprietary Voice ProfileTM. The Voice Profile will walk you through the process of creating a guide by answering some simple questions about your brand and goals to ensure your writers have all the information they need to create cohesive content that looks like it came straight from your own marketing team.
Creating a detailed style guide is only part of the complex content marketing puzzle. For advice on how to set your program on the path to success, read our e-book on 100 mistakes that businesses make when implementing their content marketing programs.