By now, hopefully we’ve convinced you of the importance of consistent content. Now comes the real work: figuring out what to include in your style guide. The tricky part? The contents of your style guide are going to be entirely dependent on the purpose and needs of your company. We’ll do our best to cover the basics, but there will probably be some trial and error involved as you take the steps to figure out what works best for you and your employees.
There are a couple of decisions you’ll need to make up front—some of which we’ve discussed in previous posts, so we’ll just touch on them here.
Choose your format. The possibilities are certainly open. Mostly, it’ll need to be a judgment call that takes into consideration the format your writers will find most accessible.
Choose your style. The best way to choose a tone for your guide is to take your company’s style into consideration. Think of it this way: if the content you produce is fairly straight-forward and informative, you’ll probably want your style guide to mirror that content. Likewise, if your company’s content is known for its quick wit and creativity, it might make sense for your style guide to do the same thing.
These are the aspects of content marketing style guides that we’d highly recommend including.
Keep in mind that you want your style guide to be something writers can easily reference when creating content—not a giant wading pool of a document they have to trudge through. So, here is a list of some lists your style guide might include for quick reference:
This is a category you may or may not need depending on how you receive and publish content, but we at least wanted to mention it. If visual aspects of your content like headings, capitalization, graphic use, inline links, etc. are not standardized by your website templates, you might consider including some brief design instruction.
How your content style guide functions within your company entirely depends on your needs. If you’re still feeling a little lost, look at some style guides from companies with similar objectives to yours. And remember, your style guide should be a living document, so there’s always room for growth and improvement. Have you started your style guide yet? What are some challenges you have experienced so far?
Stephanie Kapera is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Up All Night on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more!