In our final installment of our style guide series, we showcase a few existing style guides available online. Seeing what other companies have done can be helpful in figuring out what your company would like to do (or what you wouldn’t).
Now, we don’t actually write for any of these companies, so we have no way of knowing what other guide materials their writers receive (if any), but these are, at the very least, publically acknowledged style standards.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill describes its content personality as “preeminence without pretension.” The school designed its Web Style Guide to be a simple list of “Dos” and “Don’ts.”
As far as style guides go, this is relatively short, but it covers a lot of ground. Voice and tone seem to be the main concern, with a heavy emphasis on avoiding pretension and arrogance. Grammatical preferences, such as active over passive voice, are designated, as well as how to handle acronyms. Even from this short list, we can get a good idea of the brand UNC is trying to put forth.
The examples of “unnecessary adjectives” and “unsubstantiated claims” work to solidify the style standards. In addition to this list, Tufts’ style guide is followed up by some examples similar to the “Like This, Not Like This” chart here.
This “YES/NO” format helps to show not just examples of what exemplifies the university’s style, but also what doesn’t.
Each example of a user interaction is paired with an appropriate MailChimp reaction:
The “Tips” section gives basic style guide standards, while the MailChimp conversation bubble shows how a MailChimp content writer would implement those tips in user interactions.
As we’ve reinforced before, how your format your style guide should be entirely suited to your company’s needs. You might end up passing out a printed and stapled document at orientation. You might create a public online style presence like these examples we’ve shown. Your style guide might be a list, a more formalized series of statements, or an interactive slideshare like MailChimp’s.
There are several other examples of style guides readily available on the Internet and we’d encourage you to check out as many as you can when making your own. You can even check out Wikipedia’s page on Style Guides for more examples.And that concludes our style guide series! We’d love to hear from you as you work to develop your style guide, so please share your experiences in the comments.
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!