When it comes to creating consistent, professional content, having a style guide is essential. This key tool helps to ensure that your written material looks and reads as intended, no matter who is writing it. Without a style guide, you run the risk of having inconsistent branding, incorrect grammar and spelling errors across multiple pieces of content, and this can be damaging to your professional image and reputation.
To help ensure that your content is always consistent, we have put together all you need to know about creating a style guide, and the numerous advantages that this can offer your business. Whether you are a start-up copywriting company, or an established name looking to try something new, we have all you need to know.
What is A Style Guide?
Let's start with the basics: just what do we mean by a style guide? In the simplest terms, a style guide is a document that outlines the specific rules and standards you want your content to adhere to. This could be anything from outlining which language to use when writing about particular topics, to which font size and color should be used for headings.
Style guides provide consistency across all of your content, regardless of who created it. It also helps with brand recognition, as readers will quickly start to recognize your style, and this helps them to associate it with your brand.
46% of all customers surveyed stated that they would be more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand that they trusted and recognized - by ensuring that your brand is consistent and recognizable, you are therefore making yourself more appealing to your potential audience.
Benefits of Having a Style Guide
Having a style guide offers a number of advantages, and these include:
Having a style guide allows you to ensure that your content has a consistent feel across all platforms, from print to web. This helps to create brand recognition, as readers will quickly be able to identify the style of writing used in any of your content, and this will help to solidify your brand in their minds.
Having a style guide also saves a lot of time and effort, as you won't have to worry about constantly checking and rechecking the content to make sure it is consistent. This can be especially helpful if you have more than one author who is creating content for your business, as they can quickly refer back to the style guide and ensure that their writing adheres to your rules.
Reduction of Errors
Finally, having a style guide helps to reduce errors in your content. As all authors are held to the same standards, you can be sure that any mistakes or inconsistencies will be quickly spotted and corrected, meaning that your content will always look professional.
Strong Brand Identity
Taking the time to create a style guide helps to create a strong brand identity. As readers will quickly be able to identify the style of writing used in any of your content, they will associate this with your brand and this can help to increase recognition and trust in your business.
Kate started her career as a freelance writer, but as her business grew and evolved, she found that she needed to create a style guide to ensure that all of her content was consistent, professional and up to date. She included elements such as formatting rules, a glossary of terms, proofreading rules and a list of tools - this all helped to ensure that all content created by her team was of a high quality.
Kate's content style guide also helped her team to save time, as they all had a clear set of instructions to follow and knew exactly what was expected of them. This made it easier for her team to collaborate on projects, as everyone was working from the same set of rules.
The guide also helped Kate to maintain consistency in her content across all platforms - including blogs, emails and social media posts, and she soon earned herself a solid reputation as a reliable content creator, with clients returning to her for more work time and again.
How To Create Your Own Style Guide
Now that we have taken a look at the many advantages of having a style guide for your content, let's take a look at how you can create one.
Define Language and Tone
The first step in creating your own style guide is to define the language and tone that you want to be used across your content. This should include elements such as what words to use, grammar conventions, punctuation rules and any other stylistic choices that you want to be consistent.
Make sure you make the most of spellcheck tools such as Grammarly to ensure that everything in your style guide is professional, accurate and readable - this will help you to provide a professional, reliable presence to your clients.
Define Formatting and Visuals
The next step is to define the formatting and visuals that you want to be used in your content. This could include things such as font sizes, colors and spacing, as well as clear instructions regarding how to write headlines, the format of dates and timestamps and any other specific instructions that will help other authors to create content in line with your brand guidelines.
You should also consider any images or visuals that will be used, as these can help to create a sense of consistency across all of your content - will you be using the same logo or other visuals on all of your pages, for example? Are there certain colors and images that need to be included? Take some time to really think about these elements and make sure that you clearly define them in your style guide.
Add A Glossary of Terms
Another important step is to create a glossary of terms. This should include any words, phrases or acronyms that you want to be used in your content. This will help to ensure that everyone is using the same terminology and also helps to prevent any confusion.
Include Proofreading Rules
This is often overlooked, but adding proofreading rules to your style guide can be very helpful for maintaining consistency and high standards, ensuring that everyone is working from the same requirements. This could include anything from checking for typos and grammar errors, to making sure that all links are accurate and up to date.
Create A Style Guide Template
It is often helpful to create a style guide template that authors can use when creating content. This should include all of the elements above, as well as any other important information such as deadlines and best practices. This will help to ensure that everyone is working from the same set of instructions and that all content is of consistently high quality.
Include A List of Tools
Using the right copywriting tools can have a huge impact on the quality and standard of your copy, so make sure that these are included in your style guide. This could include:
Grammarly is a great spellchecker that can help to ensure that your content is grammatically correct.
Google Docs is a great tool for formatting and editing large documents, as it allows multiple people to work on the same document at once.
The Hemingway App is a great tool for improving readability and ensuring that your copy is easy to read - this is important for any website or blog post.
Readable is another great tool for improving readability, as it can help to ensure that your copy is scannable and easy to understand.
As we mentioned, SEO is an important part of copywriting, so make sure that you include a tool such as SurferSEO in your style guide. This will help to ensure that your content is optimized for search engine visibility.
Proofreading has a significant impact on the experience that an audience has with your content - encountering an error has been proven to break focus and reduce trust in the content, regardless of how good the actual content is. This can be prevented with a clear set of proofreading rules in your style guide.
Having a solid style guide for your content can be incredibly helpful for ensuring that all of your copy is professional, accurate and consistent. Make sure you include important elements such as formatting and visuals, proofreading rules and a list of tools - this will help to ensure that everyone is working from the same set of instructions and that all content is up to your high standards.