Style guides: Useful ... when used
Style guides are a necessary tool to align your content creators on style decisions, as well as terminology and grammar rules. Sometimes companies will put the effort into making a style guide, but not so much into making sure it gets used.
Here are six ways to increase the likelihood of your style guide being regularly used:
1.Make sure it’s user-focused.
Making your style guide easy to navigate is a great first step. It should be easily accessible – either online or in PDF with active links so writers can get to the relevant section without scrolling through pages.
2. Supplement with checklists.
Writers can put these one-pagers up by their desk for quick reference. Include the most common style and grammar issues for your team – or let each writer make an individual checklist.
3. Update your processes.
Adding a style guide might put a hiccup in existing writing and publishing processes. Update your workflow to include a more thorough editing process, and put a plan in place for maintaining the style guide internally.
4. Ask for input.
Create a system to allow your writers to add to future versions of the style guide. Encourage your team to keep track of situations that don’t yet have guidelines, or potentially problematic terms. Collect these at regular intervals and make updating the guide feel like a team effort.
5. Start off with a team workshop.
Get your content creators on board by demonstrating the value of using a style guide and walking everyone through the new processes. Be honest about the extra time it might take to incorporate a style guide at the beginning, but focus on how much easier writing and editing will soon become. Once your key content creators are on board, branch out to include those who write less frequently.
Check in after a few weeks to ensure your content creators are getting comfortable with the style guide and that it’s both useable … and being used!