Why Have a Style Guide for Your Company?
A style guide sounds like a fancy term, but it’s nothing more than adopting a standard way of writing for your company. Let’s dig into this some more.
Do You Have to Use a Style Guide?
No, but it’s a good idea. It’s much easier that everyone be on the same page when writing. That way, no one is fighting about whether to use the Oxford comma or not. You just consult your preferred writing style manual and end of discussion.
What Are Some Popular Writing Styles?
Here are some of the heavyweights:
- Associated Press (AP)
- Modern Language Association (MLA)
- Chicago Style
- American Psychological Association (APA)
There are others, but the above are well known.
Do You Always Have to Follow a Style?
Always is a strong word.
Here at Miranda Park Learning, we use AP. But sometimes, we go with certain terms we simply like. For example, on our internal documents we like to write “eLearning” and not “E-Learning” or any other variation. No need to consult AP for it, we just like eLearning so we use it.
But…if a client wanted us to write E-Learning on their documents, of course we would. We’d simply place that term as part of their style guide.
This brings us to our next point…
A Quick Word on Variations to Your Company’s Style Guide
If you have variations you like, simply establish them on your style guide. For example, our style guide goes a little like this:
Here at Miranda Park Learning, we’re big fans of:
- AP (use the AP manual for any grammar questions)
- The term “eLearning” (don’t even look at the AP manual, just use eLearning)
- The Oxford comma is for lists. Use it if you’re making a list.
And so it goes. We do use AP as a main point of departure, but we give ourselves the freedom to choose variations that we like as well.
Why Use a Style Guide for the Posterity of Your Documents?
Here, picture this scenario with us:
- Say you started small and hired a contract tech writer.
- Say the tech writer wrote a bunch of internal documents for your company. Then, they left.
- Say you’re growing and now need more documents written.
Well, you know where this is going, don’t you? Your instructional designers would love to know the style the tech writer used for consistency’s sake.
But, from this point on, your IDs will establish the new style guide and keep things consistent.
Should a Style Guide Be Updated?
Absolutely. Our style guide is a live document. We recommend reviewing your style guide periodically and update it with new company language and other writing style updates.
How Do You Pick Your Writing Style?
You put your writers in a meeting and have them agree on one according to your company’s needs. For us, it was easy. AP aligns with us, we know it, and we like it.
Who Uses the Style Guide?
Your style guide should be made by, and left in, the hands of your instructional designers and tech writers for upkeeping. It should, however, be available to anyone who’s doing writing for the company.
Who Are We?
Your Resident Grammar Police, of course. We are Miranda Park Learning, your instructional design experts. When you need your training documents in tip-top writing shape, contact us. We’re here to help you create the right training systems for your team.
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