A style guide’s main function is to provide a guide to anyone who is working on web writing or editing. For someone who is completely new to dealing with content or those who just need to brush up on some of the finer points, having a style guide can be very helpful. It can also help to set the tone for many of your more articulate and intricately written pieces of content. Your style guide might include an overview of the content driven SEO tactics you are using, the writing style that you are going to use for the tone of your piece, or descriptions of keywords that you are using for your site.
Creating an editorial style guide can help you when you are working on some of those decisions that you need to make everyday when you are working on your content. You might find yourself faced with a lot of important editorial questions once you really get into writing content on a regular basis. How are you going to handle abbreviations, for example? What will you do about your headlines? How are you going to handle common web terms? How do you feel about slang? These are points that you need to consider as well as include in your style guide.
Of course, there’s the traditional equivalent of style guides as well. Many people want to have the basics available when they are working on their content so they opt for the traditional approach. It’s a style guide that might feature information about punctuation, syntax, grammar conventions, reference guides, copyright issues, capitalization, and many other elements. These are great if you want to ensure that your content is always properly written and that it doesn’t have any glaringly obvious errors.
There are some people who don’t approve of the use of style guides when working with content. They feel as if the style guide is something that was mainly only used in university when they had to write essays; therefore, they fear that if they use style guides when they write content now, their content is either going to sound very monotone or even a little preachy. This isn’t want they want, obviously, because then they won’t have a solid audience based on that portrayal.
In actuality, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to use a style guide, but there’s nothing wrong with opting not to use it either. You have to consider what will be the most suitable option based on your own writing style and expression. It can be useful to know the basic rules and some of the elements that you want to keep in mind when you’re writing, but obviously, you don’t want to refer to the style guide for everything during the writing process. As long as you keep your guide as a tool and not as a crutch, you should have no problem with incorporating it into your writing experience.