“Many writers profess great exactness in punctuation who never yet made a point.” This quote by George Dennison Prentice – newspaper editor for the Louisville Journal in the 1800’s, a member of the Whig Party, and known for writing biting editorials with savage wit to tear apart detractors – couldn’t be clearer. Great content makes a point. As marketing communicators, every word we write needs to support and enhance the message. However, as critical as the words we chose are to the message, the same can be said for the style in which they are written.
Why Use a Style Guide?
Simply put, style guides enhance writing effectiveness. They determine the right language to be used for the right reader; customer-speak for advertising content, execu-speak for executive-oriented marketing materials, IT pro-speak for installation and customization materials, or end-user speak for training materials.
A style guide structurally supports the written word. It guarantees consistency of language and formatting, so when the article, white paper, or post is complete, the message is oriented towards the intended audience. Accurate product references help prevent challenges to intellectual property, and makes for easier indexing (essential for software and instruction manuals). When writing for a global audience, following a style guide ensures that your documentation and related materials are clear to a wide variety of readers. Follow the guide, and you not only will you make your point – you will underscore it.