Commercial Media

Experienced Communications Strategist and Legal Research Expert.

How to write a corporate style guide

A writing style manual provides guidance for any person ‎who is faced with the task of preparing communication material for publication; whether internally or externally.‎ Here’s how to write one. 

A corporate style guide will help ensure everyone in your business is on the same page when it comes to communicating with customers.

An effective guide is structured around the procedural steps involved in developing a communication ‎document. ‎These steps differ from organisation to organisation, but may involve:

  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Designing
  • Reviewing and editing
  • Obtaining necessary approvals
  • Distributing
  • Evaluating communication effectiveness.‎

An effective corporate style guide should also incorporate the company’s communication and brand guidelines as well as key ‎corporate messages, for a consistent approach to ‎communications.‎

Aim of a style guide
The aim of a style guide is to improve the content and delivery of communication as well as achieve a consistent standard across all all areas of business.

An effective style guide will:

  • Enhance and protect the image of the organisation
  • Motivate key internal and external stakeholders to beliefs, actions or behaviours that help ‎make the company’s goals a reality
  • Generate consistency in terms of core messages.

Content of an effective style quide

A good style guide will touch on all of the following areas:

  • Communications planning
  • Communication basics
  • Internal communications
  • Customer communications
  • External and media communications
  • Crisis and change communications
  • Social media communications.
It will also cover the following topics:
Writing and editing
  • Plain English policy
  • Structure
  • Cultural diversity
  • Gender diversity
  • Generational diversity
  • Accessability diversity
  • Grammar
  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Commonly misspelled words
  • Place names
  • Organisations
  • Plurals
  • Tense
  • Words with variable spellings
  • Adopted foreign words
Punctuation

Textual contrast

  • Headings and subheadings
  • Using title case
  • Itemisation
  • Indenting
  • Bullet points
  • Bold text
  • Coloured text
  • Underline
  • Italics
  • Spacing

Shortened forms

  • Types of shortened forms
  • Plural forms of shortened words
  • Using A or An
  • Defining unfamiliar shortened forms
  • Using in direct speech
  • Geographical terms
  • Time
  • Organisations
  • Personal names
  • Symbols

Numbers, dates and measurement

  • Numbers expressed in words
  • Dates
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Units of measurement
  • Currency

Indexing

Citation 

  • The author–date system
  • The documentary–note system
  • Legal citation

Editing and proofreading

Words to avoid

Brand and marketing

Design and layout

  • Text formatting
  • Typography
  • Creating presentations
  • Forms
  • Illustrations

Legal and regulatory compliance

  • Restrictions on publishing
  • Copyright
  • Privacy
  • Defamation
  • Contempt
  • Offensive material
  • Disclaimers
  • Accessability

Evaluation and measurement

As you can see, a lot is involved in developing a comprehensive corporate style guide.

At Commercial Media, we can develop a style guide together with handy checklists and visual aids to meet your needs. Contact Commercial Media today.

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