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Creating a House Style Guide: A Simple Tool for Producing Better Documents Faster

“When you have an editorial style guide and stick to it, your content will always reflect consistency. Consistency tells your customers and prospects that you have your act together, pay attention to details, and care about appearances.” (Nancy Goll, award-winning business writer and editor)

Though dictionaries and style manuals (such as The Chicago Manual of Style, The Canadian Press Stylebook, and the Content Style Guide) provide answers and rules, you’ve noticed that there is often more than one right way to write. Do you capitalize “the Committee”? When do you spell out numbers? For emphasis, do you use bold or italics? How do you spell “judgment,” punctuate vertical lists, and close letters (“Sincerely,” “Regards,” or something else)? Avoid debates and save time (especially in team projects) by choosing a style and recording it in an easy-to-use guide.

In this active one-day workshop, you’ll learn about the benefits of house style, find out how to get buy-in from managers and writers, decide what to include, consider a variety of layouts, see how to add content—and how and when to update it. You’ll start drafting a house style guide and style sheets for your organization and take away guide-creation tools and a list of resources and samples from a variety of publication fields. And if you’re a freelance editor or writer, you’ll have a new service to offer to your clients.

Bring documents from your organization to work with if you wish.

Seminar Contents

  • Understand what house style is and the value it provides
  • Put someone in charge of the guide
  • Generate enthusiasm throughout your organization
    • Start at the top and involve everyone
    • Make the guide easy to use
  • Build on a style manual and dictionary
    • Pick ones that suit your organization
    • Use them as companions to your style guide
  • Gather the content
    • Analyze your organization’s products and style needs
    • Select a tone and voice for each type of document
    • Fill in the common content categories
    • Decide when to reproduce content from your style manual and dictionary—and handle exceptions to them
  • Create your style guide
    • Pick your medium
    • Use or adapt a template
    • Write your content
    • Insert examples
    • Choose your design
    • Copy edit, proofread and index the guide
  • Create your style sheets
    • Create them in advance or while writing or editing
    • Save, re-use and share them
  • Keep your style guide up to date
    • Plan when and how to evaluate and update the content
    • Solicit and accept contributions and comments from user

Contact the seminar chair for more information about this seminar