Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we discuss the importance of having a style guide.
Companies send their communicators on The Plain Language Programme to improve their basic writing skills. When asked if the company has a Style Guide, I am surprised that many companies do not. Some companies do have a Style Guide but their employees have never seen it.
The Importance Of Having A Style Guide
A Style Guide is important, especially in South Africa. South Africa has 11 official languages and a poorly functioning education system. The Style Guide is an essential tool.
According to Strunk and White, authors of Elements of Style, ‘Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.’ Rather like business writing.
What Exactly Is A Style Guide?
A Style Guide is a customised company document that will create and define standards for internal and external documents. From emails to strategic documents, the Style Guide is the reference tool that writers in a company will refer to when unsure about the use of language conventions.
What Are The Benefits?
- Reduced miscommunication. If people know what the company’s standard is for punctuation usage and spelling conventions, these errors can be avoided.
- Consistency. Communication in the company will be consistent. This reduces arguments about what is correct.
- Saves time and costs. People will spend less time searching for correct spelling. A Style Guide will provide on-hand answers. Productivity levels will increase.
- Improved confidence levels. Second language English speakers often feel intimidated if they do not know the rules. People who have a poor grasp of English grammar tend to communicate less, especially when writing. Once people realise there is a guide to help them, they are more inclined to communicate.
- Professionalism. This extends from the person working within a company to the external perception about the company’s brand. It sends the message to the business word that ‘we are serious about our communication with you’.
If your company does not have a style guide, Writers Write can help you compile one. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Watch out for next Friday’s post on Style Guidelines.
by Ulrike Hill
Ulrike is a ghost writer, writing consultant, manuscript appraiser and the author of two books. Ulrike Hill facilitates creative and business writing courses for Writers Write. She also lecturers English and Communication Science. Follow Ulrike on Twitter and Facebook and visit her LinkedIn profile.