The Importance of Following a Style Guide
If you’re involved in any sort of business, you’re bound to create written material that will in some way, shape or form communicate what you’re doing with the rest of the world. To ensure your quality of writing is consistent (especially if you’re dealing with multiple writers and contributors), you need to develop and follow a style guide. If all contributing parties follow the same guide, you avoid sloppiness and irregularity. And no one needs that to distract from the main message you’re trying to convey. With the amount of discrepancies and exceptions within the English language, we need to select the ones that make the most sense to us. And then stick to them.
When developing a writing style guide, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are you for or against the serial comma?
- Are you inclined to US, UK or Canadian spelling?
- How do you prefer to space out your dashes?
- Do you prefer using contractions like won’t and you’re as opposed to will not and you are?
- Which dictionary and thesaurus will you use for reference?
- How do you go about abbreviating words and using acronyms?
- What’s your stance on capitalization? (Especially pertaining to titles.)
- How will you write numbers and dates?
- Will there be one or two spaces after periods?
These questions should be sufficient to get the ball rolling. The most important thing is to stick to whatever you choose as your preferred correct method. If everyone is writing the same way, your communication will be more cohesive. And this way, you have a tailored reference point for anyone editing your documents. Style guides just make life easier for everyone.
Remember that correctness is more apparent with consistency. So, settle on a style and keep at it!