One of the most popular articles we’ve written at Marketing.com.au is Top 5 Tips for Writing a Style Guide. In today’s digital age, it’s also important for marketers (especially online and digital specialists) to use an online style guide. Writing for the web and generating content can be quite daunting, so we thought we’d share some useful information on online style guides.
A style guide is a set of guidelines that is referenced when writing any communications. A style guide ensures any communications from a company are always consistent and professional, even with multiple authors. An online style guide on the other hand, whilst similar, is specifically tailored for writing and optimising content to be published on the web. It ensures all online communications reflect your overall brand. When preparing your own online style guide, be sure to use plenty of examples, images and sample code. We also like the idea of distributing a reference or cheat sheet which contains key elements that people can post around their workspace.
Here a couple of resources we came across that we highly recommend if you are working on creating your own online style guide.
Yahoo! Style Guide
We’re big fans of the Yahoo! Style Guide It’s one of those simple resources that’s really easy and straightforward to use. It was designed specifically with writing for the web in mind.
Some the key things we found really useful were:
- Tips on writing for an online audience and making sure that you speak to your entire audience.
- Understanding the importance of readability of your content and making sure it is ‘easy to scan’ by visitors.
- Making sure you use neutral language, consistent terminology as well as short and clear sentences.
- Ensuring that your content is error free (so you are not penalised by search engines). There is also a really handy list of words which is a useful reference.
- It also helps you ensure your web pages are optimised for search engines, so you appear higher in search results.
- The guide also has tips on improving your user interface (UI) to make sure visitors can easily navigate around your website.
- It also addresses how to streamline content to make it email and mobile friendly.
- You will also find some of the standard style guide references to grammer, punctuation etc.
- The Yahoo! Style Guide also features some useful HTML code references. We’ve all seen pages that have random symbols that appear because text isn’t rendering correctly. It can be really confusing to read, particularly when the same content is shared across multiple channels.
We’ve also included a short video introduction for you below that we came across where Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director Chris Barr discusses the Yahoo! Style Guide.
Web Style Guide
In addition to the Yahoo! Style Guide, we also highly recommend checking out the Web Style Guide. This guide was written by Patrick J. Lynch who is the Director of Special Technology Projects from the well renowned Yale University’s Information Technology Services. The guide has some other handy tips for styling content specifically for the web. We also found the illustrations used to be particularly handy in demonstrating the principles.
Finally, it’s also an interesting exercise to see how other companies and brands structure their style guides. If you perform a search of “online style guide” there are many great examples from simple single page documents through to detailed guides.
If you’ve come across any other resources you would recommend for creating an online style guide, please share them with us below.
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