Launching your style guide
Your style guide needs to work with your project’s goals. Even if you have an existing one, you will want to tailor the guide to your project, contributors and audiences. This may mean starting from the beginning or simply updating or adding some new content. Remember the guide is there to help and the clearer it is the more effective it will be. Plain language should either have its own section or be integrated. Ultimately, the entire guide should meet clear writing standards. Set clear project and style guide goals to succeed in creating clear content.
Designing and planning a style guide
Gathercontent.com recently shared the University of Dundee’s Content style guide. Check out how simple and clear it is. Four sections cover what most content creators need: the content principles; how to write in the best tone and voice; general web writing guidelines; and a searchable content reference guide, for things like grammar, quotations, acronyms and abbreviations.
Style guides come in all shapes and sizes, but their purpose is to help contributors. Everyone benefits from uniform, helpful and accessible content.
Creating a plain language style guide
Before you start with your creation or update, ask people what they need in a guide. They may not all be familiar with plain language, online content style, proofreading and editing. This guide can make their, and your, job easier. Consistency plays a big role in communicating effectively in plain language and online. The guide can be the foundation for a great end product.
A style guide is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure. In plain language, it is the pre-planning that saves loads of time and money reworking content later.
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