How To Build an Effective Editorial Style Guide

An editorial style guide provides a set of comprehensive language guidelines in one central document. It’s meant for all team members and agencies to ensure consistent branding across all published content.

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Style guides: what are they and do I need one?

Elements of an editorial style guide

Your style guide includes several sections that explain your brand’s guidelines for how to create worthwhile, high-quality content that your readers will appreciate. Elements to include on your editorial style guide include:

What is an editorial style guide?

An editorial style guide, which outlines the grammar, tone, and voice marketing professionals must use when writing brand content, is a document that businesses use as a manual for employees to follow. The rules for writing different types of marketing content are all kept in one easily accessible place by editorial style guides. This document can be easily accessed by marketing professionals to help them understand the elements needed to write content before publishing it.

Editorial style manuals are crucial because they enable businesses to maintain a uniform tone and fashion As a result, audiences are more likely to remember, recognize, and trust the company. You can make sure each marketing piece is valuable, high-quality, and serves the important purpose of informing, educating, or entertaining your audience by including a style guide that outlines the fundamental guidelines to follow when writing content.

How to create an editorial style guide

Review your brand’s guidelines and your audience to make sure you’re creating content they might find valuable, relatable, and educational before you create your editorial style guide. Follow these steps to create an effective editorial style guide:

1. Select your writing style

Your preferred grammatical, punctuation, and spelling conventions are usually reflected in your writing style. It is preferable to choose a stylebook to create as a standard that staff members can refer to when they are unsure of how your brand may spell or phrase certain words. The majority of these manuals have their own rules for grammar, formatting, and structure. You can choose which of these guidelines your brand should adhere to and which it should ignore. Include a clear list of these in the editorial style section. Common styles guidelines brands typically follow for their content include:

2. Build guidelines for voice, point of view and tone

Choose the audience you want your pieces to address. Study your audience to learn what kinds of content they like to read and the language they are most comfortable with. For example, if you’re writing for a title and mortgage company, you can use a formal tone and terminology used in real estate. The point of view you are writing from, which can include first-, second-, or third-person perspectives, is another fundamental rule to take into account. Because you can address the reader directly in the second person, it tends to be the most relatable and personable.

Try to indicate in your writing whether you are using active or passive voice. Most companies strive to use as much language that can be taken as action. You can specify whether you want to use very little or no passive voice in your writing.

3. Define your audience

Give specifics about your audience and the reason you are writing this content for them when you list these rules. To reach a larger audience of readers, you might target each piece of content toward more than one audience. Your marketing team can determine how to create content pieces that are specifically relevant to them by understanding who you are writing to and how you are writing to them.

Give writers a reason to create content by stating your objectives for each piece of content. Possible objectives include establishing the brand as a thought leader, resolving particular problems your audience is facing, or educating readers about current events and topics in the industry.

4. Set your formatting guidelines

Usually, your formatting guidelines specify how you want your content to appear when it is published. It can specify when authors should use particular headings, bold particular phrases or words, and provide instructions for hyperlinking various text areas. When possible, provide examples to demonstrate specific situations in which bold or italicized text is appropriate.

Additionally, these guidelines can specify when to use links, which sources your brand accepts, and how many links should be included in a single piece of content. You can also explain how to properly cite these sources and any websites that your brand would prefer to avoid linking to resources from, such as rival websites.

5. Establish image guidelines

Including images in your articles and other content formats can draw readers in and give what they’re reading more context. Typically, your image guidelines specify the kinds of images or graphics that your audience can view. Options here could be branded graphics created by your design team or stock photos. You can specify the sizes you prefer for each image as well as any captions you want to use to give each image’s source credit.

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


What should an editorial style guide include?

A basic editorial style guide includes:
  1. A succinct description of your brand’s mission or tagline, along with instructions on how to use each, if applicable.
  2. The dictionary that your company prefers (writers will use this by default if they’re unsure of how to spell or hyphenate a word that isn’t on your word list)
  3. A section on voice and tone.

What are editorial styles?

Editorial style is commonly confused with writing style. Editorial style refers to a set of rules that editors use to make your words as consistent and powerful as possible. Writing style may refer to a writer’s distinctive voice or use of language.

What is an editorial guideline?

Why Does Your Website Need an Editorial Style Guide? An editorial style guide gives your content team instructions for producing helpful, on-brand content, and it does more than just provide a preferred list of grammar rules. An editorial style manual guarantees a uniform standard for quality and consistency.

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