From the mailbag...
"Kem, do you have some guidance on creating a style guide? Is there a book or a site that you’d recommend?"
The best guidance I can give is to use the style guide as a tool primarily for your communications team. Don’t force feed it to your staff and volunteers as THE POLICY YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW OR ELSE. I’m not saying you’d do that… it’s just a mistake made by a lot of well-meaning people.
Like, for example, me.
It was an ineffective practice I carried into GCC from the corporate marketing world. I look back at my early approach and laugh. I actually distributed the style guide to every staff member [and thought they'd love me for it]. Man, that’s funny. What was I thinking?
Most of your staff and volunteer teams could give a rip about “the style guide” because it doesn’t help them do their job. It just gets in the way.
A few other guiding principles…
- Make it friendly: Keep it less intimidating by just covering the basics & keeping it brief.
- Use examples: Do’s & don’ts side-by-side provide a contrast comparison that’s helpful
- Give rationale: Don’t just give rules without the reasoning behind them.
- Include at-a-glance pages: At-a-glace pages add value with things like list of commonly misused or misspelled words, 5 things you need to know for everything we do here, where to go for help, etc.
- Allow yourself room for exceptions: Remember it's a guide book, not a law book. On occasion, it's appropriate to color outside the lines.
Need an example? You can get a full copy of the communications manual & style guide we created for Granger.