The guide to style guides!

Style guides. What are they? Why are they essential to my work? Why should you use them too?

The basic definition

Why are they important?

If consistency is your top priority, then applying a style guide across your business/brand/work will be the butter to your bread. Whether you’re writing a novel, or creating content for Instagram, developing guidelines for your presentation and writing can allow for more polished work and an appreciative audience.

Why do I use style guides?

Obviously, as a proofreader and editor, it’s essential that I correct inconsistencies and get a piece of writing as perfected as possible. Style guides allow me to do this to the best of my ability. There’s no second-guessing myself or trying to remember whether I suggested 2am or 02:00 wayyyy back in chapter two.
The style guides I use for my work are known as editorial style guides.

But they can also go so much more in depth than this. The important part is that I can come back to the list repeatedly, scan through and ensure that everything is harmonious.
There are a few well known style guides you can use when writing/editing/proofreading. I tend to go for: the Guardian Style Guide for British English writing, the Chicago Manual of Style for American English writing, or my own guide (not available yet *wink wink*), which lists my personal preferences. I find that often an author leaves it up to me, in which case I use my personal preferences, taking the type of English into account.

although I use editorial style guides for my editing work, I have to complete marketing, and I want my website and social media pages to follow set themes and fit together in harmony. For this, I use a visual style guide.

What about other sectors of work?

Style guides clearly aren’t just for those within the writing/publishing world. They can go much further than that and help basically anyone who needs to complete branding, marketing, and any form of writing within their work.

Brands will typically create their own guides, which gives them the freedom to go into as much depth as they want. Some brands put everything into one big guide, others have multiple guides for different areas. Style guides can 100% be made however you want them. If you want some inspiration, take a look at the following brands:

The visual guide allows your graphics/branding/platforms to look and feel consistent. The overall aim is to create a document that reflects your ideals to the core and is used throughout all of your branding, platforms, and marketing. The more you create, the more you can add. The editorial guide allows your writing to be consistent, down to where you write & or and!

As a result of implementing a guide, you’ll reap rewards. If you’re part of a team, the guide will encourage continuity, as opposed to leaving themes, colours, fonts etc to the individual. Your social media accounts will fit together more seamlessly, allowing your audience to pick out your posts easily.
This encourages multiple things:

  • An aesthetically pleasing feeling when scrolling through your social media/website.
  • Recognition of you/your brand/business from the use of similar style, graphics etc.
  • Can drive more engagement for you, as people can pick out your posts due to the consistency.

Hopefully I’ve been able to inform you a little more on style guides and what they can do for you. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I think they’re a pretty great tool to utilize! If you’ve any questions or comments, I’d love to read them & help further.

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Published by Amy Ollerton

Hi! I'm Amy—a professional copy editor and proofreader living in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I provide friendly, personalised services that boost writing while retaining the author's unique style and voice. I write a little myself, shown through my blog. Alongside my work, I read books, enjoy baking, and explore the Highlands with my partner and my dog, Lula. If you've ever any editing queries, feel free to get in touch!

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