Do employees in your organization struggle with using consistent abbreviations, spellings, numbers and capitalization? Maybe you write Internet with a capital I but your co-workers spell it internet. Or you like organize with a Z while others spell it organise. None of these choices are inherently right or wrong. The issue is the lack of consistency. As an organization, you can avoid these consistency problems by using a style guide.
A style guide is a tool that defines standards for language and formatting. There are many external style guides you can use that cover a wide range of writing issues. The Canadian Press Style Book is the most common guide used in Canada. It offers both a printed book and an online version.
However, you should also consider having a shorter in-house style guide, created by and for employees in your organization, because it allows writers to meet specific standards for your organization’s written communications. These may take a little while to compile, but they save a lot of hassle in the long run.
Benefits of a Style Guide
- Style guides save time. Finding answers to questions can be done quickly. No more asking others what spelling they use or researching your organization’s formatting preferences.
- Style guides improve document quality. Following the standards in a style guide results in fewer inconsistencies because they provide clear guidance on grammar and style when multiple possibilities exist.
- Style guides reduce disputes. Referring to a style guide instantly settles debates, such as “Do we need a capital I for Internet?
- Style guides can define writing expectations. You can use an in-house guide that does more than provide consistency. You can use it to set internal expectations, such as dos and don’ts of business emails.