Why Your Blog Needs a Style Guide – and How to Create One
Many businesses have discovered the power of adding a blog to their website. Doing so is not only a great way to add that all important new content to your site on a daily basis but also to help build your brand and position yourself as an expert in your field, something else that will help grow your company’s – and your own – reputation.
In the case of a business blog it’s a great practice to encourage more than one person to contribute. By providing varied views and different voices you can better showcase your company and one of its most valuable assets; its employees.
Having multiple authors can create issues though in terms of style. Even though the writers change, a good blog should be consistent, both in terms of tone and visual style. One way that you can help secure this is by creating an official style guide. And a style guide is still a good idea even for a single writer blog, as it helps ensure the blog remains uniform and properly branded.
What is a Style Guide?
Style guides actually have their roots back in the 18th century, long before computers were invented, let alone blogs. Back then text was typeset by hand and as pages were created by different people, the resulting articles could look wildly different from one another within the same publication. The style guide was invented to prevent this and it is a concept that survives, and works very well, to this day.
What Should be in Our Style Guide?
Every blog is different (as it should be) so every style guide is different too. There are some basics though that should be covered in every one of them:
Basic Language, Spelling and Punctuation
Correct spelling is obviously a must but, for example, should that spelling be right according to British or American English? Is the Oxford comma to be used or not? How about em-dashes? Keeping these basics consistent will allow the blog to flow coherently from post to post.
Acronyms and Abbreviations
In many industries and niches there are many of these commonly used. People within the industry will understand what they mean easily enough, but if your posts are also likely to be read by ‘lay people’ it may be better to make a rule that such things be written out in full, at least for the first time they are used within an article.
What should the basic tone of articles posted to the blog be? Formal or informal? Slightly humorous or very serious? Is it OK to use local colloquialisms and/or slang? By deciding these things right from the start you will be ensuring that your blog matches you company’s ‘brand voice’ in the way it should.
The actual formatting of a post will be largely pre-defined by your blog’s template but there are some variables that should be defined in the style guide. For example, should headlines be H2 or H3? In bold or in italics? Should they be displayed in a different color than the body text? How about images, how should they be aligned and sized? Should they have captions? Alt tags?
Beyond the Words
Lastly, your new style guide should also address some of the additional considerations that come along with writing for the web in general. What should and should not be included in an author bio, SEO best practices (keyword density etc) the proper way to respond to comments and how links within a post are to be placed – and from where – are details that should all be included in a truly complete and effective style guide.Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.