Control the quality of your content and reduce costs – get an editorial style guide

In my years as a copyeditor, I’ve observed the challenges clients face in the content creation process. Time and budget can be expended unnecessarily on avoidable revisions and debates over writing style and usage.

I’ve also observed instances where sub‑optimal content failed to do justice, resulting in a cost to reputation and the risk of lost business.

Studies1 consistently show that people are less likely to do business with organisations that make spelling or grammar mistakes in their public-facing content and more likely to trust content with a high level of correctness and consistency.

It’s my mission to help organisations save time and money while crafting right-first-time content that gets them deservedly perceived as trustworthy experts in their field. How? By adhering to an editorial style guide.

What is an editorial style guide?

An editorial style guide is a document that helps writers achieve a high level of correctness and consistency, by providing rules and guidance on points such as:

  • Language version, e.g. UK or US English
  • How you write about your organisation
  • Writing style
  • Grammar and syntax, capitalisation and punctuation
  • Times, dates, numbers and places…

… and incorporating an A–Z consistency checklist for words and phrases with more than one correct spelling, and covering dos and don’ts for terminology specific to the organisation and sector.

Editorial style guide service

John Clifford

Working as a copyeditor on numerous projects for various clients, I found that many of them lacked adequate editorial style guides.

To address this, I would create a mini-style guide document for each project on the fly.

The clients I’ve worked with appreciated these guides because they helped in the development of consistent, high-quality written content while minimising the need for multiple editing rounds and debates over writing style.

These documents could be added to, updated, and reused for future projects – saving time and money and keeping content quality on track.

Early release offer for pioneer clients

Seeing how beneficial they are, I’ve decided to offer a dedicated service of compiling tailored comprehensive editorial style guides – it will be a niche offering. I’m now looking for a small number of pioneer clients to help me test and refine my process and, in return, benefit from an advantageous pilot‑scheme price.

I’ve yet to work out some details. It will be something like the three options below. Interested?

1. The free option

You can use my free online generic editorial style guide (it’s a section of this website – no registration or email address required). Feel free to use bits of it or all of it. Feel free to copy it. It’s not an original piece of work to which I claim copyright. I’ve compiled it from named sources. People have told me they find it useful.

This may be all you need – to use as is or to copy and adapt as the basis of your own editorial style guide.

You’ll see that the A–Z listing includes a number of odd words and phrases that I just happen to have come across in sectors I’ve worked in, which may be irrelevant to you. Moreover, the generic guide may not reflect your organisation’s style preferences.

But do have a look at it, as it shows you something of the anatomy of a style guide. And then if you think you might need something more tailored to your organisation’s needs, you can always ask me about commissioning a customised version (see the options below)…

2. Essential

If your organisation is a small-to-medium or growing business with a dedicated content team and multiple content authors…

  • Initial Q&A call to understand your needs
  • Audit of content on your website’s main pages and one or two other pieces of collateral, plus recent social media posts (if any) – to gauge the writing style and establish consistent forms for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and identify company- or organisation-specific terminology
  • Documentation of the above, to include any queries
  • Production of a draft editorial style guide for review and feedback
  • One round of amends
  • Production of a finished version of your editorial style guide – which can be a living document

Output: a customised editorial style guide presented as a clean, ready-to-use Word document, formatted for ease of processing into your visual branding, print, web, or intranet

3. Premium

If your organisation is a larger entity with an extensive content team and a greater emphasis on precision in content, possibly with an interest in incorporating voice and tone guidance based on existing brand voice guidelines or recommendations…

  • Initial Q&A call to understand your needs
  • Comprehensive audit of content on your website(s) and all other relevant collateral, plus any social media posts – to gauge the writing style and establish consistent forms for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and identify company- or organisation-specific terminology
  • To incorporate guidance on voice and tone, if wanted, based on your existing brand voice guidelines or recommendations
  • Documentation of the above, to include any queries
  • Follow-up call for initial feedback
  • Production of a draft editorial style guide for review and feedback
  • Up to two rounds of amends
  • Production of a finished version of your editorial style guide – which can be a living document

Output: a customised editorial style guide presented as a clean, ready-to-use Word document, formatted for ease of processing into your visual branding, print, web, or intranet

ENQUIRE NOW


(1) An internet search brings up a number of studies with various findings. We can’t really know what percentage of people will react in one way or another when they see poor-quality content. But the point is, mistakes and inconsistencies definitely put many people off and exert a negative effect on trust. Whereas you won’t put anyone off by getting it right.