Why should I have a text style guide?

In this episode, Content Strategist Alana Harmond discusses text style guides and how they can help keep copy consistent on your website and in marketing materials. Alana first tells us what a text style guide is: a rulebook that provides information about voice and tone, as well as rules for grammar, spelling and dates. The text style guide isn’t the most glamorous tool, but it’s necessary to help businesses keep copy consistent across multiple platforms. Alana explains how consistency is key when it comes to copywriting — it allows a business to have a uniform voice and tone in order to be as reputable, trustworthy and polished as possible. Essentially, the text style guide maintains a company’s voice and also supports a company’s brand image. Alana also explains that anyone writing for your website, social media or other platforms can benefit from using a text style guide, as it helps to maintain consistency regardless of who is writing.

Carrie asks Alana what the benefit of using a text style guide is as opposed to just spell check and grammar checking tools. While these tools are helpful, the problem is that even these tools can lead to inconsistency if everyone writing for your business isn’t using the same guidelines — such as when to use passive vs. active voice or whether to use an Oxford comma.

Alana also explains how a text style guide can help with consistency on platforms other than your website, such as social media and blogs. It can be very useful if a third-party handles your business’ social media.

Finally, Alana provides tips on how to create your own text style guide. First, determine your voice and tone, and pin down some words your company uses frequently. Next, have a punctuation and grammar section that covers basic rules your company should follow. Lastly, include a section on how to format things like holidays, dates, times and numbers.

About Carrie

Carrie Rollwagen is host of the Localist podcast and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find the Localist at @thinklocalist on Instagram and follow Carrie at @crollwagen.

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