#7 Your Content Needs a Style Guide

#7: Your Content Needs a Style Guide

Think of style guides as a rulebook.

Not to limit, but to keep things consistent – when to bold, italicise, or have headers break up text etc.

It’s important because we look for patterns.

Break the pattern and we get jarred, like going over a pothole. Also, consistency creates signposts that demarcate new sections, place names, even hyperlinks!

What goes inside a style guide depends on what it’s for: brand identity, video, magazine or website? It might cover editorial-type styles – from grammar to how to write a post – or it might cover colours and dimensions.

The contents might change, but remember: a style guide is for consistency.

How to Create a Style Guide

It consists of three steps:

  1. Define audience
  2. Describe style and tone
  3. Describe key conventions

Taking TechTicks as an example (I’m still experimenting with it so my style guide isn’t quite fixed yet):

My audience are people who create content (be it articles videos, podcasts or whatever) for their clients. They are generally tech- and online-savvy, and want to understand how content can be used to promote products, services or causes.

Add as much detail as possible. If you can, create a reader persona (like old pen & paper role-playing game characters) to give life to your audience.

My style is informal and simple. I must be informative. I’ll illustrate my points with concrete examples. If I don’t know, I’ll say “I don’t know”. Do not be too snarky.

The style should always fit your audience.

My key conventions are

Use h3
Do a line break before the header. Do not line break if the header is just below post break

Credits should look like:
Credits: Featured image from …
Videos from…

Always have a featured image of size 640 x 392px …

Be as precise as you can. Go deep down into the details. I usually include relevant information about the channel into my style guide such as blog dimensions and layouts.


Style Guides for Brands & Other Things

As mentioned earlier, a style guide isn’t just limited to editorial stuff. You can create style guides for anything.

Smashing Magazine has a how to design style guidelines for brands and websites. It’s really extensive and full of good information for anyone who’s developing a style guide.


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Got an idea, opinion or critique?
Please share it with me @skybe077.


Credits: Featured image from Popoever

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