Why you need an editorial style guide

An editorial style guide is a valuable tool that your whole marketing team can use. So why do so few marketers have one?editorial style guide

47% of B2B buyers consume between three and five pieces of content prior to engaging in the sales process. If they see discrepancies between those pieces, the likelihood of them converting to a sale drops dramatically.

A comprehensive editorial style guide allows teams of all sizes to create uniform content in line with specific brand requirements. Writing in a recognisable and unchanging tone/style inspires loyalty within readers, and encourages them to return to the site.

All content marketers should be using an editorial style guide to improve consistency and create good copy. So how do you make one? By following our instructions, of course!

What is an editorial style guide?

Writing is a funny old game. There are many ways of conveying the same sentiment. For example:

Writer 1: If you live in the US, you have one chance in 3,000 of being struck by lightening during your lifetime. However, if you are struck, you have a ninety percent chance of surviving the event.

Writer 2: If you live in the U.S, you have one chance in 3000 of being struck by lightening during your lifetime. However, if you are struck, you have a 90% chance of surviving the event.

There are only three differences between those two phrases, but there could be many more.

Hundreds of subtle decisions go into writing a piece of content. An editorial style guide depicts the preferences of your brand, so that they can be reflected in all writing for the company. It focuses on five key areas:

  1. Spelling
  2. Grammar
  3. Structure
  4. Tone
  5. Style

If the content on your website and blog contains numerous inconsistencies, they start to jar in the reader’s mind, often subconsciously. They just know something is off, and they look for sanctuary in a different site that writes in a strong, consistent voice.

By creating a comprehensive editorial style guide you will ensure that your marketing team create a consistent and smooth reading process for site visitors and keep in line with brand priorities.

Why is it important?

“Consistency in style, tone, grammar and punctuation is essential to an enjoyable blog experience”
Kevan Lee, Buffer

The main aim of a style guide is to create consistency in style and tone. This is important for both the marketing team and the reader.

It will settle any disputes within the team about writing style, and create a consistent voice – no matter how many writers are involved. By creating a strong and actionable editorial style guide, you can make sure everyone is on the same page.

This consistency creates a perception of quality and professionalism.

What don’t style guides do?

Editorial style guides focus on the writing and nothing more. They do not include notes on operations (like submission and publication/promotion procedures), and do not include highly-detailed instructions for visual elements such as images and videos.

An editorial style guide is no replacement for an editor – they will be checking for other things. It is to be used as a reference for both the writer and the editor to make sure the piece keeps in line with the brand voice and style.

More from: Blogging / Content Strategy / Web Copywriting