How do you establish a style guide, and how do you keep it going? In this session, I’ll talk about my experience implementing and maintaining a corporate style guide. What started as a casual department guide for 25 tech writers is now a formal style guide for all content creators throughout the company, and I’ll share some tips and tricks we learned along the way.

About the Visiting Dojo Master

Cathy Jones pictureCathy Jones is a Technical Writing Project Manager for Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. She has been with JHA’s Enterprise Content Services group for 13 years. She has helped establish a corporate style guide, coordinates editing services for writers throughout the enterprise, and recently served as the project lead for a CCMS implementation. She has a Master’s Degree in Technical and Professional Writing from Missouri State University.

Watch the Video

Recorded: 4 June 2018

View the slides

Follow-up from the presenter

by Cathy Jones

There was a question about some of the most urgent items we started out with. I went back to the earliest version of the guide that I could find. A lot of our early guidelines revolved around the following (again, based off of inconsistencies or bad habits we noted in our content):

  • Abbreviations. (We were trying to clean up abbreviations like seq. no., seq #, misc, parm, maint, TC, tran code).
  • Emphasis. (We had overuse of emphasis, and it varied from all caps to italics to bold.)
  • Field definitions. (Our core products have fields or parameters that have very specific formatting requirements regarding field length, date format, decimal positions, and so forth.)
  • Images. (We established image size, resolution, and capture standards to be sure all images looked consistent.)
  • Keyboard, button, and mouse terms and conventions (Use click rather than click on, use press rather than hit, use a plus sign to show key combinations, etc.)
  • Reports. (Many of our products produce reports, and we needed standards for how to refer to those reports.)
  • Wording/terminology standards.
    • Use select and clear rather than check and uncheck.
    • Use parameter rather than flag.
    • Use iSeries rather than AS/400.
    • Use refresh rather than redisplay.

There were a couple of questions about examples and seeing pages of the guide. I’m not sure what rules (if any) our Legal department would have about sharing our internal guide. If I present this again, I’ll work with them and hopefully be able to provide more concrete examples. In the meantime, here are some pictures of our guide’s TOC.

You might also like…

Key concepts

best practices, usability and user experience, workflow and process

Filed under

TC Dojo