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 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…
About the TC Dojo
At the TC Dojo, you pick the topics and we find the experts.
You can’t ask questions of a video, so be sure to join the TC Dojo and never miss attending live: http://join.tcdojo.org
Vote on future TC Dojo webinar topics here: http://survey.tcdojo.org