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.
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Recorded: 4 June 2018
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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.