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Style Guides: What Goes In Them and What Can They Cover?

Style guides serve an important role, establishing guidelines to improve communication, ensure consistency, and enforce best practices in composition, presentation, and language, and representing the specific needs of the business and it’s customers.

Most organizations adopt one of the major manuals of style (like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Microsoft Manual of Style) and develop an internal "house style" that further defines the voice, tone, and vocabulary.

We find style guides everywhere–in stand-alone documents, application templates, in stylesheets–and we find more when we move out of desktop publishing into automated publishing systems.

In this session, you’ll learn how style guides can help with collaboration and improve consistency. I’ll describe the different kinds of style guides, what each contains, and when you need them. We’ll talk about the different kinds of style guides and what each one covers. We’ll normalize some vocabulary so you will always know what someone else means.

About Liz Fraley

Liz Fraley, CEO of Single-Sourcing Solutions, is well known for her advocacy of defining requirements. She has founded two companies, sits on the boards of three non-profits, and is constantly coming up with new ways to share knowledge in the technical communications and content industries. She has worked in high-tech and government sectors, at companies of all different sizes (from startups to huge enterprises). She advocates approaches that directly improve organizational efficiency, productivity, and interoperability. If you ask her, she’ll say she’s happiest when those around her are successful. Her first book, “Arbortext 101: Best Practices for Configuring, Authoring, Styling, and Publishing with Arbortext,” is available on Amazon. She has several more planned.

Watch the Video

Recorded: 9 September 2019

View the Slides


Our Favorite Links related to style guides in one handy PDF:

Style guides from around the web:


Presented at

  • CIDM Journeys 2020 (Phoenix AZ)
  • Lavacon 2019 (Portland OR)
  • TC Dojo 2019
  • STC Summit 2019 (Denver CO)
  • CMS DITA NA 2018 (Denver CO) (as a Birds-of-a-Feather lunch discussion topic)
  • CMS DITA NA 2019 (Durham NC) (as a Birds-of-a-Feather lunch discussion topic)

At STC Summit 2019, she had standing room only and people in the hall!

"Excellent presentation! Thorough and clear review of the different style guides."
"Liz knows her stuff! And I thank her for her willingness to share."
"Excellent, comprehensive workshop session! Lot of great info that will help in maintaining our organization's style guide."
"So much information! Glad it's recorded so I can listen to it a few more times."
Attendee Comments

Session Evaluation Survey, STC Summit 2020

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Key concepts

best practices, page layout and print publishing, stylesheets, taxonomy and classification, workflow and process

Filed under

Lavacon, Presentations, STC, TC Dojo