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

Style guides are serve an important role for writers. They establish guidelines to improve communication, ensure consistency, and enforce best practices in composition, presentation, and language. They may vary in scope and length, but they always represent 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, as their foundation. Most also develop an internal manual representing the “house style” that further defines the voice, tone, and vocabulary for the organization.

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, we’ll talk about the different kinds of style guides and what each one covers. We’ll normalize some vocabulary so that when someone asks if you have a particular type of style guide, information model, or specification, you’ll be able to easily relate your situation to theirs.

Takeaways:

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.

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.

View the Slides

References

Presented at

  • STC Summit 2019 (Denver CO)
  • Lavacon 2019 (Portland OR)
  • 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!

You might also be interested in…

Building a style guide from the ground up

Cathy Jones, Jack Henry & Assoc.

Style Guides: Fashionable But Also Practical

Keith Schengili-Roberts, Ixiasoft

DITA output can be pretty

Liz Fraley, Single-Sourcing Solutions

Key concepts

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

Filed under

Lavacon, STC