Consistency is one of the keys to good content. It’s what helps your audience feel like your company is always speaking to them with one clear voice, even when there’s actually lots of different writers creating your content.

One way of trying to maintain consistency is by following a corporate style guide. And while creating one and encouraging all of your content creators to adhere to it may sound easy, that’s not always the case. That’s because in practice, corporate style guides are notoriously hard to enforce. Let’s look at why that is and what a possible solution to the problem might be.

Why Style Guides Are Important

Style guides are a valuable resource for writers and editors. They establish your company’s brand voice and tone. As such, they help ensure consistency by serving as the definitive word on how things are done. Good style guides dictate an organization’s preferences on everything. From how to spell certain words to the right way to use grammar and punctuation and industry- and company-specific terminology.

Getting all of this stuff right is important because when an organization’s content is inconsistent, it looks unprofessional. Not only that, it can muddy the message the company is trying to get across and can even confuse customers. A comprehensive and accessible style guide helps your organization communicate effectively, avoid errors, and ultimately save time and money. That’s particularly true for organizations with lots of content creators spread across different offices. In the absence of face-to-face discussions on your company’s particular style, having a style guide can be an effective way of keeping everyone on-brand and on-message.

So Why Are They Hard to Enforce?

Style guides typically get created and distributed to lots of fanfare — at least among content creators. The problem is that most people quickly lose their enthusiasm and eventually stop consulting them. Why? Because usually they think they either already know the information or just can’t be bothered to look it up. Meanwhile, hard copies get lost and PDFs never get looked at. Plus, if the style guide is too long, it becomes daunting. Conversely, if it’s too short, it won’t contain enough guidance to be of much use to most content creators.

Another challenge that makes enforcement difficult is the fact that a style guide should always be a living document. Terminology evolves; new words come into play; and new products, services, and departments are introduced. Most traditional style guides are static in nature, and if you do edit them, you have to alert your writers to the changes and hope they remember them. In other words, style guides need to be maintained and content creators made aware of any changes. At large organizations, that can be a significant undertaking.

Smart Style Guides

While style guides are crucial for creating consistent, high-quality content, for them to be followed, they need to be easy for content creators to access and use. That’s where Acrolinx comes in. Our platform reads your content while you’re writing it and compares it to all of your company’s unique style guidelines. It then guides you to make whatever changes are necessary to bring your content in line with those standards. And it does all of this in whatever content authoring tool you happen to be using.

This kind of interactive technology makes maintaining a consistent style and tone of voice, across all of your company’s content, a lot easier. That’s particularly true for large organizations with lots of people creating content who may not all be professional writers. And since Acrolinx can be programmed with your company’s individual preferences, you can ensure that everyone writes in the exact same way.

Keeping Your Content on Track

While traditional style guides may not be the easiest to use and enforce, having a well-written set of guidelines at content creators’ disposal is essential. Interactive style guides aim to make the task a lot easier by offering a more effective way to enforce them. A creator doesn’t have to constantly check if what they’re writing is correct — that’s automatically done for them. Any method that makes sticking to the guidelines less painful and more effective has got to be a boon for creators and the companies that use them.

Content Style Guides The Path to Creating Consistent and Engaging Customer Experiences

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