RE: Purpose Statement for Style Guide

Subject: RE: Purpose Statement for Style Guide
From: "Fisher, Melissa" <Melissa -dot- Fisher -at- delta-air -dot- com>
To: 'Rebecca' <rebeccam -at- envworld -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 11:26:35 -0400

Rebecca writes:

> Our new management thinks that our Style Guide is a luxury
> and a waste of
> time. Can you provide me with some well-thought-out
> arguments as to why a
> tech. pubs. team would "need" to have one?

I would tend to agree that an in-house style guide is something of a luxury
for some companies. Many companies get by just fine using an off-the-shelf
guide like Microsoft or Chicago. An in-house guide is not something to throw
away, though, if you already have one. While an effective style guide will
need to be maintained, it shouldn't be even close to a part-time job to
update it.

If, however, your style guide is not yet complete and will still require
some effort to fully develop, here are a couple of arguments:

- Consistent style, tone and terminology increases the reader's
comprehension. A style guide ensures that all your authors are speaking the
same "language" to the user.

- A consistent look and typographical conventions gives your company's work
a more polished, professional appearance, and again makes it easier for the
readers to follow you across different manuals.

- Your authors are probably naturally going to consult with each other on
terminology, style, etc. It's more efficient to have answers written down
than for John and Mary to have the same discussion about whether bulleted
lists should be capitalized every month or so.

I'm sure some others out here have different, more effective arguments.

Melissa Fisher
melissa -dot- fisher -at- delta-air -dot- com
(404) 773-8674

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