RE: Purpose Statement for Style Guide

Subject: RE: Purpose Statement for Style Guide
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 10:03:06 -0600



> 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?

Training:
New writers need to be quickly assimilated into a corporate writing style.
The style guide acts as one very good training tool.

Consistency within and across documents:
A style guide is essential to ensure stylistic conformity within a single
document and across a set of product offerings. Most companies assume that
their customers will purchase more than one product from their suite (if
multiple products are offered). A corporate style is essential to ensure
that all documents read/look the same.

Copyediting:
Without a style guide, a copyeditor has no standard to copyedit against.
The copyeditor's decisions become a defacto style guide. However, writing
to a non-documented style guide is exasperating for writers.

A note of caution:
The management issue may be the time spent on the style guide.
We do not change our style guide very often. We have spent very little time
on it, once it was put into use.
We have a process for changing the style manual that is somewhat arduous.
And even when the style manual changes, the changes are not immediate in the
manuals. We wait for a major release of a major product to introduce the
new stylistic changes. Once that release is out, each subsequent release of
other products includes the new style.

Concern by management about style manuals, in my experience, has never
really been about the need for consistency. Instead, it has been about the
process for changing manuals and enforcing styles. If those processes are
well thought out and implemented, then management usually can live with a
style manual. The one exception is if the management doesn't like the style
itself.

Anyway, good luck

Walden Miller
Director
Vidiom Systems
Boulder, Colorado





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