Re: Creating a Style Guide, The Sequel

Subject: Re: Creating a Style Guide, The Sequel
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 10:09:09 -0400

Martin Bosworth wrote:

What suggestions or ideas do you have for creating a good style guide
for users and managers to refer to?

Three suggestions:

1. Don't reinvent the wheel. Choose some standard guides, such as Chicago, MMOS, etc., as your basis. Your company guide should specify where each of them applies and doesn't apply. For example, you might choose to make MMOS your standard for all Windows-related terminology but nothing else. Your company guide should also indicate the arbitrary choices you've made in situations where Chicago, say, offers you a choice. Specify the spelling and typographic treatment of trademarks, product names, feature names, etc. Include a catalog of the most common errors you find in company documents that people should be especially conscious of.

2. Create annotated templates. In whatever programs people use--Word, FrameMaker, PowerPoint, etc.--build two templates for each type of document. One copy is just the barebones template--styles defined, required fixed elements in place, no content. The other copy has layers of verbose instructions--descriptions of content, rules for using styles (with examples), graphic standards (dimensions, fonts, etc.)--whatever you need. A couple of tips: For Word and FrameMaker, put the appropriate parts of these instructions in a document, make a PDF and annotate the PDF with the rest of the notes. The annotated PDF becomes the "template" I'm referring to. For PowerPoint, shrink the view so that you have ample room outside the slide where you can draw and write instructions on the master slide. You can add as many different master slides as you need. Color code optional vs. required vs. explanatory material. You can go ahead and distribute the .pot with this material in place; it won't affect slide printing or projection and it will be available to all users (learned this trick from an IBM presentation once).

3. Christmas is coming. There is a new edition of Strunk & White, with what are purported to be charming illustrations. Order copies for everyone in the company who should have one--all writers, all managers, all marketing people. Order them already gift-wrapped. For the writers, the gift card can say something like, "I know you have your old one from college, but nobody ever buys [{him | her}]self a hardbound copy. I hope you enjoy this new edition." For others, a simple "Happy Holidays!" will do. Expense the purchase; this is the cheap part of developing a style guide and the company should pay for it. The point of the gift-wrapping is that "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." I did this one year and it was a great success. It saved orders of magnitude more money than it cost in terms of my editing time alone. People who had never read it or who had long ago forgotten it thanked me profusely for making their writing task easier and their output better. If you like, you can include gift-wrapped copies of the other referenced guides (such as Chicago and MMOS or whatever you've chosen), so nobody has to get out of their chair to refer to them.


Dick Margulis


Try WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word today! Smooth migration of legacy
RoboHelp content into your new Help systems. EContent Magazine Decision-
maker review (October 2005) is here:

Doc-To-Help 2005 converts RoboHelp files with one click. Author with Word or any HTML editor. Visit our site to see a conversion demo movie and learn more.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Creating a Style Guide, The Sequel: From: Martin Bosworth

Previous by Author: Re: Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...
Next by Author: Re: Bookmarks misaligned in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Previous by Thread: Creating a Style Guide, The Sequel
Next by Thread: RE: Creating a Style Guide, The Sequel

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads