Re: How to develop a style manual

Subject: Re: How to develop a style manual
From: Sherri Hall <shall -at- HILCO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 1995 10:33:57 CST

We're ISO 9002 certified. We pass/fail audit based on how well we
follow our style guide in our manuals. We take our style guide seriously!
So, how did we develop our style guide? It wasn't easy, but it was worth it!

When I first came to my company, there was one technical writer (me) and
one marketing communications writer. Since the marcom person was here
first, she had the beginnings of a style guide in her head. As I learned
what those style rules were, and we debated some and agreed on most, I
began writing them down (for sanity's sake). We both agreed that
Shipley's Style Guide would be the basis from which we'd build our
custom style guide, so that solved a lot of upfront problems.

That was almost four years ago. Now we
have a style guide that gets reviewed by a committee of six. We have
periodic reviews (about every six months) and then discuss review
changes in meetings. The majority wins. Sometimes egos/feelings do
get bent--but that's the nature of the beast. By having a
representative committee "vote", there's less of
an "us against them" attitude, although it's still there. Also, if a writer
has a need to deviate from the standard, that deviation is published as a part
of the standard as well. This eliminates "off-the-cuff" deviations and
allows for different writing needs (training vs. marcom vs. documentation).
Hope this helps.
--
Sherri Hall * "No passion in the world is equal to the passion
shall -at- hilco -dot- com * to alter someone else's draft." H.G. Wells


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