Fonts, colors, and branding rules are, again, visual, so they should have their own home. If something has serious consequences, you can use the negative form to explain that something isn't possible or should not be done. Here’s the thing, though -- many of the entrepreneurs and marketers we work with love to focus on the visuals -- the fonts, the logos, the colors. How to Run a Content Style Guide Workshop, Content Style Guide Adoption & Governance. You’re laying the foundation for everything else by establishing the boundaries of your brand personality sandbox. For example, the five different chapters of bankruptcy or common baseball terminology. Tasks can be: People trying to complete a task online usually don't read word by word. Why Don't Screen Readers Always Read What's on the Screen? In some cases, people create a laundry list of tips, rules, and suggestions for people to follow as they’re crafting content. Let it happen. Sometimes, your content targets people who have in-depth knowledge of a subject. Research shows that people with literacy challenges: Techniques for improving and measuring readability are in the section on plain language. So, formatting, grammar, and punctuation rules all fall under this category. Use contractions that people use when they speak. Jargon: bench warrant (an order by a judge to arrest someone who didn't show up in court or comply with certain conditions), Idiom: to hire a helping hand (meaning to hire an employee), Expression: attack your least favourite task first (meaning do your least favourite task first). For example, let’s say you see a big change in leadership at the top of an organization -- a company founder leaves and a new CEO steps up to take the reins. But if you hear any of these objections, you cannot cave. They shouldn’t be ambivalent when they do or do not like something. The complex table easily converts into simple tables. You might not have any, but here are the most common we’ve seen and how to handle them: Someone wants to change the rules. Also, note any consensus around negative words and the why behind them. Yes, clients hire us to do this for them. Additionally, you should take notes as described in the previous point. Not critical: Most people don't have reactions to the flu vaccine. Use the ampersand only for proper names when it's part of a company name and in certain abbreviations, including: use a short form such as "the program" or "the plan," in lower case instead of repeating the full term or using an abbreviation, only use an abbreviation for a secondary reference if analytics data or usability testing determines that people often use and search for the abbreviation, you've (you have), you're (you are), you'll (you will) or you'd (you would), we've (we have), we're (we are), we'll (we will) or we'd (we would), should've (should have) or could've (could have), shouldn't (should not), couldn't (could not) or wouldn't (would not). Because, while there are a lot of great copywriting books out there to help you level-up your marketing writing game, you still need a foundational style guide. To make your content accessible, consider how assistive technologies work and how some writing practices may impact people's ability to read or understand text. Verbs alone clearly express the action needed. Make it only available as a hard copy. In a passive sentence, it may not be clear who or what is doing the action. What’s unique about our team that made us the ones who finally fixed the problem? If you’re going to take our advice and use AP style, here are the most common exceptions our B2C and B2B clients select: AP style says not to use an Oxford comma following a conjunction in a series; the exception is to always use an Oxford comma in a series. Government of Canada web content must be: When planning web content, consider people's needs. think about your brand as a reflex, without you having to spell it out for them. That’s a bad thing. An editorial style guide is a set of guidelines for the writers and editors on your team. If you present content in alphabetical order in English, also present it in alphabetical order in French to provide the same intuitive experience. Expect people to onboard themselves and start using it. These are all of the attributes of your brand’s personality; it’s what people should think about your brand as a reflex, without you having to spell it out for them. A content style guide is a d ocumented set of guidelines and rules that break down your b rand personality , and how it is (and isn’t) e xpressed through your content . A screen capture of Microsoft Word's readability statistics dialog box shows that a sample of text got a Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 5.8. Avoid references to gender whenever possible. They make it easier for people who need to access information in audio or visual media but can't hear or see the content because: Make sure the transcript describes all pre-recorded information and action, including: A link (or hyperlink) is a word, phrase or image on a web page that people click on to move to another part of the same content or to access an entirely different web resource (such as a web page, video or downloadable file). Examples of functional images: Include the appropriate alternative text to describe the image for people who are unable to view it. Following this guide's rules and techniques will make it easier for everyone to find, understand and use the government's digital content. Just like your organization, content style guides are not static. Institutions that fall outside of Schedules I, I.1, and II of the Financial Administration Act do not have to follow this style guide. Those examples have been significantly altered from their original forms for privacy and proprietary reasons. This is the only exercise where participants will answer from their own perspective, rather than trying to step into the shoes of their personas. They are based on writing principles and techniques that help make web content clear and adapted to the needs of all people. AUDIENCE This guide is intended for manufacturers, content service organizations, and other content creators who have advanced knowledge of both Revit software and Revit model content creation. While that’s true, that doesn’t give you any sort of structure that will guarantee the results you’re looking for. Use second person("you") when speaking to or about th… Find an external style guide: No, this isn't cheating. Mailchimp. every time they need to write a 900-word blog post, especially if it could have been shortened to the length of a press release and been just as effective in explaining what they needed to know about content style. Here’s an example of a tone pillar set, heavily altered for confidentiality purposes: Your tone pillars should not only be a seamless, natural extension of your brand voice, they should also complement each other. Remember to also refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Our voice reflects how we view ourselves and our community - what our goals and values are, and what sets us apart. Instead of: According to Canadian legislation, you're required to present your passport to the agent who will welcome you into the country. Avoid listing only keywords, because search engines might ignore these. Figure 1 illustrates a number of concepts. By creating a detailed brand style guide, you ensure that your published content is consistent, polished, recognizable, and more enjoyable. One type of benefits that the EI program offers is regular benefits. Where possible, avoid using jargon, idioms and expressions. Even if there are no fireworks or real objections, your participants will be forced to explain the emotional decisions behind why they do or do not like certain words. No problem, save time by asking subsequent participants (usually starting with the third participant) only to explain their answers for the words that were either unique to them or if they chose the same word as someone else, but for which they had an opposite reaction. Make sure that it meets the reading level you're targeting based on the literacy needs of your audience. The requirements apply to departments and other organizations of the federal public administration listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act. It would be difficult for someone using a screen reader or a mobile device to access and understand the information. But how do you actually extract the insights you need from the right people to create your content style guide on your own, without having to hire an agency? This guide is all about how you package up those elements and deliver them so they have maximum impact with your audience. We’re not here today to talk about what your message is or to flesh out your talking points. Find information about using paved roads, bike trails, airports and ports across the country. Has your group has chosen a lot of the same words for the same reasons? Come back to tone pillars when you’re ready to create more organization within the structure of your brand’s tone. The page title, headings and subheadings help people find information on the screen easily. However, your content style guide should not be where your full brand messaging strategy lives. Full names: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada Pension Plan Short form: the department, the plan. No matter what it looks like, your content style guide should be presented in such a way where the important stuff -- voice and tone attributes, style notes, etc. You could probably put all of these items into a single document, but no one will want to use it. Write an effective page title (Heading1), and use it as your title tag. Hard copy-only style guides get put in drawers and ignored, thrown away, or used as coasters. We like to bold key phrases and words that should stick in the memories of those using the style guide, which has the added bonus of making the style guide easy to skim. Depending on the unique needs of a client, we may also include other optional sections -- for instance, exceptions for social media, core values, how to handle competitor references, or examples of “best in class” blog examples or other types of content. Instead, you are trying to get them to explain the. When taking notes, do so on a single sheet -- a copy of each word cloud will work. How should people feel when using or experiencing our product(s) and/or service(s)? They can only use the words presented to them, as-is, but they are encouraged to expand upon their thinking when it’s their turn to share their answers. And it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, it’s clear that you’re completely unprofessional. You’ll find that you’ll need to spend your time with your notes to prioritize the right ideas with the correct wording. We believe it’s a fantastic foundational tool on which to build your content style, but don’t be afraid to take it in a different direction. Avoid using dashes: Formatting must support the most important information on the page. People who use assistive technology can navigate web content using links. To understand why, however, you need to learn the true purpose of a content style guide, beyond its surface-level definition. Just let whomever will be reviewing a draft of your style guide know they will have a chance to review a base editorial style section and make change requests. , record all of the answers on a single set of scales, so you can easily spot patterns. Obviously, style guides are dense. What is it that, to this point, our competitors have failed to do? If you need to include more information to explain an idea, use sub-bullets, but use them sparingly. The needs of your brand and the purposes and use cases for your style guide will dictate its complexity. A tone pillar groups together tactical copywriting and content creation instructions under a larger tonal “theme,” which ties directly back to the story of your brand that you’re trying to convey. Unfortunately, most articles aren’t very helpful in this regard, especially when it comes to developing your voice and tone guidelines. As web and language trends evolve, we'll update this guide to meet the changing needs of our audiences. Start your content with the most important information, and be direct. -- but if your audience ever believes that about you, it’ll be because you proved it to them time, not because you told them to believe it. A lot of work goes into facilitating a content style guide workshop, but you'll walk away with invaluable intelligence about your brand. If there are conflicts between this guide and The Canadian Style or any other resource, this guide takes priority for content published online. We also provide advice on how to follow them. They generally contain too much information for people to understand when they're scanning. They can also make the page take longer to load. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. Edit this page; Revision history; Questions or comments? Use clearer alternatives instead, for example: Write: for example, such as, or like Instead of: e.g. Here are the most important things to know. . This free, 12-page content style guide template will arm you and your team with one of the most powerful -- and overlooked -- content marketing tools. By being concise, you'll help everyone, even specialists, complete the task they set out to do. This manifests itself when one or more people have their answers clustered almost exclusively around the middle. The template we use at IMPACT for content style guides looks quite long, but it’s still simple and designed to be easy to use. Note: For style questions not covered here, please reference the full Michigan Ross MarCom Style Guidelines, or contact us at michiganrosspr@umich.edu.This document is consistently updated. If you think this will not be an issue for your team, still, do not skip this exercise. It's also public-facing, but much more comprehensive. Write numbers as numerals (0, 1, 2, 3, etc. What Else Shouldn't Go in Your Style Guide? internet vs. Internet). For example, listing provinces and territories in alphabetical order could be appropriate. That’s why the choices you make with your content’s style will make or break your ability to get your message out there and believed by the right people. For date ranges like fiscal years, explain what period the range covers in surrounding text. Even when content is presented clearly and simply, people who have low literacy levels and other difficulties can find it hard to understand text. Marketing Copy: First reference: University of Michigan Ross School of Business Second reference: Michigan Ross Additional references: Michigan Ross, or Ross What Does IMPACT Include in a Content Style Guide? But having style is essential to executing an effective blogging strategy, guaranteeing your messaging is packaged for maximum impact, thus empowering you to win the internet. (You can read the full guide without giving us your email -- keep scrolling!). But having it available online (either in an internal intranet, in a Google Slide Deck, or available publicly online, like MailChimp), will make it accessible and easy to update, when you need to make changes. But while content style guides It should be used by anyone on your team -- or freelancers who work with you -- who will be creating content for your brand. For example, at IMPACT, we do include a slide with a brand messaging strategy primer within the content style guides we create for clients: An adapted example of a brand messaging slide from an IMPACT content style guide. Unfortunately, you can’t just go up to people and say, For example, you may want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry --, And it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, it’s clear that you’re, Here’s the thing, though -- many of the entrepreneurs and marketers we work with love to focus on the visuals --. Available in print and ebook editions. (The only difference between the above worksheet and the one for tone is that the one for tone says “Tone Worksheet” at the top.). The Readability Statistics dialog box will appear and show the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. (“Don't use big words!”), Basic editorial rules -- grammar, spelling, etc. identify your highest weeks of insurable income in the shortest period below: return the completed form in person to the, Spanish and Portuguese, write "(Spanish and Portuguese only)", be Canadian or legally able to work in Canada, have lost your job through no fault of your own, be ready, willing and able to work each day but still can't find work, stay in Canada while you're getting EI help, created a list out of the items in the text, replaced complex nouns with verbs and complex verbs with simpler forms, divided a complex table into several simple tables that are more accessible and can be viewed easily on mobile devices, applied the inverted pyramid approach to provide the summary or conclusion first, followed by increasingly detailed information, updated titles to reflect capitalization requirements, used existing subheadings embedded in the original example to create table headers, made sure that the last 3 column headers reflect the unit value of the information in each column, added zeros to provide relevant information in otherwise empty cells, removed empty cells, rows and irrelevant information (underlining) and subheadings (such as those that were not aligned with the column headers). 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2020 impact content style guide