What’s betting that when you think of the word style you think of the world of fashion, glossy magazines, cat walks, people’s appearance and clothes?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but to many people that’s what style is. Style means something different to many people who work with words. From marketing departments to book publishing to the world of journalism, style is about the style of writing that’s adhered to.
Tone, voice, fonts, you may ask. Not really, no. Professionals involved in the world of writing often work with ‘in-house’ style guides. These vary from a few pages to heavy tomes – but the one thing they all have in common is that they tell people what versions of words and phrases to stick to in written communications.
Anyone who has completed a thesis or even a large written report for a college or university will be familiar with certain rules they have to abide by in referencing sources.
It’s all about making a document easier for the reader to get through.
Want to see some adherence to style in action? Pick two newspapers that aren’t published by the same newspaper group and find a story that appears in each. Scan through the text, you’re likely to see differences in how they refer to currencies and numbers, or the titles they give people referred to in the articles, for example. This is a fine example of how different organisations choose one way of writing something and stick with it.
If you have a number of people in your business working on written communications – which can be as varied as emails to clients, to Facebook or Twitter updates, marketing materials or updating your website content or blog – it might be a good idea to start developing your own style guide.
You can start it simply, by adding your preferences to a Word document that everybody can add to. Do you say you’re in Dublin, Co Dublin, Co. Dublin, county Dublin, County Dublin, Greater Dublin, the greater Dublin area or Dublin city? Or, as they say in Home Away, the Australian soap, are you in ‘the city’? The City (capital c) usually refers to a financial district of London.
If you want some guidance, there’s loads of resources out there to get you started.
Some real style guides you can check out are:
What are the versions of words you find hard to decide between for your communications?