how to create content style guide

How to Create an Effective Content Style Guide

Is your content team getting bigger? It’s always fantastic to have more contributors joining in to create awesome content. This gives you a chance to scale up content production and see better results from your content marketing efforts. But here’s the thing: the new hires and freelancers will not be familiar with your content requirements, established brand voice, and visual style. That’s where a content style guide comes into play.

The best content style guides will help you pass on all your writing wisdom to the new writers in a way that keeps your brand voice intact, no matter who’s behind the keyboard. With a content style guide, you can maintain your brand identity and ensure brand consistency across all channels, such as website blog, social media, marketing materials, and publications.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can create an effective content style guide to streamline the content creation process.

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What is a content style guide?

A content style guide, also called an editorial style guide or brand voice and style guide, is a document that serves as a roadmap for creating content. It outlines specific instructions and rules related to writing, formatting, and presenting content across various channels.

The purpose of a content style guide is to –

  • Provide guidance to your team on writing for different target audiences
  • Assist writers in upholding a recognized brand identity and content quality
  • Ensure consistency in brand voice, tone, and messaging, across all channels
  • Drive the creation of more engaging content

You can create a single content style guide encompassing all types of content. The other option is to create separate style guides, like a blog post style guide, an article writing style guide, a visual branding guide, etc.

With that, let’s move on to the process of creating a content style guide.

10-Step Process to Create an Effective Content Style Guide

Creating an effective content style guide may seem daunting at first, but fear not! We’ve got you covered with a 10-step process that will help you master the art of creating content style guides for your team –

1. Understand Your Brand

Before you begin, have a clear understanding of your brand’s personality, values, and target audience. Start by conducting audience research to know your target audience intimately. Understand their preferences, pain points, and communication style so that you can tailor your content accordingly. You can also create buyer personas to represent different segments of your audience. This will help content creators address the specific needs and preferences of each group.

2. Analyze Existing Content

Take a close look at your previous content, including blog posts, social media posts, and marketing materials. Identify patterns in writing style, tone, and language used in successful content pieces that align well with your brand voice. Highlight these content pieces as examples for your content style guide.

3. Create Guidelines

Start by outlining the fundamental writing guidelines. This includes rules for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization that content writers should follow. Decide on style choices, such as the usage of italics, bold, or quotation marks, to maintain consistency throughout your content. Also, specify preferences for the use of active or passive voice based on your brand’s tone and messaging.

4. Define Tone and Voice

After the basic guidelines are hashed out, it’s time to define the desired tone and voice for your brand. Are you aiming for a friendly and approachable tone or a more formal and professional one? Provide examples of sentences or phrases that illustrate the appropriate tone for different content types.

5. Address Your Audience

Specify how content should address the target audience. Consider using inclusive language and the appropriate level of formality or informality depending on your audience. Emphasize the importance of tailoring the tone to match the audience’s needs and preferences.

6. Create a Style Sheet

Compile a style sheet that includes preferred spellings, hyphenation rules, and industry-specific terms. Don’t forget to include any unique or brand-specific terms that content creators should use consistently throughout the content.

7. Formatting Guidelines

Establish guidelines for formatting various elements. Specify the hierarchy of headings and subheadings to create a logical flow in your content. Set guidelines for creating lists, such as bulleted or numbered lists, to make content scannable and easy to read. Consistent formatting improves readability and also reinforces your brand’s visual identity.

8. Incorporate Visual Guidelines

If visuals play a significant role in your content, include guidelines for images, graphics, and videos. Specify the type of imagery that aligns with your brand. You can also lay down guidelines for preferred image dimensions and formats for different platforms to maintain a cohesive visual presence.

9. Collaborate with Your Team

Involve content creators, editors, and marketing team members in the process of creating the style guide. Gather feedback and insights from the team to ensure the guide reflects the collective vision of the brand.

10. Review and Revise

After creating the initial draft, review the content style guide thoroughly for clarity and completeness. You can ask for input from different team members to catch any potential gaps or inconsistencies. Make sure to revise and update the style guide as necessary to keep it aligned with the latest brand guidelines and content trends.

With that, you’ll have a content style guide ready to be shared with all your content team members. All that’s left is to store it in a central location so that it is easily accessible to everyone. With an AI content workspace like Narrato, this becomes easier. It lets you create custom style guides for different projects and save them directly on the content workspace. Whether you’re working on web design, employee manuals, or even divorce mediation guides, this feature ensures consistency and efficiency across various content creation projects. These style guides can then be applied to each content task when it is assigned to a writer.

Content Style Guide Template

If you’re looking for a content style guide template, you can use this one from Narrato. Please feel free to download the content style guide template and customize it with your own brand guidelines. You can also add additional sections as needed.

content style guide template

Wrapping Up

Alright, that’s the rundown on crafting an effective content style guide. With the 10-step process given in this article, you’ll hopefully be able to build a clear and comprehensive content style guide. Remember, your style guide will likely evolve as your brand grows, and that’s a good thing. Over time, you’ll refine your guidelines and perfect your brand voice until it’s easily recognizable in the vast digital landscape.