Make your voice heard
Why every entrepreneur needs a style guide, plus how to create one. #entrepreneur #writing
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6 essential elements for any style guide

Do several people within your organisation write proposals? Perhaps one person updates the web content and another is responsible for client emails. Or maybe you write everything – emails, web content, newsletters, blogs, social media.

Print some samples and compare the style and presentation.

Do they differ? Is one more formal than the other? Is the language similar or completely different? Ideally, the tone – the ‘voice’ – will have a familiar feel.

Maintaining consistency across all of your communication – written and otherwise – is essential to presenting a coherent and credible brand.

So how do you keep written communication consistent across all of your media channels?

Why you need a style guide plus 6 essential elements for consistent – and professional – writing every time #styleguide #writing

A style guide ensures consistent and professional writing every time

Just as it does for your visual branding (logo, colours, layout etc), a  style guide ensures the same credible voice is conveyed each time a different person writes a piece of communication – no matter how many are on the team.

If you don’t have one yet, here’s a guide on how to develop your own style guide.

Getting started

A style guide need only be a Word document or PDF to share among staff or anyone who writes for your business.

Once you’ve established a written style, you could develop a system of templates to ensure every piece of communication maintains similar structure and presentation.

Your voice

The tone you convey – most often, your level of formality – comes back to knowing your reader.

Not only does each reader or group of readers have different needs, they also communicate differently. Is your audience young and hip, or would they prefer something more formal? Maybe they need a persuasive edge.

Your reader also determines the language or words you use. Will they understand your terminology, abbreviations, jargon? And which words should you avoid – or use more of?


Select a dictionary of choice for your business, for example, the Australian Macquarie Dictionary. This avoids confusion for words that us Aussies spell differently to other parts of the world:

  • Adviser and advisor
  • Email and e-mail
  • Enquiry and inquiry
  • Focused and focussed
  • Organise and organize
  • Programme and program
  • Travelled and traveled
  • Verandah and veranda


The frequency of commas, semicolons and other punctuation can be a matter of preference. Once you’ve determined how long you like your sentences and when you prefer to pause, include this in your style guide.

Remember, simplicity is one way to make your message powerful and compelling.

Numbers & dates

Commonly, written style is to write one to nine in words and 10 and beyond in numerals. Are your writers aware of this?

And which date format does your business use?

  • 16 March 2018
  • March 16, 2018
  • 16.03.2018
  • 16/03/2018

Use the same one each time.


Do – or should – your documents follow a certain structure? For example, does more than one person within your organisation write proposals for the same client?

No matter the level of communication, it should always have a similar presentation – one that is familiar and a true representation of your brand (visual and written).

Do you prefer bullet points to break up text on a page and to make it easier to read? If so, which style bullet looks best? Use the same ones each time.

Sub-headings are also useful to present information in a more reader-friendly manner. Which font do you prefer, and what size? Use the same ones each time.


Generally, underline is rarely used, italics are used for names such as books or boats, and bold is for emphasis. What ‘rules’ suit your business communication?

Will you use UPPERCASE or Title Case for your headings? And what about your sub-headings? Simply bold?

Once you’ve established your preferred formatting style, document it in your style guide so everyone else can adopt the same presentation.


  • Reader background information may be useful if you have several audience sub-groups. Refamiliarise yourself with the audience’s preferences each time you write.
  • If writing succinctly isn’t a strength, you may like to include some tips in your style guide to reduce wordiness.
  • And of course proofreading is essential before sending out any piece of communication, no matter how long it is, so include some tips on making this process effective, too.

What will you include in your style guide? Let us know, below!

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