Grammar Tips Grammar Test Importance of a Style Guide

"Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them."
John Ruskin

"Vigorous writing is concise."
William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style, 1919

The Importance of a Style Guide

A style guide creates and defines the standards for internal and external corporate documents. It serves as a reference source and training tool for anyone who reads or writes documentation, which is to say, everyone. A style guide will provide many benefits to your company:

Time Savings. A style guide saves time by providing quick answers to questions that may arise while writing documentation. "What information should be included in a specification?" or "How should I format the address on this letter?" A style guide streamlines the process of composition, thus significantly reducing the time required to create new documents. It also provides for shorter review cycles.

Cost Savings. Employees with access to their company's style guide spend fewer hours writing, reviewing, and correcting documentation. A style guide reduces the expense of repetitive training and prevents costly mistakes that result when an operator, for instance, is forced to read inconsistent or poorly written operating instructions.

Consistency. A style guide promotes consistency among documents throughout the company. This leads to fewer arguments over questions of style and format and to less duplicated effort, resulting in savings of both time and money.

Professionalism. In helping to write and maintain a style guide, employees have an opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge internally. Externally, your company enhances its image by developing and using an effective time- and money-management tool and by consistently producing quality documentation.

If your company doesn't have a style guide, A Written Word would be happy to develop one for you.


The ultimate style guide is, of course, The Chicago Manual of Style. We use it. We encourage you to use it, too.

Chicago Manual of Style


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