Business, Business writing, Career

Determining Which Type of Style Guide to Use

The company decided that a style guide is necessary. The next debate is which type is best.

I’m sure the nightmares of writing academic research papers are starting to swarm around in your head. Remember the standard professional style guides your professor used? Here’s a list of a few to help:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) Manual of Style
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Elements of Style
  • This Elements of Typographic Style
  • ISO 690 (guide for the preparation of bibliographic references)
  • MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Associations) Style Guide
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) Handbook
  • MLA Style Manual
  • The New York Times Manual
  • The Oxford Guide to Style/New Hart’s Rules
  • The Publication Manual of the APA
  • The ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Guide
  • The Associated Press Stylebook
  • Yahoo Style Guide

Another type is a house style guide. It’s tailored specifically for the organization.

Various situations may determine which style guide you should use and require certain considerations such as the businesses needs, the management’s support and the work involved. The business needs might not be too hard to identify, especially if questions are constantly asked about the document’s style. Start analyzing the comments and questions discussed about writing documents and examine the resources currently available.

Management is focused on time, money and energy. Convincing executives to consider a specialized style guide when several general guide books are accessible may be tough. That’s why management’s commitment to the project will determine its completion and success. Putting together a style guide is a job within itself that involves activities such as analyzing existing organizational documents.

The choice of a style guide is tough but think of it like this: A standard style guide is useful when general writing needs attention and costs are a concern; a house style guide requires support from management and time for development, but it addresses specific writing concerns within the company. If you decide to use both, make sure they complement one another.

Photo Credit: Luigi Diamanti

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