Do you have an in-house style guide? Here’s why you should

An established reference guide is the best way to make sure your communications department’s work is consistent and clean.

About four years ago, when Senior Writer Wesley Hyatt started at MMI Public relations, there was some confusion in the company about how to write certain titles and phrases consistently. So Hyatt, along with other editors and writers in the company, put together a house style guide, largely based on Associated Press style, but with some exceptions.

“It’s something that a business needs to have if they want to have a consistent and relied-upon voice that people respect,” says Hyatt. “More businesses are going to have to get used to doing that unless they want to face the consequences of having their messages mangled.”

Even companies whose main output isn’t written material should consider developing a house style, says Hyatt and other writers and communicators.

Why a guide?

“Customers and clients must see a consistent brand, not just in imagery but also in formatting,” says Larua George, owner of 604 Solutions, which offers copywriting help for Etsy sellers. “Without this, it is difficult for a client to feel a subconscious confidence in working with the company.”

Freelance writer Emily Suess also says a house style is essential because it speeds things up.

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