This is a general-purpose editorial style guide for people who write for the web or digital media.
As a copyeditor and writer I’ve produced many editorial style guides for my clients, and they have a lot in common (the style guides, not the clients). I’m not referring here to brand voice. Your brand voice is something else.
The nuts and bolts of editorial style can be much the same from one website to another. Things like which words to capitalise, how to punctuate, how to write dates, times and places consistently, and how to make sure you don’t misuse or misspell the kinds of words that tend to get misused or misspelled.
That’s why I’ve compiled this generic style guide – for my clients, for myself, and for you if you find it useful. Feel free to use bits of it or all of it. Feel free to copy it. It’s not an original piece of work to which I claim copyright. Glossaries and usage guides aren’t supposed to be original; they’re supposed to bring consistency. I acknowledge my main sources below.
- Writing style
How to use plain language and keep it simple without seeming to dumb things down, and how to structure your content for ease of on-screen reading.
- Grammar and syntax
Including capitalisation, numbers, and punctuation: how to make consistent use of use quotation marks, hyphens and dashes, apostrophes, Oxford commas, and more.
- Time and place
How to write dates, times, addresses, and foreign place names.
- Word list
Capitalisation and punctuation, words with two spellings, frequently confused words, words to avoid, correct forms of company names and trademarks.
I’ve drawn on several sources including The Economist Style Guide, the Mailchimp Content Style Guide, the Telegraph style book, the Guardian and Observer style guide, and the Government Digital Service style guide.
This is a UK English style guide. Much of its content will also be relevant to US and other versions of English. But there are of course differences of vocabulary, spelling and usage. Other versions of English are beyond the scope of this guide.
Feedback and comments
This is a work in progress. I welcome feedback, contributions, comments, constructive criticism, and corrections if anything seems wrong. Please contact me.