Developing your own personal style guide, demonstrates professionalism and ensures consistency in all your communications. Style guides include both the use of visual images and the use of language.
Language is constantly evolving. Having a guide to refer to ensures that you remain consistent and true to your Brand Personality. There are many ways to spell and puncutuate – consistency is key.
A style guide doesn’t just help out your editing process. Once you’ve created it, you can simply hand it over to anyone who writes for you ie bloggers, outsourced writers and even designers, and be confident that the way in which your messaging is conveyed, will remain constant.
The editorial process requires several steps. Trying to fix everything in one pass is both overshwelming and counterproductive. This means that there is no point in correcting comma usage when the entire paragraph may need to be rewritten. Think of your editing as a three part process :
Development editing is the process of starting with larger conceptual concers. At this point, there is no need to worry about typos, layout or any visual effect. At this time, focus on the big picture. Have you remained true to your outline? Is the message coming across? Is the piece written in the brand voice? Is the content truly valuable.
Whatever content you create, it is important to remember that it is being done with your client in mind. Whether or not it appeals to you is irrelevant. You need to always be demonstrating to your client that you care about them and at the same time, you are sharing your expertise and educating them.
It normally takes more than one development edit to get a piece just right. Never underestimate the power of a second opinion or a fresh set of eyes. It may require you to send your piece to your subject matter experts to ensure that your content is absolutely accurate as well as conveying your brand personality and voice.
Copy editing requires that you review the content itself. Are your ideas clear and sharp. Is your content structured and flowing well. Is your content aligned to your business objectives. Is it in line with your positioning statement. At this point you can look at things like :
Style guide violations ie capitalisation, comma usage, spelling conventions, naming conventions
Brand consistency such as product names, company description etc
It is always best to have your content copy edited by someone other than the person who wrote it. All too often our brains unconsciously correct words or fill in missing words for our own ease of reading. Also when one is too close to the content, through working with the same content for too long, it often becomes easy to overlook mistakes that could cost your company’s credibility. The more familiar you are with a piece, the more likely you are to overlook errors.
At the design proofing stage, check once again for consistency and a true adhering to your coporate identity brand guidelines. Also, does the design optimally convey the message of the content. What illustrations or visuals are required to make the overall look of the document appealing to the eye and more importantly, is there consistency in terms of the overall design of the document in line with all other documentation / publications previously produced.