The style guide: an indispensable marketing tool

The style guide: an indispensable marketing tool

January 2020

Last month we discussed the importance of a glossary. Another vital tool for maintaining the coherence and quality of your content, while respecting your company image, is the style guide.

What is a style guide?

First of all, a style guide is neither a dictionary nor a glossary. It is a useful document that provides a summary of a number of rules and preferences that have been laid down. Each style guide is unique – it is a roadmap that guides the translator’s choices.

What are the elements of a style guide?

A complete style guide should address the following issues:

      • punctuation;
      • spelling, grammar and typography;
      • format (font, style, use of bold, italicised and underlined text, etc.);
      • tone (e.g., formal or personal) and register;
      • adaptations (dimensions, postcodes, culture-specific expressions, slogans, etc.);
      • sentence structure and preferred and/or forbidden terms;
      • guidelines relating to numbers and capital letters;
      • the language variant used (e.g. British or American English).

This list contains the most important elements, but it is not necessarily exhaustive. The content of a style guide is specific to a customer, a project and a market.

What are the benefits for you as a customer?

A style guide ensures uniform and high-quality translations and facilitates communication between different suppliers. A style guide is also the perfect tool to ensure your brand image is conveyed correctly and precisely, in a way that meets your requirements.

And last but not least: a style guide can help you save time and money. After all, a translator who has a style guide doesn’t have to ask as many questions. He or she can turn to the reference work and thus becomes more efficient. This makes the whole process simpler and more streamlined. As a result, you are less likely to be called upon to provide additional explanations. You therefore save time by avoiding unnecessary delays in the delivery and publication of your documents and you save costs by reducing the need for corrections.

Why a style guide?

A complete style guide collects data related to the target audience of the translation (the characteristics of that audience, the product that is traded on the international market, an analysis of competitive markets, consumers’ expectations about the product, etc.). This gives the translator a better insight into the readers and allows him or her to tailor his or her choices accordingly.

A style guide makes it possible to communicate your company’s message at an international level. It provides clear communication regardless of the medium (website, catalogue, label, etc.). Your company’s language can thus stand out from the crowd, just like your image.

Did you know that…

…large international organisations also lay down rules and conventions for their texts? They collect these data in style guides, which evolve over time. The OECD’s style guide, for example, has over a hundred pages!