Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide
When writing for corporate communication, it is usual for writers to follow a certain style of writing as prescribed by the corporation. This style is commonly termed as house style or editorial style guide.

Not too long ago, I was tasked by a corporation in the technology industry to come out with an Editorial Style Guide for its marketing communication team and internal technical writers. As documentation in the corporation involves various genres of writings, I decided upon using the standards or guidelines set by two of the world's most accepted editorial styles: Modern Language Association (MLA) and Associated Press (AP).

Documentation with content primarily consisting of story writing style will follow the guidelines by MLA, while documentation associated with news or media will follow the guidelines by AP. This essentially means documentation using MLA editorial style will include technical paper, white paper, solution brief, solution guide, user guide, sales guide, product data sheet, magazine, newsletter, presentation, proposal, release note, report, training material and web content. Documentation using AP style, on the other hand, will include press/media/news release, media kit, news wire and other related stuff.

One of the key differences between the two style guides is in the way a heading or title is written. While MLA style guide recommends de-capitalizing all conjunctions, prepositions, and articles in headings or titles with the exception of the first and last word, AP style guide recommends capitalizing all principal words including verbs, prepositions and conjunctions with more than three letters.

Editorial style guides are essential tools for writers looking into writing for corporations and businesses. If you are planning to look into writing for the commercial world, you will need to understand some of the standards required in writing practices for the industry, including the usage of capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation, quotation and numbers.

More information on Editorial Style Guide available: