impact content style guide
Instead of: Canada's vast transportation system enables millions of people each year to travel throughout the country, around the world, and to work and back. It creates a recognizable, engaging voice and personality that readers can form a more personal connection with. Use bold for emphasis, but use it sparingly: the more you use it, the less effective it is. They scan quickly for words and links related to what they want to do. Words and expressions in transition are those written commonly in 2 or more different ways. Ready to Get Serious About Your Brand Style? The needs of your brand and the purposes and use cases for your style guide will dictate its complexity. Active: We may ask you to provide proof of citizenship. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s brand identity presentation is a great example of what you should do. The Readability Statistics dialog box will appear and show the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. You could write the following long description text: Source: Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Note: Includes all tenures. Definitions, as well as usage, spelling, formatting and capitalization standards for words and phrases. Edit this page; Revision history; Questions or comments? If something has serious consequences, you can use the negative form to explain that something isn't possible or should not be done. Writing for the Web: Principles and Guidelines, Rental of machinery office furniture and fixtures, Other professional services not elsewhere specified. That’s a great question, but you want to keep them focused on the task at-hand, and you don’t want to accidentally influence their choices by pivoting the discussion to the methodology behind the workshop. Too many links on a page can cause people to leave the page without reading important information or can discourage them from completing a task. (That’s why we typically have our clients go through a messaging strategy workshop first. Marketing Copy: First reference: University of Michigan Ross School of Business Second reference: Michigan Ross Additional references: Michigan Ross, or Ross They'll guide you on how to make sure the image is accessible to people using assistive technology. Maybe you were at a conference, a professional networking event, or a meeting at work. Writing in plain language doesn't mean over-simplifying or leaving out critical information. To make your content accessible, consider how assistive technologies work and how some writing practices may impact people's ability to read or understand text. Check whether your page title is unique by using a search engine. They generally contain too much information for people to understand when they're scanning. Only present your web content in an alphabetical order if it's the most logical and intuitive approach for the audience. Make sure links are descriptive so that person will understand what they'll get when they click on them. For example, the five different chapters of bankruptcy or common baseball terminology. Readable content means better task completion and higher client satisfaction. Plus, you’ll run the risk of people tossing your style guide to the side in frustration, because you’re giving them way too much to consider. If your roll-out strategy is “send the style guide as a link in an email,” expect to be underwhelmed by the number of people who save it to read for later… and then never do. The first few times, send content back, and kindly let the writer know what needs to be changed and why. Make sure that you have the appropriate permissions to publish images, audio files and videos online. There’s a good chance people will pick opposing answers for certain scales even though they agree; find ways to guide them to that realization, although they’ll usually get there on their own. Don't use contractions when there is a critical difference between two things, for example, between doing and not doing something. Passive: You may be asked to provide proof of citizenship. Check that they take people to the correct page, which contains up-to-date information, in the appropriate official language. This is the not-so-fun part, but you should send back work that doesn’t adhere to the new style guide. Don't switch from speaking to people to speaking on their behalf. We believe in doing the same, but we’ve added a little more structure to it by creating what are called tone pillars. Write: Learn about Canada's transportation system. You'll need to have the written proof of those rights. A short vertical list is easier for people to scan and remember than a long paragraph. You can check the reading level of a whole page or just part of a page. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. While that’s true, that doesn’t give you any sort of structure that will guarantee the results you’re looking for. If so, why? There’s a good chance people will pick opposing answers for certain scales even though they agree; find ways to guide them to that realization, although they’ll usually get there on their own. You cannot provide your answers, even if prompted. Write: that is, in other words Instead of: i.e. As we’ve talked about already, your content’s style is only one piece of the brand storytelling puzzle. Each has a question associated with it. No one is going to want to read War and Peace every time they need to write a 900-word blog post, especially if it could have been shortened to the length of a press release and been just as effective in explaining what they needed to know about content style. These organizations must follow this style guide's requirements for all public-facing websites and digital services, regardless of the technology, domain name or publishing platform used. It can be difficult to make tables accessible and easy to read for people using screen readers or mobile devices. However, if you think certain ideas, rules, or preferences about your brand’s style should be “obvious,” you’re opening yourself up to a lot of risk by not discussing them, agreeing to them, and documenting them in a content style guide. Text version below. behind the words they chose. What needs to change about how we’re communicating? Your goal is to create a document that your people will want to bookmark (if it’s online) or keep a hard copy of on their desk, so they can come back to it again and again, because it’s such a valuable resource. Your entire focus should be on managing the discussion of the group, asking clarifying questions, encouraging participation, and guiding your participants through the exercises. You’ll also use three worksheets to run the branding exercises, but don’t give those worksheets out in advance. On the other hand, some still suffer from a total disconnect between what they want to say vs. what they’re actually communicating to their audience. Verbs alone clearly express the action needed. Images can distract people. Providing links to other relevant web pages can help people find related information quickly. Reduce confusion by using the following spellings: This rule doesn't apply to content in French. It helps you understand how much food is recommended every day from each of the four food groups. identify your highest weeks of insurable income in the shortest period below: return the completed form in person to the, Spanish and Portuguese, write "(Spanish and Portuguese only)", be Canadian or legally able to work in Canada, have lost your job through no fault of your own, be ready, willing and able to work each day but still can't find work, stay in Canada while you're getting EI help, created a list out of the items in the text, replaced complex nouns with verbs and complex verbs with simpler forms, divided a complex table into several simple tables that are more accessible and can be viewed easily on mobile devices, applied the inverted pyramid approach to provide the summary or conclusion first, followed by increasingly detailed information, updated titles to reflect capitalization requirements, used existing subheadings embedded in the original example to create table headers, made sure that the last 3 column headers reflect the unit value of the information in each column, added zeros to provide relevant information in otherwise empty cells, removed empty cells, rows and irrelevant information (underlining) and subheadings (such as those that were not aligned with the column headers). Instead, you’re making the assumption that individuals won’t have their own personal ideas about your brand’s personality and won’t make unique choices to express it. This exercise creates an opportunity for the group to see that they don’t always have shared definitions of the same words; something that’s critical for the voice and tone exercises. Use these styles for capitalization and punctuation of content in text, links and applications. After you get to a point where you know they should be accountable, just send the work back and circle what’s not up to style and have them correct it. Number of daily food servings for children, teens and adults. Keep style and punctuation simple. If you’re performing the workshop in person, collect all of the worksheets, but take notes during the discussion period. To get the highest Employment Insurance amount available to you: To ensure that you are paid the maximum Employment Insurance (EI) benefit rate that you are entitled to, complete the Claimant Attestation - Highest Weeks of Insurable Earnings (Variable Best Weeks) form with the required information about your highest weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks of employment or since the start of your last claim, whichever is the shorter period of the two. We’re not here today to talk about what your message is or to flesh out your talking points. Either they want to be able to select more than five or fewer. We’ve created a pool of questions for each of the four brand messaging styles to help you get your conversation going: What makes us better than our competitors? An example of a diverse group could include a seasoned sales rep, a project manager, a marketer, an executive, and a new engineer or account manager you just hired. Dates in this table represent the year, month and day (yyyy-mm-dd). An editorial style guide is a set of guidelines for the writers and editors on your team. Data plans and reliable network access vary. A simple list of dos and don’ts will work fine as a first draft. Use the name of a specific institution in situations when the: Don't include references to your website on your website. Even if there are no fireworks or real objections, your participants will be forced to explain the emotional decisions behind why they do or do not like certain words. For more guidance, including how to write inclusively in French, see the Translation Bureauâs Gender-inclusive writing: correspondence. People fundamentally do not like being told what to think about anything -- especially about brands. Mistakes in grammar or formatting are bad for your content. (And they’re often the same mistakes, over and over.). Instead of: If you started a new claim within the last 52 weeks and there are still weeks payable on that claim, Service Canada will automatically renew your existing claim. You will not receive a reply. Make sure that your links work. Make sure your images add value to your content. You can do this by: When explaining a requirement that comes from an act or regulation, avoid mentioning the act or regulation by name. In newer versions of Microsoft Word, search for "Flesch-Kincaid" using the help feature. To understand why, however, you need to learn the true purpose of a content style guide, beyond its surface-level definition. Your tone will be situational and should be adapted to accommodate different scenarios. Spell out email addresses instead of embedding them within your text. Finally, there’s your style. Assistive technologies like a screen reader will notify the person if the cell is blank. For example, you may want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry -- who doesn’t these days? Mailchimp. We generally provide information to people from the perspective of the government as a whole rather than from a specific institution. Instead, as they go through each exercise, they should focus on providing honest opinions and having healthy discussions. Instead of: Learn about different types of savings plans that will let you build up your retirement nest egg. The purpose of these rules is to make web content easy to find, easy to understand and easy to use for everyone, including people who have physical or cognitive disabilities. Write: The evaluation team will submit its final report on the training program in September. If you're linking to external web content that isn't available in the language of the current page, say in which language(s) it is available after the link. The ImpactTerms site has an encyclopedia style structure. In that case. (“We're an Oxford Comma family!”). Your brand’s style has two components -- visuals and content: The style conventions established in the visual and content style bubbles are how you tell the story of your brand. Don't use an abbreviation or acronym unless it's better known to the widest audience than its long-form equivalent. If you present content in alphabetical order in English, also present it in alphabetical order in French to provide the same intuitive experience. There are no rules around how many dos and don’ts you should include, although don’t include rules for the sake of it. The complex table easily converts into simple tables. “Wait, how is that enough guidance to convey our brand’s voice?”. ), you’ll want to review your style guide at a high-level for tweaks and updates quarterly, with a more in-depth review with your team annually. Come back to tone pillars when you’re ready to create more organization within the structure of your brand’s tone. Outside of work, Liz is a freelance beer writer living in Connecticut. Its online access allows us to include those login credentials in our style guide, so our staff can access a full set of the rules, beyond the common rules we include as an appendix. They can’t, they have to choose five for each, and you can’t have multiple words tie for a particular spot. How to Run a Content Style Guide Workshop, Content Style Guide Adoption & Governance. Structuring headings clearly helps establish the authority of one heading over another. These guidelines will include standards for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and image use. If you do download our content style guide template, we encourage you to adapt it and make it your own. Instead, you are trying to get them to explain the. Include abbreviations that your audience uses in your metadata (for example, in the description field) to help search engines find your page more easily. Jargon: bench warrant (an order by a judge to arrest someone who didn't show up in court or comply with certain conditions), Idiom: to hire a helping hand (meaning to hire an employee), Expression: attack your least favourite task first (meaning do your least favourite task first). If a client doesn’t have one, we may put a few notes here but, more than likely, we won’t include it at all. It has lots of different sections to sink your teeth into, including writing about people, pointers for email newsletters, writing for accessibility, and more. -- but if your audience ever believes that about you, it’ll be because you proved it to them time, not because you told them to believe it. The person responsible for official languages in your institution can help answer questions about your obligations and about exceptions. Moreover, they’re also impossible to keep updated; you’ll never have any version control, and your job will be harder. In publishing and media companies, use of a style guide is the norm. (If you’re looking for a shortcut, our content style guide template has an appendix with common AP style rules, which will make it easier for you to pull out your exceptions, if you have any.). This kind of thinking results in content style guides people will never want to use. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. We did a video conference call walkthrough with a copywriter for a website project, and they said afterward, “Wow, I wish all of my clients did this.”. They are based on writing principles and techniques that help make web content clear and adapted to the needs of all people. Instead, you need to be clear, concise, and direct in your content style definition and direction. The text you hyperlink doesn't have to match the title of the destination page to be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Unfortunately, you can’t just go up to people and say, For example, you may want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry --, And it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, it’s clear that you’re, Here’s the thing, though -- many of the entrepreneurs and marketers we work with love to focus on the visuals --. Just type in your email address below, so we can send it to you. You might prefer to rely on your notes exclusively or you may be someone who will want to listen to the audio recording again, before you start pulling your style guide together. Each perspective can be monitored using the following 4 components: Figure 2 is a bar chart. For example, one person might say “controversial” is good, and then later, someone else says it’s bad. You might not have any, but here are the most common we’ve seen and how to handle them: Someone wants to change the rules. of using the negative form for something that has serious consequences, of statements that avoid the use of jargon, of navigation labels that address the person, of navigation labels that don't use a possessive adjective, of statements that use "we" or "our" to refer to the Government of Canada, of statements that refer to specific institutions, of a statement that doesn't refer to Canada.ca on the Canada.ca site, of statements that express legal and administrative requirements, of question marks being used in forms, wizards, surveys or quizzes, of punctuation in interdependent list items preceded by a colon, of statements that avoid the use of abbreviations and acronyms, of statements showing differences that are critical and not critical, : Long description for the balanced scorecard, : Long description for the bar chart illustrating the proportion of men and women in the public service for selected years from 1983 to 2010, of the use of links that focus on the task, of a link that leads to content only available in French, Expanding Tax Relief for Home Care Services, Enhancing Veterans Affairs Canada's Funeral and Burial Program, Supporting the Economic Transition of Communities Economically Linked to the Chrysotile Asbestos Industry, Expanding Tax Support for Clean Energy Generation, Renewal of the Family Violence Prevention Program, Improving Health Services to First Nations Communities, Enhancing Mental Health Services in First Nations Communities, Less funds existing in the fiscal framework, Less funds sourced from internal reallocations, Expanding tax relief for home care services, Expanding library services for the blind and partially sighted, Supporting the economic transition of communities economically linked to the chrysotile asbestos industry, Improving the conservation of fisheries through community partnerships, Expanding tax support for clean energy generation, Improving health services to First Nations Communities, Enhancing mental health services in First Nations communities, Canada.ca Content and Information Specification, Related policies, standards and procedures, Directive on the Management of Communications, Canada.ca Content and Information Architecture Specification, Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, Standard on Optimizing Websites and Applications for Mobile Devices, Guidance on Publishing in the Government of Canada, Provide equivalent content in both official languages, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Techniques for improving and measuring readability are in the, recall information that isn't visible on the screen, person responsible for official languages in your institution, Start with the most important information, Use verbs instead of nouns formed from verbs, Verify whether the content is easy to understand, Address the person in page titles, links and navigation labels, Use "we" to refer to the Government of Canada, Expressing an obligation or a recommendation, more information about eligibility on the Canada.ca website, travel to or transit through the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, correct abbreviations for provinces and territories, Use a page title, headings and subheadings to show structure, section on capitalization and punctuation rules that apply to lists, Include long descriptions for complex images, Include transcripts to describe audio and video files, email@example.com, Claimant Attestation - Highest Weeks of Insurable Earnings (Variable Best Weeks) form, renew your French passport while abroad in Canada, Communicating with Seniors: Advice, Techniques and Tips, How Users Read on the Web, Nielsen Norman Group, Introduction to Administrative Justice and To Plain Language, Literacy and Access to Administrative Justice in Canada, Lower-Literacy Users: Writing for a Broad Consumer Audience, Minimize Cognitive Load to Maximize Usability, Mobile User Experience: Limitations and Strengths, Plain Language, Please! It's easier to complete a task when a link's destination matches a person's expectations. Available in print and with an online subscription. Don't duplicate information provided on another organization's website. Brand messaging and content style go together like peas and carrots. Technically, you could do this afterward if you really need some sort of style guide right now, while you’re making larger decisions for your business. What Does a Content Style Guide Look Like? We have, however, worked with brands where we had to do more heavy-lifting than usual in the drafting phase based on the results of the workshop. Moreover, they’re also impossible to keep updated; you’ll never have any version control, and your job will be harder. Legal: To be eligible for compassionate care benefits, you must be able to show thatâ¦ Administrative: After you apply online, you'll need to provide us with the following documents before we can finalize your claim. Lowercase the short form of proper names. Readers who use small screens: According to the Official Languages Act, you must publish communications and provide services to the public in both official languages. An editorial style guide is a set of editorial rules that ensure brand consistency. There are a lot of brands who know what they want to say, and what they want their audience to believe about them without having to tell them. Listen for key phrases (beyond the ones on the page) that stand out to you or ideas where there’s a lot of consensus. Style guidance for places (addresses, cities, states), academic degrees, names, and acronyms. An annual, one-user online subscription is $35, usually with a 20% discount offered for automatic renewal options. Next, you’ll remind them of the definition for voice and tone ahead of each exercise: Voice: These are all of the attributes of your brand’s personality; it’s what people should always think about your brand as a reflex, without you having to spell it out for them. Step 2: Review & Document Your Style Exceptions, AP style says that there are a lot of cases where, AP style broke the collective brain of editors all over the country when they, AP style says only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized in. Write: There are 15 client contact centres across Canada. It’s not a sign of failure if you don’t push anyone’s buttons. But having style is essential to executing an effective blogging strategy, guaranteeing your messaging is packaged for maximum impact, thus empowering you to win the internet. So, formatting, grammar, and punctuation rules all fall under this category. Government of Canada web content must be: When planning web content, consider people's needs. You could therefore use the table as the long description for this image. Positive: You're entitled to part of the deduction. If you have any questions, please see your instructor for assistance. This is the only exercise where participants will answer from their own perspective, rather than trying to step into the shoes of their personas. Ever. Here's Why to Avoid "Marketese" Only, Reaching Out: A Guide to Communicating With Aboriginal Seniors, Resources of the Language Portal of Canada, Skills in Canada: First Results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Study: Literacy and numeracy among off-reserve First Nations people and MÃ©tis, Study: University graduates with lower levels of literacy and numeracy skills, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing, Use pair writing to collaborate with subject matter experts. In this context, style refers to what your content looks like. When possible, use the present tense. Institutions that fall outside of Schedules I, I.1, and II of the Financial Administration Act do not have to follow this style guide. It also helps search engines better understand the purpose of the image. Learn where to place images and videos on Canada.ca and what size they should be: Alternative text (or alt text) is text that describes an image. Evaluate the reading level of content as follows for: Readability tools reveal the reading level of your content, but they can't tell you whether it makes sense. It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you’re probably going to assume this role -- or you’re in charge of the person who will be the facilitator -- so here’s what you need to know: If you are the facilitator, you are not a participant. No problem! If tone pillars seem too complex, don’t panic. Before you jump in, there are two important strategic activities we consider mandatory prerequisites: You absolutely must have complete buyer personas before you build your content style guide. Typically, a style guide will include the following: Basic editorial rules, such as the spelling out of numerals, how and when you capitalize job titles, rules for abbreviations, how times of day should be expressed, etc. And we’re now going to teach you how to facilitate it on your own! People who have learning disabilities may find it difficult to scan and understand long sentences and paragraphs. Skip to main content +1.866.971.0933. These tools don't always translate idioms and expressions accurately. It should be used by anyone on your team -- or freelancers who work with you -- who will be creating content for your brand. Sadly, the content component of a brand’s style is often rushed through, if not completely overlooked, as a result. Omit background information and messages that welcome people to your program or site. The easy path here is to assemble a group of all marketers or all executives -- or perhaps some combination of the two. Then, you will recite the following instructions, which are (again) identical for both the voice and tone exercises: “On the following slide there will be a word cloud -- put yourself in the shoes of your ideal buyers and choose the five words you like the least and the five words you like the most, in relation to your brand.”, Bring up the word cloud on the next slide of the presentation deck…. However, your content style guide should not be where your full brand messaging strategy lives. Fonts, colors, and branding rules are, again, visual, so they should have their own home. However, if you’re panicking about how you’re going to cherry-pick the exceptions you want to document, don’t. In our experience, some brand teams and leaders are ultimately shocked by how much discussion is required to create a piece of documentation that may end up being fairly straightforward and “simple.” As a result, they try to over-engineer the final product by making it longer, because they equate complexity and length with importance.