How a Style Guide Will Help Your Legal Content
Writers familiar with style guides like AP or Chicago know how they shape and provide general rules for content. Maybe you’ve found that your field of writing works better with some of these rules, but not all (some of us still believe in the Oxford comma). Having a company style guide tailored to your needs will smooth out the writing process and polish the final product.
A style guide does more than help writers—it helps improve the company’s content overall. Style guides with sections about SEO and using keywords make your published content do more for your law firm. For web content, pairing high rankings and well-written content will set your firm above the rest.
Unify and Strengthen Your Legal Content
Without a guide that sets the standards for your legal content, the end result will be jarring. One blog could be written with titles in sentence style and the next in headline. The fonts could all be different, (Comic Sans, anyone?), and the person who publishes the finished products would have to take the time to go through each piece and edit it to all look uniform. A style guide is an easy solution to get rid of this problem.
A simple style guide could detail the following:
- Formatting. Here the writers will find information about titles, the font size, bulleted lists, and any other ways to present their work.
- Tone. Does your writing need to be casual and directed toward millennials? Or should it have a more authoritative voice because you’re writing for an older demographic about a serious topic? What about a professional tone used for legal documentation? You can add information about the client’s audience and what tone you’re looking for.
- Form and Style. Break down the differences in writing pieces like blogs, press releases, legal documents, and web pages. Average word counts and examples of each help show what the content should look like.
While developing all these rules for writers to follow, you may worry that they’re going to make the content sound the same and robotic, but this isn’t the case. Creativity and originality still thrive when the writer has a style guide. All the guide does is provide framework that makes the content consistent and readable.
A Style Guide Is a Dependable Resource
Imagine a college class where a student asks the professor a question about an assignment date or when they’re having the quiz in the middle of a lesson. The professor answers, “It’s on the syllabus,” so they can get back to teaching. A style guide essentially works as a syllabus because it’s a few pages of information that tells you everything you need to know about the subject. If anyone has a question about something, they can first consult the style guide and see if the answer is there.
You can add more than formatting and style rules to your style guide. Other benefits of an expansive style guide include:
- Useful Tools. You can add websites with information about writing copy and resources your writers could use as a reference.
- Saving Time. If you hire new interns and hand them some blogs to write, having a style guide means they can dive right in. They won’t have to ask senior employees a barrage of questions for a simple blog post.
- Publishing Rules. For publishing tools like WordPress, you can list the steps of what you need to do before hitting publish.
Style Guides Give Room for Flexibility
Having a style guide as a reference for how content is made opens up a lot of doors for a company. People can share their knowledge about what methods and techniques strengthen their content and help generate rankings.
A style guide allows your company to be:
- Adaptable. Style guides don’t have to be set in stone. While the foundations will probably stay the same, (like formatting and style), you can revise and update it when you see fit.
- Collaborative. What if one project had multiple writers? You don’t want it to have sudden changes in voice that would throw off a potential reader. Style guides help keep this in check. The notes could say that everyone needs to write in an informational and formal tone or say what their audience looks for in online content.
- Prepared to Grow. As you gain more clients or take on more writing responsibilities, your style guide will navigate you on how to start strong and produce high quality content every time.
Lay the groundwork for your firm to stand out and set standards that show you’re passionate and driven to write the best legal content possible. A style guide is a cornerstone for companies with writers that produce content every day. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us.
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