Where does a style guide fit in your process?

When I hear the phrase “style guide,” I immediately think of content, not web sites. I realize that web sites contain content, but the style guides mentioned in this article (“Where Style Guides Fit Into Process“) speak to the design of the web pages in the web site that displays the content. Just goes to show you that context is everything.

In any event, the different diagrams showing where style guides fit in your process could easily be applied or considered for the editing process. Here are the four places that this article proposes a style guide can fit into a process:

  • The Sidelines
  • The Dictator
  • The Hippie Colony
  • The Exhaust

From an editing perspective, I think we can omit the exhaust from consideration or even the realm of possibilities. The Hippie Colony might exist as you first create your style guide, but I would bet that it morphs into one of the other two. Yes, I think most style guides are either “on the sidelines” acting as a reference for sticky or tricky points of style or are “the dictator” driving every decision that you make as an editor. Perhaps these don’t really fit perfectly, but it did make me stop and think about how I use style guides more as a reference point and not as a dictator as I complete my editing. Maybe we need one like “the Partner in Crime” where it is not hanging out on the sidelines, but is also not screaming like a dictator, but helping out all along the way.

Update, April 27, 2015, 4:30pm: Ran across this article on “Digital style guides” that I wanted to connect to this post for future reference.

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One Response to Where does a style guide fit in your process?

  1. Suyog Ketkar says:

    I agree with you, Michelle. Style guides should ideally be the “partner in the crime” sorts. Although, I rarely find this to be the case. In one of my previous stints, the writers and editors would stick to the guide, and occasionally record the deviations and exceptions. But, at times they would become sticklers, and would follow the guide even when a simple business logic could otherwise help – The Dictator, in the case of the blog you have referred to. I believe style guides are only prescriptive; I would choose to follow a guide only on top of wisdom and business logic.

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