What is a stylesheet?
A style sheet can be defined as a sheet created for elements in the documents of a company in terms of elements as:
- The default typeface, size, and color for headings and body text
- How front matter (preface, figure list, title page, and so forth) should look
- Any boilerplate (repeated) content
Why does a business need a style sheet?
Take this situation, for example: Two content writers are working on two separate articles. But tiny inconsistencies appear everywhere. This is regarding incongruences between styles, titles, proper nouns, etc. A business needs a style sheet – a set of rules that are used to determine which is the proper choice when there are more than one correct choices.
A style sheet can help to eliminate a lot of these inconsistencies, even if it doesn’t include guidance on how to use terms specific to the text’s context. In every case, they need to have one particular style that they need to adhere to. This is for two reasons: so they don’t have to decide over and over about which choice to made or they don’t undo the work of the copyeditor.
If you write articles, newsletters, web content, brochures, procedures, annual reports–all kinds of business pieces–a style sheet can save you embarrassment and hours of time revisiting style questions.
Beyond that use, if you have new employees, contractors, or interns, a style sheet can help them use the correct terms from the start. For instance, how do you render your company name? Is it like one of these?
Our Company Inc.
Our Company, Inc.
OUR COMPANY LTD.
How your company name is spelled, capitalized, and formatted is anyone’s guess. And the correct rendering will not appear in a style manual. It has to be on your style sheet.
Take these steps to create and maintain a style sheet:
- Make a list of names, expressions, and punctuation that your organization uses that people render–or might render–different ways. Examples: SHUTTLE, Shuttle, shuttle; a.m., A.M., AM.; web page, webpage; serial comma, no serial comma.
- With a small representative group of writers (including someone from corporate communications), decide which way will become the standard, that is, the right way for each item on the list. You will probably need to consult style manuals for guidance on some choices.
Note: Do not create norms that disagree with widely accepted rules, or you will continually be defending them.
- Alphabetize the style sheet.
- Post the style sheet online and invite a wider group of people to make suggestions or corrections.
- Make the style sheet accessible to everyone in the organization, and inform everyone of its purpose and importance.
- Continue to remind people about the style sheet and how to access and update it.