There are over 1570 pages of style points combined between CMOS, AP, and APA.* And there are at least a half-dozen other well-respected and much used style guides. So why does your company need a style guide of its own: in-house style? Over the next few How To posts, we’ll talk to editor Carol Harrison about the intricacies of her recently created house style sheet for Financial Reporting & Assurance Standards (FRAS) Canada—the umbrella body representing Canada’s accounting and auditing standard-setting family of three boards and two oversight councils.
Why You Need a House Style
Often called a style sheet, the in-house style is meant to be a quick reference to the few rules the company applies on a regular basis and a record of where their style deviates from a norm or even creates a new style.
So, for example, the house style guide will specify how to set the company name and which of the accepted CMOS citation models is being used as well as a simplified punctuation scheme for vertical lists.
This saves team members from having to memorize even a 200 page industry-standard guide.
Getting Buy-in & Making it Work
“For our group to produce documents that are readable, understandable, and respect readers’ time, they must be consistent and plain. The standard-setting technical staff (chartered professional accounts who are the writers and subject-matter experts) wanted a guide that made their jobs easier so they could focus on the content.”
“We began by casually talking it up among principals.” Harrison said. “I got positive responses across the board. In fact, people started asking when it would be ready! Once it was done, we uploaded a PDF to our internal SharePoint site and did a soft launch via email.”
Our users like having digital and paper options, so we printed the guide in house. Then we did an official launch. We went door to door with cupcakes and Cerlox-bound print copies, inviting our technical staff to complete a quiz for prizes. (They’re a competitive lot–no matter what the prize!)”
In future posts we’ll look at Harrison’s plans for setting and maintaining the house style.
*The Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press Style Book and Briefing on Media Law, and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.