While planners often don’t have degrees in English, it’s always a good idea to brush up on best practices for general editing and grammar. After all, attendees need clear instructions on what to do, where to go and when to be there. That’s where a style guide comes into play, to be used as a standard for all event communications: emails, social media posts, website updates, and on-site signage and messaging.
“Well-written, clear and grammatically correct and consistent copy conveys trustworthiness,” says Karen Martwick, editor and content strategist at Travel Portland (Oregon). “Having well-edited and grammatically correct materials helps drive attendance.” Martwick handles the CVB’s print materials, visitors guide and digital and web content, and also has experience planning the American Copy Editors Society’s annual conference.
The first step to compiling a style guide is to understand it doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, says Martwick—“it can be a simple list you create in Word.” Martwick shares three tried-and-true tips to help planners create an effective style guide for their event materials.
1. Consistency is the single most important element in your communications. So any terms you abbreviate, handle specially or say often deserve special attention.
2. What do you find yourself correcting or having to look up frequently? Those are the things to add to your style guide.
3. It’s helpful to choose a “parent” style guide, like the Associated Press Stylebook. That way you have a reference and you don’t have to figure out all the answers yourself.