A House style is a set of all the standards, guidelines and conventions that apply to the written communications of an organisation. These standards provide a consistent style across all documents and materials being used internally and externally, helping to ensure the overall quality and cohesion of communications.
A house style covers anything and everything related to how a company communicates: grammar, spelling, tone, formatting, logos and fonts. It defines when and how to use abbreviations and acronyms, how to refer to company products and services, and how to handle language variations such as British versus American English.
House style occasionally varies from project to project, depending on the target audience and the desired style, but it should always remain within the same organisation's boundaries and be applied to all communications in a consistent way.
A comprehensive guide to house style can help ensure that all company communications use consistent language and present a unified visual identity across all mediums, from print to digital. The following checklist provides an overview of the internal considerations that should be taken into account when designing or updating a house style guide.
Grammar and Writing Style:
• Demonstrate a clear writing style, free of spelling and grammar mistakes
• Select preferred spellings for common terms (British vs. American English)
• Establish rules for capitalisation and punctuation (e.g. sentence case)
• Define whether words should be singular or plural (e.g. ‘company’ or ‘companies’)
• Use a consistent voice throughout the document
Branding and Visual Identity:
• Define how and when to use the company’s logo and brand colours
Become a Sales & Marketing Rainmaker
Learn valuable skills to win more customers, grow your business, and increase your profits.
• Establish formatting rules such as line and character spacing, font sizes and types
• specify how to handle external images, illustrations and graphics
• Designate the type of paper to be used
Abbreviations and Acronyms:
• Define when and how to use abbreviations, particularly for internal terms
• Provide short but thorough explanations for any external abbreviations or acronyms used
• Keep all abbreviations and acronyms consistent throughout a given document or across multiple documents.
General Best Practices:
• Design the house style to be easy to understand and flexible enough to cope with changes
• Make sure the house style is consistent with your organisation’s mission and values
• Make sure the house style is regularly reviewed, amended and updated
• Encourage clear and concise writing, avoid jargon and technical language if possible
• Regularly train employees and other stakeholders on the house style
• Provide a house style guide for employees and other stakeholders to refer to.