The importance of a style guide

A style guide is a complex of general writing and formatting rules to follow while authoring a user manual or other company documents to be published, in order to maintain convention consistency through all written materials.
A typical style guide, such as Microsoft® Style Guide, includes standard use of punctuation, capital letters, measurement units, abbreviation, and font formatting. A style guide can also include a grammar summary.
For translators and editors, a style guide is essential, as well as it is essential that they follow it precisely. If your company doesn’t have one yet, and you’re planning to outsource a translation service, you can draft a quick guide containing the following critical points for the translation process:

  • Determine if a capital letter should follow the colon introducing a bulleted list (in this case, I used capital letter)
  • Determine if each first word in a table cell should start with a capital letter
  • Determine any preference for date and time format
  • Determine if a space (°) should separate a number and its measurement unit
  • Determine which quote type (“, ‘, etc.) should be used, also to avoid converting problems with some CAT tools
  • How to manage specific strings or code characters, such as for XML files, requiring particular attention
  • Prepare a list of product names that should not be translated, with correct capital letters where needed
  • Prepare a list of acronyms and abbreviations, in particular referred to specific product or company names

If you think your company doesn’t need a style guide, translators and editors will follow the general rules commonly applied for the target language.

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