«Return to Blog List Editorial Style – What’s Yours?

In the customer case study process, at least 3 people are involved in writing/editing – me, my client and my client’s featured customer. Often, it’s more than that.

Sometimes, we all prefer a different editorial style. I use Associated Press journalism style to help me decide what’s capitalized and how to write out the number one versus the number 10. But my client may prefer its own corporate style, while their customers can find style rules odd altogether.

For example, today I received edits back from the featured customer on a case study I created for a client. While the draft originally said “Smith” when referring to her, she preferred “Ms. Smith.” Since all the other case studies this client has done use just the person’s last name, we needed to change it back to Smith and explain why.

It doesn’t particularly matter which style you choose, as long as you have one. Otherwise, your stories won’t be consistent from one to the next.

As a former journalist, I still use AP Style. Which editorial style do you usually use?

7 Responses to Editorial Style – What’s Yours?

  1. Hi Casey,
    I agree that it is important to have a style, but the reality is that it will likely change with each client. For example, one of my clients uses the word “healthcare” while another prefers “health care”.
    Another great example is English styles. My US clients require different spelling and grammar than my Canadian clients, which is again different from UK clients.
    For my own personal writing, I use my own style (Canadian grammar rules are frustratingly lax — some revert to UK while others rely on US…) and although I am consistent with it, there is no “official” name to it.
    (Perhaps I should go whole-hog and make it my own. The GS Style Guide. That has a nice ring to it…)

  2. Yes, why not the Graham Strong Editorial Style Guide?! Maybe it would be a big hit in our style-confused global writing world.
    I also use different styles with different clients on case studies, as requested, but go with AP when clients don’t have an established style of their own.
    It can be tough to keep track of different styles across different clients, but just a part of the job.

  3. Casey: My journalism training has hopelessly trapped me in the AP Style Universe.
    There’s no escape.
    Favorite style pain points remain clients who refuse to use contractions and the “haunt-me-til-I die” hyphenation of compound modifiers.

  4. Tom,
    Yea, another member of the AP Club! Learning a whole new style is like learning a new language. Besides, AP is the best, right?
    The hardest one for people to accept, it seems, is not capitalizing business titles. On all the pain points, I guess we have to pick our battles.

  5. @Casey – Perfect! I can just see it getting the nickname “The Strong Style Book”.
    Yes, the capitalizing of business titles is a tough one. How do you tell your client that he/she is president of the company, and not President…? Sounds like a recipe for no call back.

  6. Hi Casey,
    I always get a kick out of sending a draft to an industry expert I’ve interviewed or a customer success story subject for their fact checking and I receive the copy back with only corrections in punctuation, capitalization, hyphens. It’s good to know I hit the mark with the subject matter so that it required no correction, but always amusing to see those small changes that look mostly arbitrary.

  7. Hi Steve,
    I know what you mean! Sometimes it feels like people need to make some suggestion, any suggestion or edit, so they feel like they are contributing. These are often the very same folks that need to understand why you lowercased something that they might cap, or vice versa. It takes some gentle education about style guidelines.