Get staff writing and keep quality high - using simple style guides

Sereno blog

Intranets can be fantastically democratic tools in any organisation, allowing staff to easily and quickly publish their news and share their ideas with colleagues. Most organisations are keen to open up their intranets and give publishing rights to more of their staff but can be anxious about quality control.

There are a couple of things you can do to make this process easier.

Draw up a style guide for your organisation covering some of the basics of good writing style. For example, information about organisational tone of voice and how to write using simple, direct language. Your style guide could also cover your specific approach to the use of sector jargon, technical terms and abbreviations and some basic grammar and punctuation tips, highlighting frequent errors. For example, when to use upper or lower case letters, when to use hyphens and how to punctuate lists.

You might also want to provide some simple in-house training to help people get the most out of the guide. If you publish your style guide online you can also add to it and update it as queries and issues arise. Don’t forget to ask staff to let you know their common queries so you can make it hyper-relevant.

If you want to keep a closer eye on what is being published, you might consider building in a two or three step publishing system that requires someone else to check and approve copy before it is posted. These types of systems can be easily added to existing intranets and websites or built into the design of a new one. Bear in mind that a stepped publishing process will create a bit more work for some staff so you need to agree the process with key users before going ahead.

We always encourage clients to pursue a democratic publishing culture and have yet to come across any real problems with this. Most people are web savvy these days and if staff are well-immersed in the cultural values of your organisation they are likely to produce really useful copy that will make a great contribution to your knowledge base.