7 Ways to Get Style Sheet Buy-in

7 Ways to Get Style Sheet Buy-in

Your client/company has a preferred style for grammar, word choice and formatting. Enforcing those preferences is your job, as the editor. You respect the style sheet, but do the writers? There’s always that writer/ department/ boss who wants to set their choices in stone and will argue that the style sheet is junk wherever it disagrees.

This brings up a series of questions:

  • How can an editor get buy-in for the house style?
  • How strongly are editors expected to enforce house style?
  • When should the author’s preferences trump the style sheet?

I have worked for clients who expect me to impose style without question. I’ve also worked for clients who acquiesce to writers to the extent that even having a house style is a pointless exercise. Sometimes even trying to get the writer on board to make style consistent within their piece is a never-ending battle.

Being a freelancer, I take the approach that my job as editor is to make “she who signs the cheques” happy. I will happily adapt my approach. I ask the second and third questions early on.

What if you are asked to impose house style. How do editors get the team to see that theirs are not the only worthy preferences? How do editors get the others in the production chain to accept that some changes are non-negotiable?

Tactics for Getting Style Sheet Buy-in

  • Distribute a PerfectIt style sheet customized to house style and let the computer impose style.
  • List the style sheet among the company’s best practices.
  • Hold short, periodic education sessions on parts of the style sheet that most affect clear and consistent communication.
  • Get writers’ input during a review of the style sheet.
  • Tie adherence to performance reviews.
  • Explain that the style sheet represents merely preferences, and that we all follow them to ensure that writing is cohesive and supports the company’s brand.
  • Include snippets of the style sheet (and links to supporting arguments) in the internal communications or in your email signature.

How do you get buy-in? Does it even matter? What are your negotiable style points and which will you defend to the top of the mountain?

Leave a Reply