How to Create Your Own Writing Style Guide + TEMPLATE

writing style guide template

What is a writing style guide?

A writing style guide is a guide for those who write content for your specific company. In short, it’s a set of rules to follow when you write anything that represents the company’s brand and voice. The guide covers areas of format, tone, voice, grammar, as well as citations. It differs from a brand guide because a brand is a way the company expresses itself visually, like in typography and colors.

The writing style guide helps keep messaging, tone, and voice consistent throughout every piece of marketing material. It guides the writer how to write for your specific audience and helps maintain the identity of your brand.

Every company that has content written, whether in-house or outsourced, should have a writing style guide. It helps your inhouse team as well as your outsourced writers stay on track with your company’s voice, style, and tone.

Before we start writing your style guide (which you can also download this writing style guide free template) let’s discover a few things first your audience, voice, and tone.

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Who is my audience?

Your audience is the people you want to buy your product or service, in other words, your customers! In the healthcare industry, your target audience is usually patients or healthcare professionals. If you haven’t done this exercise to figure out who your audience is, do it. It will help your writing guide clear for every piece of content you create.


Take a few minutes and answer the following questions:

  • What does your audience want?

  • What does your audience need?

  • What do they like to do outside of work?

  • What matters to them?

  • What sources are they currently using for answers to their problems?


Answering that last question brings up your competitors. Now answer… 

  • What makes you different from your competitors? 

  • What is your mission/purpose and promise to your customers?

  • What is the best place to communicate your message (social channel? Blog? Video?)

Voice and tone

Voice and tone are important to include inside your writing style guide to help keep consistency and flow. Oftentimes, people are confused about the difference between voice and tone. When you determine a voice, think of your voice when you talk. It’s usually pretty consistent. But when you talk to a child versus a boss, the tone may change. The tone is exactly that, the sound of your voice. Therefore, when you read a piece of content from your brand, you want the voice to be consistent throughout. The writer should quickly know how to create great content for your company from your guide.

Questions you want to ask are:

  • Is the point of view in the first (I/we), second (you) or third (he/she/it/they) person? 

  • Do you prefer professional conversation or is slang allowed? Are we sarcastic? Funny? Friendly? Professionally?

  • Do you write in an active or passive voice?

  • Are there any memorable statements used by your brand?

Create personas 

Create 2-3 personas that the writer can write to convey your message. It’s important as the writer to write to one person, instead of the entire audience. Think about the persona from understanding the demographics of the audience (that we did earlier).

An example of a company that is trying to sell boxed ready-to-eat meals that come to your home:

Name: Judy

Age: 35

Behaviors: She works a 9-5 job in a suburban town, and she’s a busy mom. Her days are long. Sometimes, she plans meals and throws something into the crockpot in the morning, but most of the time, the family is rushed out the door for school and work. 

Problems: Trying to get home in time to make dinner and kid’s sports practices on time. She wants to feed her kids healthy foods, but every fast food place is unhealthy. She doesn’t have time to cook.

Pains: Eating out all the time, no money because of it.  She’s now searching for a solution.

Creating your style guide

First, let’s talk about how long this guide should be. Shoot for no more than 4-5 pages. You want it to be more of a quick reference than a long, drawn-out source of information.

Style refers to what your writing will look and sound like if you read it aloud. When writing for several clients, it’s important for writers to have a style guide available at all time. 


Starting with style, most companies who cite information online use AP style, but some want other styles. Giving examples of your company’s style is very helpful to the writer.

What is your style? _______

Grammar and punctuation

Now that you have your style chosen, we have to dive into the rules of grammar and punctuation. Oftentimes, especially when writing on the web, traditional grammar rules are broken.

It’s time for you to cover some areas that are often debated in the grammar world. Write your responses to each question to help craft your style guide:


Consistent capitalization: do you capitalize titles? Products? Names? Etc.


What about the Oxford comma? Do you use it or not?


Gender-neutral language?


One or two spaces after the period?


Do you write out numbers or write the number?


Linking inside your blog or outside? 


Who should the writer not link/cite in their work?






Common words that are misspelled/not spelled correctly for your organization:

Examples: website, website, healthcare, health care


Are there times you don’t follow your guidelines?


*If possible, give plenty of examples of how to write and how NOT to write as your brand.

Reading level

You may want to include the reading level of your pieces for the audience you are targeting. 

You can share tools like readable.com.


This part of the guide is the easier part to cover. In your guide you want to make sure you include:

  • Do you work in Google docs or Word?

  • Font Name

  • Headers H1, H2?

  • Intext Hyperlinks?

  • Reference list at the end?

  • Author bio and picture? 

  • Bold, italicized, and regular text

  • Bullet points versus numbered lists

  • SEO/keywords?


‍It’s important to make sure you are giving readers evidence-based research in all your content. Give your content writer-approved websites to reference to create credible content.

Reliable sources:

website that end in .gov or .org

peer-reviewed journals

Unreliable sources:

Personal blogs

Controversial topics/debate websites

Competitors sites


Creating content is a challenging process; having a writing style guide to lead you on the right track can ease your task.

If you love this guide and you say, “Yes, this is exactly what I need,” but you don’t have enough time to go through each step, fill out this intake form, and we’ll take it from there!


About the Author

Janine Kelbach RNC-OB
Janine Kelbach RNC-OB

Janine is a Registered Nurse since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery. She still works at the bedside, as needed. She built Write RN back in 2015 when she started as a freelance writer.

Over the years, and many clients later, she studied marketing, grew her marketing skills, her portfolio (over 200+ pieces), and her business to the agency it is today.

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