Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Use a Style Guide for Collaborative Writing Projects

On collaborative writing projects, it's difficult to ensure the style of writing is identical, but not so difficult to at least make sure the formatting, layout etc looks identical.

Many organisations use a style guide to help their staff produce documentation that complies with the required image. Others use templates ie, MS Word or other documents that are already laid out and formatted in the required fashion; all staffs have to do is enter content.

In the past, in a human resources management role I found templates very useful, especially for ensuring that contracts of employment retained their specific wording and associated accuracy. I was responsible for administration staff in six offices signing up new employees correctly. The contract I prepared for them only had drop-down boxes for names, position numbers, pay levels and the office details. This ensured that no typos occurred during production.

Staff members selected the correct details from the drop-down boxes and when finished, printed the document. It was then sent to the HR Department of our Central Office for processing.

Templates are very useful on collaborative projects because they can be stripped of all non-essential formatting. When someone selects a level one heading, it always appears in the correct place, typeface, size and colour. All they have to do is enter the details correctly.

In preparing for a major project, it is essential to address all the issues of style, colour, layout etc before starting. My experience is that projects of this nature that get off on the right foot have a greater chance of achieving their goals efficiently and effectively.

What do you think? Have you seen projects run off the rails because of lack of organisation? Let us know about them ... we all need to learn from each other.


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