By “house” style I mean a writing or editorial style that a company or organization will aim to apply to all the documents and communications it produces. The same can perhaps apply to an individual author who is writing a series of books, guides, or articles. The main reasons why they would want one is for:
There may already be a house style in use (or even disuse) within a company or organization but it may be inadequate for present-day usage because it is out of date and has not kept up with changes in language, grammar, and capitalization. It may have been produced many years ago when budget did not allow for a thorough job to be done and only the basics were covered.
This could mean that all a company’s documents are produced on a one-off basis – they may even be consistent within themselves, but not between them. Over time a wide variety of styles have been used by successive personnel with no thought to company image, clarity, or consistency. Alternatively, the document may be full of inconsistencies, such as:
southeast and South East
co-ordinate and coordinate
organisation and organization
the government and the Government
focused and focussed.
I have seen such instances many times and it is not a pretty sight!
In part 2 of this blog I will cover what sort of matters should be covered in writing a house style.