It was the perfect silly season story: a prominent arch-Brexiter Westminster MP requiring his staff to use imperial measurements and to address non-titled men as Esq. British newspapers and the Twittersphere had a field day.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the politician in question, you have to take your (top) hat off to him. Because a writing style guide isn’t just about creating consistency; it also helps to reinforce a brand. And if your carefully-constructed public persona is old-fashioned, then your writing style should be old-fashioned too.
“Whatever your own company’s brand, its style guide is designed to project a certain image”
Whatever your own company’s brand, its style guide (if there is one) is designed to project a certain image. Therefore, you should follow it when writing at work, even if you wouldn’t choose to adopt some or all of the house rules in other contexts.
If you don’t have a style guide, consider adopting a newspaper one. It will help you to write consistently and to avoid wasting time on little style decisions such as whether to hyphenate a compound word.
“If you don’t have a style guide, consider adopting a newspaper one”
The Economist’s excellent guide is a favourite among fund managers. The Guardian, too, has a comprehensive – and amusing – guide, which you can find online.
Returning to the silly season, don’t be distracted by the funny stories. It doesn’t hugely matter whether we address a letter to John Smith, Mr John Smith or John Smith Esq. Just as investors judge a fund on its strategy and performance, we should judge our politicians on their ideas and policies – not on their style guides.