The English language is difficult. There is no one place you can go to get a definitive answer about grammar, spelling and punctuation.

France has the Academie Française, German has its Duden books, we just have debates and arguments, and wide varieties of the English language in use across the world.

There are many authoritative texts and organisations: The Oxford English Dictionary, Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers, The Society for Editors and Proofreaders and lots of interesting work going on in our universities such as that done by Lancaster University on corpus linguistics.

The trouble is they don’t all agree amongst themselves. Hart’s Rules, for example, used to advocate the spelling ‘organization’. English language teaching, Government use, and pretty much all the national newspapers would say that in the UK you would use the spelling ‘organisation’, ‘organization’ is the preferred format in the US.

Do you write BBC or B.B.C.? MP or M.P.? Both are correct.

Do you shorten days of the week to Mon, Tue, Wed, or Mon, Tues, Weds? This can have serious ramifications on how you process data.

Is your writing jargon free and do you use Plain English? How accessible is your language?

Are you undermining your legal rights by using inconsistent disclaimers in print, email and on your website? Do any of your team use terminology that could cause offence — and maybe land you in the media or in court?

Trying to answer these questions is why many organisations have their own editorial style guide.

An editorial style guide lays out rules for how your organisation uses the English language. That helps with consistency, it makes your published materials — online and offline — more professional. It also saves time and money, as you are not constantly editing and correcting materials. Plus you should reduce mistakes, which in printing can be very expensive.

There is also an increasingly vital role for consistency in your editorial housestyle these days and that is to do with search engines.

The phrases you use, the keywords and hashtags need to be consistent across all your writing to help power you up the search engine rankings. It’s one of the most important, cheapest, but often most overlooked forms of search engine optimisation and it’s also a vital tool as part of your branding.

That’s why I would advise combining search engine optimisation and editorial housestyle in a single SEO and editorial style guide.

How do you produce an SEO and editorial style guide? It’s simple: contact me!

They can take months of work and grind. But I’ve already done that — I’ve been producing and contributing to editorial style guides for many years in jobs in government, education and the voluntary sector. So I’ve already got a template that can be personalised for your organisation.

I can bring the experience of marketing and communications roles — including at Ofsted, and managing a proofreading team for the Department for Education for high profile projects — an English teaching qualification, a degree in languages as well as knowledge of search engine optimisation techniques.

Save yourself time, money and hassle and make sure you have an editorial style guide to go along with your visual design guide.

Contact me for a quotation.