Almost all newspapers and magazines tend to have their own ‘house-style’.
When we talk about style of course, we are not referring to the interior design of a newsroom or office.
Indeed, most editors are far too busy dealing with the breaking news agenda to care whether the office exhibits the latest retro fusion furnishings or those of a more soft tropic touch.
In editorial terms the expression ‘house-style’ refers to the specific usage and editing conventions which reporters and editors follow to ensure consistency across a publication.
Indeed, the very first document to pass over the desk of any new reporter is likely to be a ‘style-guide’.
Not exactly the most scintillating bed-time read but one any reporter worth their soul will make sure they digest cover to cover if they wish to avoid being hauled into the editor’s office for accidentally using a ‘banned’ word.
And then there’s keeping up with the changes.
‘House-style’ documents are not fixed in stone and often what makes it into (or out of) the style-guide will depend on an individual editor’s preference.
So what? You might say. All organisations have some sort of in-house protocol.
Indeed, they do and it’s not exactly the type of thing you would expect to be making the news.
Only it is…
Just last week, The Guardian newspaper hit the headlines after deciding to update its own ‘style-guide’ when covering stories related to the environment.
From now on, you are unlikely to see the words ‘climate change’ reported in its articles nor the phrase ‘global warming’.
Instead, you will see the preferred terms ‘climate emergency’ and ‘global heating’.
The reason behind the changes – to better and more accurately reflect the current environmental situation facing each and every one of us.
We will all no doubt agree the issue is not going to go away or get better without a collective and global movement. (More on this next week!)
But, The Guardian is not and nor should it be, the only publication or organisation re-evaluating its ‘house-style’.
In fact, just this week during our Be Bold team meeting we decided to make a few changes to our own ‘style-guide’ and put a ban on certain words when posting on social media.
It‘s something all businesses should take a look at once in a while and not just those of us in the media and publishing sector.
Having a list of words or key phrases nailed down in a company ‘style-guide’ which all staff across an organisation can use or refer to when communicating externally can help cement a brand and make sure core messaging is consistently consistent.
It’s something we help our clients with on a daily basis and if you need us to give you a few pointers, do get in touch.