The Importance of Guidelines

The Importance of Guidelines

If you go back to the days of writing book reports and thesis papers, you'll likely recall studying up on the formats and guidelines used by different writing authorities, like the Associated Press or the Chicago Manual of Style. 

These style guides help you define a few things for your business's content, including how you structure your sentences, how you spell or write certain words, and how you reference other people's works (you all remember the Works Cited page!).

Although it may not feel important, picking a guideline and sticking to it can actually save you a lot of headaches in the future! Take, for instance, this case last year when the lack of a comma in Portland-area business document led to paying truck drivers millions of dollars in overtime.

Last year, Verano was supporting a client and we came across a very interesting situation. We were creating a list of actions to take during Medicare's Open Enrollment, a critical time for our client's customer base. As we created the content, we came to a fork in the road: how do we properly make the word "do" into a plural? 

The context was a list of things "to do" and "not to do"--which, in daily life, is very easy to say: the dos and the don'ts. In writing, the word "dos" looked awkward to several reviewers...and a very friendly (and interesting!) debate ensued: how do you pluralize "do"?

There were two camps of people: the first felt that it was most natural to add an apostrophe between the 'o' and the 's', so that the phrase is written as "do's and don'ts;" the second felt that the apostrophe was unnecessary and the phrase should be written as "dos and don'ts."

This instagram post from  Pete Souza  shows President Obama reviewing a speech. See -- even presidents like to handwrite things!

This instagram post from Pete Souza shows President Obama reviewing a speech. See -- even presidents like to handwrite things!

As the acting marketing department for our client, Verano had to make a call. Luckily, one of the first things we did as a team was commit to a style that everyone felt comfortable following: the Chicago Style. This was ultimately based on what our client was already generally using, but we made that decision more formal so we could create consistency across all of the company's content (note: declaring allegiance to a style is particularly helpful if you have a lot of people contributing written material to your business).

That decision became invaluable when we came to this roadblock. We could have gone around and around with preferences and opinions (because everyone has them!), but we cut right to the chase: what did our style guide say?

This headline caused a full roundtable discussion: does grammar or preference win?

This headline caused a full roundtable discussion: does grammar or preference win?

One quick search solved the problem. We referred to the Chicago Manual and our answer was easy - the plural of 'do' is 'dos.' In the end, the team felt confident moving forward since we had guidelines in place and we could easily reference the style book if there were any questions about the decision. 

We want to know: Have you considered your company's style guidelines? 

A to Z of Business Storytelling: Delivery

A to Z of Business Storytelling: Delivery

A to Z of Business Storytelling: Content

A to Z of Business Storytelling: Content