Content Wars: 5 Things to Include in Your Copy Standard

Posted: December 9, 2015

Topics: Digital Marketing, Strategy

Lightsabers are nice but if you’re getting into the content marketing wars, one of the things you’re going to need to arm yourself with is a copy standard. Copy standards help ensure that no matter who’s contributing – or what they’re contributing – it’ll be written in a consistent way.

Without a copy standard, you’ll be burning a lot of time checking, editing and proofing. And that’s time which could be better spent producing and publishing content.

The AP Style Guide is a great place to start because it covers a lot of standard stuff, but it doesn’t cover the unique copy conventions your team is already using on a daily basis – that’s where your own company copy standard comes in.

Here’s 5 things you should make sure are included in your content team’s copy standard:

  1. Product and Service Names
    Include a list of important product and/or service names so you know for sure that they’re always written consistently. Also include direction about how to properly pluralize product names and make them possessive. For example, does Caterpillar sell “CATS” or “CATs” or CAT Trucks”?
  2. Approved Language
    Performance claims often require legal approval and getting legal when you’re up against a deadline can be frustrating. So if it’s a claim you use often, make sure you include the legal-approved copy blocks and statements.
  3. Company Trademarks/Service Marks
    You spent a lot of money on securing those trademarks so make sure you protect them by making it clear how yours are to be used and notated. For example, the rule of thumb is that attribution is required only for initial usage but if you have other expectations, make it clear.
  4. Names and Nos.
    Numbers, addresses, titles, URLs and abbreviations are used all the time. There’s more than one way to write a phone number, especially if your business has a global customer base, so make sure you define a standard for you organization. (919) 555-1234 or 919-555-1234 or 919.555.1234?
  5. Consistent Case
    Do you write headlines and subheads written in sentence case? Initial Caps? IN ALL CAPS? Do you put a period at the end or forget the punctuation? There’s no right answer, of course, but being consistent helps create a more consistent representation of your brand.

So there’s 5 things to get you started on a copy standard – I’m sure you can think of more. Now all you have to do is create it, share it with your team and keep evolving it as you go.

This post was written by R. Wilkie, Creative Director at PUSH 22.