Content Writing Style Guide

A step-by-step guide to creating your own personas, voice, tone and writing standards that suits your company and brand.

You can use the following guidelines to help create your own personas, voice, tone and standards that will then help me create unique, informative, and engaging content that suits your company and brand.

These guidelines are versions of the writing style I use to write content for my digital marketing website, ebooks, social media, or newsletters. They are also similar to the guidelines I provide for writers that I contract for bespoke projects.

They shouldn’t necessarily be considered hard and fast rules, but instead used as guides to help me do the job I am good at, which is to write content that improves your online presence, increases traffic to your website, keeps your visitors reading, and entices them to come back for more.

IMPORTANT: This is not the style of writing I use if I am writing sales copy.


Janet Barker


40-50 years old. Drives a Prius. Loves the environment.

She says it like it is. Resembles Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”: relentless, scathing, surly, it’s difficult to make her happy.

She knows what she wants and she wants to find fault and complain.

However, she has a soft spot. Let her run her course and have her say and then gently turn her around.

She is a Vogue magazine reader and purchases from their ads. Work will always go before pleasure for Janet.

She can spot if a writer is speaking in their “voice”.

She only follows very selective twitter accounts. She wont accept spam email. She will have to see something special to make her take notice.

She has an i-pad, i-phone, and accessories that are chic and functional.

She gives to charity.

She respects awards, accolades, titles, prestige.

Stanley Morgan


Stanley is 35-45 years old. Nice, pleasant, warm and has good taste

He is very stylish, pays for quality and empathetic service.

Stanley makes decisions based on gut instinct. He likes doing business face to face and is loyal and trusting.

He reads the spreadsheets, but not any one in particular. He also subscribes to Wired, The Economist and other specialist titles.

Personality rather than qualifications is more important to him.

Stanley would appreciate good systems and not be happy with any problems that he needs to get involved with personally.

He likes LinkedIn and Ted.TV.

Money isn’t an issue.

Martin Jones


Martin is 24 and just out of University. He’s landed a top job and is enthusiastic, full of ideas and wants to make an impression on his boss.

He subscribes online to industry journals and is on YouTube a few hours a day watching personal and some work related videos. He’s also on Facebook. Twitter for work.

He loves Ted.TV

He has a Golf GTi and likes to dress high street smart.

He knows a lot of theory regarding marketing as he has been studying business or marketing at University.

Core Values

  • Make a difference
  • Maintain integrity
  • Be creative
  • Win accolades

Brand brief

To create websites for clients that turn clicks into revenue and visitors into brand ambassadors through targeted, effective content marketing campaigns: content writing, blogs, video marketing, social media, and copywriting.

  1. We build award winning websites that capture the attention and imagination of visitors and lead them from passerby to subscriber, and from client to long term influencer.
  2. We write world class copy for businesses that enriches their online brand presence, improves conversion rates, and keeps their readers wanting to read more.

The client is discerning, educated, and believes quality is paramount. They understand that their online image and every word written under their name builds their brand and business: it makes or breaks them.

They want a high quality online presence that reflects their company mission and values together with well researched, engaging content written in their brand style and voice.

They want to work with people who are equally as passionate and knowledgeable about their market and business as they are.

We are not a faceless content writing mill full of bored freelancers looking to fill their quota of words. Instead, we offer a very friendly, professional relationship that guarantees to meet their needs every step of the way.

As the company owner, I believe that every word I write for them is an investment in their business’ future.

Voice and Tone

The voice is human. It’s familiar, it’s friendly, and it’s straightforward. My priority is to explain who I am, why my services are so great and how I can help my clients. I use language that educates and empowers people without patronising or confusing them.

My tone is usually informal, but it’s more important that I am clear rather than entertaining.

My tagline is “Every word I write for you is an investment in your business’ future,” and that spirit should come through in every word I produce.

I am:

  • Passionate
  • Confident
  • Charming
  • Persuasive
  • Professional

My voice and tone guide

  • Be nice
  • Professional
  • Authoritative
  • Thought leader
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Easy to work with
  • Transparent
  • Respected and respectful
  • Fun
  • Friendly
  • Charming
  • Confident
  • Convincing
  • Enthusiastic
  • Inspiring

I’m not bossy.

I wouldn’t say:
 You must log in before you are allowed to view your stats.

Instead, I’d say:
 Looking for your stats? Please log in first.

I keep it positive.

I wouldn’t say: My rates are listed on the services page.

Instead, I’d say: You can view my rates on the Services page or you can call give me a call and I’ll be more than happy to help you.

Writing for me

Now that you are more familiar with the personas, values, brand, voice, and tone, please ask yourself the following questions before you start writing:

Why am I writing this?

Who’s reading it?

What’s their emotional state?

When finished writing an article, read it out loud to determine if the tone is natural, warm, friendly, and approachable. reading it out loud will uncover cumbersome wording and highlight areas that may not be as clearly explained as first thought.

Content Types

Here is a breakdown of the types of content created, their typical formats, and the purpose each serves.

Blog posts

Blog posts are typically 500-1000 words long and written in the first-person. They’re informative, entertaining, and mostly written to educate clients. They should always teach the reader something new about the industry, the company, the products or services.

For instance, topics that are related to digital marketing might include the latest industry news, new software or tools, email-marketing tips, writing tips, interesting research or data, or showcase a customer.

Purpose: To educate, entertain, and inform prospective clients and loyal clients, and to show them that we love what we do.


Guides are written in third-person and have a professional, straightforward tone. They vary in length from 1,500 to 5,000 words. They are usually in the style of an informal white paper and are there to teach a subject in depth. They often feature screenshots and step-by-step instructions. Guides are available on the website in html form or as a PDF.

Purpose: To educate our clients and position ourselves as an authority.


Our surveys are used to glean useful information from the public, a target market, our clients, or industry peers. The data is sometimes used in-house, with those that participated in the survey, our client list, or visitors to our site.

Purpose: To learn, share knowledge, and position our company as an authority.

Case studies

Case studies explain how clients utilise products or services and benefit from our products or services. The format is the same for every case study. Case studies are straightforward and informative. Written case studies are usually 500-800 words, and every one includes at least one image or screenshot.

Purpose: To develop trust and show clients how they can benefit from our products or services.


FAQs are where clients can read helpful articles and get answers to problems they’re experiencing quickly. The tone should be direct and clear. Most FAQs are 100-300 words long.

Purpose: To answer specific questions, resolve issues, educate, and help visitors or clients make decisions towards subscribing, opting in, or purchasing as quickly as possible.

Email newsletters

Newsletters are friendly company updates, industry news updates, and short intro stories linking to new content. They are meant to be educational and useful. The tone is casual and entertaining but there is a “pay attention” undertone. They are used as a method to make sales. The length of newsletters can vary depending on the information that is included.

Purpose: To help and educate our clients, keep them up to date with company news, and make sales.

Social media

Social media channels are there to keep a connection and conversation open with our audience. The announcements are informative and conversational and typically inform the audience about relevant company or industry news. new blog posts, articles, newsletters, surveys, or guides that have been published.

Purpose: To keep a conversation open with our audience and provide updates.

Grammar and punctuation conventions

Style guide

This section covers the standard writing, grammar, and punctuation standards to help maintain a consistent tone and style across our platforms and throughout our content.

Content should be readable and easy to digest. Write clear and compelling content, use short paragraphs and short lists, don’t use long or confusing words unless it’s absolutely necessary.

As a reminder, please refer to our FULL STYLES GUIDE document for any conversions that are not defined here.

Abbreviations and acronyms

If there’s a chance a reader won’t recognize an abbreviation or acronym, then spell it out the first time. If the abbreviation is more common than the long form, then just use the short form (DVD, FTP).


Don’t use them.


Use common sense. When in doubt, don’t capitalise. Do not capitalise these words: website, internet, online, email.


Use the serial or Oxford comma.

We interviewed some of our customers, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake.

Otherwise, follow common sense with commas. Read the sentence out loud. If you need to take a breath, use a comma.

Company names and products

Honour their convention and according to their official websites (iPad, YouTube, Yahoo!).

Refer to a company or product as “it.”


Yes, we’re writers that are happy to use them to sound natural.


Spell out the day and the month.
 Sunday, January 24th


Use ellipses (…) to show that you’re omitting words or trailing off before the end of a thought. Don’t use an ellipsis for emphasis or drama.

Don’t use ellipses when you really should be using a colon.

Em dashes

Use an em dash (—) without spaces for a true break or to set off a parenthetical statement.

Don’t use two hyphens in place of an em dash.

Exclamation points

Go easy on the exclamation points! Never use them in failure messages or alerts.

Extreme writing

Don’t use any combination of the following unless it is for copywriting purposed or it looks CRAZY: italic, bold, caps, underline.


Use a hyphen without spaces to link words to form a single phrase, or to indicate a span or range.
 first-time user


Use Italics to emphasise a word, cite an example, or indicate the title of a long work (books, movies, albums).


Use lists to present groups of info. Only number lists when order is important (describing steps of a process). Don’t use a terminating full stop in lists.

  1. Log in to admin
  2. Click Create Campaign
  3. Edit post
  4. Save as draft

Don’t use numbers when the list’s order doesn’t matter.

  • Twitter
  • Salesforce
  • Flickr
  • Eventbrite
  • SEO


Spell out one through nine and first through ninth. Spell out the number if it’s the first word of a sentence. Use the numeric for numbers above nine, such as 10, 20, or 1,500. Use numerals in blog posts.

Don’t say “1/2.”, but instead spell out “half” or use ”0.5”.

Use the percent symbol when it is accompanied by a number, such as 50%.

Use a hyphen for a span of numbers. It takes 20-30 days.

Quotation marks

Use quotes to refer to words and letters, titles of short works (articles), and direct quotations.

Periods and commas go within quotation marks. Question marks within quotes follow logic—if the question mark is part of the quotation, it goes within. If you’re asking a question that ends with a quote, it goes outside the quote.

Use the html meta tag “Blockquote” when quoting people.

Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.


Go easy on semicolons. When appropriate, use an em dash (—) instead, or simply start a new sentence.

Towns and cities

Spell out towns and cities.

Telephone numbers

Use spaces between numbers and country codes.
 0044 0750 551 444


Use numerals and am or pm without a space. Don’t use minutes for on-the-hour time.



Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period.


Time zones

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Central time (CS)

Mountain time (MS)

Pacific time (PS)

Abbreviate time zones within the continental United States, and spell out the rest.

List ET first, unless you’re referring to an event that takes place in another time zone. 10am ET

Word and Phrase Bank

Account Panel (title case)
add on (verb)

add-on (noun, adjective)
back end (noun)
back-end (adjective)
beta (lowercase unless it’s part of a proper noun)




front end (noun)
front-end (adjective)



login (noun, adjective)
log in (verb)


opt in (verb)

opt-in (noun, adjective)

Pay As You Go (unless noted differently in app)
pop-up (noun, adjective)
pop up (verb)
signup (noun, adjective)
sign up (verb)
URL (always uppercase)


Don’t use these words and phrases:

awesome (because it’s not international)

click here

fluffy corporate terms like “solutions,” “incentivize,” “leverage” and “thought leader”
anything related to politics

anything related to religion

swear words

WordPress conventions

Add a new post, and save it often as a draft. When the post is finished, share it with the line manager for feedback. After the manager has approved it, save it as a draft in WordPress Admin (don’t publish it yet), and pass it to an editor for revision and publishing.


The title should very clearly tell the reader what the post is about. Include a keyword, and make it interesting.

Heading and subheadings

Headings and subheadings break articles into smaller, more specific sections. They give readers avenues into the content and make it more scannable. Be specific and descriptive with headings.

Only the first word should be capitalised.

The first heading should be an h1 or heading 1.

Subheadings are h2 or heading 2.

Only use h3 or heading 3 thereafter.

Provide a link when referring to a website. Don’t capitalise links or words within links.

Only refer to statistics or quotes if they are from credible sources. Create a link using the text that relates as closely to the source data as possible.

Internal links should be created using the text that relates as closely as possible to the original page or post. Write the sentence as you normally would naturally. Please do not use “Read more”, “Click here!” or “Click for more information” unless it is absolutely necessary.


Images include illustrations, screenshots, logos, and photography.

Use original illustrations and photography as much as possible. Only use photos free, no licence, and public domain images (including logos). Credit them according to guidelines.

Save images and add them using the “add media” button.

Only use captions when necessary.

Position them centre of content if they take up most of the width of the page or left aligned with text wrap if they are smaller sized images. No border.


Select the categories that apply to your post. Don’t create new categories.


WordPress will generate Tags as you type them. Look for existing common tags.


The Yoast SEO plugin will help you optimise the content for search engines according to the article/post brief. You will need to make adjustments to get the green light that states that the article is fully optimised for Google.

Content writing brief template

You can use this template to create content writing briefs. If you have already created a Style Guide like the one described above you can use that along with this content brief.

Suggested Title:

How digital marketing helps business growth?

Target word count:



Small and medium businesses who are looking to start outsourcing marketing. Company owner, marketing executive (or refer to Style Guide if you have created one).


According to the best research, you should include approximately 15 keywords in an article of approximately 1,000 words.

Start with your main keywords and then create a list of what is referred to as “long-tail” keywords and phrases. Look for long-tail keywords that have high search volume, but low SEO difficulty.

Primary keywords:

Digital marketing growth

Secondary keywords:

digital growth agency
digital marketing industry growth
digital marketing for business growth
growth of online marketing
digital agency growth
online advertising growth
growth digital agency
growth in digital advertising
digital content growth
growth of internet marketing

Topic suggestions:

You can find your audiences’ biggest pain points by researching websites like Quora, Reddit, and the reviews in Amazon books specific to your industry.

It’s also a good idea to run a survey and send it out to your social media audience.

Research your competitors’ content, look at what keywords they rank for, rewrite it and make it better, and improve on the SEO.

Google is also one of the best sources of great content ideas and at the same time you can discover their most searched for keyword phrases. When you start to type a word into their search box it will automatically start to predict and autocomplete what you are typing. These are the most searched for keyword phrases according to their prediction algorithm. It is a goldmine of keyword ideas for content marketing.

Other useful tools include:

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

Tone of voice:

If you haven’t already created a Style Guide then take some time to think about what type(s) of language you want the article to use, and what do you want the overall tone to be?

What’s the intended result?:

What is the goal with the content you want the writer to create? To funnel in-the-market-to-buy visitors into a sales funnel, or resell a new product or service to existing customers on your database?

Target customer:

You know your audience better than anyone else. If you haven’t already created a Style Guide for your writer to refer to, please explain in detail who your perfect customer is: age, gender, education background, purchasing power, social class, location, consumption habits, what they like, what they don’t like, what they want, and don’t want.


Make a list of your competitors so the writer can look for ideas and if you don’t want your competitor quoted or referred to make sure to create a “don’t link to these competitors” list as well.

Examples of content you like:

It’s a good idea to create a list of webpages or other content that you like and explain why and what it is about that piece of content that you like.

Images and video:

Either provide images and video or include a link to a stock website where you have a subscription. The writer can either create a list of images and/or video that you can then download or provide sign in details and the writer can do it for you. Alternatively, images and video can be downloaded from a public domain site where the images are free to use and there are no licensing fees. Here are a few examples, but please check the licensing contract yourself as at the end of the day the images will be used on your website.