Lessons Learned in 2012 – No. 1: Style Guide

27 Dec

There is nothing like the end of the year to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. As an exercise, reflection not only tests your memory recall, but enables you to learn from experience. So, in this vein, I’ve put together a list of my lessons learned from 2012.

The first lesson is about the need to develop a style guide that can be applied to all training material that your team produces. Throughout the year, I’ve worked on training videos, procedure guides, quick references guides and cards, but rather than a list of standards or a style guide to create a consistent looking product, I’ve relied on a combination of Microsoft’s Manual of Style for Technical Publications and prior documentation. As you can imagine, this combination has caused debate, from varying font sizes to whether or not bullet points should be indented.

MS Manual of Style

For me, although I create various formats of training material, I believe it is necessary to have a style guide that produces a consistent look and feel to the content. In my mind, a video demonstrating the steps to connect to VPN should use the same language as a quick reference covering the same topic.

So next year, I’m determined to put together a style guide that covers all bases to make life a little easier and less confusing.

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