Editorial Guidelines Template

A thing you can copy to create editorial guidelines for your brand or product

Lovingly created by your pal:

🐦 @stevebryantΒ | πŸ‘‹ thisisdelightful.com | βœ‰οΈ steve

🎢 Music to make a deck to

If you're gonna do a thing, might as well enjoy doing it, knowwhatimean.

What are we doing here?

Set the stage for your creators, and explain the context for readers in the larger marketing org.

πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ Who is this for?

Describe your audience. Some guidelines have audiences beyond creators.

πŸ“ˆ What are we trying to accomplish?

Your goals for this deck go here.

πŸͺΈ This is a living document

Remind folks that you're a learning org, things change, fortunes rise, nations fall, people get fired, all that.

Introduction

Here's a good place for saying hello and giving some context to folks

🫢 The team

Introduce the content leadership and provide contact info. Ask for feedback! This is especially good for larger orgs.

🎁 Hi, meet our brand

A description of BRAND X

More top line information about BRAND X

What BRAND X does

How BRAND X does that

How BRAND X works

More info about that

.

✍🏽 How editorial works for our brand

More info about that

.

πŸ“˜ Terminology

This is where you define the difference between, say, "content" and "copywriting" and "editorial content" and any other terms you think are important for your internal audience to understand.

Remember: people who aren't content experts may not understand content terms. Be generous of spirit!

⏸️ Interlude: Time is a construct

Pause for a minute have a laugh and realize the illusory nature of reality, children, bears, even hot sauce.

The Basics

Here we're gonna lay down our frameworks. This is useful for creators (who need operational guidelines) and also for leaders in the rest of the org (who will want to understand what the content team is doing, and why).

πŸ›οΈ Content Strategy

Content strategy is the creation, delivery, and governance of timely, relevant, and interesting content.

This is an optional section. Content strategy is the decision set that leads to publishing. Your creators won't need to understand that. Leadership has probably been made aware in other forums.

πŸš€ Editorial Mission

Why are we doing this and what are we trying to achieve?

🎯 Editorial Objectives

Some orgs like to bring everyone into the goal-setting. If that's you, consider explicitly stating what success looks like, here.

πŸ‘€ Our Audience

List, them, out, by, persona

Our voice

A good place to explain the difference between voice and tone, and lay out the elements of each as they apply to your brand. If you've the time, consider making an inspirational video here from your head of content.

πŸ“£ Our voice

You have the same voice all the time.

Principle 1

Words

Principle 2

Words

Principle 3

Words

🀠 Our tone

Your tone can change given the context of your speech.

  • Principle 1
  • Principle 2
  • Principle 3
  • πŸ‘— Style tips

  • Some general tips and tricks when it comes to writing or creating content
  • Like maybe you want to be positive, but also practical, so remind your readers of that here
  • ⏸️ Interlude: Recursion

    At this point in most decks I like to sneak in a link to something that will haunt your dreams. I mean, I guess you could delete this from your deck. Would be a lot cooler if you didn't.

    Speaking as our brand

    After describing a voice and tone, I like to include a section that explains other important creator guidelines.

    πŸ’¬ Talking about our brand

  • This way
  • This way
  • This other way
  • 🚷 Talking about competitors

  • This way
  • This way
  • This other way
  • πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ Talking about people

  • Some guidelines on how to mentions folks
  • How do we address them?
  • What kinds of people, anyway?
  • Pronouns?
  • That kind of stuff
  • πŸ”¬ The importance of research and sourcing

  • Some brands like to make content with lots of footnotes and endnotes
  • But this section could be anything!
  • Maybe it's important for your brand to embed silly youtube videos or make playlists for your audience!
  • I don't know!
  • βš–οΈ Legal considerations

  • Some orgs abide by strict legal guidelines
  • Can't say this, don't say that, etc.
  • Also some industries are more regulated than others
  • Anyway all that info goes here
  • How to write an article

    An important section, y'know? Especially if you're making, like, articles.

    πŸ—žοΈ Types of articles

  • We writing one type of article?
  • Multiple types?
  • What's the difference?
  • Better lay it out
  • πŸ“œ Article format

  • Headline
  • Subhed
  • Lede
  • Body
  • Kicker
  • Should I keep going?
  • You can do this however you want?
  • Maybe there's a pullquote?
  • Go wild
  • 🧨 Headlines and subheds

  • I tend to think these are important
  • Don't you?
  • 🎨 Art

  • This could be a big section
  • Maybe your creators need image selection guidelines
  • Maybe they need to know where to find the images
  • Or they need logins
  • Should they refer to the CMS section?
  • ⏸️ Interlude: Danny playing Al

    Using our CMS

    Maybe this is Notion. Maybe this is Wordpress. Maybe this is some rusted ratrap of a contraption that makes you want to stab your eyes out with a vape pen. Regardless, my guy.

    πŸ“„ Documentation

  • Should we point them to the docs?
  • Might be helpful
  • πŸ“„ Building an article

  • Some tips
  • Some tricks
  • πŸ“„ SEO

  • Usually important
  • Especially for things found in browsers
  • Video and audio

    So far these editorial guidelines have been about the written word, but many orgs publish other forms. Me, this guy, I think it's good to consolidate your video and audio guidelines within your larger editorial guide. They should all be of a piece.

    πŸ“Ή Video

    🎧 Audio

    ⏸️ Interlude: Sheer terror

    Social

    🎯 Goals

    πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Platforms

    βœ… How-To

    Newsletters

    🎯 Goals

    πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Platforms

    βœ… How-To

    ⏸️ Interlude: Seen

    Grammar and mechanics

    πŸ“” Basic considerations

    πŸ“• Abbreviations

    πŸ“— Acronyms

    πŸ“˜ Capitalization

    πŸ—“οΈ Dates

    πŸ”’ Numbers

    πŸ““ Punctuation

    ⏰ Time

    βœ”οΈ Word List

    Research and sourcing

    πŸ”¬Why we research

    πŸŽ“ Using citations

    πŸŽ“ Citation formatting

    🌽 Thank you 🌽

    You made it. Do copy this template for your own dastardly purposes. In the meantime, it's corn.

    πŸ’» Other delightful decks

    A few decks made in this life and another:

  • 12-Step Brand and Content Strategy Framework (Miro Workshop)
  • Starting from Zero (How to Hire a Content Strategist)
  • Creative Problem Solving: The Essential Reading List
  • Laws of Creativity: The Essential Guide