We love creating editorial style guides and brand guidelines because they can help a company to produce more effective content for years. These references can be especially helpful for people in your organization who produce content but don’t count writing as a core skill.
But not all companies want or need a comprehensive new guide. For them, a short “words to watch” list can provide a lot of bang for the buck. Instead of providing guidance on a wide range of preferences and principles, such a list highlights five or so terms and phrases that warrant closer attention—and why, and what to consider replacing them with.
Every organization’s list is different. A tech company’s might cover how dull “edges” have become (leading, cutting, bleeding, and otherwise). Another list might address habitual phrasing that keeps readers at a distance, like “have the ability to” instead of “can.” Yet another might provide alternatives for words that, while spot-on for your brand, have lost some of their meaning to overuse.
Creating a “words to watch” list—with or without our help—is a quick way to sharpen and share your message inside your organization and beyond.