Creating a Team Blog Style Guide

8 Essential Sections to Include

One of the most important things you can do to position your team blog for success is to create an editorial style guide that teaches contributors how to write blog posts that are consistent in style, voice, and format. Overall blog consistency is imperative to building a strong brand and community. Therefore, use the recommendations below to create a comprehensive style guide that keeps everyone who writes on your team blog on the same page. Keep in mind, blog promotion guidelines should be separate from the editorial style guide. Think of the editorial style guide as the guide to post writing and publishing only.

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Title Guidelines

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Your team blog editorial style guide should include a section about blog post titles. Be sure to cover the following areas if you have specific requirements writers must meet:

  • Length: word or character length
  • Format: lists, questions, and so on
  • Keywords: where and when to include keywords: Also see the Keywords and SEO section below
  • Capitalization and punctuation: title case, colons, dashes, etc.
  • Grammar: spell out or use numerals for numbers and so on
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Body Guidelines

The body of your blog posts is where you're likely to have the most requirements. Your editorial style guide should cover the following at the very least:

  • Lead and closing: if you require a specific type of introduction at the beginning of posts or summary at the end of posts
  • Voice: the voice and tone posts should be written in such as formal or informal
  • Length: word count
  • Bullets and numbered lists: how and when lists should be used
  • Headings: how and when to use headings, which heading tags to use, and so on
  • Paragraphs: length, when to use the HTML more tag, and so on
  • Attribution: how and where to provide source attribution
  • Original content: specific rules about creating original content and not copying or republishing content
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Grammar and Punctuation Guidelines

Just as you have grammar and punctuation requirements for blog post titles, you also need to have guidelines for using grammar and punctuation within the body of blog posts. Provide guidelines related to the following:

  • Case: structure
  • Brand and company names: capitalization and use
  • Colon and dash: usage
  • Quotes: use and formatting
  • Acronyms and abbreviations: first and subsequent use
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Links are useful for building blog traffic, offering additional resources and information to readers, and more. However, using too many links or using links inappropriately is considered a spam technique. Therefore, be sure to cover the following in your style guide:

  • Anchor text: what to use as link anchor text
  • Quantity: how many links are too many or too few
  • Type: when to link out within a blog post
  • Internal: how and when to link to other content within the team blog
  • Target: how to format links to open in a new window or the same window
  • Links to avoid: sites writers should not link to within their posts
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Keywords and SEO Guidelines

If you have specific requirements related to how writers should incorporate keywords and use search engine optimization tips in blog posts published on your team blog, then you need to explicitly explain that information in your editorial style guide, such as:

  • Keywords: how to evaluate and research keywords and where to use keywords in a blog post
  • SEO mistakes: what SEO mistakes to avoid to ensure the blog isn't flagged by search engines as spam
  • Writing tips: how to write posts with SEO techniques in mind
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If contributors are expected to include images in their blog posts, you need to provide specific guidelines so images are consistent in terms of formatting and placement and do not violate copyright laws. Therefore, address the following in your style guide:

  • Selection: where to find images and how to pick images to match the blog voice and style
  • Attribution: how to provide appropriate source attribution
  • Formatting: size, position, alignment, HTML title and alternate text tags, featured images, and so on
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Categories and Tags

If your blogging application allows you to assign blog posts to categories and apply tags to them, then you need to provide guidelines to writers so they know how to categorize and tag posts the way you want. Be sure to explain the following in your style guide:

  • Categories: which categories to use for which type of posts, if multiple categories can be selected, if specific categories should not be used, if it's acceptable to add new categories
  • Tags: how many tags to include, a list of existing tags you want writers to use, if it's acceptable to add new tags, tag formatting
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Plugins and Added Features

If your blog uses plugins or additional features that require extra steps from writers before they submit or publish posts to your team blog, then provided detailed instructions for using those plugins and features in your style guide. For example, many WordPress blogs use SEO plugins that boost search traffic if writers fill out specific forms within the post editor page prior to publishing a post. If you expect writers to perform additional steps beyond writing blog posts, including scheduling posts for publishing at specific times, make sure they're covered in your editorial style guide.