SCAD eLearning Style Guide Revision

Cover page from the SCAD eLearning Style Guide.

Context

SCAD eLearning used two main style guides for developing course materials: The Chicago Manual of Style(CMOS) (current edition) and an internal house style. The existing house style guide was too colloquial included lots of memes and images that distracted from the actual content. In addition, it did not provide clear guidance for how to write for a global audience.

SCAD eLearning needed an updated style guide that reflected SCAD eLearning’s global student population and unified the department’s voice.

  • Audience: SCAD eLearning Staff / External Copy Editors
  • Timeframe: 8 Weeks
  • Deliverable: Revised eLearning Writing Style Guide PDF
  • Tools: Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign
  • My Role: Editor/Graphic Designer

Goals

  • standardize best practices for the SCAD eLearning writing style to produce a unified voice
  • increase the usability of the style guide PDF by including live links
  • enhance the professionalism of internal eLearning communications

In revising this document, I considered SCAD’s global audience, and I made changes that would help our content resonate with a diverse student population. I modeled the numbering system for the SCAD eLearning Style Guide after the system used in CMOS to make the organizational structure of the document familiar.

Table of Contents from the SCAD eLearning Style Guide.

I created a master Microsoft Word document with all of the existing style guide content. From there, I reordered sections to make the groupings of content more logical. I updated examples within the guide to reflect actual use cases within course content.

Page from the SCAD eLearning Style Guide that covers the suggested tone and writing style.
Page from the SCAD eLearning Style Guide that covers how to write alt tags.

When I finished revising the content, I imported everything into Adobe InDesign, where I typeset the final version. Finally, I included bookmarks and internal links within the table of contents and each section to facilitate navigation.

Result

The revised style guide helped standardized writing conventions for online writing and contained more examples from actual courses to provide guidance on common style issues. Internal document links made the document easy to navigate. The revised style guide was used to onboard newly-hired writers in the department, and it improved the consistency of the department’s external copy editors.

Reflection

This project gave me the opportunity to take a deep dive into the writing style and tone of SCAD eLearning and make adjustments that increased the clarity of style rules and improve the department’s voice. Creating the updated PDF allowed me to become proficient with Adobe InDesign, and I learned how to use paragraph styles and special characters to bring consistency to large documents.

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