Style Guide

A reference manual for our writers and editors to produce the best content possible.

Style and structure

1. The headline

Keep the headlines short and crisp. Include the main keyword in the title.


2. The trigger/ hook 

Always start with one or two of the following:

  • An anecdote/a real-life example 
  • A current and popular subject within the industry/social media/B2B marketing
  • Team experience/discussions/lessons 
  • A strong opinion/perspective on research/stats 

Check out how Animalz got the hook right in this blog

NOTE: avoid using obvious or predictable beginnings. For instance, if the subject is “how to form good business relations”, don’t start with what business relations are. Instead, start with an example of an actual business interaction you had with someone at a conference and what that entailed. 


3. The main message summary 

After the hook, come to the point quickly. Tell the WHY here. Why are you dwelling on this specific topic? What’s the need? There can be exceptions to this but come to the main message summary as quickly as possible. This is where your readers will decide whether they want to read the whole blog or not. So make it count. 

INSPIRATION: Start with Why by Simon Sinek


4. The body

Divide the blog into points and sub-points. Make sure that:

  • As far as possible, SHOW your readers, DON'T just TELL. 
  • Show them through screenshots and by quoting examples of B2B companies who have tried/done it. 
  • Give information in easily digestible chunks.  


5. The final thought 

Always give takeaways to your readers. But, again, don't state the obvious. Instead, try to do one or two of the following:

  • Give them action points. 
  • Seek feedback or opinions. 
  • Add caveats if they apply to the given topic. 
  • Share BUZZVALVE’s way of doing things. 

Research & authority

1. Quote stats and surveys organically as part of the narrative. 
  • Use authentic research and stats sources.
  • Hyperlink them properly and cross-check all the links before submitting the blog. 
  • DO NOT quote stats for the heck of it. 
  • Readers are more interested in a perspective/your take on those stats than the stats themselves. 

Example 1 - In one European survey, about 70 percent of executives from Austria, Germany and Switzerland said. . . .

Example 2 - Consider how Asian banks have swiftly migrated physical channels online, how health care providers have rapidly moved into telehealth, insurers into self-service claims assessment and retailers into contactless shopping and delivery.


B] Explain the application/take-away/findings of the research 

When you quote research, ask this: how does this help the reader in their business? How are these stats adding to my blog/perspective?


C] Avoid too many definitions 

Content/digital marketing is a familiar topic, and many technical terms are in everyday use now. In a longer blog/pillar post or even a shorter blog, instead of defining what a “content strategy” is, just list what it involves. For instance, instead of saying, “Content Strategy is the process of”, … say, “Content Strategy involves businesses pouring their resources...” Even if it is a definition, it shouldn’t sound like one. 

Style and Tone

1. Find the sweet spot 

Make sure you use short sentences.  Do not circumvent. Long, complicated sentences frustrate readers. Most people don’t read; they skim and just want information. Learn to sound neither too casual nor too complicated. 


2. Use analogies wherever appropriate 

Examples: 

  • The idea farm: how to sow, grow and harvest excellent blog post ideas. 
  • Why can readers smell fakes a mile away?

3. Talk about your team

How does your team/company work? Any processes that you follow that may be relevant in the blog? What are the peculiarities? How did we do it? What were the results? Share team anecdotes and examples of how we’ve helped clients achieve results. This will help you market organically through the blog.


4. Use fewer “absolutes”

Instead of saying things like “the ultimate” and “the most important aspect”, use something like “this may seem”, “an important aspect”, “a vital point”. This builds credibility. Fewer superlatives will make your blog a smoother read. 


5. Make it personal

Once in a while, share personal experiences and anecdotes in the blog, even if they are written in the third person. 


6. Language
  • Use readable language - shorter sentences as far as possible. 
  • If you are not sure of a sentence, idea or concept, DO NOT write it. When you are 100% convinced about something, the authority shows in your writing. 
  • DO NOT use casual/spoken phrases such as “stuff”, “guys”, “these people”, “those people”, etc. 

SEO

Title - The focus keyword should be in the headline.

Metadata - Focus keyword + call to action + brand name.

Words - 100-125 words.

SEO Keywords - One focus keyword and three secondary keywords. Pick keywords with high CTR but lower PPC. Also, include long tail keywords. 

Keyword implementation - Mandatory in the first and last paragraph. In H2.

Internal linking - Add relevant internal links, at least one for each subparagraph.

External linking - Add at least one external link for each subtopic.

Other - Add anchored texts and links to the images.

Imagery & graphics

1. Screenshots

Use screenshots to show readers how someone else has done it. 

2. Tables

Use tables for detailed stats or information. Like this:

3. Infographics

Use infographics either as the summary of the blog (so it can be repurposed later for newsletters or social media) or when you need to list down too many things .

4. Text boxes

Use text boxes. If you are quoting, say Harvard Business Review’s summary or a psychology/anthropology professor or expert, put the quote inside a box. Like this: 

If you are quoting say Harvard Business Review’s summary or a psychology/anthropology professor or expert, put that quote inside a box. Like this.

Formatting guidelines

  • Blog title - Maximum 60 characters (to keep the title length within two lines for correct alignment on the main blog page).
  • Header image - HD image, preferably from Unsplash.
  • Body image - 800x600 to align with the blog design and the BUZZVALVE templates. Center align the image.
  • Paragraph space - Single space between each new paragraph.
  • Paragraph heading - H3 
  • Paragraph subheading - H4
  • Quotes or emphasising lines - H5
  • Categories - Maximum of three categories (for correct alignment on the main blog page).

Grammar, punctuation, and capitalisation

1. Use British English.

Do:  colour, organisation. 

Don’t: color, organization.

2. Capitalisation rules:

The usual rules for capitalisation apply but a few pointers:

  • DO NOT capitalise a term used in the middle of a sentence.
  •  Do: Repurposing and revamping existing content should be a part of every thriving content marketing strategy.

Don’t: Repurposing and revamping existing content should be a part of every thriving Content marketing strategy.

  • Capitalise proper nouns. Everything else should be in lower case. 
  • Do not capitalise after a colon.
  • Capitalise the first letter of the first word inside a quote. 
  • Capitalise days and months, but NOT seasons. 
  • Capitalise first letters of all words in titles of books, movies, and research papers BUT only the first letter in the title of an article. 
  • A term or terminology does not need capitalisation in most cases. There can be exceptions. 
  • Do not capitalise all the first letters of words in subheads or subtitles. Just capitalise the first letter of the FIRST WORD. 

3. Word list

Use vocabulary that DOES NOT need to be Googled.

Surprise the readers

Suggestions
  • Case studies: once a month, share how BUZZVALVE and its partnership with a client nailed thought leadership. 
  • Team collab stories: a first-person account in which a team member explains a particular type of content or strategy that worked really well. 
  • What we are reading: once a month, just share excerpts of some phenomenal content practises that inspired Team BUZZVALVE. 

How to make our content sound more sophisticated?

1. Replace ``Don'ts”

The level of our audience is such that we cannot afford to sound “instructive”; we must appear “suggestive” instead. One of the best ways to do this is to replace “don’ts” with more respectful ways of saying the same thing. Examples:

Don’t
Alternatives

Don’t create content without making a proper content calendar.

It is advisable to not waste any energy on creating content without having a proper content calendar. 

Or Creating content without making a proper calendar rarely yields the expected results. 

Or Creating content without a proper content calendar must be off-limits.

2. Replace spoken English with written

Unlike some of the most famous blogs in the world, we need to sound formal. So, let’s not write how we speak; let’s write in proper and formal English. Examples -

Spoken
Alternatives

If you have a business that can drive an audience through educational content on your blog, you have got it right.

Businesses that can drive a readership through educational content may benefit from blogging in some form or another.

Keep sentences as short as possible.

It is best to keep sentences as short as possible.

3. Try not to stuff too many ideas into one sentence

In each sentence, pick not more than one or two ideas/suggestions to dwell on. It is not about shorter sentences here; it is about sentences that read well and help the reader remember the ideas you have discussed. 


4. Strictly follow the rules of parallelism

This link has excellent examples. 


5. Replace ‘cans’ with ‘may’

Our readers may know the potential of some tips already, so they know what those things “can do”. We may sound condescending when we write - “A great blog can drive traffic, build a sales funnel…” Instead, we must say - “A great blog may drive traffic, build sales…” or “A great blog has the potential to drive traffic, build sales…” This is balanced and mature written English.

6. Our tips must not sound like guns

making so much noise and little difference. Our tips must sound like a .22- Calibre rifle that can kill the target without much noise or pain. We need to go deeper into our readers’ minds. 


7. Try not to use “you” and “yours”

while referring to the business, as it sounds instructive. Instead, use “we” or “the company” to sound more suggestive. For instance, “Your businesses will do well if you focus on one aspect at a time” sounds too instructive and forced. “Businesses will do well if they focus on one aspect at a time” sounds more suggestive and sophisticated. 


8. Try to use his or her

instead of “her” or ”him” when referring to freelancers or employees in the singular case. 

Do: It is reasonable to assume that a fulfilled freelancer engaging in their choice of work will be more productive than an exhausted in-house employee. 

Don’t: It is reasonable to assume that a fulfilled freelancer engaging in his or her choice of work will be more productive than an exhausted in-house employee.


9. Using numerals vs spelling them out:

When used independently, numbers between 1 and 10 must be spelt out

Do: three companies, five directors, three days, four points

Don’t: 3 companies, 5 directors, 3 days, 4 points

But, when these values (1-10) are followed by additional integers/values such as hundred, million etc., then use numerals. 

 Do: the number of freelancers has increased by 4 million since 2014. 

Don’t: the number of freelancers has increased by four million since 2014. 

Pronouns

1. Second person pronouns

You vs we. The pronoun “you” must be avoided entirely, including in headlines. However, “we” can be used whenever necessary with the alternative being the pronoun “one”. 


2. “Everyone” and “everybody”

“Everyone” and “everybody” are singular pronouns and hence will take their respective possessive pronouns: his or her (NOT his/her) and NOT their. Reference: Cambridge dictionary 


3. Use of “one” and when to use “one” (as in someone)

Use singular verb forms and its respective possessive pronoun, i.e. one’s NOT theirs.

4. Use of singular subjects such as freelancer, employee

These are singular subjects; hence, the verb forms and pronouns will be singular, i.e., a freelancer uses his or her knowledge of resources. . . [See 10G] above]. 


5. Use of singular subjects such as business and company

Most grammar books, including Wren & Martin, say business or company is both singular and plural. As a result, both singular and plural verbs are correct, and both singular and plural pronouns (its/their) are correct. But for BUZZVALVE, let us keep the rule of “their” and use plural verbs with business or company. 

Do: Businesses should consider how to re-architect their current marketing models and approaches in times of crisis.

Don’t: A business should consider how to re-architect its current marketing models and approaches in times of crisis.

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