Yahoo Style Guide: Finding a Consistent, Concise Voice Online

Struggling to find a consistent voice online, or not sure about how to achieve appropriate language usage? Here's Chris Barr discussing his Yahoo Style Guide, a book and online resource which helps demystify how to communicate effectively and consistently in this digital age.

Struggling to find a consistent voice online, or not sure about how to achieve appropriate language usage? Here's Chris Barr discussing his Yahoo Style Guide, a book and online resource which helps demystify how to communicate effectively and consistently in this digital age.

The Twitter era of ever faster and more fragmented real time information nuggets, frequently using ever mutating nerd fashion vernacular, often leaves the vast majority of the online world scratching their heads and trying to decode and translate these foreign tongues.

Good clear communication never goes out of style, and mainstream writing has relied on worthy tomes such as the Associated Press Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style, which enforce consistency and clarity across content created by multiple authors. A example of this in plain English would be a newspaper or magazine.

The Yahoo Style Guide fills a big gap in providing online communication consistency and clarity, but arguably more importantly it discusses how to keep information short, pertinent and attractive.

Text that works best on the Web gets to the point fast and that makes it easy for readers to pick out key information.

As Chris says above, you typically only get 3 to 5 seconds to get my attention as I scan a page and chose to click your web content link, and this is equally important in an  internal enterprise collaboration environment, which are all too often often dominated by obscurely titled and unappetizing links.

Trying to see an online world you live and breath in objectively in order to make it accessible to fresh unfamiliar  eyes isn't easy, and this guide is a useful resource to help with that endeavor.

For the globally accessible internet, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - the practice of making content attractive and discoverable to search engines such as Google, or an internal business intranet or extranet - is well covered.

Search engines analyze the words on web pages, especially words that are repeated - the Style Guide helps you write your content so that it will appear closer to the top of the hit list when the subject you've written about is searched for by your target audience.

Keeping online information on point, attractive and short is well covered, but good creative writing is timeless and the true key to engaging and keeping an audience. I filmed Chris at 826 Valencia in San Francisco's Mission district, a wonderful place (even their window displays are amazing) that's dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills.

826 Valencia helps people get excited about their writing, based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.

This upcoming generation of local writers are lucky to have such a wonderful resource, with hundreds of qualified volunteer tutors to help them find their creative and professional voices.

Books such as the Yahoo Style Guide help extend that understanding of communication to be findable and appropriate for online and digital consumption. It's available on paper, Kindle, ipad, as an epub.. and fifty percent of it is available online here.

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