Managing Managers: Supporting Style Guides with Editorial Review Boards
When your company’s technical writing style guide isn’t answering writers’ questions and managers must independently create extensions and define style and usage exceptions, consider creating an Editorial Review Board (ERB).
What is an Editorial Review Board?
Who leads the ERB?
The role of chairperson should rotate among the managers, so that each manager has an ownership interest in style guide changes. Manager burnout can occur if he or she serves as chairperson for more than eighteen months.
Who serves on the ERB?
ERB members will be asking the members of the writing groups to adopt the recommended changes. Their chance at success will come from the degree to which the group respects them and from the group manager’s support of the ERB.
Typical decisions can include
A good overall guideline is to proceed in support of your company’s business objectives.
Members can serve varying terms so that the number of experienced members balances new ones.
An effective ERB can provide needed support and direction, which can translate into efficiency and productivity in stress-filled writing environments.
Quotes from Managers and Writers with ERB Experience
“Standards provide consistency when there is more than one correct answer.”
“ERBs must balance principle with realism, and consistency with flexibility.”
“Every group expected to follow the standards should have a representative on the Board, and every writer in the company should know the procedures for submitting suggestions for changes and additions.”
“Whenever possible, I would recommend that publication groups adopt an existing industry-specific style guide.”
“Basically, ERBs are created because in many areas there is more than one “right” way to do something (or there’s a compelling reason to break from standard practice), and that means many people have strong opinions about what is right. It helps a lot if everyone understands that and can listen to others’ views without negative judgments.”