...and why that might be a problem

Oh, the corporate style guide. Whether it's a formal bound document, a slick PDF or just a hand-scrawled list of dos and don'ts, this foundational document can be a blessing or a curse.

I'm not going to debate its usefulness. Done right, they're very helpful. Done wrong? Well, we've all felt that pain, haven't we?

The Missing Link in Your Style Guide

While many (too many, maybe) folks cram everything but the breakroom sink into their guides, one thing I see missing in almost all of them is variations on spelling based on target languages and markets.

I admit I'd never thought much about that until we started working for Lionbridge, the world's largest translation and localization company. But I see what I've been missing.This is, of course, critical if you're delivering content in multiple languages. But even if your content is only going to native English speakers, it's important to nail down alternate spellings if your audience includes anyone speaking British English, which is almost everyone speaking English outside the U.S. See what I'm saying?

Seriously? Who Cares?

Oh, I can hear you wondering if that really matters all that much. But I think it does, especially if you've gone to the trouble of geotargeting your online content or segmenting your mailing lists by geographic location.

But chew on this: A 2014 Appia survey found that 86% of localized campaign content yielded higher click-through and conversion rates than English-only versions. The result was a 22% lift. Now, I'm not sure U.S. English to British English localization would create that much of a difference, but any lift is better than none at all, right? Plus, customers appreciate the effort. It won't add that much time to your process, and it's definitely time well-spent.

Your action items:

  1. Include the additional spellings for your British English content when you're pulling together your list of spelling rules outside of the standard AP or Chicago styles.
  2. Get more useful information on translating and localizing content from the Lionbridge Content Hub and check out the articles written by our team and Lionbridge's internal experts.

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