Hey there Welcome to Quick's style guide. This was made for our in-house digital team, guest bloggers and freelance writers alike.
Who we are Technically speaking, we're a UK online company formation agent, but we do a lot more than that. We aim to inspire entrepreneurs and might-be-entrepreneurs to start their own business ventures through support, jargon-free expertise and a little bit of humour.
Why we do what we do We believe in the ideas that can change this world for the better. Every successful startup, no matter what their sector, contributes positively to the UK and, if they get really big, the world. We want to see their ideas bloom by sharing our expertise and dedicating our time to learning how to make their new business a success.
Target market We want to encourage young entrepreneurs in the UK to start up. We cater for millennials, but our main focus are the under 25s, graduates and current University students. They can be entrepreneurs, curious freelancers or even people that are unsure of their next career move.
Target audience Our target audience covers a variety of different people that include:
- Entrepreneurs in their 20s
- Millennials interested in starting up
- Recent University graduates
- University students
- University career centres, business schools, design departments and entrepreneurial societies
- Innovation centres
Logotype For all digital documents and online instances, please use the logos below. We like to let our logo have some breathing space so give it 20px padding around all edges.
Colour use and backgrounds Colour is great, but we have some rules. These are our guidelines on colour use of our logo.
To keep things looking sharp and clear, we use the following fonts on our site:
Our vibrant colour palette is a huge part of who we are. Use the colours wisely. Primary Palette
- #abd6ee QuickBlue©
- #09b788 Minty Mint
- #fcaf22 Satsuma
- #4e89ab Secondary Blue
At Quick, we have a creative itch which is why we have designed in-house graphics to solidify our brand identity. The style is as follows.
We tend to only use photos for our blogs, but we try to keep them original. They are primarily taken in-house (when we can) and we avoid stereotypical stock images, mods and word clouds.
Tone & Voice
Tone and voice are often seen as interchangeable, but we'd like to make a distinction. Our voice, in a way, is our company personality; it does not change. Our tone, on the other hand, changes according to the emotional state of the person we are trying to engage with.
Voice The Quick voice is a clear, friendly and encouraging one. Most importantly, we are a human voice. We want to appear as a helping hand as opposed to a teacher or mentor. We are never patronising and we explain things in a straight-forward way that is free (or as free as possible) of jargon. On top of this, we like to have fun and value the opinions of the people around us.
Tone Our tone is informal and fun, but our main priority is writing in a clear and succinct way. Think about the emotional state of the person you're communicating to. Are they a stressed person seeking advice or a curious blog reader? Respond to their emotional language in an appropriate manner and never patronise them.
We are fun-loving, but like to tell it as it is. If you can entwine humour into your writing then that's great, but don't force it. It might make your piece unclear.
Writing about people
We are interested in people and people's ideas. We always put the person first and foremost and only refer to gender, disability or sexual orientation if it is wholly relevant to the article or a point you are trying to make. We want to write all inclusive content.
Age We celebrate startups and some of the most successful ones will be run by people older than our target market. Do not refer to them as 'old'.
Disability If someone has a disability, do not refer to it unless it is relevant to your article. If you have to refer to it, emphasise the person rather than their disability: “she has a disability” as opposed to “she is disabled”. Moreover, do not assume someone has a physical or mental disability.
Never refer to a person with a disability as a 'victim', 'handicapped' or 'mentally ill'.
If someone has significant hearing loss, you can say they are 'deaf', 'partially deaf' or 'hard of hearing' (whichever is most appropriate).
If someone is unable to see use the word 'blind'. If they have limited vision you can use the term 'low vision'.
Gender and sexuality Avoid gendered terms. Call someone a ‘businessperson’ instead of a ‘businessman or woman’. If talking about an individual use their preferred pronoun. If you are unsure of the gender of an individual, refer to them by their name or the singular pronoun ‘they’.
Use these words as modifiers, but never as nouns:
- Transgender or Trans
Don’t use these words in reference to LGBTQ people or communities:
Don’t use the word ‘queer’ in reference to LGBTQ people or communities UNLESS it is a term an individual prefers (e.g. queer or ‘gender queer).
Don’t use the term ‘gay marriage’. Only use the term ‘same-sex’ marriage if the distinction is necessary in your article, otherwise just use the word ‘marriage’.
For further reading, click here
Writing for accessibility
We want to write for everyone. From the skim readers to screen reader users, accessibility is key. To do that, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
Headers Headers are an easy way for skim readers to locate the information they want. For everyone else, it helps identify what that particular section is about. Make sure they are relevant to the section it is describing.
Under headers, group ideas together to encourage a clearer understanding.
They should be used in all blog posts, except opinion pieces. For opinion pieces, you can write with or without headers.
Resources: Blog post format
Plain language Some of our readers may have no experience in business, economics, finance or marketing. For this reason, avoid jargon unless it is necessary. If used, explain what it means in an informative way. Do not use patronising language.
In general, short sentences and plain language make articles easier to read too. Even those coming with knowledge or experience in the area will want to read something that is clear and void of superfluous language.
Alt text Ensure all images and graphics have alt text. The text should describe what the image is. This not only helps SEO, but means people using screen readers can hear a description of what the image is.
Mechanics & Details
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty stuff. Below are rules on grammar, spelling and simple mechanics of the Quick style.
The brand Quick Formations is the full official name of the company, but we often refer to ourselves as Quick. We also refer to ourselves directly as the Quick Team.
Concise and specific Long-winded, complicated sentences can be one of the most confusing things to read. Make sure sentences are concise and on topic to ensure clarity.
Active voice Use an active voice to engage and involve the reader. For example:
- Active Voice: Sam started a company
- Passive Voice: The company was started by Sam
British Spelling We do company formations solely in the UK and we’re a British company. Therefore, we use British spelling. For example:
- British Spelling: “Nat ran through the door to meet her neighbour. He was eating a doughnut whilst she showed him her new customised running shoes”
- American Spelling: “Nat ran thru the door to meet her neighbor. He was eating a donut whilst she showed him her new customized running shoes”
Abbreviations and acronyms Don’t assume the reader understands your abbreviations. Spell abbreviations and acronyms out in full and put the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses after it. From that point on, you can use the abbreviation or acronym. For example:
- You should have a Unique Selling Point (USP). Your USP is what differentiates your product from the competition.
Well known abbreviations and acronyms, such as HTML, don’t need to be written out.
Capitalisation When writing titles or headers, capitalise the first letter.
- Top tips to becoming a social media master
- 5 Ways to ace an article
Always capitalise a name or title as well as abbreviations and acronyms
- Sir Elton John
- Ms Fox
Contractions Feel free to use contractions. It keeps your tone informal and friendly. For example:
- Isn’t, doesn’t, didn’t, you’re etc.
Ellipses Use ellipses (...) sparingly. We don’t normally use them in our posts unless it is within a quote. For example:
“Tulips are awesome and can spread happiness [...] but some people have terrible allergies to them” John replied, his deep baritone reverberating the glass until it chimed like a mark tree.
If you can use them effectively in your writing, go ahead.
Dashes and hyphens Use an em dash (–) for an aside comment
Use a hyphen without a space (-) for a range, span or to link two words
Exclamation points Use exclamation points (!) sparingly. If you’re using one, only use one.
Quotation marks Use quotation marks for speech or quotes.
- “That’s sound like a great idea” intoned Sophie, voice dripping with sarcasm
Ampersands Only use ampersands (&) in brand names
- George and Berry
Numbers When writing a number with 4 digits or more use a comma
When stating a price in a specific currency, use the symbol before the numbers
Percentages are to be written using the symbol and should be rounded up to avoid using decimal places. Do not write per cent
When writing fractions, spell the fraction out as opposed to using any symbols
- A third of the population
- Three quarters of the watermelon was gone
UK phone numbers do not need the area code at the start, however, if a number from abroad is being used please use the area code
- 0208 492 6397
- +39 06 861 1316
Dates and time When writing a date, use the day, month and year. If the specific date is not accessible or relevant, then simply write the month and year
- 16th January 2016
- October 2016
When writing a time, use the am and pm style with no spaces between the number and letters
- Not 5 PM or 18:30
File extensions When referring to a file format, capitalise the letters and add a lower case ‘s’ at the end to make it plural
For specific files, use the whole file name and don’t capitalise the file format
Names and titles The first time you mention someone use their full name. After that, stick to their first name.
- Jennifer Jones is the CEO of a company that does not exist. Jennifer is simply an example of how to use this rule.
- I heard Shadow of the Wind is a great read.
Writing about other companies Refer to companies, brands and products exactly as they are spelt
Emojis Never use emojis in blog posts or any other copy. You can use them in the comments section of a blog post where appropriate, but it is better to avoid it.
Writing a blog post
Types of Content Quick publishes content under 6 main categories:
- Inspire: interviews and case studies of startups that are meant to inspire entrepreneurs to startup. We may be open to good motivational articles too
- Opinion: reactive articles on news, hot topics or general insights on relevant issues in the startup and business world. These are not opinions of Quick, but are meant to provoke the reader to think or see a different perspective. They are not rants, offensive or accusing articles
- One Step Ahead: this category is anything from tips to user behaviour insights. It includes how to’s, advice and tips
- News: unbiased reactions to news and a heads-up on upcoming startup related events
- Just for Fun: this includes quizzes, more trivial/fun articles to entertain the reader
- General: other startup related posts including articles such as What is a registered office and The difference between an accelerator and an incubator
Frequency Please refer to the in-house content plan
Outbound Links Every article should have at least 2 outbound links to sources or further reading. All work must be referenced by linking a word or phrase to the relevant source.
Internal Links If an article is relevant to a previously published post, please place an internal link so that readers can read more articles that are related on our blog, guides, resources or pages on our site.
Keywords No article should be stuffed with keywords. Keywords should appear naturally in the article. If it can be included in the title, brilliant, but don’t force anything.
Imagery Imagery should not be generic stock images, word clouds or mods. We try to take the majority of our photos in-house or use sites such as Unsplash. If you are a guest writer and can take interesting photos yourself, that would be much appreciated. Please see Visual Branding for a more detailed guide.
Style Any content produced needs to be engaging, follow Quick’s tone and voice, and above all else, be relevant. The content is there to help, inform and inspire people. It should aim to provoke an emotion whether that is curiosity, relief, happiness or another positive emotion.
Please follow the Tone & Voice guide.
- Internet (not capitalised unless at the start of a sentence)
- Login (noun, adjective), log in (verb)
- Signup (noun, adjective), sign up (verb)
- Startup (noun), starting up (verb)
Words/things to Avoid
- Internets, interwebs or any other variation of the word internet
- Corporate terms (unless they are being explained to help place context)
- Outrageous/unreal claims of success
- OMG, LOL, ROFL or any other online abbreviation