Tech writers follow style guides for technical and UX writing, most of which adhere to similar industry standards. These outline and define best practices for clear, consistent, and useful content, such as guidelines for capitalization, headings, and serial commas.
Creating and maintaining your own style guide can be time-consuming and conflict-inducing. Adopting a single, existing style guide helps avoid arguments and editorial decisions that suit the preferences of the person with the strongest opinions.
Below is a list of well-established style guides and other sources of editorial guidance in the tech community. This isn't an exhaustive list. Rather, the references provided offer common best practice guidance for technical writing.
Guidelines aren't rules. They should be followed insofar as they help you write readable content for your target audience in the context of your brand's voice and tone. Style guides are often typically living documents, with growing word lists and changes to specific guidelines based on new knowledge and understanding of how people digest content.
Existing Style Guides
Google Developer Documentation
An in-depth, open-source reference for guidance on voice and tone, word choice, and other style considerations, helping to maintain consistency across documentation.
Microsoft Style Guide
One of the most used and detailed sources of principles and guidelines for writing style and terminology in the tech community. It has been evolving since 1995, and includes in-depth guidance for writing step-by-step instructions and voice and tone.
Content style guide for GitHub docs
GitHub’s guidelines for documentation that summarizes the GitHub approach to style and that builds on guidance covered in the Microsoft Style Guide.
Atlassian Design System
Atlassian's design system includes content guidance, treating their style guide as an important component of their design system as a whole.
MailChimp Content Style Guide
A regularly referenced public style guide, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. It's often a go-to example of good content style, with guidelines that can be used to inform your own, so long as you credit MailChimp.
Salesforce Style Guide for Documentation and UI Text
An A-Z list of terminology and usage guidelines for UI copy and customer-facing documentation that is based on the Microsoft Style Guide, and aims to help people write consistent, professional, and easy-to-learn content.
RedHat Style Guide
A style guide that is supplementary to the IBM Style Guide, and covers most existing industry standards for product documentation.
Apple Style Guide
Editorial guidelines for instructional text, technical documentation, reference information, training programs, and user interfaces.
IBM Style Guide
A book outlining writing conventions and word usage guidelines with defined standards, advice, and examples of good writing.
Google Technical Writing Resources
A learning resource for technical writers, including free pre-class materials that introduce you to technical writing guidelines and how to improve your technical writing skills.
Write the Docs list of style guides
A list of style guides compiled by a global community of people who care about documentation. The community provides many other resources for professional technical writing and documentation.
Adobe Xd UX Writing Guidelines
An overview of guidance for writing copy for digital products, written by Lindsay Munro, a social strategist at Adobe.
GitHub's Octoverse Report
GitHub's research report, which includes data-driven advice for creating documentation that improves information flow and productivity.