This style guide provides a set of editorial guidelines for anyone writing developer documentation for Google-related projects.
Goals and audience
The primary goal of this guide is to codify and record decisions that Google's Developer Relations group makes about style. The guide can help you avoid making decisions about the same issue over and over, can provide editorial assistance on structuring and writing your documentation, and can help you keep your documentation consistent with our other documentation.
This style guide doesn't apply to all Google documentation; there are multiple Google documentation groups that have their own style guides. This particular guide is specifically for Google-related developer documentation, and for any other project that wants to use it. But if your project is already using another style guide, then you can continue to use that guide instead of this one.
This guide isn't intended to provide an industry documentation standard, nor to compete with other well-known style guides. It's a description of our house style, not a statement that our decisions are objectively correct.
This guide isn't intended to provide a complete set of writing guidelines from the ground up. For example, it doesn't cover parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, or other writing basics.
This guide is a living document; it changes over time, and when it changes, we generally don't change previously published documentation to match. We strive for consistency to the extent feasible, but at any given time there are certain to be parts of our documentation that don't match this style guide. When in doubt, follow this guide rather than imitating existing documents.
This guide doesn't provide legal advice; legal issues are outside its scope. For issues relating to legal matters, consult your lawyers. In particular, the guidelines in this document don't limit the changes that Google can make to its documentation. Also, if you don't read a given guideline, that doesn't absolve you from behaving ethically and within the law with regard to documentation.
How to use the guide
If you're looking for a specific topic, then do a search-in-page to see if the topic is mentioned in the left navigation (also known as "left nav"). If not, then try using the search box at the top of the page, which is limited by default to search only this guide.
This guide is a reference document; instead of reading through it in linear order, you can use it to look up specific issues as needed.
If you're new to the style guide and want to get a general sense of what our style is, see the Highlights page.
For issues not covered in this guide, see the guides listed in Other Editorial Resources.
Breaking the "rules"
Remember that everything in this guide is a guideline, not a draconian rule. In most contexts, Google has no ability nor desire to enforce these guidelines if they're not appropriate to the context. But we hope that you'll join us in striving for high-quality documentation. A relevant quotation:
"Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."
—George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"
Like most style guides, our style guide aims to improve our documentation, especially by improving consistency; therefore, there may be contexts where it makes sense to diverge from our guidelines in order to make your documentation better.