This style guide provides a set of editorial guidelines for anyone writing developer documentation for Google-related projects.
Goals and audience
The guide codifies and records style decisions made by those in our Developer Relations group so that you can write documentation consistent with our other documentation.
The guide doesn't apply to all Google documentation. If you already follow your own style guide, then you can continue using it.
The 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.
The guide isn't intended to provide a complete set of writing guidelines. For example, it doesn't cover parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, or other writing basics.
The guide is a living document, so it changes over time. When it changes, we generally don't change previously published documentation to match. We strive for consistency when feasible, but our style guide will not always match other parts of our documentation. When in doubt, follow the guide rather than imitating existing, potentially outdated documents.
The guide doesn't provide legal advice, which is outside of its scope. Consult your lawyers for issues relating to legal matters. 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, then that doesn't absolve you from behaving ethically and lawfully 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 bar. You can also use the search box, which is limited by default to only search the guide.
The 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, then see the highlights page.
For issues not covered in the guide, see the guides listed in other editorial resources.
Breaking the "rules"
Remember that everything in the 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 might be contexts where it makes sense to diverge from our guidelines in order to make your documentation better.