Updating A Style Manual with Canva

Thank goodness for journalism educators, Canva and a slight case of ADHD – in that order – because they helped turn our staff manual into the living, breathing document it was intended to be.

I have a love-hate relationship with our staff manual. One part textbook, one part style guide, one part organizational blueprint. The staff manual is our essential reference for all things publication. It’s the guide that leads us through boot camp lessons during the first weeks of school. But the reality is the dense pages filled with guidelines and protocols get hole-punched, slipped into folders and left collecting dust on shelves or lost in the abyss of backpacks by the fourth week of school. Every plan, idea, concept established and spelled out for comprehension and reference is lost. And we do what we always do – hope someone remembers what we decided weeks ago.

In the past two years, my editors fell in love with the simplicity and mobile-friendly checklist of Google Keep for our ladder and workflow. My wish was for them to share that same sense of usefulness and resourcefulness with their staff manual. It’s a tool and guide to ease their minds and make their jobs easier, but it wasn’t serving its purpose.

This flaw in our operations did not sit well with me. And thankfully the knowledge shared from fellow journalism advisers and industry professionals provided the lessons, ideas, tips and tricks to pull from to generate the content.

Enter Canva. The online tool for graphic design and marketing provided quick read templates to simplify the design and create a vision for the staff manual. Plus saved some time instead of reinventing the wheel.

Class discussions allowed us to define expectations and establish essentials all staffers should know. A free 10 minutes here and there on the part of the editors or myself, and TA DA, a simple, quick read reference guide to print in the staff manual and an attachment to add to a GOOGLE KEEP note to take the reference mobile were born.

Not sure about Google Keep? Check this out to learn more.