Technical Writing & Editing

Importance of a Master Glossary

The Importance of a Master Glossary to Your Reputation

Every company should have documentation that provides a single, understandable company voice for internal and external presentations. One of the most important documents is a style guide. However, it is the master glossary that is the foundation of every good style guide. Think of the master glossary as your company’s dictionary of sorts.

It helps you define industry or region-related words or phrases. In essence, these terms should only be used in certain contexts and have only one meaning, across every piece of documentation you produce. Without a master glossary’s list of prescribed terms, people – anyone from company employees and customers, to investors and other stakeholders – could find messaging confusing and inconsistent. That’s why it’s essential to ensure consistency over the long term so there are no discrepancies encountered down the line—particularly if the company is facing legal or compliance scrutiny. 

Style Guide Versus Master Glossary

While a style guide establishes what punctuation and ways numbers should be written out in company documents and literature, a master glossary specifies what words and phrases to use. And how to use them. For example, your style guide may require you to use a trademark symbol, but the master glossary will identify how to use that trademark symbol—and which symbol to use—in order to meet legal requirements. Additionally, a style guide may require certain spelling and punctuation rules, but the master glossary will identify the specific spelling of brand names, product feature names, etc.


Speak to Your Audience With Pinpoint Accuracy

More importantly, a master glossary can break down your company’s vocabulary into localized variations. You may be a Canadian English-based business addressing an American, German, or Spanish audience. Thus, your glossary will identify important variations so that your message comes through in the local “language”—whether it’s simply using socially-accepted expressions or complying with international standards. The same can be said within any individual country. Populations that are rural versus urban, inland versus shoreline, traditional versus trendy, etc. each have their own “informal” region-based language. Your master glossary can identify those variations and make reading documentation much more user-friendly.


Start Your Master Glossary Collaboration Here

Creating or revising a master glossary takes teamwork. Cohort will work strategically and efficiently with you to ensure the results fit both company standards and industry mandates. By putting an experienced technical writer on the job, you’ll get the job done faster.

Are you ready to bring clarity to your content with a master glossary?

For a free, no-obligation quote, contact us today at, or call us at 403-970-9137.

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