C++ FAQ Celebrating Twenty-One Years of the C++ FAQ!!!
(Click here for a personal note from Marshall Cline.)
Section 27:
[27.2] Are coding standards necessary? Are they sufficient?

Coding standards do not make non-OO programmers into OO programmers; only training and experience do that. If coding standards have merit, it is that they discourage the petty fragmentation that occurs when large organizations coordinate the activities of diverse groups of programmers.

But you really want more than a coding standard. The structure provided by coding standards gives neophytes one less degree of freedom to worry about, which is good. However, pragmatic guidelines should go well beyond pretty-printing standards. Organizations need a consistent philosophy of design and implementation. E.g., strong or weak typing? references or pointers in interfaces? stream I/O or stdio? should C++ code call C code? vice versa? how should ABCs be used? should inheritance be used as an implementation technique or as a specification technique? what testing strategy should be employed? inspection strategy? should interfaces uniformly have a get() and/or set() member function for each data member? should interfaces be designed from the outside-in or the inside-out? should errors be handled by try/catch/throw or by return codes? etc.

What is needed is a "pseudo standard" for detailed design. I recommend a three-pronged approach to achieving this standardization: training, mentoring, and libraries. Training provides "intense instruction," mentoring allows OO to be caught rather than just taught, and high quality C++ class libraries provide "long term instruction." There is a thriving commercial market for all three kinds of "training." Advice by organizations who have been through the mill is consistent: Buy, Don't Build. Buy libraries, buy training, buy tools, buy consulting. Companies who have attempted to become a self-taught tool-shop as well as an application/system shop have found success difficult.

Few argue that coding standards are "ideal," or even "good," however they are necessary in the kind of organizations/situations described above.

The following FAQs provide some basic guidance in conventions and styles.