Style Manuals and Guides

Style Manuals and Guides

As an editor, a style manual is my most important tool. As a writer, a style manual helps improve my writing and ensure consistency in content.

Editors use style manuals to ensure writing and publications are consistent. Manuals or books are generalized standards for design and writing elements like punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

Guides are specialized standards specific to an organization (like a publisher) or a publication such as a document, a book, a series, or a website.

Style manuals and guides ensure the writing and design conventions, words, and quality are consistent and relevant to their audience. They may incorporate elements of branding as well.

I would venture a guess there are over one hundred style guides and manuals that are published. On top of those are all the specialized in-house style guides publishers use.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is commonly used in published fiction, academic social sciences and arts disciplines, and creative non-fiction, especially in the US and Canada (and sometimes the UK). There are:

  • national press style guides and manuals
  • different manuals for scientific and medical texts like IEEE  which is based on CMS
  • MLA (scholarly publications)
  • APA (used for psychology and some social sciences)
  • New Oxford Style Manual (UK)
  • many editing handbooks with style conventions
  • DCITA’s style manual (AUS)
  • Greenslade’s style manual(AUS)

The list goes on and on. You can see one collected list of style manuals and guides by country here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_style_guides

An editor will have a favourite style manual, and/or will choose one or more manuals to fit your manuscript or writing project. My favourites are CMS 17th edition, New Oxford Style Manual, Canadian Press Stylebook, and Greenslade’s style manual.

If you writers want to explore these manuals to improve your writing, please do. If you are in the US and Canada, start off with CMS 17th  online or physical. If you’re in the UK go for New Oxford Style Manual, and if you’re in AUS go for Greenslade’s.



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