A style guide is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization, or field. (It is often called a style sheet, though that term has other meanings.)
A style guide establishes and enforces style to improve communication. To do that, it ensures consistency within a document and across multiple documents and enforces best practice in usage and in language composition, visual composition, orthography and typography. For academic and technical documents, a guide may also enforce best practice in ethics (such as authorship, research ethics, and disclosure), pedagogy (such as exposition and clarity), and compliance (technical and regulatory).
Style guides are common for general and specialized use, for the general reading and writing audience, and for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business, and specific industries.
- 1 Varieties
- 2 Updating
- 3 Examples
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Style guides vary widely in scope and size.
This variety in scope and length is enabled by the cascading of one style over another, in a way analogous to how styles cascade in web development and in desktop publishing (e.g., how inline styles in HTML cascade over CSS styles).
A short style guide is often called a style sheet. A comprehensive guide tends to be long and is often called a style manual or manual of style (MOS or MoS). In many cases, a project such as one book, journal, or monograph series typically has a short style sheet that cascades over the somewhat larger style guide of an organization such as a publishing company, whose content is usually called house style. Most house styles, in turn, cascade over an industry-wide or profession-wide style manual that is even more comprehensive. Some examples of these industry style guides include the following:
- Oxford style and Chicago style for general publishing and readership
- USGPO style or AGPS style for government publications
- AP style for journalism
- APA style and ASA style for the social sciences
- CSE style for various physical sciences
- ACS style for chemistry
- AMA style for medicine
- Bluebook style for law
Finally, these reference works cascade over the orthographic norms of the language in use (for example, English orthography for English-language publications). This, of course, may be subject to national variety such as the different varieties of American English and British English.
Style guides that cover usage may suggest ways of describing people that avoid racism, sexism, and homophobia. Guides in specific scientific and technical fields cover nomenclature, which specifies names or classifying labels that are preferred because they are clear, standardized, and ontologically sound (e.g., taxonomy, chemical nomenclature, and gene nomenclature).
Most style guides are revised periodically to accommodate changes in conventions and usage. The frequency of updating and the revision control are determined by the subject matter. For style manuals in reference work format, new editions typically appear every 1 to 20 years. For example, the AP Stylebook is revised annually, and the Chicago, APA, and ASA manuals are in their 16th, 6th, and 4th editions, respectively. Many house styles and individual project styles change more frequently, especially for new projects.
Several basic style guides for technical and scientific communication have been defined by international standards organizations. One example is ISO 215 Documentation — Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials.
The European Union publishes an Interinstitutional Style Guide—encompassing 23 languages across the European Union. This manual is "obligatory" for all those employed by the institutions of the EU who are involved in preparing EU documents and works. The Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission publishes its own English Style Guide, intended primarily for English-language authors and translators, but aiming to serve a wider readership as well.
- Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers by Snooks & Co for the Department of Finance and Administration. 6th ed. ISBN 0-7016-3648-3.
- Australian Guide to Legal Citation
- The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing: by Dundurn Press in co-operation with Public Works and the Government Services Canada Translation Bureau. ISBN 1-55002-276-8.
- CP Stylebook: Guide to newspaper style in Canada maintained by the Canadian Press. ISBN 0-920009-38-7.
- Lexicographical Centre for Canadian English A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles: Dictionary of Canadian English Walter Spencer Avis (ed.) Toronto: W.J. Gage (1967) OCLC 301088035
- Butcher's Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders, Judith Butcher, Caroline Drake, Maureen Leach. 4th ed. 2006 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-0521847131
- Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Ed. Jeremy Butterfield. 4th ed. Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN 978- 0-19-966135-0 (hardcover). Based on Fowler's Modern English Usage, by Henry Watson Fowler.
- The King's English, by Henry Watson Fowler and Francis George Fowler.
- New Hart's Rules (2005 ed.).
- The Complete Plain Words, by Sir Ernest Gowers.
- Usage and Abusage, by Eric Partridge.
- The BBC News Style Guide: by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
- The Economist Style Guide: by The Economist (UK).
- The Guardian Style Guide: by The Guardian (United Kingdom).
- The Times Style and Usage Guide, by The Times.
- The Associated Press Stylebook, by The Associated Press.
In the United States, many non-journalistic professional compositions follow The Chicago Manual of Style. Journalism generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook. Scholarly writing often follows the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. A classic style guide for the general public is The Elements of Style.
- The Careful Writer, by Theodore Bernstein.
- The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White. (Commonly called "Strunk and White")
- Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams
- The Well-Spoken Thesaurus, by Tom Heehler
- A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, by Kate L. Turabian. (Commonly called "Turabian style".)
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gibaldi. (Commonly called "MLA style".)
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association by the American Psychological Association. Primarily used in social sciences. (Commonly called "APA style".)
- AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors by the American Medical Association. Primarily used in medicine. (Commonly called "AMA style".)
- Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers by the Council of Science Editors. Used widely in the natural sciences, especially the life sciences. (Commonly called "CSE style".)
- The printed versions of the manual produced by the American Chemical Society (ACS) are entitled ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, 3rd ed. (2006), edited by Anne M. Coghill and Lorrin R. Garson, and ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors (1997). Primarily used for the physical sciences, such as physical chemistry, physics, and related disciplines. (Commonly called "ACS style".)
- The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job, by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene.
- The Gregg Reference Manual, by William A. Sabin.
- The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. Legal writers in most law schools in the United States are trained using this.
Despite the near uniform use of the Bluebook, nearly every state has appellate court rules that specify citation methods and writing styles specific to that state - and the Supreme Court of the United States has its own citation method. However, in most cases these are derived from the Bluebook.
There are also several other citation manuals available to legal writers in wide usage in the United States. Virtually all large law firms maintain their own citation manual and several major publishers of legal texts (West, Lexis-Nexis, Hein, et al.) maintain their own systems.
- The Associated Press Stylebook, by the Associated Press (AP).
- The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, by The New York Times
- The Chicago Manual of Style, by University of Chicago Press staff.
- Words into Type, by Marjorie E. Skillin, Robert M. Gay, et al.
- The Columbia Guide to Online Style, by Janice Walker and Todd Taylor.
- Microsoft Manual of Style by Microsoft Corporation.
- The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing and Creating Content for the Web, by Chris Barr and the Yahoo! Editorial Staff.
Guidelines for citing web content also appear in comprehensive style guides such as Oxford/Hart, Chicago and MLA.
- "ISO 215:1986 - Documentation - Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials". Iso.org. 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Publications Office of the European Union (24 July 2008). "Interinstitutional Style Guide". Europa. European Union12 May 2010.
- Directorate-General for Translation (European Commission). "English Style Guide" (PDF). European Union.
- Catherine Craig; et al., eds. (2000). Editing Canadian English (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-55199-045-3.
- BBC News Styleguide (PDF), retrieved 2012-04-18
- The Economist Style Guide, 10th edition (2010), ISBN 1-84668-175-8. Online version as of May 2012.
- The Guardian Style Guide, London, 19 December 2008, retrieved 2011-04-13
- The Times Style and Usage Guide (2003) ISBN 0-00-714505-5. Online version as of May 2011 via archive.org
- The Associated Press Stylebook, retrieved 2011-04-13
- June Casagrande, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite (New York: Penguin, 2006).
- "What Is MLA Style?", mla.org, Modern Language Association, 2011, Web, 31 January 2011.
- Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Business Style Handbook, 2nd edition: http://lccn.loc.gov/2012033481
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- But the stylebook says ...—Blog post about stylebook abuse, by Bill Walsh of The Washington Post
- Handouts about writing style guides, from a conferences of the American Copy Editors Society in 2007
- Language Log » Searching 43 stylebooks