Style guide

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For Wikipedia's own style manual, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style.

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 in areas such as authorship, research ethics, and disclosure; in pedagoglogical matters such as exposition and clarity - and in technical and regulatory compliance.

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.

Varieties[edit]

Style guides vary widely in scope and size.

Sizes[edit]

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:

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.

Topics[edit]

Some style guides focus specific topic areas such as graphic design including typography. Website style guides cover a publication's visual and technical aspects, along with text.

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).

Updating[edit]

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.

Examples[edit]

International[edit]

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.[1]

Europe[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Australia[edit]

Canada[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

General[edit]

Journalism[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, many non-journalistic professional compositions follow The Chicago Manual of Style.[10] Journalism generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook. Scholarly writing often follows the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.[11] A classic style guide for the general public is The Elements of Style.

General[edit]

Academic papers[edit]

Business[edit]

Law[edit]

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.

Journalism[edit]

General publishing[edit]

Web publishing[edit]

Guidelines for citing web content also appear in comprehensive style guides such as Oxford/Hart, Chicago and MLA.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ISO 215:1986 - Documentation - Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials". Iso.org. 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  2. ^ Publications Office of the European Union (24 July 2008). "Interinstitutional Style Guide". Europa. European Union12 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Directorate-General for Translation (European Commission). "English Style Guide" (PDF). European Union. 
  4. ^ Catherine Craig et al., eds. (2000). Editing Canadian English (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-55199-045-3. 
  5. ^ BBC News Styleguide (PDF), retrieved 2012-04-18 
  6. ^ The Economist Style Guide, 10th edition (2010), ISBN 1-84668-175-8. Online version as of May 2012.
  7. ^ The Guardian Style Guide, London, 19 December 2008, retrieved 2011-04-13 
  8. ^ The Times Style and Usage Guide (2003) ISBN 0-00-714505-5. Online version as of May 2011 via archive.org
  9. ^ The Associated Press Stylebook, retrieved 2011-04-13 
  10. ^ June Casagrande, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite (New York: Penguin, 2006).
  11. ^ "What Is MLA Style?", mla.org, Modern Language Association, 2011, Web, 31 January 2011.
  12. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Business Style Handbook, 2nd edition: http://lccn.loc.gov/2012033481

External links[edit]