If you’re not a website programmer or professional journalist you might be unfamiliar with the words “style sheet” or “style guide.”
What’s a style sheet?
A style guide is basically a collection of rules for grammar, punctuation, usage, and journalistic styles for your writers to use.
When your magazine uses a style guide, you can turn conversations like this…
“Do we italicize or capitalize the name of a book in our articles?”
“I don’t know.”
…into something far more efficient.
“Do we use website or web site or Web site?”
“I don’t remember. Let’s check the style guide!”
Aside from improving office conversations, there are other advantages to using a style sheet.
- Makes editing an article easier. A Style guide provides a standard for your writers and editors. The writer knows what the editor prefers, and the editor can refer to the style guide instead of trying to remember how he or she handled the issue last time.
- Demonstrates commitment to quality. While your readers may not notice if you use the word e-book in one article and eBook in another, your editing teams consistency will ensure a higher level of professionalism.
Because language and usage changes, your style sheet (or guide) will also need to adapt.
“A work constantly in progress, the Stylebook is updated every year but always with respect for language and commitment to the original goal: to be clear and concise and understandable around the globe, no matter what the news is or where it happens.”
– The Associated Press Stylebook 2015, Basic Books
Your style sheet doesn’t need to be long, or fancy. The style guide that you create can be unique to your publication. You can develop it on your own, or you may want to purchase an existing book. The AP Stylebook, for example, has 513 pages of words you may never use, but the words are there in case you need them.
Whichever method you prefer, create a style guide, and then follow it.
Your editors will thank you.
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