What’s a Style Guide and Which One Should I Use?

Filed in Ask the Editor by on January 26, 2021 0 Comments

A style guide is specifically created to keep writers, editors, and designers on the same page when working on a project. It's a manual that details the st.

What are Style Guides?

It can get downright confusing to remember all the writing rules set in place centuries ago. That’s where style guides come in handy; a style guide is a manual that details the standards for writing, designing, and publishing various publications.

There are many types of industries publishing materials within their area of expertise. Style guides are specifically created to keep writers, editors, and designers on the same page when working on a project.

In your high school and college English classes, you most likely used a style called MLA, or The Modern Language Association Handbook. If you’ve done any work in psychology and had to write papers or dissertations, you’re probably familiar with APA style, or The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

For book publishing, the standard style guide used across the entire industry—traditional publishing, indie publishing, hybrid publishing, and self-publishing—is The Chicago Manual of  Style (CMOS). The guidebook includes spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules to follow when creating or adapting writing to the style; it also includes instructions for citing sources and manuscript design.

Which Style Guide Should I Use?

The type of style guide you use depends solely on the industry you’re writing for. Journalists, for example, do not deviate from AP style, or The Associated Press Stylebook. All media outlets use this style for writing and reporting.

If you’re interested in writing and publishing a book, you should take the time before or during your writing process to learn as much as you can about the CMOS, and begin to write or revise with the style guide in mind when it comes to your spelling, grammar and punctuation choices. When working with an editor for your manuscript you’ll want to confirm they’re using CMOS. If your editor uses a different style guide, your book will not follow the industry standard. The Xulon Press editorial staff is well-versed in CMOS and will ensure your book is properly edited for the industry.

What Is an In-House Style Guide?

Oftentimes, companies will create an in-house style guide to avoid confusion amongst their writers and editors. An in-house style guide is created by companies to be used as a resource for employed writers and editors. It sets standards for creators and is also the place to record when to deviate from the default style.

Should I Create a Style Guide for My Manuscript?

A personal style guide can also be created and implemented by an author for their book. For example, if you prefer no periods in abbreviations (US instead of U.S.), you can add that “rule” to your guide.

When you send your completed manuscript to your editor, however, you must include your personal style guide so your editor knows to not return those specific instances to the default style found in the CMOS. Otherwise, you’ll get a manuscript edited only with the CMOS in mind.

Why Are Style Guides Important?

The biggest reason a style guide should be used is to ensure consistency is applied to your entire writing piece. This consistency also means your book will stylistically be the same as traditionally published books. 

Interested in publishing a book? Visit XulonPress.com to learn more or call 1-866-381-2665 for a free phone publishing consultation.


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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett has been a freelance editor for nearly half a decade. Before joining the Xulon team in 2010, she worked with several first time authors who wanted to test the waters of self-publishing. Her aim is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands.

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