Style: it’s more than fashion. In fact, the concept of style covers many aspects of writing and publishing. What type of grammatical rules will you follow? How does punctuation work (especially those darned commas)? How are you going to present numbers in your writing? With digits or words?

I’ve been looking at two different style guides recently, to make those very decisions for myself. One is A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker and the other is Webster’s Standard American Style Manual.

The first one is a slim, spiral-bound reference. Its main audience is writers of academic papers, with information on the three most popularly accepted styles: MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago-Style. It’s basic, easy to use, and has a great section on Clarity.

Webster’s, on the other hand, is directed more at the publishing crowd, even getting into how to present tables, illustrations, and indexes. Beyond that, it also covers design, typography, composition, printing, and binding. It’s a little less user-friendly, but its comprehensive coverage of all things style-related, makes it a valuable addition to any writer’s library.

Of the two books, I have to admit my favorite section in either is Webster’s presentation of how to make your own style sheet. I don’t have permission to quote from it. Happily, there’s a great online reference explaining it on The Editor’s Blog.

If you write, write well . . . at least, as well as you possibly can. A style guide can be a major part of helping you to achieve that goal.


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About aprilgrunspan

Writer, potter, and nature enthusiast, both in the wild and of the human kind.

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