Editing · Formatting

Style Guides & Sheets

Don’t know what style guides and style sheets are? Well read on to find out! Publishing houses use both as a way to ensure editing and formatting consistency in books.

Style Guides

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is used more than any other style guide when it comes to book publishing. Unless you work in publishing, majored in something like history that used Chicago Style as a style guide, or just love reading style guides for some reason, you probably don’t know much about Chicago Style. In high school and English classes, MLA style is typically used, which has some differences from Chicago. This sometimes trips authors up during edits, but remember, if you don’t understand an editing change just ask!

Another style guide you may hear about a lot is AP Style, which is used in journalism. It has a lot of similarities with Chicago style, but they have important differences when it comes to things like hyphenation, numbering, and possessives among other issues. If you don’t know how to use hyphens or some other formatting, consider looking up how Chicago Style handles the issue and follow it to keep your usage consistent. Or pick another style guide you prefer. Consistency is key. If you are curious about the difference in style guides, there are sites out there with charts showing some of the differences.

A lot of publishing houses have house style guides that follow Chicago Style with some tweaks to how the house prefers handling things, especially when it comes to manuscript formatting and ellipsis formatting. Merriam-Webster is often the preferred dictionary. Some houses have longer style guides than others. A few houses even put their style guide up on their websites for prospective authors to look at. So if you have your eye on certain houses, see if they have their style guide up somewhere to get an idea for their formatting and other preferences.

Style Sheets

Style sheets can include everything from margin formatting to short descriptions of characters. Creating a style sheet for a book can be useful, especially if you take a break from it and come back to editing later or have a series planned. It will keep your books consistent. A lot of publishing houses create style sheets for books, especially manga and graphic novels, to keep formatting and spelling consistent over a series.

Style sheets can be useful to authors as well, not just editors. If certain instances of formatting or spellings trip you up, consider making a style sheet to keep track of them for reference. Some examples would be how you format texts if you have characters texting in your story. Or whether you use towards vs toward or have made up words you want to remember the spelling of. Something else to note would be how you format ellipsis to keep your formatting consistent. Of course, if you get a publishing house, be prepared for formatting to change to fit their style guide. Some authors like making style sheets as a reference for themselves while others find them annoying and don’t use them. A romance author might not get much use out of making a style guide, where an author writing epic fantasy might create a style sheet with names of characters, places, and background on world lore.

For those who self-publish, creating style sheets can help keep your formatting consistent across books and can be used as a guide for editors to check spellings and formatting, especially if you switch editors in the middle of a series. It can also be a handy reference guide for yourself for future books. Picking a style guide will help keep editing consistent as well.






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