Creating a Simple Custom Style Guide

November 1998
by Lana R. Castle, Castle Communications

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This article examines a simple way to track and communicate style decisions tailored to individual projects.

What Exactly Is a Style Guide?

Style guides contain standards that help you produce consistent communications. Use of a style guide simplifies writing, streamlines production, and enhances the quality of your books. You may already use a guide such as The Chicago Manual of Style, Words into Type, or even The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. Such guides help, but you may want to adapt certain guidelines or to create additional ones for each new book. Here’s one way to go about it.

How to Organize a Simple Style Guide

Writing a style guide is less daunting when you know what to include and how to organize it. First, concentrate on those areas where more than one standard is common. For instance, you’ll usually need guidelines for abbreviations, capitalization, compound words, numbers, and punctuation.

Using a word processing program, you can organize a simple guide on paper or in electronic form. In one part, list general guidelines; in the other, list specific words alphabetically. I recommend a two-column format, which you can achieve by tabbing between columns or typing entries in the cells of a two-column table. See your word processing manual for details. Figure 1 shows a sample style guide/word list.

What to Include in the General Guidelines

In the top part, identify the project and list general conventions for capit…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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