Writing Style Sheets

For this post, I am going to move away from proofreading and write a little about style sheets and why they can be really helpful when you are editing any piece of writing.

Style sheets can be as casual as a few quick notes jotted down on a piece of paper, such as quick points to keep in mind (like to remember to capitalize the first letter after a bullet) or they can be more elaborate tables or even a full-out guide.

At the community newspaper where I work, we use a style sheet that is about four or five pages long. It is meant to capture writing style that is different from the standard practices that we follow (e.g., Canadian spelling, CP style). For example, we use email instead of the suggested e-mail. Also, there are a number of business names that we have written down so that we can get the proper spelling right. Other general style decisions are recorded here too — like referring to people by their full name first and last name on subsequent reference.

I try to keep the style sheet as up-to-date as possible and I refer to it a lot. The thing about style sheets is that they can be subjective; once you make a decision about how you will treat an element of writing, following the style sheet will make sure that you are consistent throughout your article or publication.

Here is one example of a style sheet that I found online:

stylesheet-for-blaming-ric-for-blog

Here are two links about style sheets that provide some useful information:

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/07/12/style-sheets-the-setup-and-the-benefits/

http://www.no2pen.com/blog/2009/11/consistent-copyediting-with-style-sheets/

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