Style guides and style sheets

What are style guides and style sheets? (And do I need one?)

Style guides are tools editors use to help ensure consistency throughout your novel, thesis, or document. Style guides set out guidelines for things like:

  • how numbers are presented
  • how headings are presented
  • how dialogue is formatted
  • which dictionary to follow
  • how tables and figures are laid out
  • how sources are cited

Style guides often also give advice for bias-free and inclusive language.

Here are some popular common style guides I use in my editing.

Academic:

Novels:

Business and corporate

Most of these style guides are subscription only, or you have to buy a physical book. Unless you want to dive deep into style, you don’t need to have your own copies. Leave that to your editor. Some companies and organisations have made their style guides public. Check out these comprehensive guides:

Style sheets are tailored to a specific project. They condense the most important parts of a style guide into a user friendly document. Style sheets summarise aspects of the style guide, like:

  • how numbers are presented
  • how headings are presented
  • how dialogue is formatted
  • which dictionary to follow
  • how tables and figures are laid out
  • how sources are cited

Want to see a style sheet? Here’s the Word template I use for academic authors following APA 7th, and here’s the Word template I use for self-published authors. Feel free to download them and use them yourself!

How a style sheet can help you

A style sheet is a record of how your book, thesis, report, or document is formatted. It helps you keep track of fiddly details that are easy to forget when you’re deep in the writing process. It also contains a list of words specific to your project so they are spelled right every time.

For novelists, a style sheet will help you keep track of character names and descriptions, timelines, and place names. It will also help your proofreader, so remember to include the style sheet when you send them your designed manuscript.

I will develop a style sheet for you as I edit your novel.

For students, a style sheet will help you ensure consistency throughout your thesis. You’ll be able to easily keep track of heading styles, specialised spelling, and abbreviations.

I’ll give you a style sheet as part of my edit and provide links to online resources that can help you manage thesis presentation.

For businesses, a style guide will help you manage the language you use in reports, memos, websites, and social media posts. Your team will have a single reference point for company-specific spellings, capitalisation and punctuation guidance.

Want me to help build a style guide for your business? Get in touch today.