What is your style guide? Armani? American Eagle? Ralph Lauren?
Maybe when it comes to your fashion choices, but when writing for publication, business, or academic purposes, you need a set of guiding standards to ensure that your important work is presented in a consistent way, so that your reader can focus on your crucial message and is not distracted by the fact that “New York Times” appears within quotation marks on page 4 and in italics as New York Times on page 120. (Are you referring to two different publications, the reader may ask herself?) If you cite (Brown 2001, 120) on page 45 and (Brown, 66) on page 56, is it the same reference? And minor variations like “the United States Government” in one place and “the US government” in another will simply irritate your reader.
A style guide provides a standard set of rules on usage in order to maintain consistency and aid reading comprehension.
What Is “Style,” When It Comes to Writing, Editing, and Publishing?
Of course your writing “style” may refer to your chosen tone, level of writing, or sentence structure. However, for our purposes here, “style” refers to consistency in grammar and syntax usage, and “rules related to capitalization, spelling, hyphenation, and abbreviations; punctuation, including ellipsis points, parentheses, and quotation marks; and the way numbers are treated” (Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., 2.49). The way you handle your sources and citations, both in notes and in a bibliography, is determined by a set “style.”
(Did you notice that my subheadings, above and below, are capitalized headline-style and not sentence-style? That is because my preferred style guide, Chicago Manual [2.18], tells me so.)
Photo: Justine McVeigh
The other day a friend of mine – on the verge of sending her youngest child off to university and probably feeling nostalgic – sent me a picture of our now-21-year-old boys playing ball in the schoolyard at age 9. She and her husband are soon to become what are known as “empty nesters.”
The Drop Off
This week thousands of parents will be dropping off their kids at college and university – some for the very first time, some for their last time. But in every case, whether it is your first, middle, or last child going, this experience of dropping off your child for the first time – or being dropped off for the first time – is a monumental moment, among the most emotional and memorable in both parents’ and children’s lives.
What a mix of emotions this transition is for both parents and the students heading off – a parent’s bittersweet ache of loss mixed with the excitement of knowing what is in store for their child; the child’s fear of the unknown combined with the thrill of tasting true freedom and independence, and all of the new friendships and knowledge out there waiting for them.
Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad
It got me thinking about when I first left home at 17. Surprisingly, what happens in that very first week of being away from home can have lifelong consequences – and few frosh realize this.
"Click. Add note to replace text. Add text box with notation for typesetting. Strike through text. Insert correct source at cursor." I am working in Adobe Acrobat on page proofs, preparing them for publication with a university press. I have been invested in this project from:
A Different Kind of Manuscript
Twenty years ago, however, you would have found me in the venerable Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan or Biblioteca Statale of Cremona in Italy, perusing a different kind of manuscript – ones written by hand on vellum or parchment paper in the late Middle Ages. I imagined a life of research, studying the written treasures hidden within the pages of such medieval manuscripts – accessible only to those trained to read the cryptic script and qualified to handle the fragile pages – and teaching Latin to university students. How did I end up working on modern books, on digital platforms, for other scholars?
I am Carla DeSantis, and welcome to my blog! I love language and words and books, and have turned this love into a business, helping others to perfect their written message.