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A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has other meanings. The standards can be applied either for general use, or be required usage for an individual publication, a particular organization, or a specific field.
Style guides are specialized in a variety of ways, from the general use of a broad public audience, to a wide variety of specialized uses, such as for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business in general, and specific industries. The term house style refers to the individual style manual of a particular publisher or organization.
Style guides vary widely in scope and size.
This variety in scope and length is enabled by the cascading of one style over another, in a way analogous to how styles cascade in web development and in desktop cascade over CSS styles.
A short style guide is often called a style sheet. A comprehensive guide tends to be long and is often called a style manual or manual of style (MOS or MoS). In many cases, a project such as one book, journal, or monograph series typically has a short style sheet that cascades over the somewhat larger style guide of an organization such as a publishing company, whose content is usually called house style. Most house styles, in turn, cascade over an industry-wide or profession-wide style manual that is even more comprehensive. Some examples of these industry style guides include the following:
AP style for journalism and most forms of corporate communications
Most style guides are revised from time to time to accommodate changes in conventions and usage. The frequency of updating and the revision control are determined by the subject matter. For style manuals in reference work format, new editions typically appear every 1 to 20 years. For example, the AP Stylebook is revised annually, and the Chicago, APA, and ASA manuals are in their 17th, 6th, and 4th editions, respectively. Many house styles and individual project styles change more frequently, especially for new projects.
Several basic style guides for technical and scientific communication have been defined by international standards organizations. One example is ISO 215Documentation - Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials.
The European Union publishes an Interinstitutional style guide - encompassing 24 languages across the European Union. This manual is "obligatory" for all those employed by the institutions of the EU who are involved in preparing EU documents and works. The Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission publishes its own English Style Guide, intended primarily for English-language authors and translators, but aiming to serve a wider readership as well.
Editing Canadian English, 2nd ed. Prepared for the Editors' Association of Canada / Association canadienne des réviseurs by Catherine Cragg, Barbara Czarnecki, Iris Hossé Phillips, Katharine Vanderlinden, and Sheila Protti. Toronto, ON: Macfarlane Walter and Ross, 2000.
J.A. McFarlane & Warren Clements. The Globe and Mail Style Book: A Guide to Language and Usage, rev. ed. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1998.
McGill Law Journal. Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation / Manuel canadien de la référence juridique. 8th ed. Toronto: Carswell, 2014.
MHRA Style Guide: A Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses, 2nd ed. London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2008.
The Oxford Style Manual. Edited by Robert Ritter. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 2003 (republished as New Oxford Style Manual, 2012). Combines New Hart's Rules (2002) and The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (2000).
Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors. By the editors of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1998. (rev. ed. of Webster's Standard American Style Manual, 1985)
The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.
William A. Sabin. The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 10th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
Words into Type, 3rd ed. Based on studies by Marjorie E. Skillin, Robert M. Gay, and other authorities. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1974.
Kate L. Turabian. Student's Guide to Writing College Papers, 4th ed. Revised by Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, and the University of Chicago Press editorial staff. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage. Edited by Paul R. Martin. London: Free Press, 2002.
The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: A Manual for Writers and Librarians. Rev. ed. Edited by Diane L. Garner and Diane H. Smith. Bethesda, MD: Congressional Information Service for the Government Documents Round Table, American Library Association, 1993.
United States Government Printing Office Style Manual, 31st ed. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2016.
U.S. Geological Survey. Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey, 7th ed. Revised and edited by Wallace R. Hansen. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1991.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 44th ed. Edited by Darrell Christian, Sally Jacobsen, and David Minthorn. New York: Associated Press, 2009.
Brian A. Garner. The Elements of Legal Style, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation, 2nd ed. Edited by the University of Chicago Law Review. 2000.
Despite the near uniform use of the Bluebook, nearly every state has appellate court rules that specify citation methods and writing styles specific to that state - and the Supreme Court of the United States has its own citation method. However, in most cases these are derived from the Bluebook.
There are also several other citation manuals available to legal writers in wide usage in the United States. Virtually all large law firms maintain their own citation manual and several major publishers of legal texts (West, Lexis-Nexis, Hein, et al.) maintain their own systems.
Catholic News Service. CNS Stylebook on Religion: Reference Guide and Usage Manual, 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: Catholic News Service, 2006.
The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing, 13th ed. By Leonard G. Goss and Carolyn Stanford Goss. This popular guide provides a fresh understanding and distinctively Christian examination of style and language. It covers the basic rules of grammar, style, and editing, and is intended for writers and editors.