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Style guide

A style guide is a set of standards for the writing, , and design of . A book-length style guide is often called a style manual or manual of style ( MoS or MOS). (Typical examples include The Chicago Manual of Style and the AMA Manual of Style.) A short style guide, of several pages or several dozen pages, is often called a style sheet, although that term also has multiple other meanings. The standards documented in a style guide can be applied either for general use, or be required usage for an individual publication, a particular organization, or a specific field.

A style guide establishes standard requirements to improve by ensuring both within a document, and across multiple documents. Because practices vary, a style guide may set out standards to be used in areas such as , , , formatting of numbers and dates, table appearance and other areas. The style guide may require certain in , , language composition, visual composition, , and . For academic and technical documents, a guide may also enforce the best practice in (such as , , and ) and compliance (technical and regulatory). For translations, a style guide may be used to enforce consistent grammar choices such as tenses, formality levels in tones, and localization decisions such as units of measurements.

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, , the law, government, business in general, and specific industries. The term house style refers to the styling defined by the style guide of a particular or other organization.

Style guides vary widely in scope and size, and writers working in most large industries or professional sectors reference a specific style guide, written for their industry or sector when writing very specialized document types. These guides are, for the most part, only relevant and useful for peer-to-peer specialist documentation or to help writers working in specific industries and/or sectors communicate highly technical information in scholarly articles or industry .

Professional reference style guides from different countries give authoritative advice on their language and how to use it, such as the New Oxford Style Manual from Oxford University Press, UK and The Chicago Manual of Style from the University of Chicago Press, US; Australia and Canada both have style guides created by their governments which are available online.

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 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 , , or series typically has a short style sheet that cascades over the somewhat larger style guide of an organization such as a 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:

  • , AMA style, and for various
  • for journalism and all types of internal and external corporate communications
  • and for the social sciences
  • style for law
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and Oxford style for academic writing and publishing
  • for language and literature studies, and normatively in American secondary education
  • USGPO style and AGPS style for government publications

Finally, these reference works cascade over the norms of the language in use (for example, English orthography for English-language publications). This, of course, may be subject to national variety, such as the different varieties of British English, American English, Canadian English and Australian English.

Some style guides focus on specific topic areas such as , including . Website style guides cover a publication's visual and technical aspects along with text.

Style guides that cover may suggest ways of describing people that avoid , , and . Guides in specific scientific and technical fields cover , which specifies names or classifying labels that are preferred because they are clear, standardized, and sound (e.g., taxonomy, chemical nomenclature, and gene nomenclature).

Most style guides are revised from time to time to accommodate changes in conventions and . The frequency of updating and the are determined by the subject. For style manuals in format, new editions typically appear every 1 to 20 years. For example, the is revised annually, and, as of 2021, the Chicago, APA, and ASA manuals are in their 17th, 7th, and 4th editions, respectively. Many house styles and individual project styles change more frequently, especially for new projects.

See also

External links

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