Style encompasses rules of grammar and formatting conventions for text, headings, and references, with the aim of precisely conveying meaning.
Many fields and publications follow a particular style manual; below we’ve listed the most commonly used manuals as well as some specialized ones.
- AMA (American Medical Association): AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th ed. (2009).
- AP: Associated Press Stylebook. Updated annually. Online subscription available.
- APA: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (2010). For scholarly work in the social sciences.
- The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (2010). For books and academic theses in humanistic and scientific fields. The 15th edition (2003) is still in use by some publishers. Online subscription available; Guild members can subscribe at a discount (members-only link).
- CSE (Council of Science Editors): Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 7th ed. (2006).
- MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd ed. (2008). For scholarly textbooks and journals in the humanities.
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009). For high school and college research papers in the humanities.
- The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010).
Copyeditors generally work to ensure that a text follows a particular style consistently, but may break the rules to honor the client’s preferences or for another good reason. Some clients have a house style guide that takes precedence over any of these manuals.
The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 3rd ed., Amy Einsohn (University of California Press, 2011). Includes editing exercises.
Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers, Scott Norton (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors, Barbara Sjoholm (Rainforest Press, 2011)
Editors on Editing, Gerald Gross (Grove Press). Several editions exist, each with essays by different editors.
The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers and Proofreaders, K. D. Sullivan and Merilee Eggleston (McGraw-Hill, 2006). Includes editing exercises.
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself), Carol Fisher Saller (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 11th ed., William A. Sabin (McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2010)
Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, 2nd ed., Patricia T. O’Conner (Riverhead Books, 2004)
Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed., Bryan Garner (Oxford University Press, 2009)
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage (Merriam-Webster, 1994)
Web Editing and Online Editing
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd ed., Steve Krug (New Riders, 2005)
“Reviewing Documents”: A helpful online guide to using Track Changes in Microsoft Word 2010, complete with video; useful for both editors and clients.
The Elements of Typographic Style, 2nd ed., Robert Bringhurst (Hartley & Marks, 2002)
The Non-Designer’s Design Book, 3rd ed., Robin Williams (Peachpit Press, 2008)
Writing and Publishing
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott (Anchor, 1995)
The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (Tribeca Books, 2012)
How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th ed., Michael Larsen (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011).
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser (Harper Perennial, 2006)
Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, eds. (Plume, 2007)
The Writer’s Portable Mentor, Priscilla Long (Wallingford Press, 2010)
Blogs and Websites
The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing
Copyediting: Because Language Matters
The Editor’s POV
Lisa Gold: Research Maven
The Subversive Copy Editor