What Is A Style Sheet?

What Is A Style Sheet?

What Is A Style Sheet?

Posted on 03/04/2013 Evan Swensen

What is a style sheet?

A style sheet is an important tool for a writer with a manuscript of any size. Mainly, it’s an alphabetical list of people, places, and things in your manuscript difficult to spell or remember, as well as any with foreign words or unique spellings.

Once, a publishing house’s copyeditor was the one to develop the style sheet for any particular work. Nowadays, it helps every writer to polish his or her manuscript, and catch errors whether for independent or traditional publishing.

The style sheet might also expand to have a mini bio for major characters noted. You can note that the second-most important bad guy has brown hair, and blue eyes, not the green eyes of the first bad guy.

It can also have formatting information, or other notes for the author and any editors who will look over the work. This is especially important if you are writing a science fiction story with names and places you’ve invented.

Or, if you’re doing a biography of Soghomon Tehlirian, Armenian assassin of Talaat Pasha of the Ottoman Empire, who was instrumental in the overlooked Armenian Genocide, which killed more than a million people during World War One. You and your editor would certainly find a style sheet useful, just for names and dates.

Nowadays, you can add words to your computer’s dictionary, which help keep those squiggly red underlines out of your drafts. But your editor won’t have your computer, so the style sheet is still a useful document that should be attached to each manuscript, and grow along with your books.

The computer’s automatic alphabetizing function can help you keep the list organized. It’s a great way to keep track of compound words, and whether the ones you’re using are solid, separate, or hyphenated.

Some authors find certain regular words can be confusing, certain things they tend to trip over. So, one writer might have dual on the style sheet, noting that it means two, while duel is a fight. This sort of thing that can’t be caught by Spell Check.

But ultimately, your style sheet is a tool that is only as good as you can make it, and only works as well as you use it.

Keep in touch,

Evan Swensen, Publisher
Publication Consultants
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