Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Style guides are awesome

I'm not sure how many of you folks already knew this, but I've worked as a freelance editor for well over a decade.

Some time ago, my fiction agent joked that whenever my book sells, my edit letter from the acquiring agent would be blank. Because she knows I'm kind of ridiculous when it comes to language. Well, my deadline is coming up for my nonfiction book now, and soon I'll be getting my first edit letter from a publisher. However, because I'm an editor myself, I figured that if I knew what style guide they use, I could deliver a cleaner copy.

So I asked for the style guide, and yes, they had one I could use. And what's even better is it's based on Chicago, the style guide I generally use and am most familiar with. I read through the eight-page document and found nothing surprising. There were a couple preferences with numbers and percentages (numerals vs. spelling them out, specifically) that I had to update as per their guidelines. But I was kinda tickled that just about everything else was stuff I already knew.
  • Yep, I use the serial comma.
  • Yes, I space my ellipses properly.
  • I already indicate plurals the way I should.
  • I was already abbreviating dates with the apostrophe before the year facing the right way.
  • I'm aware of all the dash rules--how en dashes indicate ranges and em dashes for in-text offsets and other uses.
  • Capitalization is already how they like it.
  • I hyphenate almost everything the way they want and don't hyphenate almost everything they don't want hyphenated. There are a couple hyphenation issues I want to keep nonstandard because they will confuse people otherwise (e.g., "nonasexual" and "nonsexual" are different things, and "non-asexual" and "non-sexual" make it clearer).
  • Names of publications, TV shows, and blogs were already italicized.
But one of the last things I will need to do is code my manuscript, which basically means I have to mark certain things (e.g., illustrations, text boxes containing quotes, three different levels of headings). I guess this makes for easier typesetting later and helps avoid wonky variations in formatting. I also have to (gasp!) pull all my footnotes out, replace the superscripts with bracketed roman numbers, and make a separate document of just the footnotes. ARGH.

Still, this is not at all intimidating. But who knows if something scary awaits me in an upcoming edit letter. . . .


No comments:

Post a Comment