Manual of Style

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For Wikipedia's own style manual, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style.

A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. The implementation of a style guide provides uniformity in style and formatting within a document and across multiple documents.

A set of standards for a specific organization is often known as "house style". Style guides are common for general and specialized use, for the general reading and writing audience, and for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business, and industry.[citation needed]

Organizations advocating for social minorities sometimes establish what they believe to be fair and correct language treatment of their audiences.[citation needed]

Some style guides focus on graphic design, focusing on such topics as typography and white space. Web site style guides cover a publication's visual and technical aspects, along with text.

Many style guides are revised periodically to accommodate changes in conventions and usage. The Associated Press Stylebook, for example, is revised annually.


Publishers' style guides establish house rules for language use, such as spelling, italics and punctuation; their major purpose is consistency. They are rulebooks for writers, ensuring consistent language. Authors are asked or required to use a style guide in preparing their work for publication; copy editors are charged with enforcing the publishing house's style.

Academic organization and university style guides are rigorous about documentation formatting style for citations and bibliographies used for preparing term papers for course credit and manuscripts for publication.[citation needed] Professional scholars are advised to follow the style guides of organizations in their disciplines when they submit articles and books to academic journals and academic book publishers in those disciplines for consideration of publication. Once they have accepted work for publication, publishers provide authors with their own guidelines and specifications, which may differ from those required for submission, and editors may assist authors in preparing their work for press.

A page from an "identity standards manual"—so named for the field of graphic design that focuses on corporate identity design and branding—that identifies color standards to be used.

Some organizations, other than those previously mentioned, produce style guides for either internal or external use. For example, communications and public relations departments of business and nonprofit organizations have style guides for their publications (newsletters, news releases, web sites). Organizations advocating for social minorities sometimes establish what they believe to be fair and correct language treatment of their audiences.

Many publications (notably newspapers) use graphic design style guides to demonstrate the preferred layout and formatting of a published page. They often are extremely detailed in specifying, for example, which fonts and colors to use. Such guides allow a large design team to produce visually consistent work for the organization.[citation needed]



Several basic style guides for technical and scientific communication have been defined by international standards organizations. These are often used as elements of and refined in more specialized style guides that are specific to a subject, region or organization. One example is ISO 215 Documentation — Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials.


The European Union publishes an Interinstitutional Style Guide—encompassing 23 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.



United Kingdom



United States

In the United States, many non-journalistic professional compositions follow The Chicago Manual of Style.Journalism generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook. Scholarly writing often follows the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. A classic style guide for the general public is The Elements of Style.


Academic papers



Legal writers in most law schools in the United States are trained using the Bluebook Uniform System for Citation, which was developed jointly by the faculty at Harvard and Columbia Universities' Schools of Law. Despite this near uniform training, 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. Most states' methods and the Supreme Court method 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.


General publishing

Web publishing

  • The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing and Creating Content for the Web, by Chris Barr and the Yahoo! Editorial Staff.

See also


  1. "ISO 215:1986 - Documentation - Presentation of contributions to periodicals and other serials". 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  2. Publications Office of the European Union (24 July 2008). "Interinstitutional Style Guide". Europa. European Union12 May 2010. 
  3. Directorate-General for Translation (European Commission). "English Style Guide". European Union. 
  4. Catherine Craig et al., ed. (2000). Editing Canadian English (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-55199-045-3. 
  5. BBC News Styleguide, retrieved 2012-04-18 
  6. The Economist Style Guide, 10th edition (2010), ISBN 1-84668-175-8. Online version as of May 2012.
  7. The Guardian Style Guide, London, 19 December 2008, retrieved 2011-04-13 
  8. The Times Style and Usage Guide (2003) ISBN 0-00-714505-5. Online version as of May 2011 via
  9. The Associated Press Stylebook, retrieved 2011-04-13 
  10. June Casagrande, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite (New York: Penguin, 2006).
  11. "What Is MLA Style?",, Modern Language Association, 2011, Web, 31 January 2011.
  12. Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Business Style Handbook, 2nd edition:

External links

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