You Need A Style Guide To Create Own Book

A style guide outlines the way the book is to be written and to ensure that consistency is maintained throughout the entire book. For example, you don't want to start writing your book using American spelling and finish using Australian spelling; nor do you want your editor to alter the word 'cash-flow' to 'cashflow' halfway though the book.

Style guides exist to confirm the brand of English that is to be used and to synchronise this style amongst all the relevant people involved in the editing process.

Things to include in your style guide are:

Language

If you are writing a book predominately for the US market, then you should use American spelling. This applies to any corresponding market, so Australian spelling for an Australian market, UK spelling for an English market, and so forth. If you wish to write for a global market, then identify what market will respond best to your book and write for them.

For example, if you think that Australians will form the majority of your market then use Australian spelling. Establishing language is very important especially if your editor works from overseas, otherwise you will both be making unnecessary changes to language and spelling.

Style

Ensure that there are rules in place to respond to certain situations so that every time we have to make a decision, we immediately know what action needs to be taken to ensure consistency and to save time.

For example, should numbers be spelt as words? Establish rules like: numbers between 0 and 20 should be spelt as words; any number after that should be written as figures.

Symbols

Another aspect of style is the use of symbol. That is, determining when symbols or words should be used. For example, 'dollars' or '$'; 'per cent' or '%' and so on. There is no right or wrong answer; it all depends on what style you want to achieve.

The dictionary spells 'per cent' as a word and not a symbol, yet if you are writing a business book where the word 'per cent' is used four or five times in the one paragraph, then perhaps you should use the symbol instead. Whatever you decide, it needs to be consistent throughout the book and any future books as well.

Punctuation

Punctuation is another important element to a style guide. It is concerned with where to use commas and whether particular words should be hyphenated or not. Maybe it's a word like 'first-hand'. Are you going to have that as two words? Some dictionaries have it as two words. Some dictionaries have it as one word. Some dictionaries have it hyphenated. What type of English are you going to go with? You need to make a rule and stick to it. It is also important to choose a dictionary that is the deciding vote for any unresolved decisions.

So if there's any ever disputes as to whether it should be two words, one word, how are we going to do it; then pick one type of brand dictionary and let that be the ultimate decision maker.

Style guides not only serve as a tool for accuracy and consistency, but also professionalism. By creating a style guide you minimise the errors in your book. Style guides can also be useful if you change editors, or your main editor falls pregnant or is suffering from an illness.

That is, the transition to another editor can be a lot easier if the new editor has a style guide to refer to. Style guides are not necessarily something an author thinks about, but should be used because a fine attention to detail is important when creating successful work.

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Dale Beaumont is the author of this article. He is an internationally renowned book publishing expert, the author of 16 best-selling books and the creator of the Get Published Secrets Program.  

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