Monday, March 11, 2013


Style sheets, also called style guides, are statements of a publisher’s standards and practices. Every publisher develops his/her own style sheet for the editors. Publishers might simply use Chicago Manual of Style or develop a document dozens of pages long.

Style sheets are proprietary - owned by the publishing house - and may or may not be released to the public. Some publishers view their style sheets as rules that are carved in stone, others allow some flexibility. Editors use the house style sheet to maintain consistency across the books published by the publishing house and within the book itself. An example from The Cambridge University Press is provided here:

In addition to the comprehensive style sheets, most publishers provide a basic format for submissions which conforms to their style sheet. The format might include font type and size, margins, line spacing, alignment, headers/footers, and cover sheet. When submitting, writers are expected to reformat their manuscripts to conform to the publishers’ submission sheet.

Writers who are not published can develop their own style sheet which includes the same format as a publisher. It takes self-control to complete and follow but will provide a better product. A how-to and sample forms are provided here: .

Next month: Editors & Editing     


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Very helpful. I shared it with my critique group

Big Mike said...

Yeah, but the guidance is so damn specific (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Rita Bay said...

Thank you for commenting. I'm a great believer in editor knows best. They have access to the Style Sheets, but writers often do not. I keep my own list of most common personal screwups to watch for, then catch then on one of my pre-submission edits. Rita

suburbanbeatnik said...

That's pretty interesting, Rita. So many little details to this writing gig... who knew? :)

Annabel Aidan said...

Great reminder. Also, if you have a style choice that you feel is vital to your book, have it detailed in your contract, so you don't run into trouble further down the line.