Style guides: an overview
To a reader, style means a writer has talent, flair, a way with words. To a writer, style means following the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (AP) or the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS).
Yeah, I’m a CMS-speller, not CMOS, because, well, last time I checked, Chicago doesn’t capitalize prepositions, and being as how we’re in the USA instead of the USOA and all… so yes, I abbreviate it CMS. I would LOVE to know why they throw in the capital O.
Style guides set standards for the way words and punctuation interact.
Prominent style guides include AP, APA, CMS and MLA. Publications, websites and companies of all sizes also use in-house style guides. An in-house guide will contain certain words or phrases that don’t exist in a dictionary or are not found in an existing style guide, or material that differs from a dictionary or style guide.
Associated Press Stylebook*
AP is used primarily in journalism.
Updated annually since 1953 as a soft-cover book. The website is updated on an as-needed basis, which could be multiple times in one day.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association*
APA is used primarily in science.
First printed in 1929, the 6th edition was published in 2009.
The Chicago Manual of Style*
Used primarily in literature.
First printed in 1906, the 16th edition of the book was published in August 2010; the 17th edition in September 2017.
MLA is used primarily in academia.
Modern Language Association was established in 1883. The 3rd edition was titled MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing and was published in June 2008; by the 8th edition in April 2016 it had been called MLA Handbook.
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