Style Guides, Part 2

Second and final installment in my look at style guides.

APA Style: “The rules of APA Style, detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, offer sound guidance for writing with simplicity, power, and concision. APA Style has been adapted by many disciplines and is used by writers around the world.”

One nice thing about their website is that it offers tutorials on using their style.

The Research and Documentation Online 5th Edition:  This seems to be more of a guide used to help you decide which style guide to use.

Chicago Manual of Style:  This is the one I remember using back in college all those many years ago.  It gives almost no information on its website, but offers subscription access for $35/yr.  Print copy is $65.  They are up to version 16, but I think I’ll stick with the one I’ve got, version 14.

MLA Style: MLA actually has two different style guides:  The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. I guess that pretty much sums up what they are used for.  Can’t get info from the website on actual style usage, but the books are cheaper than the Chicago book.

Microsoft Manual of Style: “The essential reference for technical writers, editors, journalists, and everyone else who writes about computer technology. Developed by Microsoft’s senior editors and content managers, this manual of style captures the up-to-date standards and best practices for delivering clear and consistent technical communications. Now in its third edition, this popular reference has been fully revised, expanded, and optimized for ease of use. You’ll find new coverage on meeting the needs of a global audience, accessibility concerns, and the latest technical terms and acronyms—along with expertly organized sections on usage, grammar, punctuation, tone, formatting, and common style problems. Whether you’re creating print documentation, online help, Web content, or other communications, you’ll get the information and examples you need to maximize the impact and precision of your message.”   Well, it is Microsoft.  Of course they think it is the best.  But for a technical writer, I think it is pretty comprehensive.  You can find the book, which includes a CD with the eBook, for sale online for about $150. O’Reilly is now offering an eBook in various formats for $23.99, which, compared to the $150 of the print book, seems to be a pretty good deal.

That’s all I’m going to write about style guides.  Google “style guides” and you’ll find more info than you will need.  I’m sticking with Microsoft and Chicago.


Style Guides

Last week, someone asked me which style guide I used. For my work as a software technical writer, I’ve been asked to adhere to Microsoft Manual of Style and Chicago Manual of Style.  But, the question got me thinking about other style guides, and what the differences are. After googling style guides, I found a few others. So, over the next couple of days I’ll be posting about some of them.

Elements of Style: “First published in 1918, William Strunk, Jr., believed that one must first know the rules to break them. This classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. Intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.”  It was last updated in 1999, and is found online. I wanted to see if there was any mention of websites or software, and neither term appears in the online text.

2010 AP Stylebook: “The AP Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, a style manual produced by the world’s leading news agency, is an essential handbook for all writers, editors, students and public relations specialists. The 2010 edition provides fundamental guidelines on spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage, with special sections on social media, reporting business and sports. Included is an updated guide to media law.” Cost is $10.49 at  Again, probably not the style of choice for tech writers, but used in many fields.

More next time…