Tag Archives: editorial style guide

Editor’s Perspective: The Right Way to Treat Titles

Book TitlesRecently, a client asked for my advice on how to treat book, journal, and article titles in her organization’s communications materials. The question came after some debate within her organization on whether certain titles should be in quotation marks or italicized, and how that formatting would reflect on the organization’s competence and brand.

So what is the right away to format book titles? Well, a post from Writer’s Digest (yes, I did just put that magazine title in italics), has the right answer: it’s up to you, but you (and others at your organization) need to stick with whatever format you choose.

For example, the AP Stylebook encourages using quotation marks for book titles. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends italicizing titles of books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, plays, movies, and TV programs. It also suggests using quotation marks around titles of articles, poems, songs, and TV episodes.

In my experience working with magazine and book publishing companies and university communication and marketing offices, most organizations use the Chicago Manual of Style way for titles, even if they normally adhere to AP style. In fact, all five universities featured in my recent post on editorial style guide examples follow this approach.

It’s okay to have exceptions like these in your editorial style guide. That’s why it’s important to have an editorial style guide specifically tailored for your university or company and the unique editorial situations you encounter.

Overall, what matters more than being right is consistently using the same style (and exceptions) in all of your external and internal communication pieces (website, magazine, brochures, e-mail blasts, etc.). And, if the exceptions are in a written style guide, it helps to have that guide to show anyone who questions your editorial style decisions.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

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College Marketing: 5 Editorial Style Guides to Model Yours After

Style GuideA couple of weeks ago, Dana’s Creative Services shared information about why having an editorial style guide is important. It’s not just large universities that have editorial style guides—colleges of all sizes have style guides to ensure their communications and marketing pieces have a consistent style and voice to support their brand.

Today, I’ve found five examples of college and university style guides that you can use as an example when creating your own style guide. If your university doesn’t have editorial style guidelines (or if you’re hoping to update your university’s guidelines), you can use these as inspiration.

1. Iowa State University. This university’s editorial style guide is part of its overall visual identity system that supports its brand. The guide addresses items like acceptable abbreviations to use, how to capitalize academic and administrative titles, formal names for departments, words to avoid using, and capitalization rules.

2. Saint Leo University. Because of this university’s multiple centers across the country, it’s important its staff at all locations adhere to a consistent style to support the university brand. This comprehensive style guide addresses standard descriptions of commonly used terms; key university messages; punctuation; official terminology for university buildings, landmarks, and center locations; and commonly used acronyms.

3. University of Missouri. This university established its writing and editing guidelines to help “ensure clarity and cohesion while reinforcing Mizzou’s distinctive identity.” The editorial style guide include an A-Z list of common terms and word usage (such as adviser, not advisor), info on how to write good captions and headlines, and tips for finding facts about the university, interviewing sources, and fact checking articles.

4. Beloit College. This Wisconsin college’s style guide covers commonly used terms, names and descriptions of campus facilities, how to list alumni graduation dates, and more.

5. Swarthmore College. This Pennsylvania college’s style guide includes guidelines on everything from academic degrees and student organization names to punctuation usage and class note style.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Editor’s Perspective: Why Editorial Style and Consistency Matter

Style GuideIs it health care or healthcare? E-mail or email? How about a Web page or a web page? These are just a few of the terms I see used in varying ways from client to client and publication to publication.

As an editor, one of my pet peeves is inconsistency. In some cases there’s no “right” way to write or edit something, and that can lead to inconsistency. One way to improve consistency of word usage, punctuation, spelling, and more is to create an editorial style guide for your organization or publication.

Why is it worth spending valuable time creating a style guide? Here are five reasons.

1. To make a good impression. Many of the details editors look at—placement of commas, whether a word is capitalized or not, etc.—may seem trivial. But when all of those items are used properly, it helps you make a good impression to your target audience. Your audience will never see your actual style guide, but they’ll see the results of it in your high quality, professional print and digital publications.

2. To set the tone. An editorial style guide can help you determine the style and tone used in all communications materials your company produces. If you want an edgy voice, it can address that and provide suggestions for terms or usage of certain terms to achieve the voice you want. If you want a more formal voice, a style guide can address that, too.

3. To empower you and your staff to make decisions. For most companies and universities I work with, there’s an approval process that most communications pieces need to go through. Sometimes individuals reviewing a communication piece will focus on the content, while other times they’ll focus on the details. If you have a style guide, and a colleague asks you to make a change such as add a comma or capitalize a word that shouldn’t be changed, you can rely on your style guide to back up your decision not to make the change. It shows others you’re making decisions based on a set of standards, rather than making decisions based on your own personal preferences.

4. To address usage of unique terms. The Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style cover a lot of style issues, but they don’t cover all terms you may use. By creating your own editorial style guide, you can address any editorial items unique to your industry or company that aren’t covered by a standard style guide. For example, one university I work with uses healthcare as one word in all instances; another uses it as two words (health care) when it’s used as a noun, and healthcare (one word) when used as an adjective.

5. To ensure accuracy no matter who is writing or editing. Editorial style guides for my university clients often include information on how to talk about different degrees (e.g., Master of Science vs. master of science vs. master’s degree), names of campus buildings, and more. The guides help to make sure that all people creating copy across the university are using the same terms. When staff turnover occurs, it’s easy for the next person to pick up the guide and make sure they are using the appropriate names and terms in all communications pieces they produce.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.