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What is 'style'?

In the language of publishing, 'style' is not the way we walk and talk or the way our publication looks.  'Style' is the way we consistently use the language.

A typical example of a
publication's style: Dates. 

Imagine all the ways we can write a date. 

January 1, 2002

Jan. 1, 2002

Jan. 1st, 2002

January 1st, 2002.

And you can think of lots of other ways to write dates. So how IS a date supposed to be written?  The fact is,  all of the above examples are correct, none more correct than the other.  But, it isn't professional to use a date any way it suits our fancy on one day or another.

Publications adopt a style to answer questions such as: How do we use dates in articles?

As a practical matter, a firm style ends lots of arguments, too. Even a matter as common as the use of a comma can start a debate.  Style resolves these questions once and for all. We have a style and there is no issue about how to use commas or dates.

Fortunately, there are organizations that have long ago debated these questions and formulated a style that your organization can adopt. Among the stylebooks available:

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law

The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers (14th Edition) --

Once you adopt a stylebook to serve as your basic guide, you can adapt that style to suit your needs. Remember that consistency is everything.

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