Style Guides (was: Re: Technical Writing Books)

Subject: Style Guides (was: Re: Technical Writing Books)
From: "L. Burnham O'Donald" <lodonald -at- PRIMENET -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 16:48:37 -0400

Buck wrote:

> With standards changing so rapidly in Tech Pubs' attempts to keep up
> with technology, we simply can't use our *opinions* as a style guide. I
> don't always agree with Microsoft, nor with Chicago Manual of Style, nor
> with AP Styleguide, however, when I go into a contract I get a
> committment from management that they will stand behind me and *whatever
> style guide* we decide on.
> Then I adhere to it religiously. They know, or I will tell them what to
> expect and we simply let the styleguide publisher decide what's right or
> wrong.

What a great idea!! This tactic would have come in VERY handy recently.
I edited a brochure for a company introducing a new product and was told
by the technical director (the company's so small _all_ their employees
are engineers at this point) that he didn't use all my edits because
"everybody has their own idea of what good editing is" [sic]. The
unspoken rest of his thought was, of course, "and my ideas are way
better than yours." Many of the edits I'd made were merely to hyphenate
compound adjectival modifiers. What edits didn't he use? He didn't use
all the "slashes" ? turns out he meant the _hyphens_ ? simply because
"they didn't look good on the page." What do you say to someone with
that line of thinking, seriously?!?

NEXT TIME, I'm using Buck's suggestion and get agreement on a style
guide. "Everybody has their own idea" indeed .........

Louise O'Donald
lodonald -at- primenet -dot- com

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