Re: Roll-your-own style guides?

Subject: Re: Roll-your-own style guides?
From: Bruce Conway <bconway -at- ISLAND -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 04:02:41 +0000

Keep in mind some "style guides" are actually SGML DTD's (Document Type

For instance, there is an Elsevier DTD, an ACM DTD, and, of course, an

And, to confuse things more, their proprietary DTD's commonly have
accompanying "style sheets" which essentially provide the down and
dirties not covered in the broader definition of the DTD (e.g. font
styles, spacing, kerning, leading, etc.).

So, it's worthwhile checking whether the company has a proprietary DTD
in effect, then use an SGML reader (like Dynatext, etc.) to see what the
style looks like visually. Then reinvent it, or reexplain it in
English, if need be (or in SGML (a new DTD), or some other format).
However, DTD writing is not easy.

Geoff Hart (by way of "Eric J. Ray" ) wrote:
> Sarah Wigser is <<...really at a loss for how to start writing a
> company-specific [style guide]".
> My standard response to this is "why reinvent the wheel?" There are
> countless style guides available, depending on the industry you work
> in, and although each has its merits and demerits, not a single one
> will cover every point specific to your company. A few key
> suggestions:
> 1. Pick a guide relevant to your industry (e.g., APA for psychiatry,
> CBE for biology, Chicago for academic publishing, AP for newspapers,
> ACS for chemistry, IEEE for electronics, "Read me first!" for
> computers).
> 2. Spend a few hours looking through your publications to identify
> the types of problems _not_ covered in the style guide you've
> selected. In particular, identify all the really, really (really!)
> common problems writers face and come up with answers for these
> problems first. Forget about minutae about weird aspects of grammar.
> Create an in-house guide that says something like "These are our
> style guidelines: [well-organized, well-indexed list]. For anything
> you don't find here, see [name of big published guide in the library,
> such as Chicago]; better still, come see the editor, since that's one
> big reason why we have an editor".
> 3. Remember the ***GUIDE*** part of "style guide".... it's not a
> "style rules", and you'll almost never see a "style rulebook" these
> days. There's a good reason for this: there will always be situations
> not covered by the guide, and a truly superior guide provides tools
> to help you come up with a solution, not rigid rules carved in stone.
> --Geoff Hart @8^{)}
> geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
> "Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.
> From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==
> X-Mozilla-Status: 0000
> Content-Length: 2593

Bruce Conway, B.A. (Math/Pol Sci) - Tech Writer/Communicator

Society for Technical Communication (STC)
Vancouver Island Adv. Technology Centre

Email : bconway -at- island -dot- net

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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