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What is a style sheet? And why do you need one?

Posted on July 7, 2019 (updated on August 11, 2023)

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(Find your free style sheet templates at the bottom of this page)

What is a style sheet?

It’s helpful to have somewhere to record all of your decisions about your text – things like your preferences of spelling and punctuation. This is called a style sheet. Also referred to as a house style or a style guide, a style sheet can be just one page or multiple pages long. The text is aligned to the style sheet at copy-editing level, making sure it is consistent with the preferred style and grammar rules.

Why do you need a style sheet?

If you don’t follow a style sheet, inconsistencies can creep into your text. Your reader will notice and will lose confidence in the content of your work. If your document is being written, edited or reviewed by more than one person, a style sheet will provide clear instructions to everyone involved in the editing process.

 

In practice, this means that your text stays consistent and needs fewer revisions. A style sheet will also be useful if you​’re writing a series of books, or documents for your business.

What information can be found on a style sheet?

A style sheet will give guidance on all words and phrases that can be expressed in different ways. Common things found on a style sheet are:

  • abbreviations, acronyms and contractions

  • capitalisation

  • punctuation

  • spellings (especially ‘​ise​’ and ‘​ize’ words)

  • hyphenation

  • numbers, units and symbols

  • date and time

  • quotations (single or double quotation marks)

Whether you’re an author, an academic, a writer or a business owner, a style sheet can ensure your text is consistent.

Free style sheet templates

Please find your free style sheet templates to download below (Microsoft Word format). These style sheets have been designed so you can edit them to your individual requirements.

Her words are kind and encouraging ...

“Victoria has done some terrific beta reading and proof-editing for me. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently she was able to work. [...] Her words are kind and encouraging, which is such a relief to a shy writer, and yet she doesn’t miss a thing: grammar, punctuation, formatting, fact checking, consistency, style and more. [...] She is the person I want to edit my work.”​

—Opal, writer of fantasy and SF

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