We’re not talking fashion magazines, folks. In the book world, a style guide is the rulemaker you’re choosing to follow. And for writers in the US, the most accepted style guide for books is Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS).

CMOS covers how to treat numbers, where to insert commas, when to hyphenate, and so much more. It’s currently in its seventeenth edition. The online version is my favorite way to work with it, which I do almost every day, because it’s so easy to search. I also appreciate the forum and Q&A included in the online version. For $35 a year, it’s well worth the subscription.

Chicago’s got one issue though. It was originally written for nonfiction books. And that certainly shows up sometimes. So if you’re writing fiction, there may be instances where Chicago is “silent,” meaning you will have to figure out what you want to do yourself.


Language also can change quickly, especially in digital circles. This is when I like to turn to Buzzfeed. The BuzzFeed Style Guide “aims to provide a prevailing, and evolving, set of standards for the internet and social media.”

BuzzFeed’s style guide isn’t nearly as robust as Chicago, but it certainly will help you decide how to style pop culture references. And it’s free!

Conscious Style Guide

The Conscious Style Guide is a compendium of “the latest news, opinions, and guides on conscious language—all in one place.” Find resources here to help you write with more inclusive, thoughtful language about everything from race to ability, to gender, to health, and more.

Copyright Ayers Edits 2021