Style Sheets

Style sheets are one of my favorite organizational tools during the line editing process. They will save you so much time as you move from line editing, or copyediting, to proofreading.

When you’re reviewing your line edits, the style sheet is like a buddy that you can refer to when you’re wondering why I made a suggested edit.

Providing your proofreader with a style sheet is a great gift and will make their process so much easier because they’ll have access to all the decisions we made for your book. And if you’re writing a series, there a must have because there is no way you’ll remember all the stylistic decisions you made when writing the first book.

Style Sheet Organization

But I know from years of working with clients that they can be overwhelming the first time you see one. Style sheets can be organized in a variety of ways, including simple lists.

Here’s what my style sheet looks like:

The style sheet I use to organize editing decisions for a manuscript. There are alphabet boxes to track capital letters and specific spellings, and there are separate blocks to track character names, punctuation conventions followed, number treatment, dates, places, and more.
An Ayers Edits style sheet

And here’s what I track with it:

  • What words are capitalized
  • What compound words are hyphenated, or open, or closed
  • Spellings of character names
  • Dates mentioned
  • Locations mentioned
  • How numbers are styled, or written
  • All the stylistic decisions that are the author’s choice
  • Rules followed for various punctuation marks, per Chicago Manual of Style
  • Formatting decisions (think italics, bold, etc.)

What do you do with the style sheet?

  • Give it to your proofreader to make her job easier.
  • Update it if/when you make changes previously noted on it.
  • Refer to it when you’re writing the next book in your series.
  • Use it to understand why I made suggested edits.
  • Learn more about the mechanics of writing (because I often include short explanations and helpful links).