What Is Editorial Style?
Editorial style is commonly confused with writing style. While writing style may refer to a writer's unique voice or application of language, editorial style refers to a set of guidelines that editors use to help make your words as consistent and effective as possible. A good book editor will be sensitive to maintaining a balance between your unique writing style—your voice—and editorial style. Studies have shown that consistent editorial style not only lends credibility to your work but also makes it easier to read and understand.
Do not capitalize an entire word or phrase for emphasis; use italics instead.
Use lowercase letters for a.m. and p.m. (e.g., The train left at 6:00 p.m.).
Do not capitalize offices or titles unless used as part of a proper noun (e.g., Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States. Students often study the life of President Abraham Lincoln.).
Capitalize personifications (e.g., Mother Nature).
Bulleted or numbered list items should begin with a capital letter.
Do not capitalize him, his, or other pronouns referring to deities, such as Jesus. Most Bible translations follow this style.
Use a comma for the following reasons:
Between two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence (e.g., I took my shoes off, and I walked on the grass. I took my shoes off and walked on the grass. Because "walked on the grass" does not have a separate subject ["I"] in the second example, it is not an independent clause. Therefore, no comma is used.).
To separate elements in a series, iUniverse prefers its authors use a comma before the conjunction that precedes the final element in the series, called the series or serial comma (e.g., I learned about stars, comets, and planets.).
Before and after the name of a state that is preceded by the city in the middle of a sentence (e.g., One thing and one thing only put South Elgin, Illinois, on the map.).
With introductory phrases (e.g. Finally, they reached their destination.), in direct address (e.g., Thank you, Mom.), and after yes and no (e.g., Yes, that's what he said.), especially if a slight pause is intended.
To separate two adjectives that precede and modify a noun (e.g., He drove the old, rusted car. He drove the light-green car.).
Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes
The hyphen (-), the en dash (–), and the em dash (—) all have different purposes and should be used in different situations. All three marks run flush to the text on both sides (with no space on either side).
Use hyphens in compound words and to separate characters (in phone numbers, for example). Examples: That is some heavy-duty machinery! He started working a part-time job. I placed a toll-free call.
Hyphenate adverb + adjective compounds before, but not after the nouns they modify unless they appear hyphenated in Merriam-Webster (e.g., much-loved woman but the woman was much loved).
Compounds with most and least and adjectives ending in –ly are not hyphenated (e.g., the beautifully decorated house).
Hyphenated adjectival compounds that appear in Merriam-Webster's should be spelled with a hyphen when they follow a noun (e.g., Your point is well-taken.).
En Dashes and Em Dashes
The en dash is generally used with number ranges to signify "up to and including," "to," or "through." Do not use an en dash if the word "from" or the word "between" precedes the first element.
To enter an en dash in Microsoft Word, hold the Ctrl key and press the minus key on the number keypad or hold down the Alt key while typing 0150. Example: You'll find the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:7–13. The measure passed with a vote of 154–17.The war years, 1939–45, were difficult. The war lasted from 1939 to 1945. I lived in Vermont between 1984 and 1986.
The em dash (commonly called a dash) is used to set off a statement within a sentence. It is also used to indicate sudden breaks in dialogue. Do not use a space before or after the em dash.
To enter an em dash in Microsoft Word, hold the Ctrl and the Alt key and press the minus key on the number keypad, or hold down the Alt key while typing 0151. Examples: Eric—having just discovered the letter—ran down the street after his car. She read works by the beat authors—Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs—and it showed in her writing. "I think you should consid—" was all I heard before the phone went dead.
Colons and Semicolons
A colon is often used to introduce an element or series of elements. It can also be used between two independent clauses (similar to the semicolon) to emphasize sequence. Examples: There are four states of matter: liquid, solid, gas, and plasma. I didn't feel threatened by them: after all, I had seen them fight before.
A semicolon is often used to separate two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction. Examples: We reached a fork in the road; two of us went left, and the other three went right.
Use ellipses to indicate broken, stuttered or interrupted dialogue, and incomplete sentences.
If the omitted material appears immediately after a complete sentence, use a period followed by Microsoft Word's ellipsis character (created by holding the Ctrl + Alt + period keys).
When using the "four-dot method" (in which the ellipsis appears after a period) put a space after the ellipses, but not before (.… ). When only three dots are used, put a space before and after the ellipsis ( … ).
Author K. Meador is a mom to two grown sons who are currently pursuing their adult lives outside the home. For the past several years, she has traveled with her job and has now settled down in Oklahoma City area.
She enjoys photography, walking, and visiting with family and friends.
Please leave a comment on this blog and share if you are so inclined. Author K. Meador has six books published which are available in paperback, eBook, and four are on audio. Thank you. Your support is truly appreciated.