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Section 2.8.4

Style Guides

Style guides are widely used in the professions and in organizations to achieve a uniform document look by identifying formal requirements for document appearance. They are task-oriented documents in the sense that they provide definite instructions for preparing a document. In style guides, instructions are generally provided for numerous document elements, including most of the following:

Page formats (title page and sample page with headers or footers)

Numbering systems (page, graphics, sections)

Headings and subheadings

Bibliography, notes, and references

Graphics elements


Punctuation and mechanics

Document packaging

For many documents, it is a good idea to identify a standard of style so that you achieve consistency of style. Consistency is important, not only because it genuinely improves the reader's ability to understand your material, but also because it gives the reader confidence in your ability to assert control over detail.

You may set the standard of style by simply designating a document to follow as a model. You may also prepare your own style guide, something that may require only a one- or two-page listing of style guidelines. Most writers adopt a publication that gives style guidelines. Here are some common style guides:

American Chemical Society. 1986. The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors. Washington DC.

American Institute of Physics. 1990. AIP Style Manual. 4th ed. New York.

American Mathematical Society. 1990. A Manual for Authors of Mathematical Papers. 9th ed. Providence, RI.

American Psychological Association. 1995. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 4th ed. Washington, DC.

Council of Biology Editors. 1994. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 6th ed. Chicago.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. August 1965. "Information for IEEE Authors." IEES Spectrum 2.

Modern Language Association of America. 1995. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. New York.

University of Chicago Press. 1993. The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th ed. Chicago.

For further discussion of documenting sources, see Citing Sources and Listing References.

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