“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne
There are numerous writing style guides, which writers must follow for specific writing assignments.
What type of writing assignment are you working on?
- Term Paper
These are only a few assignments freelance writer might be working on. Each has their own unique writing style.
Most journalists use the Associated Press and Briefing on Media Law (AP) style guide, but some newspapers have their own in-house style.
Book authors lean toward The Chicago Manual of Style.
Business and speechwriters would follow the American Management Association (AMA) style guide.
Most magazines have a style that can be determined by reading the specific magazine.
Style guides also have a preferred dictionary.
- Associated Press Style Guide uses the Webster’s New World College Dictionary as its reference.
- Council of Science Editors in Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers for sciences.
- The Chicago Manual of Style uses the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as its reference.
- Academic style uses the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and does not specify a reference dictionary.
- Science style uses the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as its reference, also use the CSE.
- Technical writing would also use the APA style guide.
Today, there are almost as many style guides as there are disciplines:
- English and the Humanities (MLA)
- Government Documents
- History (Chicago)
- In-House Style
- Journalism (AP)
- Political Science
- Psychology and other Social Sciences (APA)
- Science and Technical Writing
- Social Work
- Web Writing (Google has a style it prefers.)
Can you think of others?
As you can see, depending on the writing assignment, a trip to the local library or bookstore might be in your future to obtain the proper style guide, or some search engine time finding style guides to assist you with your assignment.
If you are working with a client, what do they want could be something completely different.
If you have the bookcase shelf space, how many style guides do you need to write?
For most of what I do as a freelance writer, I use the Chicago style because it is the one I trained with. All writers are welcome to use any style guide, but will your writing work for specific purposes.
If you would like help making your copy better, a review of your copy, or have any questions about working with a freelancer, please use the contact form.