Style Guide Review


Due Date: March 28

Purpose: This project is intended for you to familiarize yourself with a range of style guides available to authors and editors working in professional contexts. Because the major project for class doesn’t have a specific style guide, I did not ask you to purchase one. And, because different professional contexts require style guides that are totally different from any one I may have assigned, I want you to be familiar enough with a sampling to be able to explain how they’re similar or different, etc., in case you need to choose one for a future editorial project and/or discuss one in a job interview.

Two Caveats About Project/Deadline:

  1. This assignment is different than the Style Analysis you’ll perform of GWRJ, from which you’ll produce several drafts of style guides for GWRJ. This review assignment is intended to get you familiarized with what a style guide is, how different ones work, and what their strengths/weaknesses are — so that you will be prepared to write your own for GWRJ later this semester.
  2. Although this review assignment isn’t due until March 28, you will need to have started reviewing the style guides no later than Feb. 22, when we will begin discussing how style guides function because you will be assigned to start the GWRJ style guide that day.


  • to form some breadth and depth in style guides typically used in editing
  • not to become an expert in one style, but to learn that styles are highly contextual and can be genre- or field-specific
  • to learn which style guide to go to for a particular project
  • to form an understanding of the form and content that style guides cover (e.g., learning about the genre of style guides) so you can create your own style guide for GWRJ


Key Points

  • individual project on 3 style guides of your choice
  • 5-page, single-spaced report (research the report genre and use its conventions)
  • two versions:
    1. electronic copy, named “lastname_stylereport” and uploaded to DropBox folder /styleguide-reports/
    2. printed and stapled, handed in to me during class


(1) Choose three style guides to review.

Here are some examples: Associated Press styleguide, Modern Language Association handbook, American Psychological Association, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, IEEE Style, Columbia Guide to Online Style, Scientific Style and Format, Elements of Style, and others. Two of your choices must be “well-known” style guides. (See me if you’re unsure). One of your choices may be a style guide that is publication-specific, such as journal style guides (e.g., Kairos style guide). It is YOUR responsibility to get access to these guides, so look early, check things out from Milner or local libraries, or buy copies if you wish.

(2) Read the three guides and ask yourself the following kinds of questions (you may come up with others):

    • what kinds of texts is this guide intended for?
    • who uses this style guide?
    • how does the content of the guide reflect the audience that uses it?
    • what are some of the outstanding/key features of this guide that make it specific to its audience/genre?
    • what features differentiate this guide from other style guides? (If you’re reviewing style guides written for similar texts/audiences, make comparisons where appropriate. If you’re reviewing style guides written for dissimilar audiences/texts, don’t just leave it at “They are used by different audiences, for different texts.” Duh.)
    • what, if anything, do you think this style guide doesn’t cover that it should, given the kind of text and audience it purports to be for? (i.e., if MLA is specifically for research papers, then should it cover research webtexts? Maybe, but maybe not.) Justify your answer in your findings/discussion section.

(3) In writing your report, use the following basic framework (modified according to your needs, but in keeping with the genre of a report):

  • 1st page: make three choices clear; provide a summary of your report findings
  • 2nd-4th pages: summarize, outline, describe, etc., each of your three choices. Use examples and quotes as appropriate. If you need visuals, include them.
  • 5th page: detailed report findings & discussion that compares all three (Note that discussion isn’t “what i liked” about each of the style guides, or “which one I liked best” but things like what major differences or similarities the guides had).

Audience: I (as teacher) am your primary audience for this report, but your classmate-editors will also be using these documents, and you may need to draw on your report later in the semester to justify your style-guide choices for the GWRJ style guide assignment. So, consider the editors of GWRJ a potential secondary audience.