Consistent Copyediting With Style Sheets (Get a Free Template!)

copyediting-style-sheet

Professional copy editors and proofreaders rely on a style sheet to make sure a manuscript follows a consistent style from page 1 through page 999. A style sheet, like the one pictured above, just makes it easier for the copy editor to check facts and pick up on errors.

Copyediting style sheets work as an organizational tool and a communications tool too. Here are a few examples of how a style sheet can help streamline the editing process:

  • A style sheet is a document for listing dates, numbers, names, and spellings that are specific to a manuscript. Since these items are not part of a dictionary or style book such as the Chicago Manual of Style, the style sheet is necessary for reference.
  • Some spellings, punctuation, and style are defined by an author or publishing house. This means that for every project a copy editor works on, there may be different rules to follow. For example, does the author dislike the use of em dashes? Does the magazine insist on spelling it “email” and not “e-mail”? These preferences are listed on the style sheet.
  • After a copy editor has reviewed a manuscript, the file is returned to the author with edits and comments. The style sheet can accompany the manuscript to help the author see which editing choices the copy editor made and why.

Style sheets are similar to style guides (which I described in a previous post about “What is a Style Guide?”), except for the fact that style sheets are usually only a few pages of notes. A style sheet is normally organized by a series of rows and columns and labeled with letters or specific areas of focus such as abbreviations and design elements.

To see an example of a style sheet, download the No. 2 Pen’s free style sheet template and free style sheet example from our WRITING FREEBIES page. Both style sheet documents will give you a better idea for how a style sheet works, and of course, these documents can be used in your own copy editing and proofreading projects too.

A style sheet is a necessary tool for any editor. We know, because we use them every time.


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