Writing must be clean to attract an editor’s eye. By that I mean error-free, grammatically correct, tight, and in style.
What is in style?
Style refers to the rules a publication establishes to ensure consistency. Such rules are contained in two style guides widely used within publishing:
- The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is primarily used by book publishers, though some periodicals also follow it. It’s a comprehensive guide for not only spelling, punctuation, citations, and other formatting, but also for overall manuscript structure and editing.
- The Associated Press Stylebook is used primarily by newspapers, magazines, newsletters, broadcasters, and writers of press releases.
Submitting your writing in the proper style tells an editor you are a professional who understands publishing.
AP and CMOS have many differences, so be sure to ask which one your target market uses. Consistency is the key. If a book publisher uses CMOS, it wants a comma before the last item of a series. In AP style, no comma is called for.
CMOS calls for spelling out numbers 1-100. AP spells out 1-9 and uses numerals for all others (unless a number begins a sentence).
These two major style guides also differ on how they treat ordinals, titles, abbreviations, dashes, etc.
Want to be in style? Buy both guides and ask which one to use for the market you’re targeting. Then use it to scrub your manuscript clean before it lands in your editor’s inbox.