In the digital world, writing has become an essential skill in more professions. If you are curating a blog, creating content for a website or just writing internal content, it is good practice to follow a style guide. Finding the guide that aligns with your own personal style is helpful in creating your definitive tone and brand.
My first journalism instructors taught under the New York Times style guide. That was my base and go-to for many years until I moved to England. The rules here are slightly different, and because I primarily write about business, I now lean more towards the Financial Times (dubbed the FT Lexicon).
Whatever your poison and personal taste, here is a roundup of the top style guides I have found useful over the years:
The NYT style guide was created in 1950. It has been revised many times over the years, most recently an epub version in February 2015, and then for print that September. For many in the industry, the NYT Style guide is considered the standard.
Until May 2019, the Financial Times had their online style guide and glossary online, in the form of the FT Lexicon. Sadly it took too many resources and it is no longer supported.
You can still buy the FT Style Guide on Amazon.
The AP Style Guide, also referred to as the Bible of Journalists the world around, has a comprehensive style guide that is updated regularly. Online, you will find fun quizzes to see which is in their recommended style guide. You can buy their latest style guide right from their website.
4. The Wall Street Journal Stylebook
The WSJ stylebook (they are one of the few to not use ‘Style Guide’), and yes stylebook is one word according to the WSJ. You can keep up with monthly updates (fun for grammar nerds) via the WSJ monthly bulletin, Style & Substance.
“William Power and Jennifer Hicks, the stylebook editors at The Wall Street Journal, have compiled the monthly bulletin Style & Substance since August 2013. Bill is also an editor and writer in the Journal Reports group, overseeing the monthly mutual-funds sections, after spending many years as a reporter and news-desk editor. Jennifer is a deputy managing editor, in charge of digital products and innovation. The bulletin was started in 1987 by Paul R. Martin, a Page One editor and longtime Journal style arbiter who, even in his retirement, still helps us unravel the toughest grammar puzzles.”
From what I can find, the WSJ has an outdated (2002) guide that can be found on Amazon here.
If you want something more dated (1988), but still worth the read, WSJ author, William E. Blundell produced The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide. Blundell’s offering has been used in journalism and publishing classes for decades.
5. Non Traditional & Rare Style Guides
a) The Elements of Style by William Strunk
In 1918 William Strunk’s booklet (a mere 43 pages of American English usage) is considered by some, essential reading. The New York Times listed it as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923. Even though written over 100 years ago, his 17th principle of composition is one which still applies– “Omit needless words.” You can search his booklet online at Bartleby.
You can buy a paper updated version here:
b) StyleManual.org by Andy Taylor
I came across this in the last year. Andy Taylor has worked on the Instagram Design Team for over 4 and a half years. He put together a quick style guide (based on British principles), which is easy to navigate, and answers quick grammar and style questions on the fly.
Below are some examples of Andy Taylor’s Style Manual in action:
Posted by: Jean Paldan
Jun 02, 2019