GrammarPhile Blog

Style Guides: The Summer 2021 Fashionable Grammar Line

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 24, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Good business is the perpetual pursuit of consistency. Consistent quality, service, transparency, work culture, branding, and…grammar.

If you’ve worked in the corporate world for longer than three seconds (or with more than one other person for more than 17.358 days), you know consistency can seem like an unachievable dream, akin to walking on the moon in the year 1523.

Enter the venerable style guide. While it can’t make up for everything an erratic work culture lacks or propel you to the moon, we guarantee using one will preserve your sanity and make your life significantly better.* uses a variety of style guides to standardize our approach to your business documents. In this way, the rules that guide our proofreading are clear and dependable, for all types of submissions. Your expectations and our process are both defined and harmonious. Win-win.

There are three fundamental aspects to our style guide usage:

1. The Norm: Our baseline is the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. For every document submitted to us without an in-house style guide, we’ll apply this manual, by default. This practice ensures there are no distractions like wonky punctuation or a smattering of compound words without hyphens that will make readers grow extra eyebrow hair in consternation. So if clients specifically abhor this manual, either for its grammatical prescriptions or an aversion to its namesake city (probably because of the wind, which makes it difficult to read and write), a heads up is appreciated.

2. The Free-For-All: We named it thusly and inaccurately just to scare you; telling ourselves grammar jokes gets old after the first 82 weeks spent alone. Provided there is no job- or company-specific style guide, if a client clearly demonstrates their own preferences in consistent fashion, we’ll adhere to them. We do not “inflict” a style on documents, as our fearless leader and president Phil Jamieson likes to say. It sounds violent because it is. We have no desire to rob creators of their autonomy. After all, they’re submitting what they wrote. We are not the owners; we’re the invisible, worth-our-weight-in-gold helpers.

This astonishing perspective is what we like to call “common sense” and “using our large, meaty brains.” Even big-name style guides advise this methodology in unique cases and for those that fall outside their decisive parameters. We often notate an observed deviation from a style guide (whether it’s internal or industrywide), and may make a gentle suggestion, but if it’s clear that the author swerved left or right or into a potato field intentionally, we respect their “consistent inconsistency.” This is one of the many benefits of using real proofreaders versus relying on the dubious workings and scandalous allure of spell check, bots, and off-shore (so-called) services.

3. The Tight-Laced Case: For specific industries, publications, and purposes, we use several other notable style guides, and we only proofread while wearing a tuxedo with tails to ensure maximum professionalism. For example, the Associated Press Stylebook (2019) is used for press releases, and we apply the American Medical Association Guide to Style to medical documents. You’ve heard of our love for Merriam-Webster—you may be assured that along with keeping an antique hard copy of it under our pillows for protection against grammatical nightmares, we also reference the 11th Collegiate edition for spelling and usage. The full list of usage standard publications can be found here, including those we use for American, Canadian, and British English.

The drive for consistency is one of the challenges that make life enjoyable…and difficult. We’ll leave it to you to keep track of your dietary, exercise, financial, and hygienic habits (or lack thereof). We’re happy to take care of the grammar portion…with style. Guides, that is.

Now here’s a completely unrelated grammar meme. Have mercy. It’s week 83.


*We don’t guarantee this at all. We were being dramatic because we love style guides.

Topics: Style Guides, Popular Style Guides

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