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Style guide tips for blogging

There are so many different style guides for writing. But, keeping things consistent can provide a better experience for your reader. This quick reference is a growing collection of my own notes on the topic.

Commonly used style guides

  • Associated Press (AP Style) – the penultimate for journalists and news writing
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) – often used in book publishing for fiction and non-fiction works
  • Modern Language Association (MLA) – used almost exclusively in the academic world for scholarly papers and such
  • American Psychological Association (APA) – a standard used in social sciences including psychology, sociology, education and politics. APA is also used in some cases for engineering and business work.
  • Turabian – named for author Kate Turabian — it focuses on research work and is also used in academia

Additional style guides

  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Sociological Association (ASA)
  • Bluebook – used in the legal profession
  • Council of Science Editors Manual (CSE)
  • Harvard Style – also known as Author-Date style, mainly used for citation guidelines
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM)
  • Screenplays – rules for scene headings, action lines, characters, dialog and parentheticals

AP Style tips for blogging

I have tended to use AP style for most of my blogging, here are some notes and tips I’ve needed to reference on an ongoing basis.

  • Headlines
    • Capitalize the first word and proper nouns
    • Numerals for all numbers
    • Single quotes for quotation marks
    • No periods for US, UK, UN
    • No periods for states with  two capital letters: NY, NH, NM, NC, SC, ND, SD, RI, DC
    • All other states  use periods: Mich., Mont., Conn.
  • Magazine names
    • Capitalize the initial letters of the magazine name
    • Do not use quotation marks
    • The word “magazine” is only capitalized if it is part of the formal title of a publication (e.g., Food Network Magazine)
  • Capitalization of titles
    • Quotation marks around the titles
    • Capitalize principal words and prepositions/conjunctions of four or more letters
    • Capitalize an article (a, an, the) and words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in the title
    • No quotations for titles of software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Windows
    • Examples
      • Albums “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
      • Books: “Of Mice and Men”
      • Movies “Saving Private Ryan”
      • Songs: “Stairway to Heaven”
      • Television shows “The Tonight Show”
      • Videogames: “Super Mario Bros.”
  • Names
    • Band names
      • Not italicized, no quotation marks
    • People’s names
      • Only use last names on the second reference, unless the individual requests otherwise
      • For names of individuals 15 or younger, use first name unless the story is about a crime or celebrity/athlete
  • Punctuation and quotation marks
    • Periods and commas always go within quotation marks
    • Dashes, semicolons, questions marks and exclamation points:
      • go within quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter
      • go outside the quotation marks when applying to the entire sentence