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    Home Articles

    Putting More "Style" Into Your Writing

    Writing has always been one of our primary forms of communication. With the wide acceptance of the Web and email in the early nineties, that communication outlet has become all the more important. As increasing numbers of people want to write more effectively, they look for helpful tools such as proofreaders and style-and-use manuals.

    What Are Style Manuals?

    According to Duke University Libraries, "Most style manuals contain much more than examples of footnotes and bibliographies. Advice on grammar and punctuation, tips on conducting research, and recommendations on the appearance of the finished paper are commonly found." These applications make style manuals vitally important for those who hope to convey their written messages clearly and with the use of proper grammar.

    For example, style manuals can offer tremendous help with the following, and more:

    • ensuring your written material is conveyed as intelligent and correct
    • helping the words to flow as you intended so your reader is clear on your meaning
    • giving your written work an appearance that is acceptable to your reader

    How Are Style Manuals Used?

    Style manuals are convenient tools you can reference quickly to get answers to the questions you have regarding English-language use. Should you use a colon, semi-colon, or comma? Just flip to the appropriate section of the style manual, and you'll easily find out.

    Have questions about proper grammar usage on the Internet? The special rules that apply when writing for websites are outlined in most current style manuals. For instance, there is a different set of protocols for italics and underlining when it comes to the Web. A style manual can offer the insights you need to ensure your online written material comes across the way it should.

    In addition, many specific disciplines have their own sets of rules. Biology, chemistry, engineering, and others require techniques that don't apply when writing for the general population. Style manuals can outline the important differences so your work is created in the way that it should be.

    Helpful Resources

    Where do you find style manuals? There are many resources to choose from. Just follow the links below to get information on the style manual(s) that best fits your writing needs.

    Duke University Libraries - Duke's site offers links to:

    • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
    • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA)
    • A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations
    • Duke Graduate School Guide for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations
    • Style Manual for Authors, Editors, and Printers
    • A Style Manual for Citing Microform and Nonprint Media
    • The Complete Manuscript Preparation Style Guide
    • The Elements of Style
    • Form and Style: Theses, Reports, Term Papers
    • Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources
    • Columbia Guide to Online Style
    • Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information
    • Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age
    • The Oxford Guide to Style
    • McGraw-Hill Style Manual: A Concise Guide for Writers and Editors
    • Webster's Standard American Style Manual
    • and others

    You can also visit, which is The Chicago Manual of Style's website. Here you'll discover frequently asked questions about style and use and their answers, helpful tools, detailed information about the manual, and a way to purchase and use the manual online.

    With the right resources, your written communication will soon help you convey your message more clearly and help you present a professional image. Through the use of these and other manuals, you'll find that writing with "style" quickly becomes second nature.

    Copyright 2004 © Cathy Kessler

    Do you have books, ebooks, articles, newsletters, websites, brochures, or other media that need to be proofread by a second set of eyes? The author, Cathy Kessler, is a proofreader and certified professional virtual assistant.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

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    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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