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     Are you tired of correcting the same mistakes over and over when you edit your staff's work?  Does everyone in your office use a different format when writing phone numbers and email addresses? Sick of arguing about when to use a comma, spell out the number ten, and whether to use periods in acronyms?  Fight it out and decide once and for all by creating an editorial style sheet for your organization.

     An editorial style sheet is a chart you fill out showing how you will use, format, and spell certain words.   You can also include rules about abbreviations, capitalization, acronyms, and anything else related to how words, numbers, and punctuation appear in your publications.


A sample style sheet and how to use it

   To see how a style sheet works, compare the following paragraph with the style sheet below. Red words in the paragraph match the purple notes in the style sheet.

    Did you know that proof-reading a document can be very time-consuming? It's especially hard to do online because glare on a computer screen can strain your eyes.  Some people prefer to proof-read before 10:00 a.m. when their eyes are still fresh.  Breaking a project of more than twenty pages in a half can also help. Some people use special pens, pencils, and Post-it notes when they proof-read.  For more information, call 555/123-4567 or visit the site online at




Use this: Not this: Use this:

Not this:


Abbreviations & Acronyms

Use this: Not this: Use this:


Not this:

am, AM, A.M.



Use this: Not this:

Use this:

URLs in lower caps:

Not this:



Use this:

Not this:

on-line, on line

Spell out numbers under 100

Format phone numbers like:
555/123-4567, not (555) 123-4567 or 555.123.4567.



Use this:

Not this:

Use serial commas (use a common before "and" in a series of three or more items)

Contractions are OK.

You can use style sheets to document all kinds of editorial decisions, such as:

  • How a person's name should be spelled (e.g. full name or nickname?  middle initial?)
  • The preferred spelling of words with more than one option (e.g. zeros or zeroes?)
  • How to abbreviate state names in text (CA, Cal. or Calif?)
  • How to close business letters (Sincerely, Yours Truly)
  • Whether to use apostrophes in certain cases (1900s or 1900's?)
  • When to use bold, italics, and underlined text
  • How to punctuate bulleted lists (commas after items? periods after items? no punctuation?)

Show me a blank style sheet
(use the back button on your browser after printing the blank style sheet)

EcoScribe Communications can create customized style sheets for your organization or for individual publications. For more information, send a message to

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