Purpose of Style Guides

A style guide (or style manual) is a set of standards for writing and designing documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization, or field.


Using a style guide provides uniformity in style and formatting of a document. Good practice dictates that the style guide be easily accessible and used by all members of a writing team.

A style guide commonly covers:

  • Spelling (where several spellings are acceptable)
  • Punctuation (for example the use of the serial comma or periods in bulleted lists)
  • Word choice (terminology, or for example whether a controlled language or semi-controlled language is used)
  • Writing style (for example restrictions on the use of contractions, past tense, or passive voice)
  • Formatting and typography
  • Stylesheets

Since rules of spelling and grammar (among other things) are subject to change over time, style guides should be reviewed and updated regularly.