As promised last week, here’s the template for the style sheet I use. Feel free to change, add, and adapt as you wish!
I find it’s a good idea to put the date I’ve updated the sheet to ensure I send the most recent one with my manuscript
These first sections are for fiction and nonfiction
This is where I list my primary sources, such as the edition of Merriam-Webster’s and Chicago Manual of Style. I also list any dictionaries or websites that are unusual, such as the Urban Dictionary.
Use this section to lay down those parameters I mentioned last week. List such things as the Bible version you used for Scripture quotations, how you want deity pronouns addressed, and any departures from CMOS. For example, do you hate commas and only use them when you feel they can’t be avoided? Make that known. I usually point out that sentence fragments and using like as a conjunction are perfectly acceptable in fiction. And I explain my use of past perfect in fiction (don’t want hads popping up all over the place).
As with the Style Notes, use this section to pinpoint any formatting particulars the editor needs to know. For example, your treatment of headers and chapter numbers, if you have letters in your manuscript and want them indented, if you want a line space before and after callouts, how you want quotations at the beginning of chapters formatted, and so on.
Now, one thing to keep in mind about formatting if you’re traditionally published is that the publisher may follow your formatting ideas, and they may not. But at least they’ll know what you’re thinking.
Word List (all are verified in Mirriam-Webster’s except for those with notations otherwise
List any and all words that you want spelled or formatted exactly as you use them. For example, I’d put here that SAR is what needs to be used, not Search and Rescue. Anyone in SAR calls it that, not Search and Rescue or S&R, as I’ve seen in other books.
If you have words you’ve created for your novels, or if you have words in your nonfiction that you created and want used as you have them (such as a phrase I often use, hunky dorky rather than hunky dorry), list them here.
Regional Word List
Same idea. List anything you want kept as you’ve used it. I put my Oregon words here, such as tad bit, crick (rather than creek), and so on.
Period/Foreign Language Word List
For words specific to the time period of your book or to a foreign language you’re using, particularly those that the editor may not be able to find in a regular dictionary. For one of my novels I had a list of Yiddish and of Spanglish words and terms. For another I listed urban jargon I’d found online and in the Urban .
You can put in a chapter-by-chapter timeline to show the progression of the story.
This handy dandy little section is for anything you want the editor to know that doesn’t fit under other headings.
The following sections are for fiction
This is the place to go more in detail if you need to. I remind the editors that there are intentional grammatical inaccuracies in dialogue, that the editor shouldn’t correct or change dialect without checking with me first, and that I absolutely do not want he said/she said or –ly adverbs added in without querying. This is also a good place to let them know of any intentional dialogue quirks for characters, such as if your foreign characters don’t use contractions.
Primary Character List
I always list these alphabetically and give the following info:
Name, role (protagonist, antagonist, etc), any family connections to other characters, physical descriptions, fears, and so on.
I always list these in order of appearance rather than alphabetically. I give the same details as with the primary characters.
Just what it says. Any details you think it will help the editor to know about places (e.g., towns, regions, buildings, streets, etc.)