style guides

The week has been hectic, particularly since Monday was a holiday in France–Easter šŸ°. I feel like I’ve been rushing more than usual as I try to meet deadlines, stay on pace for larger projects, and meet with prospective clients.

A recurring theme this week (since every period seems to have its leitmotiv) has been style guides. I love it when clients come to me with detailed style guides that cover all the nuts and bolts of putting a text together, like whether or not to use the Oxford comma, or more intangible aspects like tone, vision, and target audience. There are many ways to communicate a message, and there are many different conventions one can follow. A style guide helps translators understand client expectations and get the language just right for a specific project.

Many clients don’t come armed with a style guide, and that is why I like to spend some time at the beginning of any project–big or small–going over some basic questions. What is the mission of your text? Who are your readers? Should I follow UK or US spelling conventions? Should measurements be converted into inches and feet?

Of course, I have my own preferences (Oxford comma āœ…, American spelling [Merriam Webster]āœ…, Chicago Manual of Style āœ…), but I always adapt to those of my clients. The key is to work together so that I can put my expertise at the service of your message.

By the way: One blogger and podcaster I find really helpful when it comes to subtleties in English grammar is Mignon Fogarty, the founder of Grammar Girl.

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