Recommended Business Writing Style Guides

by Mary Cullen on Fri, Jun 17, 2011

 

MOST RECOMMENDED

business style guide 1 resized 600The Gregg Reference Manual:
A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 11th Edition

William A. Sabin, McGraw-Hill, 2011

The Gregg Reference Manual is intended for anyone who writes, edits, or prepares material for distribution or publication. For over fifty years this manual has been recognized as the best style manual for business professionals who want to master the on-the-job standards of business professionals.

 

FOR NEWSLETTERS AND BLOGS

business writing style guide 2 resized 600The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law

Edited by Darrell Christian, Sally Jacobsen, and David Minthorn, Associated Press, 2010

The Associated Press Stylebook, first published in 1977, clarified the news organization's rules on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. Now in its sixth edition, the Stylebook is the standard style guide for most U.S. newspapers, magazines, public relations, and consulting firms.

 

FOR PROOFREADERS

business writing style guides 3 resized 600The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition

The University of Chicago Press, 2010

“Chicago” is the bible of book publishers. We refer to “Chicago,” but it is a specialist’s volume. Unless you’re a professional editor or proofreader, this style guide is not needed by most business writers.

 

 

FOR EVOLVING LANGUAGE

business writing style guide 4 resized 600Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition

Bryan A. Garner, Oxford University Press, 2009

I like this resource because it includes a "Language-Change Index," which indicates how well accepted a term is, ranging from Stage 1, widely considered incorrect, to Stage 5, universally accepted as correct. Because business writing language is ever-evolving, this is a helpful guidebook to determine if a usage is now acceptable.

 

FOR UK AND US ENGLISH STYLE DIFFERENCES

business writing style guide 5 resized 600  The Economist Style Guide, 2011 Edition

  This guide contains a very helpful section on American and British English. 

American and British business writing is essentially identical. There are spelling and minor punctuation differences, that this text illustrates perfectly. By the way, you should construct documents in your style. If you are British and writing to an American, for example, use British English, rather than American English. Do not use idiomatic  expressions or vague phrasings, of course. There is never any significant misunderstanding between UK and US English, as long as one avoids idiom and writes clearly. Trying to adopt a style and voice that is not your own rings false.   

INTERNAL STYLE GUIDE 

Do you wish to compile style guidelines, unique to your organization? For example, you may have specific terms you want used with consistency in all documents. Many organization compile an internal style guide, and share it with all employees.

Many thanks to the ASTD LinkedIn group for sharing a generic internal style guide, which you can use as a model. Yet, another reason you should join LinkedIn if you have not yet done so! Creating your own style guide is a great option if you want to choose rules from other style guides that offer conflicting advice.

Download a copy of this Business Writing Style Guide Internal Template. 

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Topics: Business Writing Style

Mary Cullen

About the author

Mary Cullen

Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Rhode Island, a M.A in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.

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