How should I write a person’s title or should I include it at all?
Should the title of a book be underlined, italicized or “put in quotes”?
Is it ever proper to write theatre versus theater?
The answer, though maddening for some, is, “It depends.” It depends on which stylebook you consult, which is generally determined by your audience.
If you’re a doctoral student finalizing your dissertation, you might count the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Modern Language Association (MLA) style as your academic bible. If you’re writing a book, you might buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style.
Whereas, if you’re a reporter for almost any news organization in America, you live and breathe the Associated Press Style Guide.
Most of our clients at Rhudy & Co. use a hybrid editorial style based on the Associated Press approach along with their own organizational exceptions.
As you read this the biggest question on your mind may not be punctuation or word choice but rather, “Who cares?”
I think the answer is writers should care. Everyone else shouldn’t be bothered.
In fact, when reading your work, the reader shouldn’t even notice whether you put spaces between your ellipses or whether you capitalized “OK.” But they will notice if your writing seems different than the other pieces in the newsletter, magazine, newspaper or website.
Writers care because we want the content to shine, rather than having our inconsistencies distract.
Like a bad footnote. 1.
1. Donna Dunn prefers AP style, but owns copies of MLA and APA guides.