House Style

John McIntyre, over at The Baltimore Sun, writes:

House style is often an arbitrary choice between two equally acceptable ways of writing something. Therefore—deep breath, fellow copy editors—it doesn’t matter except for maintaining internally consistent practice at a publication.

You Don’t Say

And this is why I love him. Any self-respecting editor knows that many of the decisions we make are arbitrary; we simply prefer one (correct) treatment over another and that’s it, a purely subjective choice.

Clear communication is what’s paramount, of course, so honestly, who cares about arcane rules of grammar if an analyst is successfully presenting a well-paced argument? But to appease the sticklers, sure, we will admit that as it turns out, to convey a convincing thesis, you just kinda naturally gotta use good grammar anyhoo!

Consistency is almost as important as clarity. It’s one of those invisible aspects of editing we wrote about earlier … you don’t notice when it works, but it can be jarring, even if subconsciously, when it doesn’t.

YES! Every research department should develop and use its own style guide! I don’t care if the acronym for barrels of oil equivalent is written in upper or lower case — it doesn’t matter — but make a choice and stick with it!

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One Comment to “House Style”

  1. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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