A publisher’s house style lets authors know how to prepare their texts for publication so that the publisher can ensure consistent presentational standards in the works it publishes.
It includes such things as choice of national and other standards covering spelling, punctuation, use of capital letters and referencing. In this way, a style guide enhances cultural integrity with the intention of achieving the best aesthetic effect for the printed pages of an author’s book.
A style guide shouldn’t cramp an author’s individual style, though. Good writing styles remain highly individual. The aim is to set out some basic principles, such as the supreme importance of clarity, verbal economy, maximising the use of active verbs, minimising the use of adjectives (to say nothing of adverbs), avoiding cliches, comma splices and so on.
Publishing books for a global English-speaking audience from Aotearoa New Zealand, Tuwhiri makes use of contemporary British English spelling as well as New Zealand English spelling.
The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary offer a good guide to spelling. We also follow current progressive British English punctuation conventions, such as single inverted commas as primary quotation marks.
– from ‘Rhetoric’ by Aristotle, Bk III, Pt 1
With rare exceptions (such as ‘Holocaust’, and the titles of newspapers and journals) we follow these conventions by restricting capital letters to the first words of sentences, and to proper names, nouns and their abbreviations, such as the names of countries and some human collectives, including ethnicities and religions.
We only use capitals on people’s titles when they’re part of a name. (‘Yesterday Governor-General Satyanand spoke at a Rotary meeting,’ but ‘Yesterday the governor-general spoke at a Rotary meeting.’) Capital minimisation makes for more streamlined printed pages while demystifying and removing apparent authority from nouns and entities that previously attracted clunky capitals.
In applying these guidelines you might find it useful to follow precedents by looking through previous Tuwhiri books or The Guardian’s style guide, starting at:
When directly quoting another printed source, of course, you’ll need to do so meticulously and preserve the spelling, punctuation and capitalisation of the original text.
Many authors, we find, have difficulty with punctuation, perhaps because they haven’t understood its role of reproducing the rhythms of natural speech, thus creating nuance and meaning. Lynne Truss offers an entertaining corrective in Eats, shoots and leaves (London: Profile Books, 2005).
Some questions, though, do arise more frequently, so here’s an initial attempt at listing the elements that may come up. Thanks to the worldwide web, there’s no need to commit this to paper, so if you’re in the middle of writing something please bookmark this page and come back again.
If something is unclear or isn’t dealt with, please get in touch through the form on the Contact page.