Creating a Style Sheet
Style sheets can be a page long and can be 20-pages long, the purpose will dictate the length and as long as there are no conflicting instructions, the more details the better for all parties involved.
Long style sheets are typically found in publishing houses and large companies that have adopted an in-house style to regulate all their written communications. Firms go to the extent of commissioning or buying unique font styles to help achieve their branding goals. Therefore, if, as a freelance writer or editor, you work consistently for a micro or small business, helping them build their style sheet is a value-add that will stand you in good stead.
The above is a sample style sheet I created for a one-person business that was just starting out and wanted us to edit all their business writing.
CREATING A STYLE SHEET
First thing I do is determine the preferred English type. UK or US? Nigerians lean more to the UK but I don’t assume. Some people do not want to follow the norm and that’s okay also.
If I already have the manuscript or document, I peruse it to determine the language choice. If it is more than 5 pages, I use Microsoft Word Macros to determine the writer’s preference. I don’t record macros myself, I use the excellent ones offered free by the very generous Paul Beverly. Macros are huge time savers even if they cannot edit for you, they will do so much to make the process pain-free. For example, to determine the preferred language choice in a document, I use the UK/USCount macro. It gives a summation of the number of words that were spelt the British way and the ones spelt the American way. Then I can make an informed choice. Easy peasy, right?
Of course, you can always ask the writer straight up.
Once you make this choice, you move on to the other sections and fill them in. I recommend ensuring the writer or whoever commissioned you to assent to the style sheet in writing. An email acknowledgement will do.