How to follow multiple style guides

For editors, following a client’s style preferences is vital for delivering work that your client will love. However, it can be hard work to keep referring to the writing style guide and checking you’re sticking to the style.

The style sheets in PerfectIt make it a powerful editing tool. In both the PC version (PerfectIt 5) and the Mac version (PerfectIt Cloud), the built-in style sheets make it easy to adhere to clients’ style preferences. And a benefit of PerfectIt 5 is that the user can modify those style sheets or even combine them. Follow these steps, or watch the video below, to see how easy it is to combine style sheets in PerfectIt 5

To prepare to work on your client’s document, you’ll need to create a style sheet in PerfectIt that will guide you on their preferences as you work. If you have not worked with style sheets in PefectIt before, my PerfectIt courses can help. Now, imagine that your client has their own preferences but also follows the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Checking both writing style guides will be a nuisance. But PerfectIt can do it for you. Here’s how:

Step 1 – Choose your writing style sheets

The first step is to select the style sheets that you want to combine. Suppose you work for a company, Client A, and have created a PerfectIt style sheet for that company and called it ‘Customer A’. You want to combine that style sheet with PerfectIt’s new CMOS style sheet, so the two PerfectIt style sheets you will be combining are ‘Customer A’ and ‘Chicago Manual of Style’.

Step 2 – Decide which style will predominate

There will be some instances where your two style sheets clash, so you need to decide which style sheet will take precedence over the other. Let’s imagine that Customer A likes to have all their headings in uppercase, whereas CMOS simply specifies consistency for headings. You want to keep your client’s preferences, so you want your ‘Customer A’ style sheet preferences to override those of the ‘Chicago Manual of Style’ style sheet.

Step 3 – Set up the combined style sheet

Having chosen your style sheets in PerfectIt and decided which one will override the other, it’s easy to create the new style sheet:

  1. Open a Word document and launch PerfectIt 5.
  2. In the PerfectIt 5 tab on the ribbon, click on ‘Manage Styles’ to open this box, then click on the ‘Combine’ button:

  3. That opens this box where you need to insert your two styles and give the new style a name. The note explains that preferences from the new style will replace the root style:
  4. Now, from the dropdown lists select ‘Chicago Manual of Style’ for the root style and ‘Customer A’ for ‘Add preferences from’. You can choose a name for your style, or just go with the one that PerfectIt automatically creates, which is ‘Chicago Manual of Style with Customer A’:

  5. Then click ‘OK’ and your style sheet has been created. To check it, you can go into the settings for capitalization and see that your new style sheet has headings in uppercase (whereas CMOS style is ‘consistency’):

For editors, having the ability to combine writing style guides using PerfectIt certainly saves a lot of faffing about. You don’t need to keep referring to separate writing style guides because all the guidance will be at your fingertips once you apply the style sheets in PerfectIt. And by setting the parameters from the start, you’ll save on headaches when two style sheets clash in a certain aspect of their guidance. Have a go and see what you think.

If you’d like more help with using PerfectIt to speed up your editing, try my online, self-paced PerfectIt courses.