Author's Manual

Style Sheet

8 October 2005

Subject: Style Sheet for the 1632 Series
Author: Eric Flint and the Gazette Editorial Board
Date: 8 October 2005

Style Sheet for the 1632 Series

A "style sheet" establishes basic style usages for an entire series or set of related stories, in order to maintain consistent word usage. This style sheet was compiled by Modean Moon, the copy-editor for the 1632 series, and extended by the members of the Gazette Editorial Board. It is based on the following references:

  1. Titles and Proper Nouns
    1. Military, political, clerical, and noble titles should be in lower case unless they are being used as part of the name or in direct address. Thus, for example:
      • the king of Sweden, but King Gustav Adolf.
      • the cardinal, but Cardinal Richelieu; the monsignor, but "yes, Monsignor."
      • the duke of XXX, XXXX, the third duke of XXX, but Duke Whazzisname.
      • Abbess XXX but the abbess of XXXX; the archbishop of Canterbury, but "Archbishop Laud."
      • the doge, but Messer il Doge.
      There are some exceptions, two in particular:
      • Per normal usage, President and Vice-President of the United States, capped per WIT.
      • WIT states secretary of state, attorney general, cabinet, etc. are in lower case but not the Senate, the Parliament.
    2. The names of centuries — twentieth century, seventeenth century, etc. — should be spelled out in dialogue and in narrative. Do not use "17th century."
    3. Numbers should be spelled out: i.e., use "three hundred" not "300." There are two exceptions:
      • if the number is very large or otherwise hard to spell out in a reasonable space. (I.e., you do not need to spell out 3,578.)
      • if you're writing a factual article rather than a piece of fiction.
      Even in non-fiction, most numbers are spelled out unless they are used as constants or technical specifications. Thus, "He shot him with his thirty-eight." but "He loaded the revolver with six .38 bullets." "Water has a density half that of syrup." but "The density of gasoline is .758 grams per cubic centimeter." "Seventy years would pass before the sunspot number exceeded fourteen." but "The sunspot numbers for the decade following were 8, 7, 5, 3 and 11." (This example is marginal.) When in doubt, ask the editors.
    4. Military proper nouns should be in lower case — army, navy, air force — unless the reference is to a specific government's Army, Navy, Air Force. (I.e., it would be "the army" but "the U.S. Army.") Marines are always capped unless it's something like "they were trying to build a marine corps."
      • military ranks should be in lower case unless used in direct address or as part of a name: the sergeant, but Sergeant Southworth, "yes, Sergeant."
    5. Saint: Spelled when using the name of the saint: Saint Bartholomew; abbreviate in geographical names: St. Mary Magdalene's Church.
    6. Yes, sir, madam, my lord, signor, messer, etc., should be in lower case. But capitalize in direct speech: "Your Eminence," "Your Excellency," "Your Majesty."
    7. Monsignor should be capitalized when it is used as the title of a church position, in direct address or as part of the name: "May I help you, Monsignor?" Monsignor Mazarini. The monsignor is waiting.
  2. Use of italics
    • Non-English words should be in italics — ja, nein, bitte, etc. — unless they have essentially been absorbed into the English language.
    • Internal thoughts should be in italics.
  3. Hyphenation
    • Hyphenate compound adverb-adjective or adjective-adjective nouns only when not doing so would cause confusion and when they precede the word. Thus: "A well-ordered life," but "His life was well ordered."
    • Do not hyphenate a compound containing an adverb ending in "ly." He was a highly respected man, not "he was a highly-respected man."
  4. American spelling convention: Use standard U.S. spelling rather than British spelling:
    • Favor, not favour;
    • offense, not offence;
    • realize, not realise.
    • gray, not grey
  5. Due to: Avoid except in military jargon. Due is an adjective, not an adverb, except when meaning directly, as in due north. (because of, as a result of, etc.)
  6. Who, which, that: "That" is a restrictive identifier; "which" a nonrestrictive one. Examples:
    • The lawnmower that is in the shed (there is only one lawnmower in that shed);
    • the lawnmower, which is in the shed (there may be more than one lawnmower, but the location of this one is the shed).
    An easy way to remember this is:
    • If the phrase can be set off with commas, use which; if the word is the object of a preposition, use which.
    • For all (at least most) of the others, use "that," unless you can delete either of them. (I told him that I didn't want to go, can easily be written, I told him I didn't want to go.)
    • If the word identifies a person, use "who." (The man that shot my brother should be "the man who shot my brother.")
  7. Possessives: The possessive with a word ending in "s" should be: Gus', Ducos', etc. Not Gus's, Ducos's, etc.
  8. Other common spelling conventions used in the series
    • 9mm, 12 gauge, .45 caliber (spell in dialogue as "forty-five". Do not spell "point forty-five")
    • aright, alit, arunning, alight (Scot's dialect)
    • cabinet (lower case)
    • cardinal (lower case, except in direct address or as part of title)
    • Constitution, the (Grantville & U.S., but lower case if the reference is to a non-specific constitution or you are using the word "constitutional")
    • dammit or damn it, but not damnit.
    • down-time, down-timer; not downtime or downtimer
    • enquiry, enquiries
    • focused, focusing (no double "s")
    • Grantviller not Grantvillian or Grantvilliard.
    • Inquisition, the, (but inquisitors)
    • mustaches, mustachios
    • okay, not "OK"
    • papacy
    • papist
    • pope, the (unless part of specific name as in "Pope Urban VIII")
    • President (of the United States)
    • Satan/Satanic
    • Scripture but scriptural
    • sixties (for the l960s)
    • Thirty Years War
    • timeline
    • TV or television, either one is fine
    • U.S., not US
    • USE, not U.S.E.
    • up-time, up-timer, not uptime or uptimer
    • warhorse, not "war horse"
    • willy-nilly

Editorial conventions:

The following are not properly part of the style sheet but rather, represent conventions which the edtiors prefer. Think of them as some tips for writers in the series:

  1. Do not use "said as"
    • Bad: "That's really crazy," Mary said as she turned to pick up little Steven and change his diaper.
    • Good: Mary picked up little Steven. "That's really crazy."
  2. Putting an action before the comment indicates who said what. It eliminates a "said," something that's usually a good thing.
    • Bad: Picking up little Steven, Mary said, "That's really crazy."
    • Good: Mary picked up little Steven. "That's really crazy."
    The second is active, the first is less so. And the "said" doesn't have to be there.
  3. Don't use adverbs to describe how someone said something.
    • Bad: Lazily leaning against the fence post, Butch laconically said, "Here's to you, Babe."
    Puh leeze, don't do that.
    • Good: Butch leaned back against the fence post. "Here's to you, Babe."
    The second way is more active. You don't need the "said," the "lazily," or the "laconically." You really don't.
  4. Avoid "she said, verb"
    • Bad: It had taken her a week to get around to going through the pile of paperwork and then she found the check. "Wow!" she said, turning to her husband, "Look at this."
    • Good: It took Mary a week to get around to going through the pile of paperwork. Much to her surprise, she found a check. "Wow! Look at this.
    The second way is more active. Active is good.
  5. Avoid using "and" to connect what are really two completely unrelated thoughts.
    • Bad: The elector and the markgraf spent the evening in discussions, and the conclusion they reached had far-reaching consequences.
    • Good: The elector and the markgraf spent the evening in discussions. They arrived at a conclusion which had far-reaching consequences. Or: The elector and the markgraf spent the evening in discussions, arriving at a conclusion which had far-reaching consequences.