The Elements of Style is an excellent writing resource. Start with it. Then build on that foundation.
For a comprehensive reference on punctuation and formatting, there are several notable resources. Unfortunately, none of them are in complete agreement, with obvious conflicts. Each guide has its advocates. And many have specific applications.
While some people know the major style guides and their differences, I struggle to comprehend one. I selected The Chicago Manual of Style because it best addresses the various types of writing I do. I use it as my go-to reference. I also ask my editors to follow it. It comes in book form and is also online at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.
In addition to The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), other style guides include:
- AP (Associated Press)
- MLA (Modern Language Association)
- Turabian, often used for academic work
Special application style guides include:
- APA (American Psychological Association)
- AMA, the American Medical Association
- NLM, the National Library of Medicine
- CSE, the Council of Science Editors Manual
- ACS, the American Chemical Society
- ASA, the American Sociological Association
- The Bluebook, for the legal profession
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.