Over the past year, I've had the pleasure of working with some great travel writers on everything from blogs to books to media Qs&As. It's always a good idea to have an editor review your work before it goes live. An editor can find any sneaky little errors that were missed by your tired eyes, fact check place names and URLs, and in the case of blogs, ensure a consistent style week to week. But for those of you out there who are your own editor, here are some tips on creating your own style sheet, which is guaranteed to make your travel writing and blogging easier.
A style sheet is a great device to help you remember your decisions about mechanical issues -- spelling, capitalization, currency, numbers, hyphenations. That way, when you start your next blog entry, you don't have to Google everything all over again. You'll remember that you already decided you prefer Unesco World Heritage Site over UNESCO World Heritage Site, or art deco over Art Deco, or you understand when to use awhile vs. a while, or the correct spelling of Reykjavik, or your preference for 58 euros over 58 €.
Having accurate, well-written content with a consistent style will establish you as a professional writer and blogger. Your readers will appreciate it, and your freelance writing career will benefit from it, too!
Here's how to create a style sheet:
1. Open a new Word doc and divide it into 6 rows and 2 columns.
2. Add one heading in each box within the first 4 rows and 2 columns: ABC, DEF, GHI, JKL, MNOP, QRS, TUV, WXYZ.
3. Add one heading in each box of the remaining 2 rows and 2 columns: Numbers; Currency; Punctuation; Times, Measurements & Dates (or use whatever headings make most sense to you for the things you want to keep track of).
This is how your style sheet will look, and you can keep adding to it and referring back to it each week.
Yellowstone National Park
$333 US (not USD)
Can$20 or CAN$20
no serial comma
italics to stress words
bold important phrases
Time, Measurement & Dates
1960s (no apostrophe)
There you have it! By spending a little bit of time upfront to create your style sheet, you can save precious time down the road when you're writing under a deadline and can't remember to hyphenate or not to hyphenate.
Happy writing, everyone!