This easy editing tip will blow your mind

Want to know what knocked my socks off this week?

An Excel Stylesheet

Yep, good old Excel. Okay, maybe I’m impressed easier than you. 

A stylesheet can make your novel appear more professional.

Why? Because writing a massive novel is hard and keeping track of names, places, hyphens and more can get confusing. This is where a stylesheet comes in handy. And most editors require one. Who knew? Well, turns out knowing about something and knowing how to put the information into practice is two different things.

I’ve written about stylesheets in the past but until recently I didn’t understand how to put into practice what I’d learned. But, turns out it’s not that difficult.

What you put add to a stylesheet is up to you. You can keep it simple or add a column for everything under the sun.

Stylesheet purpose? 

To prevent mistakes that stand out like a pimple on your nose.

Ever read a book and a name changed midway? Cathy, Kathy, Kathie or Katy? Glaring mistakes like that will pull your reader out of the story in a flash.

I’m compiling my stylesheet as I write. This will help me find where an unusual word, phrase or name first appeared. When I’m ready to rewrite or edit, my stylesheet will help keep everything consistent.

No matter your genre, this can be an invaluable tool.  Fantasy, keep those made up countries and goblin are spelled correctly. Historical, names and places may have been spelled different a hundred years ago.

Want to know how easy it is to mess up? Even in this short blog post, I wrote stylesheet as one word in some places and as two words in other. Good grief! Now imagine catching that mistake in a 70,000-word novel.

Here is a snapshot of my writing stylesheet.

When my book is finished, I’ll print out my spreadsheet and refer to as I edit. Easier than trying to remember, flipping back and forth through a document. At least I hope so.

Why compile a stylesheet as you write?

Connie Jasperson said it best in a terrific post.

“I learned this the hard way. Making a stylesheet for a book after it has been written is a daunting task, and most editors will ask you for one when they accept your submission. Some editors refer to this as the ‘bible’ for that manuscript because all editorial decisions regarding consistency will be based on the spellings and style treatments you have established for your work.” Click here to read the entire post.#amwriting: ensuring consistency: the stylesheet, 2/14/2018 BY Connie J. Jasperson

Want more? Check out this article. Stylesheets—The Setup and the Benefits, July 12, 2011 by Beth Hill

Want to get really geeky? Read Chicago Manual of StyleChicago Manual Of Style Guidelines (Quick Study), or the Associated Press’s Stylebook (available on Kindle Unlimited.)

Okay now tell me, please…

Do you use stylesheets?

Have you used one in the past?

Do you think a stylesheet will help you avoid mistakes?

Had you heard about stylesheets before today?




8 thoughts on “This easy editing tip will blow your mind

  1. I tend to write names down. So that if I forget I can go back to my notes and remind myself. Sometimes I will pick something fairly unique or a name that I like at that present time. Sometimes if I have a name going round in my head I will use it and I have a small notebook in which I will write down various ideas in case I get stuck.

    Liked by 1 person

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