style guide

Writing “rules” are usually just styles

writing rules provoke response

Should you capitalize items in bullet points? Punctuate them? People have strong opinions about matters like these. However, most of the time, what they believe are inviolable rules are actually just styles and personal preferences. People get remarkably worked up about those “rules.” And as someone who creates copy for a living, it’s a constant … Read more


In a recent post, I talked about organizations that believe their preferred way of doing things represented the industry standards.  In a similar vein, I’ve done work for companies that have their own lexicons — even style guides spelling out exactly how things should be worded.

For example, I used to do a lot of work for some divisions of Amoco Oil (since absorbed by BP). Among the no-nos in their style guide was that you couldn’t refer to their primary product as gas. Even though the average  consumer may say, “I need to buy gas” and go to the gas station to pump ten gallons of gas into his gas tank, any materials produced by Amoco were required to reference “gasoline.”

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