For those who don’t know, a style guide is a document for you to keep track of specific terminology or grammatical style choices for a text or organization. For specific pieces of work, like an individual book, they are also often referred to as style sheets.
There are a lot of choices to make when writing a book: How is this person’s name spelled? Is this term capitalized? What about italicized? The number of choices go up immensely when you write fiction, and even more than that in genres like fantasy or science fiction due to the nature/need for world-building. So then questions can grow to ones like: What is the name of this country and all of the cities in it? Did I create a spell like this already? Did I add any diacritics to any of these words?
There are literally zero limits to what a style guide can keep track of for you, but keep in mind, it is only as helpful as you let it be. When in doubt, always choose to include an item in it. It might make for a longer guide, but it is better to have the information documented for future reference than to have to go scrolling through your entire manuscript to find it. And please, for your own sanity, organize your style guide. Do not just drop random words with no context into a Word document.
And if you have questions about how to style certain elements, or have any other questions about choices regarding style, you can find some great resources in my post, Writer Resources: Style Choice.
While it’s hard to design a universal guide, as each piece of work has such specific needs, I’ve created a template below that you can download and customize for your manuscript.
Happy writing. You got this.