19 Create a Style Sheet

A style guide should be used when writing an open textbook to ensure that style and formatting is consistent throughout the work. (See Appendix 2: Style Guide.) Style guides usually include citation style as well, i.e. how cited or referenced material should be treated both in the text (in-text) and within the reference list. Commonly used style guides include,

  • APA Style [New Tab]. APA (American Psychological Association) style is typically used to cite and style works in the social sciences and education.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style Online [New Tab]. Chicago style is most often used to cite and style works in the humanities. This style was developed by the Chicago University Press in 1906. [1]
  • MLA Style Manual [New Tab]. MLA (Modern Language Association of America) style is most frequently used to cite and style works in the literary and humanities fields.
  • The Canadian Press Stylebook [New Tab]. The Canadian Press style is the standard for style guide for those working in the media and communications.

In addition to selecting a style guide, it is advised that a style sheet be created and updated throughout the writing process. A style sheet is a record of the styling and formatting exceptions for your textbook, such as spelling choices, selection and placement of learning objects, and differences in punctuation, layout, and style from the style guide. Frequently used style elements can also be noted on the style sheet for easy reference, especially during the copy editing and proofreading stages.

How to set up and use a style sheet

Here is a template you can use to set up the style sheet for your open textbook:

  1. Download the above style-sheet template and fill out as much information as possible, including book title, author, copy editor, and proofreader.
  2. Add or remove items as they pertain to your book. These might include:
    1. exercises (and how to format them)
    2. back matter and/or appendix information and how to label each
    3. key terms: how and when to highlight them in the text body and if they should be summarized in an end-of-book glossary
  3. In addition to different or additional styles and formatting, you can list:
    1. styling issues included in the style guide, but repeated in the style sheet for easy reference
    2. the correct usage of grammar and spellings that are often inaccurate
  4. Change and update the style sheet throughout textbook production. Update the style sheet each time you make changes or add to it and share it with your team.
  5. When the book is finished, date the style sheet and mark it as the “final copy.” This reference document can be shared as part of your textbook when it’s published.

  1. "What is Chicago Style?" University of Pittsburgh: University Library System, http://pitt.libguides.com/c.php?g=12108&p=64732 (accessed January 3, 2018).


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