Most publishers have a style guide. This can influence and inform how a book is edited and proofread, by applying a consistent set of rules to the text in terms grammar, spelling, formatting, punctuation, etc.
Wordcatcher uses New Hart’s Rules – The Oxford Style Guide as the basis for authors and editors alike to work with. But, and this is a big but, there are some areas where the rules are more like guidelines than immutable laws, and open to interpretation or choice. So, as a supplement to a prescribed guide such as Hart’s, Wordcatcher has a supplementary list of criteria we apply.
The English language is rich and diverse, and has spawned sub-languages such as Australian and American English. Printing has also provided a legacy to the digital world in terms of terminology and jargon, some of which has no place in our new world of print technology. Knowing how to use hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes may seem irrelevant to some people, but lots of readers care deeply, and won’t be shy in leaving comments in a review if they are handled inconsistently. You won’t necessarily see comments when a book as been edited well, but you almost certainly will if it hasn’t.
Whether you intend self-publishing or working with a publisher it pays to understand the rules of the language, and the grey areas that might be open to interpretation or discussion. Ask before you submit for a style guide, and then learn the difference between those rules that are fairly fixed, and those that will require clarification.
Buy New Hart’s Rules from Amazon: *https://geni.us/harts-oxford
Warning – other style guides exist, this is just the one we use most frequently. If we were publishing an academic text by an American author we might choose a different guide to work with.