January 9, 2009
I have a colleague who is a self-confessed comma hog. In her view, any sentence worth its salt requires, at a minimum, three, or possibly four, commas. She also appears to have completely abandoned the hyphen in coordinate and cooperate, for no particular reason at all.
I know someone else on campus who readily admits to suffering from a serious case of Capitalization Creep. The most Obvious Symptom is Capitalization of Just About Everything, for No Particular Reason at All.
It is in part for these people that University Communications has produced a new and improved version of the University of Saskatchewan Editorial Style Guide. Designed to be a quick reference for writers with style afflictions or questions, the guide is also an effort to encourage consistency in how we present information for and about the University of Saskatchewan.
But in reality, this is a diverse and complex institution, and there will be always be exceptions. The guide, therefore, is just that, a guide rather than a set of firm rules about writing style, but it will help with some of the common style conundrums.
It covers, among other topics, using the double "l" (fulfil and fulfilled, compel and compelled), when to capitalize and When Not to Capitalize, the difference between historic and historical, and why a hyphen is appropriate in co-ordinate and co-operate ("Use hyphens when the word following the prefix begins with the same vowel as the word with which the prefix ends …"). And yes, according to Section 7.6 of the guide, the period at the end of the previous sentence does go outside the closing parentheses. Also, italics should be used sparingly (Section 4.1.1).
As you can well imagine, finding consensus on questions of editorial style is no easy feat, but the debates were both enlightening and entertaining. Many thanks to those who took the time to challenge, correct and otherwise contribute to the guide.
Just as language evolves and changes with use, so will this style guide. Part of the job of University Communications now is to collect feedback from guide users, evaluate changes in style and update the document from time to time to ensure it remains useful and relevant. Feel free to send queries, comments or suggestions to University Communications at 966-6607 or email@example.com.
You will find the new U of S editorial style guide on the communications website, www.usask.ca/communications.