Russell from Cape Town writes:
As a rank novice to the world of writing, and one purely for work purposes not for literature, I was wondering where you gain access to so many style guides. Can you suggest some free guides to download?
The two most frequently cited American style guides are the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law and the Chicago Manual of Style. Both have online editions, but they are not free. Individual annual subscription rates: AP Stylebook $25; CMOS $30.
The current Amazon price for the print edition of the 2009 AP Stylebook is $11.37. I paid $18.95 for my copy earlier this year. The AP book is very easy to navigate so I don’t see any advantage to subscribing online.
The usual price for the print edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is $55. Amazon has it for $33.65 at the moment. For me the search feature of the online edition is worth the $30 subscription fee.
For our readers who use British English, the BBC has a free downloadable PDF: The BBC News Styleguide.
Another British online freebie is the Guardian, Observer and guardian.co.uk Style Guide.
A free nonacademic online American style guide is the National Geographic Style Manual.
An old edition of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is available free at Bartleby.com/. Be aware that changes have been made in more recent editions.
In addition to the AP Stylebook and the CMOS, I sometimes refer to the free Purdue writing lab known as OWL, but I don’t seem to be able to find things there as easily as I do in CMOS.
OWL is probably the most comprehensive university guide out there, but many other universities offer style guides based on AP and CMOS, Many of these are available as downloadable PDFs. Most rely heavily on the AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style. Here are a few:
U of Alaska Style Guide: based on AP Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
University of Buffalo Marketing Toolbox: apparently oriented towards business writing
U of Colorado at Boulder Style Guide: intended as a general guide for print and electronic media, but not as a replacement for more specialized guides.
Gustavus Adolphus College:an eclectic guide based on the AP Stylebook, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and the Chicago Manual of Style.
Ithaca College Office of Marketing Communications: downloadable Editorial Standards
University of Kentucky Style Guide: downloadable PDF “conforms largely to the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, but it contains exceptions to both AP style manual and The Chicago Manual of Style.”
Lafayette College Style Guide: links in convenient outline form