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Common Style Issues

  Academic Degrees
  Close Quotes Exception
  Dialogue
  Ellipsis Points
  Em Dashes
  Footnote Placement in Text
  Gerunds
  hyphens
  Periods (Spaces After)
  Possessives
  Signs and Mottoes
  Words as Words
   

Style Sheets

If you are new to editing and proofreading, you'll be astonished by how much is up for debate by professionals. This is why a large volume such as The Chicago Manual of Style exists — to address sticky questions that may have more than one "right" answer.

Most people tend to think that there are hard-and-fast rules and a "right and wrong" — but there are actually many gray areas; these are decided by the publishing house's style sheet.

The Chicago Manual of Style devotes several pages just to hyphenated words forms alone, and most lay people are unable to distinguish among them. Add to this the fact that language changes VERY QUICKLY, even within one generation (what used to be wrong may now be okay and vice versa), and you can begin to see how much goes into the editing of a book.

Sources

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
The Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

Style Change

Notice how the word Teen-Agers is hyphenated in this newspaper article:

times headline

What used to be "correct" when you were a child (or even a few years ago) may have changed since then. Teen-agers (with a hyphen) was standard with The New York Times until relatively recently.