Until today, I had never heard of a manuscript style sheet. I was introduced to this term in a post by Mary Robinette Kowal about her upcoming book: Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor, 2010). While you’re there, why not visit the rest of Mary’s site to learn more about her and her work.
In the world of information technology a style sheet is a master file used to easily manipulate the look-and-feel of an entire graphical user interface system (e.g. a blog, website, certain software applications), but in the world of publishing the style sheet (a.k.a. “style guide”) serves as a set of standards or conventions for a particular manuscript. (See this Wikipedia article for more on this.) You can also read an excellent post about them on Deanna Hoak’s blog!
I appreciate Mary sharing this and even posting a .pdf of the “Shades” style sheet to her blog. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the publishing process for those of us still working towards it. As I read over it, the character, place and term indexes are what really stood out for me.
Like many writers, I maintain my own private list of “things to keep in mind” when I’m revising a manuscript. Thanks to Mary, now I’ve got a few more.