A good style sheet should be as much detailed as possible, covering all anticipated exigencies. And if a new one arises, rather than just trusting to one’s memory, enter the solution decided upon in the style sheet. That is, keep it updated, preferably with version numbers. You will realize the importance of this once you are deep into the project, especially if it’s a big one with hundreds of articles (e.g. encyclopedias). Trust me, you will find every case which you had imagined plus which you could never have imagined for each of the elements: and then the style sheet will bail you out. Or will enable you to take a decision quicker, based on what you had decided for a similar case earlier.

Ditto with a list of word choices and abbreviations. So you won’t forget whether you went for “marxist” or “Marxist”. Or whether “x-ray” or “X-ray” (and whether “X-Ray” at start of sentence). You might be engaged on more than one books/projects at the same time, and you might forget some of the decisions then. Running a search on your old files could be expensive in terms of time, and even not possible always. Again, when an abbreviation comes up in an article and you are sure about the context, you need not query the author for its expansion but straightaway insert it from your list of choices file (and maybe now query the author to confirm the change made).

You can write to me at av (dot) ankur (at) yahoo (dot) com for a sample style sheet and list of choices if you want to see what I mean. Or you could refer to Case Study I. Cheers!

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