Monthly Archives: February 2016

Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith

Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith

Hooray! I’m thrilled to finally share an update with my lovely friend Annabelle Beckwith of Yara Consulting and Never Mind the Buzzwords, who regular readers will remember I’ve known since our very first day at university, [many] years ago. I honestly wouldn’t have predicted that we’d both be running our own businesses now, in different areas but facing many of the same challenges. I think we both thought Anna would be an actor or On The Telly in some way, and I was obviously going to be a librarian … anyway, Anna’s been very busy so this is a bit of a late catch-up, but I’m very glad to still have her in the series. I first interviewed Anna back in 2012 and again in May 2013 and the last update was in September 2014 (I did speak to her in between, promise!). Last time I interviewed Anna, this was her plan for the upcoming year: “I want to be working with more clients on longer-term programmes, and able to invest more money in marketing and PR.” Has she achieved that goal? Let’s find out …

Hello, Annabelle! So … are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year (and a bit) ago?

Yes and no – I’m still in the same line of business, writing and delivering training programmes for various corporate clients, but have had a slight change in direction and focus!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still working with Iain and other colleagues on specific consultancy and projects, but last year I joined an organisation called Entrepreneurial Spark (there are Espark centres cropping up up and down the country). It’s a business acceleration programme that provides free coaching and support to new and growing businesses.

They’ve encouraged me to develop my own products … which I’ve been working on for several months, and which are nearly ready to launch! One is aimed at the corporate sector, and one is geared towards personal development. I’m also working on another joint project which revolves around creating some VERY interesting learning environments.

To reflect all this, I’m in the process of changing from Yara Consulting to Yara Journeys. Watch this space!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned massive amounts for the other companies and entrepreneurs at E-Spark, as well as from the coaches and mentors. I’ve often got to the point when I’ve been developing new ideas in the past of thinking ‘actually, this is rubbish!’ and just leaving them half done. This time, I’ve followed a process, tested my product and am confident from the feedback I’ve received that it’s a go-er.

I’ve been through some huge personal changes in the past year – in many respects what I knew a year ago simply wasn’t enough for what I’m doing now, if that makes sense.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Have courage in your own ideas. Test them out. Find your niche – don’t try to be all things to all people. Strive to stand out from the rest of the field.

BONUS question for other small business owners …

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve encountered and overcome?

I’m really glad that Annabelle’s found a community of business people she can work with and be inspired by. I have to admit that I’ve let personal development in my business slide a little recently, although I’ve been modifying my schedule planning slightly … but it looks like this has come at just the right time, especially for someone in a business where things are constantly changing and adapting to fit in with customer needs and new directions in training and personal development programmes. I look forward to hearing all about the change in direction for Yara and Anna’s new products!

Annabelle’s business collaboration, Never Mind the Buzzwords can be found online at and on Facebook. The Yara Consulting website can be found at  and she has a blog, too. Anna can be contacted via email or her contact page online.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on February 27, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Can I edit what I am not? Editing outside your direct sphere of knowledge

DictionariesThis year so far, I’ve worked on, among other things, a book about Black history in the UK, incorporating a number of responses in prose, poetry and rap which reflected the spoken norms of inner city youth; a project about (very) experimental architecture; and a book giving advice to gay men on dating and relationships. I’ve transcribed interviews with bands I know nothing about, and I’ve localised texts about items I’m never going to use. As a straight, white woman who is not an experimental architect, doesn’t follow those bands and is unlikely to use a remote-controlled helicopter, should I have engaged with these texts where I was quite clearly the “Other” in the relationship or knew little about the topic? Or should I stick very closely to what I know?

I think it’s fine to edit and otherwise work on texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you’re flexible, keep the audience in mind, are willing to learn and keep an open mind. I also think that there are limits to what you can work on, and I’ll talk about that, too.

Why I think it’s OK to edit outside your direct experience

It’s my personal opinion that it’s OK to edit texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you bear a few things in mind.

  • Be flexible. The language of an inner-city rap poet might not be the same as your own casual register, let alone the register you use for formal academic writing. Think about the conventions of what you’re working on, not your own preconceptions, go with the flow and keep things consistent and clear (which is the editor’s mantra anyway)
  • Be open-minded. The advice given in a dating book on apps for hooking up with people might be way beyond your comfort zone as a happily married, middle-aged woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and it’s wrong, or bad, it’s just different. Which leads on to …
  • Think of the audience. What will the readers of this book want? Is the relaxed style with all the I’d and should’ve contractions something that they will feel more comfortable with? Leave those in.
  • If you’ve got a good amount of life experience and a solid general knowledge, that will see you a long way into an unfamiliar topic.

Why I think it’s positively GOOD to edit outside your direct experience

The good editors I know are wise in knowing what they don’t know and seeking to expand their knowledge. They love to learn. What teaches you more than grubbing around in the very innards of a text on something you never even knew existed? There are other positives, too.

  • By approaching the text as the “Other” (while retaining a sensible approach to the privileges you might have as someone who is not usually the “other”), you might be able to suggest subtleties or pick up on attitudes that are going too far the other way. Maybe you can help reassure an author and their readers that people outside the core audience DO understand / empathise.
  • More importantly and commonly, the aim of all writing should be to be clear and express its author’s intentions clearly. So if you, as an outsider, don’t understand the text, maybe it does need to be simplified a little. If I don’t understand something on the second or third go, I’ll pop a comment in the margin that this might need to be clarified.
  • I think I have a tendency to edit better and more carefully when I’m working on something slightly unfamiliar. It’s like editing your own writing: if you really know the topic, you tend to see what you expect to read, and may skim over errors. I know I have this propensity, so I work extra hard on texts on known topics, and try not to enjoy the process too much at the expense of doing a good job!
  • You learn all sorts of things that might be useful in your everyday life, the next thing you edit, or even pub quizzes. Your next client will benefit from that extra knowledge (or maybe the one after that – I edited a load of texts on Agile working a few months ago, so can cheerfully say I know all about it when another prospective text comes in).

When I think it’s NOT good to edit outside your direct experience

There are some occasions when I do think a text is best left alone. Complete incomprehension of a technical topic or genre is not going to make for a good editing process. I pass those jobs along to a colleague (and get some co-opetition karma in the process). Examples in my own work of jobs I’ve turned down have included:

  • A book all about optimising your motor vehicle engine use, with lots of diagrams and examples. I know nothing about this, and there was little value I could add to something so technical.
  • A localisation job where I would have had to research European legislation on a topic I knew little about to start off with, and match it up to US legislation. That’s too dangerous to mess with.
  • Editing novels in genres I am not familiar with myself such as romance and science fiction – you do need to know your genres if a book is to be edited to fit into them. I’ve actually pretty well stopped working on fiction apart from the odd thriller for an on-going client, as they are pretty well all in genres where I know someone else will do a better job.
  • Specialised transcription – medical and legal in particular. I’ll cheerfully type about makeup I don’t wear or economic policy that can be checked easily, but I don’t go near the specialised terminology used in medical and legal transcription.

In summary … in my opinion, it’s good to stretch the boundaries of the areas you work on and to edit and otherwise work with texts on topics that are unfamiliar, unless the level of technical or specialist content is high enough that you are floundering and uncomprehending. In that case, there’s always someone who  knows more about the topic that you can pass it on to. Happy learning!

What are your thoughts on the subject?


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Small business chat update – Ruth Badley

Small business chat update – Ruth Badley

We’re off to the sunny land of Dubai today, which is where Ruth Badley of Ruth Badley PR was about to move when we last caught up with her in January 2015. When I asked her then where she hoped to be now, she replied,  “Definitely in a warmer place! I hope to continue the work I am currently doing whilst also taking time to immerse myself in a totally different way of life, in a location which offers so many new and exciting possibilities. I don’t think I would be wise to predict where my business will be in a year’s time but I am looking forward to finding out.” Well, she’s certainly moved by now – let’s see how she’s getting on.

Hello, Ruth! You were about to move when we caught up last. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I relocated from the UK to Dubai through my husband’s job, around this time last year. The first few months here were dominated by the official processes required for residency status and then finding somewhere to live. The pros and cons of Dubai’s residential districts are quite difficult to unravel from the UK, so a year ago I would never have dreamed I would be living just across the road from the Burj Khalifa. The world’s tallest building is an elegant and inspiring piece of architecture and a major visitor attraction. I soon established an outdoor home ‘office’ area on my balcony so I could look at this man-made wonder during my screen breaks! An outdoor office is understandably something of a novelty for anyone moving from the UK and one I was able to exploit to the full – until the temperatures started to rise. I year ago I didn’t expect to have taken on any local work but this has happened through a new contact I made in the first few months of arriving here.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

As far as my business is concerned, it has been a very smooth transition to a new location with business very much as usual. My clients and contacts are based in the UK and mainland Europe and I have continued to work with them. The main changes are to my working day and the working week.  At this time of year there is a four-hour time difference between Dubai and the UK. In practical terms this means that if I send an email to the UK at 10am my time, I cannot expect an immediate response because it is only 6am in the UK! I therefore tend to do most of my client work in the afternoons and evening.  I like having the morning relatively free for planning or my own projects. At busy times it is often handy to know I can still catch people at their desks in the UK, even when it is 9.30pm here.

The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday so the weekend is Friday and Saturday. I am still getting used to that and Sundays always confuse me. Some of my clients are very clued up about the weekend traditions in the Middle East and often apologise for contacting me on a Friday. I confess I might respond to emails on a Friday from a poolside location but I try not to rub that in too much!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned that there is more to life than work. I have a much better work/life balance here than in the UK. My expat experience is giving me more time to explore personal projects that had been put on the backburner in the UK.  I wish I had known a year ago how many friends we would make in the first year here – getting to know people from so many diverse backgrounds and nationalities is something I hadn’t expected and has made settling in to life here a lot more interesting.

Extra question: What question would you most like to ask your fellow small business owners?

I am hearing a lot about proposed changes relating to tax return information affecting small business owners. I would like to know what the views are on the changes and how they may play out as I will be returning to the UK in a couple of years.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I would like to share a book which I found helpful and thought-provoking. Great for anyone looking to refresh their approach to business or embrace a new direction: “Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life” by Spencer Johnson.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I am guessing I will still be here in a year’s time but thinking, and planning for, a return to the UK. It may be that timing our exit will be harder than I think. I keep meeting people who intended to stay in Dubai for just a couple of years but found that two has turned into five, six and counting. My husband is too near retirement age for that to be a realistic option but we shall see. Expats cannot remain resident in Dubai without a job so retirement here is not an option. If my clients still want me to work with them I hope to continue my business, wherever I am.

UPDATE March 2017 When I contacted Ruth for her update, she bowed out of the project. She told me that in the last year she has taken forward several personal, creative writing projects and cut back her business activity considerably as a result. They are returning to the UK later this year and she will be semi-retired by that stage. I wish Ruth and her husband all the very best of luck for this new and relaxed stage in their lives.

It’s lovely to hear how well Ruth has settled in to her new home and country, isn’t it! I have to admit that while I could work anywhere, given that I work remotely with clients all over the world and very rarely meet them physically or even speak to them on the phone, I’m quite wedded to my life in the Midlands and don’t think I’d like to up sticks. It’s good to know that location doesn’t matter, though, just in case.

I’m not sure I can answer Ruth’s extra question; I think they’re planning on bringing in taxation based on what you’ve taken in during the year rather than what you’ve invoiced (which can be very different), but as I run things on the latter basis, it would probably be complex for me to swap over. I’d love to know what other people think, though!

You can find Ruth Badley PR online at and she’s also contactable via Twitter and email.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

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Posted by on February 20, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Welcome to an update with Kathy Ennis, business mentor and brand consultant from Kathy Ennis: Your Brand is You. I first interviewed Kathy back in May 2012 and updated her story in July 2013, then caught up with her again in August 2014. When I asked her then where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied,  “Bigger, better, bolder!” – which is nice and concise, isn’t it! When your business has been going for a while, it gets easy to stay in a pattern and harder to innovate, so I always find it interesting to see how people are doing. Kathy’s weathered a few storms during the year, but has adapted and come out even stronger than before … 

Hello, Kathy, good to catch up with you. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

It has been a good year and I am where I thought I would be. My aims were to introduce some new services, to streamline the way I work with my clients, to review my pricing structure, to review my business expenses and to increase my turnover / profit. All of which happened.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The biggest change was the closure of PRIME: The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise. I had been delivering their business start-up courses for mature-preneurs for three years, but the organisation ceased to exist in March 2015. Not only did I lose work that I absolutely loved – helping first-time, 50+ age group individuals on their first step into business – a big chunk of my income disappeared too. This made the streamlining of services and revisiting my pricing structure even more imperative.

What has stayed the same is my joy in running my own business, although it’s really hard a lot of the time!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I had some bad experiences this year where I put my trust in people and was sorely let down. Primarily it was a few clients who failed to pay for the work I did for them. That’s what makes it even more hurtful. However, I know that 99.9% of people are fantastic, so I cannot let these bad experiences have an impact on my customer relationships.

Any more hints and tips for people?

These are a few things I have been speaking to my clients about that may help:

  • Get to grips with the four key business questions – what am I selling, who am I selling it to, do they want it, how much will they pay for it? – and you will have a better business
  • Don’t keep looking for new customers, engage with the customers you already have and they are likely to come back for more
  • Create online resources – books, courses, downloads etc. – you can sell while you are doing other things
  • Network offline as well as online
  • Create systems, they save you time
  • Know how you spend your time – it’s the key to managing a small or micro business
  • Plan, plan, plan – and create fully measurable targets

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

You reminded me, Liz, that in 2014 I said “Bigger, better, bolder!” and to be honest I don’t believe I can think of anything better so I am going to stick with it through 2016.

I love that snappy list of bullet points – one that is useful for all of us, I’m sure – thank you, Kathy, for your generosity in sharing your learning points and those tips with us, and best of luck for the upcoming year!

You can email Kathy Ennis or phone her on 020 8529 0726 or 07815 951 585. Her website is at and she can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on February 13, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Welcome to an update to Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing, working full time as an editor with a dose of writing on the side. We first met Jane in November 2013 and updated ourselves on her new business venture in December 2014 – when I asked her where she wanted to be by now, she replied. “I hope my latest book will have been published, but nothing is ever certain in publishing. I would like to have a couple more corporate clients under my belt. I am very conscious I don’t make as much use of social media as I could, so I am putting together a plan (using your book!) to improve this. I’m also working on my CPD (Continuous Personal Development), which has been a bit neglected this year, and am researching courses and accreditations. To sum up, I want to be doing what I’m doing better, and taking it to more people”. Well, it’s always nice to have my own books mentioned, and let’s see how Jane has been doing … Oh, and don’t forget the EXTRA BONUS QUESTION – Jane’s got an interesting perspective on that!

Hello, Jane! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Pretty much! Corporate work continues to be my bread and butter, but I’ve also edited some excellent books, which I’ve really enjoyed.

The writing side of life has hit a minor block. My children’s book hasn’t been published as the publisher is experiencing something of a hiatus, but I am not, I find, particularly upset about that. I was asked on the back of that book to write another, but I absolutely hated it. I really don’t like writing fiction, and I now know that for sure. I have to say it’s a lot easier for my family if I’m not writing fiction, as apparently it was like living with a black cloud of gloom while I was attempting to write. I have started researching another non fiction book, and have written a proposal for it which is currently out with knowledgeable friends being assessed before I launch forth with it! And I am a cheerful happy bunny when researching, which I’m not when doing fiction, so that’s a win for everyone.

On the marketing side, I’ve done a new website, which I’m pleased with, had some professional pictures taken of myself (something I have put off for years because I loathe being on the other side of the camera), and so now have something I’m happy to direct people towards for more information.
I’ve also joined the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and will start their courses in the New Year.

As for social media, which I’d planned to make more of an effort with, that is still a bit of a slow burn. Doing a new website was the main thing I needed to achieve in order to kick start it. That I’ve done, so I’ve worked on my LinkedIn profile, and have planned a series of blog posts that I hope will prove useful to my clients. I have kept up with my social media profile as an editor/pony book expert, and that’s brought me some work.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still doing a lot of corporate work, but have also written and delivered a training course  on common punctuation and grammatical mistakes. I spent some years as a freelance trainer, so was relieved to find out that I could still do it! Technology has moved on somewhat since I last trained, and it has undoubtedly made life easier.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

One thing I’ve learned is not to discount skills you haven’t used in a while, like training, because they might well still be useful. I’m still thinking over whether I want to do more training – I hadn’t expected to do any at all, but I was asked and said yes. I don’t want it to become the mainstay of what I do, but as a controllable small element, I think it could work.

What do I wish I’d known a year ago? If you know you have a problem doing a certain thing (in my case, it’s marketing) you are going to have to keep chipping away at it and not assume because you’ve managed to overcome your aversion to doing it that that’s it – you’ve solved the problem. Because it is still there, and you still need to be aware that it is, and that you need to keep your eye on it.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Always be open to new suggestions – even if you dismiss them, investigating them can open your mind to other things you could be doing with your core business.

Extra question: What question would you most like to ask your fellow small business owners?

I always want to know how things are going for people, and this series answers that admirably! There isn’t, I think, any one particular thing that I want to ask people. When I talk to other small business owners, there’s often something they’re doing that I’m not, or they do something in a different way to me, so I ask them about that and how they find it works for them. That doesn’t mean that it’ll work for me, but it does give me more information on which to make a decision.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Still growing, I hope.

Jane seems to be doing admirably well, and I really like the way that older skills and interests are still playing a role in her business. I’ve used all sorts of things that I learned about years ago in my business – I learned how to do audio typing in 1992 and started using it for transcription jobs in 2010, for example!

Find Jane’s new website at

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Using a style sheet – for editors and proofreaders

DictionariesA little while ago, I wrote an article explaining what a style sheet was, mainly for my own clients, so I could send them a link when I sent their completed work and style sheet to them.

It struck me, though, that it might be useful to write about style sheets from the perspective of the editor / proofreader as well (I’m going to use “editor” to refer to both here, for simplicity, unless I’m distinguishing between the two).

I assume this will primarily be useful for people new to editing who are picking up tips from those of us who have been in the game a little longer. But whoever you are and however long you’ve been editing, do pop a comment below if you have anything to contribute!

What is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a list which spells out how things are to be done when writing and/or editing a text, including information on spellings, hyphenation and capitalisation, referencing and special information. Its aim is to keep texts consistent.

When you’re an editor, you will encounter three types of style sheet:

  1. Style sheets you receive from someone earlier in the process or general ones prepared by particular publishers, journals, etc.
  2. Style sheets you create yourself as you work on a project
  3. Style sheets created by the previous editor when you’re taking over a job or doing the proofreading for something that’s previously been edited (this is unfortunately rare, in my experience)

All three types serve the same purpose: to record the style decisions (more on this later) that have been made in order to keep the look, feel and detail of the text or texts consistent.

When you’re creating a style sheet, it might only be for a single use, for a single client (e.g. a PhD student). When one is created by a journal or publisher, it’s usually so that their “house style” will be consistent across publications and journal issues. But the idea is the same: it’s a tool that’s used to keep things consistent.

What do you mean by “style decisions”?

English is a funny old language. Even if you’re adhering strictly to one of the major style guides, (Chicago Manual of Style, Oxford Style, etc.), you will find there is still room for choice in some aspect of your text.

An example where even Oxford didn’t tell me what to do: I was editing a set of articles which included lots and lots of words and phrases in a different language to English. Each then had the English translation in some form before or after the foreign word. Of course, the articles were all written by different people who had used different ways to express this (word in italics / non-italics / double or single quotation marks and English in parentheses or not, italics or not, quotation marks or not). I was looking to make this consistent … but after some rules on what to do, Oxford told me to choose a way I did this as long as it was consistent!

There will also often be individual names, phrases, etc. in the text you’re editing which will need to be set out in a consistent way, which might not have rules.

An example where there can’t be any rules: your client has lots of interviewees and they’ve referred to them with a code to ensure anonymity. Do they put Respondent OH1, just OH1, OH-1, (OH1), [OH1], etc., etc.?

Although a client a while ago said that his first editor “kept it all in his head”, I prefer to note all of this down so I have it to refer to and keep things consistent.

What does a style sheet look like?

I’m sharing here an example of one of my own style sheets. Note that I have a little explanatory note at the top to explain what it is.

You can see that I set out the most common things that can differ (in my experience) and need noting down – s or z spellings, how the paragraphs are set out, how the headings and figure / table titles are set out, etc.

style sheet 1

In the second half, I go on to dates and numbers, how references are laid out, and some specific things to do with the particular text I’m working on.

style sheet 2

I find that a publisher’s style sheet is set out in the same way, although it might sometimes be online or a pdf with links.

If I’m working on a text destined for a particular publisher or journal article, if their own style sheet is very long and my text is quite simple and doesn’t need all that detail, I’ll often summarise the parts I need on my sheet anyway.

When should I set up a style sheet?

I set up one of these for any text that …

  • Isn’t for a publisher or journal that has its own style sheet
  • Is for a publisher or journal that has its own style sheet but that sheet is very long and complex and I can use a summary
  • Is more than a few pages long
  • Is being sent to me chapter by chapter (this happens with PhDs I work on)
  • Is going to form part of a larger body of work or a series (e.g. the regular publications of an organisation
  • Is being worked on with a colleague – this is quite rare but does happen

When and why should I send a style sheet to my client?

I pretty well always send the style sheet to my client along with my completed work.

I typically send it with a note in the email directing the client to my explanatory article, as I’ve found that most of my clients haven’t come across this before (I happen to work with a lot of students and self-publishers, as well as translation agencies; your experience may differ if you mainly work with publishers).

I will send the style sheet to my client if …

  • They’ve asked me a lot of questions about grammar and wording issues before we start (I will probably pop down the standard hyphenation and capitalisation rules on it if that’s the case)
  • They are likely to add to the text (for example if I’ve pointed out gaps or missing references)
  • They are sending me their work chapter by chapter – sending the style sheet with the first chapter can often nip certain issues in the bud, the client learns from it and they’ll be more consistent in the next chapter (I’m always so happy when this happens!)
  • They plan to send me regular publications, etc. – if they didn’t have a style sheet I provide one for their writers to use, making my work easier and less time-consuming and meaning they have less to correct
  • It’s a substantial document (more than a few pages)

Hopefully, having a style sheet from me will mean that the client will keep things more consistent in the future.

I do also mention that they should send this on to their proofreader if they’re planning to use one in the next stage of publication. This saves their proofreader from busily changing all the Chapter Ones to chapter 1 (or at least it explains that it was an active, considered choice on my part, and not an error).

Making changes to a style sheet

If I send my style sheet to my client mid-way through a project, for example with their first PhD chapter, I ask them to look through it carefully and let me know if there’s anything they’d like to change or they’re not happy with. Sometimes in this case I ask them questions (e.g. “You’ve used ‘Interviewee RD1’ and ‘RD1’ in equal numbers in your text; which one would you prefer to use throughout it?”). If they give me feedback, I record that, or if they ask to change something and their change does actually defy a stated grammar rule I will explain why I can’t.

Working with an established style sheet

If the text I’m working on is destined for a publisher or journal that has a full style sheet, I will of course obey that to the letter, to make things as easy as possible for the in-house editor or designer. Even if that means leaving footnote numbers before the punctuation, something I don’t like to do (but some publishers prefer).

If I’m proofreading a text that someone else has already edited, or I’m working on for example corrections in a PhD that someone else has worked on, I will use their style sheet to guide the changes I make. Even if I don’t approve of their decisions personally, as long as they don’t defy a rule of grammar, I’ll keep it consistent (even if I have to move a footnote number to before the punctuation!). I aim to make as few changes as I can at the proofreading stage, in order to keep corrections (and the chance of new mistakes creeping in) to a minimum.


I hope this post has been helpful and given you some more information about why we use style sheets, where they come from, setting up your own one and working with your style sheet with your clients. Do pop a comment at the bottom or like and share this article if you’ve found it useful and interesting!

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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Copyediting, Organisation, Word, Writing


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