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The Oxford Guide to Style
ISBN 0198691750 / 9780198691754 / 0-19-869175-0
Publisher Oxford Univ Pr
List price $29.95
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This immensely detailed and eclectic second edition of The Oxford Guide to Style is a descendant of Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers, first published in 1893. Inevitably the strict tone now nods a little more than it used to towards description of a changing language and has shifted slightly away from the unadulterated prescription of rights and wrongs. Thus, it is now acceptable to be addressed as Mrs Susan Elkin (not Mrs--husband's forename--Elkin) even if you're not a widow or a divorcee. You may also use contractions such as "isn't" even in quite formal writing and omit the full stops in--for instance--OBE.
Intended primarily for use by anyone who is preparing a book for a publisher--especially but not necessarily OUP--the Guide has 16 sections ranging from Languages and Specialist subjects to Indexing and preparation of copy and proofs. Anyone who works with, or is fond of, words would find it useful and interesting. At the same time the Guide doubles as a rather good general reference book. Where else could you find in a single volume an American-English mini dictionary, chemical symbols, Greek letters, standard abbreviations for names of publications--and a commendably clear account of the vexed question of whether or not, and when, you should capitalise words derived from proper nouns such as "Hellenic", "pasteurise" or "Dickensian"? And if you want to play Call My Bluff there's some wonderfully esoteric vocabulary here. Consider colophon which is "a publisher's emblem, device or imprint". And did you know that ^ is a caret? --Susan Elkin [via]