Is it OK or okay?

Is it OK or okay?

Is it OK or okay? (For me, it's okay.)
Is it a coworker or a co-worker? (I choose coworker.)
Is it a café or cafe? (I prefer a good coffee in a café.)

Gods almighty. You wouldn't believe how many inconsistencies I found in my manuscript after writing a novel of nearly 154,000 words, not only in the spelling and usage of words but also in punctuation and typography.

Is it Poe's law, "Poe's Law," or Poe's law? (I choose single quotation marks.)
Is the product title "Peggy the Penguin" or Peggy the Penguin? (I choose italics.)
Is it Chris' face or Chris's face? (I write possessives with an s after the apostrophe.)

No matter what kind of book you write, writing in a consistent style is essential. Otherwise, your readers might be confused or annoyed. For this reason, I am busy creating my personal style sheet.

A style sheet is a guide used by copy editors (and authors) to ensure consistency in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting across a manuscript. It outlines specific rules tailored to a publication or audience, helping maintain a coherent voice and a cohesive style.

In most cases, copy editors create style sheets for the authors they work with. However, the most disciplined and neurotic writers (such as yours truly) prefer to take matters into their own hands and create a first version themselves.

Do I use American or British punctuation? (I picked American, though I don't like it.)
Do I stick to the serial (Oxford) comma? (Of course, I do!)
Do I put dialogue tags before or after the noun? (Well, that depends on the sentence.)

I suppose it helps that I sit somewhere "on the spectrum" (self-diagnosed). Unlike other authors, I enjoy the nitty-gritty details of tidying up my work and ensuring the consistency of my style. I also quite enjoy my autonomy as an author in deciding what is acceptable or not in my work.

The 3-point ellipsis ( … ) gets a space before and after.
The em-dash (—) gets no spaces on either side.
And all text messages are monospaced.

Why? Because I say so. It's my name on the cover of the book.

Tip: For an easy headstart with your style sheet, feed some portions of your writing into ChatGPT or Copilot and ask it to create a copy editor's style sheet based on your sample. It might surprise you with the patterns it finds in the way you apply punctuation, capitalization, or formatting,

For those interested, I will happily share my personal style sheet with you (once I finish it) if you promise to keep it confidential.

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Jurgen Appelo

"Eighty percent of everything is noise."