December 19, 2023 in 

House style, as used in the book and publishing business, generally refers to a set of standards or guidelines established by a publisher or publishing house to ensure consistency in the formatting and presentation of their publications. It allows every work published by that same publisher to be recognized as belonging to a uniform brand.

These guidelines can cover numerous elements such as grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, hyphenation, font usage, and citation methods. They ensure that all titles produced by a particular publisher have an identical appearance and feel regardless of who the author or editor was.

The purpose of a house style is to establish a recognizable visual and editorial identity for the publisher, helping to brand and build a reputation by making readers’ books identifiable as part of its list and ensuring a consistent reading experience. It also streamlines editing and production; when editors or proofreaders know they’re working on one publishing program among many, they don’t have to work out from scratch what kind of required standards.

It’s worth noting that different publishers will prefer different things regarding house style; some may be more informal or innovative in their styling decisions, while others may be very traditional or strict. What unites all house styles is that each publishing company wants consistency within its titles.

When an author submits their manuscript to the publisher’s editor, there will, therefore, usually already be a set of rules dictating how copy should look – unless deviating from them has been specifically discussed with your editor in advance (for example, because you’re submitting something so leftfield it requires special treatment). Following these house style rules ensures that your manuscript fits into the overall vision for the booklist you want it published on – which enables other people at the publisher’s end to do their jobs more efficiently.

House style is vital in maintaining consistency within individual lists while creating an identity most people might not actively notice. Still, it certainly helps: if applied correctly throughout a title’s life cycle, it could even help someone pick up one branded book following another next time around.

Related Entries