Ten Speed Press/Celestial Arts General Style Sheet
Style Sheet Updated: January
Refer to the following sources for
Ten Speed Press and Celestial Arts books:
- The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.)
- Merriam-Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary
Unless otherwise stated on this
style sheet, follow Chicago for matters of style (including capitalization).
Follow the first entry of Webster's for correct spelling and word
breaks. This style guide is used to clarify areas in which these
two works are vague, give more than one option, or where our house
style disagrees. The style guide is also used to highlight and clarify
commonly misunderstood rules.
Ten Speed Press is an author-centered
publishing house. Above all, our goal is to impart the author's
voice, personality, character, and vision. If the official style
does not feel right for a particular project, decisions can be made
on a case-by-case basis as long as the adopted style is used consistently.
If an author's stylistic quirks make sense for a book, Ten Speed
can accept variance from the official style. The key is to establish
a style for that author that will be used consistently throughout
Ten Speed Press is also an editorially
driven publishing house. We expect our books to stay in print many
years after their first publication. Therefore, the language, word
choice, and writing style of a book should reflect this permanence.
Our books should not be written in magazine style or in the trendy
language of the day.
- Use the serial comma.
- If a series is complicated and includes
commas, use semicolons between the elements: She's going to
visit Dallas, Texas; Malibu, California; and Rye, New Hampshire.
- Introductory prepositional phrases take
a comma: In his case, . . .
- When words such as however and therefore
start a sentence, they are followed by a comma if the sentence
is an interruption or if it suggests contrast with or continuation
of preceding material.
- Years within dates and the state name in
city-state combinations are set off with commas: He was married
on September 25, 1999, at a beautiful park in Berkeley, California,
not far from where he met his wife.
- Use commas to set off names if only one
such person exists: My husband, Matthew, . . . (only have one).
But, My aunt Carla . . . (if more than one are known, or if
the number is unknown).
- Commas and periods at the end of a quotation
are placed inside the quotation marks.
- A colon after a quotation is placed outside
the quotation marks.
- Question marks go inside quotes or parentheses
only if they are part of the quoted material: "Why are we here?"
he said. But, Did he really say, "I don't know"?
- If one parenthetical comment contains a
second parenthetical, brackets should be used for the interior
instance: (He ran to the east [toward home] with the dog behind
- Ellipses are formatted thusly: . . . with
spaces in between each point.
- If ellipses follow the end of a sentence,
a period is added directly after the last word of the sentence,
with no space: last word. . . .
- If the first word after ellipses points
is to be capitalized, four points are needed, with a space after
the last one: last word. . . . First word.
- If ellipses close a quotation, there is
no space between the last point and the closing quotation mark.
- Compound adjectives take hyphens (see exception,
next bullet), unless one part of the compound is composed of
two words, in which case, the compound adjective takes an en
dash: Berkeley-based company, San Francisco-based company.
- Compound adjectives in which the first word
ends in ly do not take hyphens: the fairly strong man.
- En dashes are used to connect continuing
numbers, dates, times, or reference numbers: pages 22-28, April-June
1973, 3-5 P.M., Luke 6:12-7:6. But, in running text: from page
22 to 28 (never: from page 22-28), between April and June (never:
- Omit periods after items in a vertical list
unless one or more items are complete sentences. Then, end all
the items with periods. The preferred style is to avoid using
commas or semicolons after items in a vertical list.
- Capitalize after a colon only if the material
introduced consists of more than one sentence, or if it is a
formal statement, a quotation, or a speech in dialogue. Otherwise,
the material should begin with a lowercase letter, even if it
is a complete, single sentence (CMS 5.103).
- Use the headline style for headers and titles.
The first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives,
verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because,
as, that, and so on) are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the),
coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions
(regardless of length) are lowercased unless they are the first
or last word. The to in infinitives is lowercased.
- Both words of a compound word in a header
or title should be capitalized.
- In passing reference and in cross-references
within a book, the various pieces of the book are set in roman
type, without quotation marks, and are lowercased: the preface,
the introduction, chapter 6.
- Popular and legendary names of places are
capitalized and are not enclosed in quotation marks: Bay Area,
Lake District, West Coast.
- The four seasons are not capitalized: spring,
summer, the winter solstice.
- Academic degrees and honors are capitalized
when following a person's name: Steve Stanhope, Doctor of Economics;
Kathryn Dusek, Fellow of the Royal Academy. But, academic degrees
referred to in general terms are not capitalized: doctorate,
bachelor's degree, master of science.
- Titles and offices are capitalized when
they immediately precede a personal name or are standing in
for the name entirely: Princess Grace. Senator Boxer. Yes, Princess,
I will call the maid.
- Titles and offices are not capitalized when
they are not used as part of the name. The princess asked me
to call the maid. The senator from California. The president
of the United States; Jimmy Carter, the president of the United
States; the presidency.
- Mother, father, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa,
and so on are only capitalized when used in place of a name:
Did you hear my dad sing? Did you hear Dad sing?
- Capitalize the first word of items in a
- A.M. and P.M. always appear in small caps,
with the periods.
- Punctuation, including quotation marks,
parentheses, and brackets, follows the formatting (bold, italics)
of preceding words. If the entire material within quotation
marks or parentheses is in italics, both opening and closing
marks should be as well. However, if the beginning of the enclosed
material is in roman, both marks should be roman, even if the
last word is in italics.
- If foreign words are likely to be unfamiliar
to the reader, they are italicized throughout (not just on the
first occurrence), unless the word is a proper noun or can be
found in an English dictionary. When translating a foreign word,
the English translation should be enclosed in parentheses directly
following the first usage of the word: They call it a boulangerie
- When a word or term is used as a word and
not to impart its actual meaning in the sentence, it should
be set in italics: The word cuisine was misspelled on the jacket.
- When a proper name is set in italic type,
its possessive ending is set in roman: Lurline's.
- Individual letters should be italicized
unless they are letter grades, then they are set in roman type
and capitalized: I wrote an a on the paper. I got an A on the
- The following titles or names are
- Albums: The Beatles' Rubber Soul
- Paintings, drawings, statues, and other
works of art.
- Long poems that have been published
on their own and poetry collections: Paradise Lost.
- Operas and long musical compositions:
- Ships, but not any preceding initials:
- TV series: ABC's NYPD Blue.
- The following titles or names are set in
roman type with quotation marks:
- Short poems: "Ode on a Grecian Urn."
- Songs: "Thriller."
- TV and radio shows shown once: the ABC special "Finding
- Use a before consonants and words that begin
with a yew sound. Use an before nouns that begin with a vowel
or words and abbreviations that are pronounced as if they begin
with vowels: a huge dog, a UNICEF volunteer, an M.A. candidate,
an hour. But, a historic day.
- Who versus whom? Simple difference: whom
is an objective pronoun (functions as the object of the sentence
or of a preposition); who is a subjective pronoun (functions
as the subject of the sentence). Whom should I send this to?
Who will buy this book? Therefore, "Whom may I say is calling?"
is incorrect, though you may say, "To whom am I speaking?"
- That versus which? That is used when the
clause is necessary to the meaning of the sentence (a restrictive
clause). Which is used when the clause could be omitted without
changing the meaning of the sentence (a nonrestrictive clause).
Commas are not used to set off that statements; commas are used
to set off which statements: The book that I brought today is
on my desk. That book, which I've always loved, seems to have
- Although versus though? This one's a fine
line. Both can be used as conjunctions, meaning "in spite
of the fact that," "even though," "while,"
and "even if." Though can also serve as an adverb
(although cannot) meaning "however" or "nevertheless."
- In general, Ten Speed's preference is to
use B.C.E. (before the common era) and C.E. (common era) rather
than B.C. and A.D. These terms are always in small caps, with
the periods. However, the latter terms may be used per the author's
preference or according to the content of the book.
- Do not use et al., etc., i.e., or e.g. in
running text. In many cases, and so on can be substituted. (For
e.g., i.e., etc., and so on, be sure to include the periods
and a following comma.)
- Toward, afterward, backward-these don't
have an ending s.
- Use resume or résumé, per the author's preference.
- A piece of text in the front of a book is
a foreword, not a forward.
- The following word choices are preferred:
- Acknowledgments (not Acknowledgements)
- African American (not African-American;
same rule applies to other ethnic groups)
- coauthor (not co-author)
- Contents (not Table of Contents)
- farmers' market (not farmer's market
or farmers market)
- most important (not most importantly)
- September 11 (not 9/11 or 9-11)
- traveler (not traveller)
- vendor (not vender)
- Possessives with proper nouns ending in
"s" are formed by the addition of an apostrophe and
an "s": Lorena Jones's, Dick Bolles's. But, exceptions:
Jesus' and Moses', and names with an ending pronounced eez:
- Like common nouns, closely linked proper
names may be treated as a unit in forming possessives: Oakland
and Berkeley's transportation system. But, Berkeley's and San
Diego's transportation systems.
- As much as possible without causing confusion,
plurals are formed by simply adding an s: the ABCs, he got straight
Cs, the 1970s, CODs, YMCAs. But, in the cases of abbreviations
with more than one period or formations that might be confusing,
an apostrophe and an s are used: Ph.D.'s, p's and q's, he got
straight A's (without the apostrophe, could be read as as).
- Collective nouns such as audience, committee,
company, couple, team, and variety are singular: The committee
is made up of parents and teachers. In these causes, singular
pronouns are used: it, not they.
- Company names are singular and should have
a singular verb: Ten Speed Press is a leading Bay Area book
publisher. It has been in business for thirty years.
- Don't use very with absolute terms such
as unique, complete, rare, and perfect.
- If an abbreviation has become a recognized
word and is pronounced as a word, the periods are omitted, except
when there may be confusion: NATO, UNICEF, W.H.O.
- When letters within a single word are used
in abbreviation, they do not have periods: TV, IV, DDT, TB.
- Washington, D.C., should include the periods.
- Personal initials should have spaces between
the letters: H. T. White.
- "Turn of the century" is no longer
a clear term or modifier. It must be accompanied by the century
number: "Turn of the nineteenth century" would mean
the beginning of the 1900s.
- Spell out whole numbers from one to ninety-nine
and these numbers followed by hundred, thousand, hundred thousand,
million, billion, and so on: five; fifty-three; fifty-three
thousand; twenty million; 132; 100,000.
- Numbers with similar functions in a sentence
should be treated consistently, regardless of whether or not
they are above or below 100: On my street, there are 6 apartment
buildings, 23 businesses, and 130 single-family homes.
- Always spell out a number at the beginning
of a sentence. If it seems clumsy, reword the sentence.
- Dates in running text are written as cardinal
numbers: 8 April or April 8, not 8th April or April 8th.
- Fractions in running text should be written
out: three-quarters of the boys have crew cuts.
- Numerals are always used with percentages,
but the percent sign should not be used in running text: 50
- Ages are hyphenated only if used as adjectives:
four-year-old boy, a four-year-old (the noun is assumed). But,
He's four years old, he's thirty-six years old.
- Refer to decades as: the 1950s (note, no
apostrophe) or the fifties.
Don't include http//: before web addresses
unless the address does not begin with www.
Web addresses should not be hyperlinked.
Web addresses should be set in roman unless
otherwise specified by the editor.
In general, names of web companies should
follow the spelling the company itself uses: Yahoo!, iWon.
If the name of a web company with an initial
lowercase letter starts a sentence, that letter should be capitalized
(or the sentence should be recasted so the company name is not
the first word).
Web addresses should not be broken at the
end of a line. If one is, don't hyphenate it. If a URL must
break, break it after a slash if possible.
If an email address must break, break it
after the @ sign but before the dot. However, the best option
would be to recast the sentence so the break isn't necessary:
- CCing, CC'd
- chat room
- Internet, the Net
- web (adjective)
- web designer
- World Wide Web, the Web (proper noun)
While domain names (the first part of the
address: www.tenspeed.com) are not case-sensitive, URL pathnames
(everything that follows the first forward slash) are case-sensitive.
So pay close attention to correct capitalization in URL pathnames:
for example, www.degree.net/Accreditation_Guide (because Accreditation_guide
Style computer keys roman with initial caps:
Enter, Shift, and so on.
- Omit periods and colons after display lines,
running heads, or headings of any kind.
- Front matter folios are lowercase roman
numerals. Arabic numerals begin on the first page of the introduction
or of chapter 1 (this to be determined by the editor, based
on the centrality of the introduction content).
- Spaces on either side of em dashes should
be closed up.
- All quotation marks and apostrophes should
be curly (unless the typeface style isn't curly).
- Pages with four lines of text or fewer should
be marked as short and flagged for redesign.
- Rivers (white spaces running between words
down the page through several lines of type) caused by too-tight
leading and/or widely spaced words should be flagged for redesign.
- Loose lines should be flagged for redesign.
- If a subhead appears toward the bottom of
a page, it must be followed by at least two lines of text.
- Word blocks are when two or more phrases
- Hyphen blocks are when three or more hyphens
stack up at the end of a line.
- Widows of any length at the top of pages
are not acceptable.
- Orphans consisting of four characters or
fewer, including punctuation (or any word broken with a hyphen),
are not acceptable.
- First lines of paragraphs orphaned at the
bottom of pages are not acceptable.
- Bad breaks include the following:
- Breaks in hyphenated compounds at a place
other than the hyphen: big-mon/eyed.
- Breaks in words followed or preceded by
- Breaks in words in which the last syllable
contains only a silent e.
- Breaks in words in which only two letters
fall on the second line: laugh/ed, sign/ed.
- Breaks in words in which the last syllable
is three letters, one of them being a silent e: peo/ple.
- Breaks in words that may be misleading in
meaning if divided: wo/men, of/ten.
- One-letter breaks: e/vade.
- Breaks before the "n't" in a contractions:
- Breaks in personal names: Courteney C. Ar/quette,
T./S. Eliot (but Courteney C./Arquette and T. S./Eliot okay).
- Breaks before numeral suffixes-Henry/VIII-or
breaks in figures at a point other than a comma-1,422,0/00.
- Breaks that separate the month and day if
the year will appear on the next line. June/22, 1973 should
be rebroken to June 22,/1973.
- Breaks at the end of recto pages if the
break could disrupt reading flow.
- Breaks in a string of three or four ellipses
Copyright 2004, Lorena Jones, Ten Speed Press.