If you write fiction, you’ve probably heard about a Series Bible – this is a document where you keep all the detailed information about your world, characters, etc. Some authors have very extensive ones. They are very helpful for long series, as you can begin to lose track of the details over time. For nonfiction, a more helpful document is a Style Bible. This document keeps track of the styles you use that determine the appearance of your manuscript. The appearance of a manuscript is different than a published book, but either way consistency is helpful and the Style Bible will help you achieve this.

Using character and paragraph styles in your manuscript facilitates a smooth editing and formatting process. This will ensure consistent treatment of the elements of your book for increased comprehension for your reader, as well as a more cohesive appearance. These styles are named by what they govern: paragraph styles dictate the style of any amount of text before a carriage or hard return, while a character style dictates the style of the number of characters selected.

This is primarily for nonfiction, as some of those can have over 20 styles used. However, if you have a fiction manuscript, but have letters or texts or other areas of text you’d like to have special formatting applied to, the PDF examples will apply to those as well, you just won’t have as many as a nonfiction book, most likely! 

I’ve created a PDF that shows examples of some paragraph and character styles that you can download below. What you name your styles isn’t as important as using them consistently, and having the ability to share the details with your editor and formatter. I tend to like descriptive names, but you can name them Suzy and Fred, if you prefer. You’ll just need to be able to say that Suzy is indented like a block quote, and Fred is a heading within the text that is centered, bold, and has space above and below.

I hope you find this helpful!