by David Marsh (London: Guardian Books, 2nd rev. ed. 2007): 362pp (hbk), £16 (3rd ed.), ISBN 978 0 85265 086 8.
Reviewed by Sara Hulse
Although not an avid newspaper reader (how does anyone find the time?), when I do read one it is the Guardian - so I suppose I'm something of a fan.
This is an expanded and updated edition of the Guardian style book, developed for use by its journalists and the first to be made publicly available. The book blurb states that the Guardian is 'one of the world's most stylishly written and edited newspapers', although it does have something of a reputation for editorial bloomers, so the fact that it has a style guide at all may be a surprise to some.
Like many style guides I've come across, it has a couple of really useful short chapters on things like web style and writing good headlines, but these are hidden away within the text (and not even listed in the contents pages). So, unless you happen to come across them while browsing, they are likely to remain hidden. (There isn't an index, either!)
I only found out about the web style section because it is mentioned on the inside flap of the book. I have to say that I don't agree with its description as 'an authoritative section on editing for the web' – it is, in fact, only a few pages long. Also, I wouldn't think of looking for this sort of information in a book like this, so wonder about its usefulness.
Like any style guide, this one is a mine of (useful?) information, and there will be things you agree with and things you don't, things that fit in with the style of whatever you're working on and things that don't. But the book is a useful additional source of guidance to have on your bookshelf – although it's hard to see why anyone would spend £14.99 on the hard copy when the whole thing is free online – as the introduction to the book itself states, it is 'freely available to all at the click of a mouse'. But I guess there will always be those who prefer to have a real book to consult.