Style Sheets

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In this guide, you may have come across the terms "style guide" and "style sheet" without understanding the different ways that we have been using those terms.

A style sheet is a record of the styling and formatting expectations for your textbook, such as spelling choices, selection and placement of learning objects, and differences in punctuation, layout. Frequently used style elements can also be noted on the style sheet for easy reference, especially during the copy editing and proofreading stages. Style sheets are useful when collaborating with others on a textbook, or when solo to maintain consistency. During the editing phase, a style sheet can be given to an editor who can use it as a guide for what to look for.

A style guide is a set of prescribed standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. The standards can be applied either for general use, or be required usage for an individual publication, a particular organization, or a specific field. For example, APA, MLA, and Chicago are all style guides used within specific disciplines.

Create a Style Sheet

Green Download.png Downloadable Templates

Here is a Pressbooks Style Sheet Template [Word file] that you can use to create your own Style Sheet, as well as an example of what a filled-out style sheet [Word file] looks like. Keep in mind what export formats you will be using as they may alter or restrict your design options.

This style sheet was adapted from the BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide Appendix 2: Style Guide.

  1. Download the above style sheet template and fill out as much information as possible, including book title, author, copy editor, and proofreader.
  2. Add or remove items as they pertain to your book. These might include:
    1. Exercises (and how to format them)
    2. Back matter and/or appendix information and how to label each
    3. Key terms: how and when to highlight them in the text body and if they should be summarized in an end-of-book glossary
  3. In addition to different or additional styles and formatting, you can list:
    1. Styling issues included in the style guide, but repeated in the style sheet for easy reference
    2. The correct usage of grammar and spellings that are often inaccurate
  4. Change and update the style sheet throughout textbook production. Update the style sheet each time you make changes or add to it and share it with your team.
  5. When the book is finished, date the style sheet and mark it as the “final copy.” This reference document can be shared as part of your textbook when it’s published.

The Pressbooks Style Sheet was designed to use the basic Pressbooks design elements, which are recommended for most textbooks. However, if there is something about the basic design that you would like changed, you can customize the design further by editing the CSS code for whichever theme you are using.

Style Sheet - Overall Considerations

A style sheet can get very complicated very quickly, so here are some terms which might need some clarification. They are presented in the same order that they appear in the style sheet template found above. The style sheet was created to be used with the Pressbooks publishing platform, but can be adapted to fit other platforms easily by deleting or replacing elements that aren't needed.

Style Guide

Example: Screenshot of APA Guidelines

Style guides are usually discipline-specific. Commonly used style guides include,

  • APA Style. APA (American Psychological Association) style is typically used to cite and style works in the social sciences and education.
  • Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago style is most often used to cite and style works in the humanities. This style was developed by the Chicago University Press in 1906.
  • MLA Style. MLA (Modern Language Association of America) style is most frequently used to cite and style works in the literary and humanities fields.
  • Canadian Press Stylebook. The Canadian Press style is the standard for style guide for those working in the media and communications.

In the Style Sheet

Fill in the sections of the style sheet that are influenced by the Style Guide that you chose like citations, references, and front and back matter. Style guides can also prescribe a specific date system, figure numbering, and sometimes spelling. Any deviations from the style guide should be noted.

Abbreviation List

Example: Screenshot of an abbreviation table, taken from the Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa open textbook.

A specific list of abbreviations that will be used throughout the textbook will help keep the writing consistent through the writing process and collaboration.

In the Style Sheet

Create a chart listing all of the words that you will be abbreviating and what their abbreviations are. You may want to consider including this abbreviation list as a part of your front matter.

Chapter Notes (Footnotes vs. End notes)

Example: Blueprint for Success in College and Career: v 1.3 by Dave Dillon contains footnotes.

Introduction to Psychology– 1st Canadian Edition by Charles Stangor and Jennifer Walinga contains end notes.

Footnotes are found at the bottom of the page of content which they refer to. End notes collect all notes at the end of the chapter in one place.

Pressbooks only allows for footnotes in web versions of textbooks, but has an option to have end notes in the PDF export of the textbook.

In the Style Sheet

Decide whether you will be using footnotes or end notes in your textbook.

Style Sheet - Textual Style Considerations

Block Quotes

Example: Screenshot demonstrating Block Quotes and Pull Quotes

Block quotes refer to when a quote appears as its own block of regular text (on a new line, indented, sometimes marked with a line). These are used for long quotes and rules for block quotes are usually found in style guides.

In the Style Sheet

Determine how many lines before a quote should turn into a block quote, how they will be formatted, etc.

Style Sheet - Visual Style Considerations

Headings and Labels

Example: Screenshot depicting different Heading levels and styles

Headings and labels are useful in breaking up the content so that it is easier to digest by the reader. Most online visual text editors have default Heading styles which can be chosen from a drop-down list, but it is usually possible to alter these.

In the Style Sheet

Consider things like what case titles Headings, Sections, and Labels will be in (title-case, upper-case, sentence-case, etc.), or what style will be used for each different type of headings.

Pull Quotes

Example: Screenshot demonstrating Block Quotes and Pull Quotes

Pull quotes refer to when a quote appears on its own as special text within the paragraph in a white box, appearing on a particular side, usually larger than the paragraph text and in a different font. These are usually used to make the quote stand out from its surroundings and be a more visual element.

In the Style Sheet

Determine how many pull quotes will be used within a chapter, what side they will pull to, etc.



Screenshot of a Pressbooks Learning Objectives regular textbox

Screenshot of a Pressbooks side textbox

Textbooks are supplementary pieces of information that appear next to the text but are not considered a part of the text itself. For example, boxes containing activities or exercises, key takeaways, or examples. We recommend keeping the number of different types of boxes limited and consistent.

One common use for textboxes is for Learning Objectives. Learning Objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter (or chapter section) and outline what the reader should expect to learn in this section.

In the Style Sheet

Make rules for each different type of box separately. Some potential rules could be about how the box will look, where they will appear in relation to the text, how much content there will be or what wording will be used.

Pressbooks Style Considerations

Part & Chapter Numbers

Example: Screenshot comparing the option to show Part and Chapter numbers or not.

By default, Pressbooks automatically generates part and chapter numbers for your book. These are visible in all book formats. These numbers display on part and chapter title pages as well as on the table of contents ("Automatic Pages and Content", Pressbooks User Guide). You can choose whether or not to have Part and Chapter numbers automatically appear in the list of contents and index.

Collapse Sections

Example: Screenshot showing what a collapsed section looks like.

In order to navigate content more easily, Pressbooks gives you the option of collapsing content by using the H1 Heading. Whenever a H1 heading is used, all content underneath it (until the next H1 heading is found) will be hidden.

Adaption Statements