First thing first, this is for advanced editors or translators. Don’t think that style is an excuse for errors. If you are not advanced, this may give you a false sense of security.
What do I mean by style?
As you know, there are two big ways of writing English: American and British. They can be considered the two major styles in English, but they are not enough.
I prefer to use American English, because I think is more ”stylish.”
There are two ways to look at style:
1) To follow rules some editing houses, universities, and whatnot have set. i.g., The Chicago Manual of Style.
2)To choose what is best for each sentence, while, probably, keeping point #1 true.
Style doesn not mean changing everything randomly as you see fit. Maybe if you are an experienced writer, but barely any writters do that. It hurts.
Things that are mostly affected by style are:
A) Capital Letters: Rules for capitalizing are pretty much set in stone. There is one, however, that give us something to play with.
”Lookie! There is The President!”
Some people seem to apotheosize the president, hence the capital letters.
Another one that I see quite often , especially in anime, is this one.
”Cowabunga! The Student Council Representative is the coolest!”
This sentence should never be capitalized; it’s wrong.
Everyone seems to randomly capitalize everything regarding a student council. And, more often than not, you do not have to.
B) Emphasis: This is a tricky one. I’ll leave the proper explanation for when its time comes.
”Hey, you killed her, right??”
Just use italics on a word, depending on what you want to emphasize. You, killed, her, all of them work. But just use one, please. What is tricky about that? Well, you do not have to emphasize words. That will be covered in the respective Emphasis post.
C) Punctuation : Oh my! This is the trickiest one.
”Please save me!”
A comma is almost always the right way to go, but depending on the context, you may want to get rid of it and let the sentence flow better.
”He is not right…”
First, whether ellipsis is right or wrong here will be discussed later. This is an style issue, however. This is a sentence, right? Don’t all sentences end with a full stop? Where is the full stop? Most people, in fansubbing at least, think that is the rule, when it is actually an issue of style. We will talk about this later as well.
”He is not right. …”
”He is not right. . . .”
”He is not right… .”
Those should be the options. I prefer the third one.
”I went to the park. I saw mommy and daddy.”
Oh! The ever-lasting battle between semicolons and full stops! I do not know if everyone hates the semicolon, or just don’t know how to use it. Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt, but try not to leave behind our dear friend: the semicolon.
A wise man once said:
”Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt.”
Em dash. You cannot be wrong with either. Choose whatever one you prefer.
”Full stop is, usually, a safe bet—when in doubt.”
If I’m gonna use an em dash, putting usually between commas makes the sentence looks better. Another thing, it’s not recommended to surround the em dash with spaces, but in fansubbing it matters not.
D) Spelling: I was not going to write about this, but here it is!
”I can not go there!”
Can’t, cannot, can not.
Cant’: Worst possible choice.
Cannot: Average way to write it.
Can not: Use to emphasize.
However, neither is actually wrong, but if you want to be safe, go with cannot.
This was all written with American English in mind. And there are more cases regarding style. i.e., should we start a sentence with the word and?
This is lenghty enough, and you now know what style is all about.
Next topic may be about editing itself. I’ll probably stick with what I said in the introduction, though.