That’s your opinion, man: thoughts on style

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Over the weekend there was quite a discussion (from my standpoint, anyway, for a discussion on a Saturday afternoon) on Twitter about how to style a specific compound. What the compound was is of no consequence. I’m here to talk about opinions.

If you’re confident in your work, make a choice and run with it. Especially if you’re not being paid to adhere to a given style guide. As long as you’re internally consistent, it’s cool. Readers notice inconsistency within a piece more than they do across venues.

If you’re not confident in your work, check a few (as in, maybe, four) sources and make an informed decision. Realize that style guides are, at their heart, opinions. Very well-researched and informed opinions, but opinions nonetheless. I’d suggest one style guide, a couple of dictionaries, and Google Ngrams. More than that and instead of feeling informed you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and confused, possibly more so than you were before you looked.

And for goodness’ sake, DO NOT take to Twitter and ask your question and then follow up with “Well, I don’t care, I’m doing it the way I want.” Why did you ask if you’d already made up your mind? Did you just want to feel justified? Did you want to throw your amateur opinion in professionals’ faces? What is your deal? Own your decision. If you’re that confident in it, you didn’t have to ask anyone. Listen to Nike and just do it.

That’s what the professionals do.

(Except when we’re feeling uncertain, and then we ask politely of other pros and do our own research. We consider their opinions and the outcome of the research, and then make our decision. Like professionals.)

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