Free Style Guides and Online Resources for Editors

A style manual or style guide lists a set of standards for writing and editing documents. It lays down guidelines on how to handle matters of style (e.g., punctuation, capitalization, use of abbreviations). Major style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, APA Publication Manual, and New Oxford Style Manual require a purchase or a subscription.

This article lists style guides (and some other useful resources) you can use for free online that will help you edit documents professionally and consistently in American, British, Australian, and Canadian English (useful if you are starting out on a career in editing or simply need guidance for a one-off project).

For formal writing

Here are some free online resources on American style that you can use to edit formal texts (academic and business writing):

And here are free online resources on British, Canadian, and Australian style:

For technical writing

For editing papers in technical fields (e.g., computer science and engineering), use the IEEE Editorial Style Manual.

For writing or editing technical documents in computer science (e.g., help documents for software applications), use the Microsoft Writing Style guide (formerly known as the Microsoft Manual of Style). It is available for free online and, for decades now, has been the definitive guide for technical writers.

For news writing

To write or edit news copy, use the following resources.

Blogs, newsletters, and Q&A sections of style manuals

Most questions you have on style and punctuation have already been asked and answered in the Q&A sections and blogs of major style manuals. Here is a quick list of pages you can bookmark.


Consider signing up for the newsletters of these style manuals. These newsletters are free and provide many useful tips that help you stay updated on matters of style, including terminology related to the current political, scientific, and technological landscape.

See also our list of major style manuals used in academic, business, news, and book editing. Most of them require payment or a purchase, but their blogs and Q&A sections are free to browse.

The Editor’s Manual

Finally, you have a free online reference guide right here in the Editor’s Manual. We follow mainly American style but also discuss British, Canadian, and Australian styles. Take a look at our articles on punctuation, style, and usage.