Have you ever had a collection of books in a series? Maybe, they are by the same author. In my home, we have such a book collection. When all lined up on a shelf, they have a similar look and appearance to them. They have details and information presented consistently across all the books. It gives an attractive, harmonious look to the book series. A style guide is a tool we can use to give knitting patterns, from a designer or publication group, a unique and consistent structure and appearance!
What is a Style Guide?
A style guide is the guidelines, set by a publication group or designer, on how their pattern should be organized and look. The guidelines are often presented in a document that can be sent with a design to a tech editor. These guidelines dictate what information the knitting pattern is to include, certain phrasing of terms and words, and the location of each piece of information within the pattern.
In a knitting pattern, some details the style guide contains are…
- If a photo is to be included and where to put it.
- What font (Arial, Times New Roman, etc.) is to be used throughout the pattern.
- If you present measurements in US customary and metric units or just one or the other.
- How you abbreviate different terms.
- How you list your sizes.
- How you phrase certain knitting instructions like binding off.
A style guide can be very detailed, but its goal is to help you, as a designer, give harmony in appearance and content across your own self-published patterns or to match those of a publication company.
As a tech editor, if you have a style guide, my job is to make sure that your pattern matches those guidelines.
How to Create a Style Guide?
If you are a knitting designer, there are a few different methods of creating a style guide.
I’m also a knitting designer as well as a tech editor. There are some patterns that develop in my knitting time that I want to make available to others.
When I wrote my first pattern, I spent a long time mulling over the details!
Does this font look clearer than the font I had before? Does having my metric measurements in brackets keep them from mixing visually with my US customary measurements? How many photos do I want in my pattern? I want lots of pictures to show the pattern, but no one wants to waste ink.
When I had a pattern that was structured and appeared pleasing to me, I sent the pattern to my tech editor letting her know that this was also my style guide, standard for how I want my patterns to be structured and appear. She checked my pattern for consistency within itself. Later knitting patterns that I wrote were also checked against my style guide, also known as my first pattern.
A more structured and standard way of creating a style guide involves writing all your guidelines and rules down without a pattern full of knitting instructions. A great example of this is the Style Guide from Knitty that designers who publish through them are to follow. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included an example of this type of style guide that I created for my own pattern writing.
If creating a style guide is something you would like assistance with, numerous tech editors, including myself, offer the service of creating style guides for you. We can work together to create a style guide for your knitting patterns that you feel excited about!
Can Style Guides Change?
One thing that concerned me about a style guide, before I understood them better, is that my pattern structure was written in stone after creating my style guide. I was concerned that if I learned a better way of doing something or wanted something different within my patterns, it would look unprofessional to change.
A style guide is not set in stone. It can slowly change and adjust as you grow in your understanding as a knitting designer. The guide is to help you not reconsider the structural and appearance details of your written pattern every time. It can change with you!