Hello fine designers! I wanted to take today to talk about style consistency in patterns. If you're already an experienced designer, you likely have a good handle on this, but if you're just getting started out, this probably applies to you.
Style consistency is the number one reason why tech edits take longer than expected. Usually the time to do all the math calculations is pretty consistent for patterns of similar type (unless you have something special going on, which is cool). However, formatting and style consistency editing time can vary quite a bit. It can sometimes be difficult to see these issues at first glance and include them in the estimate because they aren't always apparent until a pattern is read line by line.
Of course, my number one recommendation to help combat this is to create and use a style sheet. You can create a style sheet yourself, or a tech editor can create one for you. If making one yourself, try not to stress about making sure you include formatting for every possible situation - style sheets are working documents that grow with you, so you can start small and then update it as you go along! If you can give yourself even a small set of guidelines to follow, then you're off to a great start.
Even if you're not quite ready to write everything up formally yet, you can look through the pattern you're currently working on and give it this check-over. This isn't a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will help you get the gist of style consistency. Catching and fixing these things ahead of time will help reduce the cost of your edit.
- General grammar and typo readthrough - treat this like something you would have submitted for a school assignment.
- All words spelled correctly.
- Sentences flow smoothly and are grammatically correct.
- Punctuation particulars:
- Capitalization and punctuation rules - capitalize the beginning of each sentence, end each sentence with a period.
- Do you capitalize the first instruction after "Row x:", or leave it lowercase? Either is fine, just be consistent.
- Bullets are all aligned, with consistent indentation.
- Dashes are the same throughout. Some word editors will autocorrect "-" to a long dash - it doesn't matter which dash you use, but be consistent.
- Spaces are consistent throughout. Do you label stitch counts for different sizes 11 (12, 12, 13, 13) or 11(12,12,13,13)? Do you label measurements 4"/10cm or 4" / 10 cm? Check for extra or missing spaces.
- Symbols should be consistent throughout. Don't use the inches symbol " in one place and "in" in another. There is some leeway here - for example, you may choose to use the inches symbol " in your diagram measurements, but spell out the word "inches" in the paragraph accompanying the diagram. That's fine. Just don't mix " and "in" within the diagram, and don't mix "in" and "inches" in the body text of the pattern.
- Font, font size, bold, italics, and underline consistency.
- Headers should be the same format throughout.
- If you bold the "Rnd 1:" instruction, make sure it is bolded throughout.
- If you like to add side comments in italics, make sure they are in italics throughout.
- Abbreviations are either used consistently, or not used. It's fine to not use abbreviations, but they can help make the pattern more concise. If you do decide to use them, be consistent - don't spell out the word in full someplace else. Some examples:
- Round vs. Rnd
- stitch(es) vs. st(s) - also make sure you are using the correct singular/plural (i.e. "3 st" is wrong)
- three vs. 3
- knit vs. k / purl vs. p
- increased vs. inc'd
- Repeats instructions are consistent for a given type of repeat are consistent. (These are examples - your preferred format is fine as long as it is clear and consistent).
- Indefinite number of repeats: *K3, p1, k2tog; rep from * to end.
- Definite number of repeats: Repeat [k1, p1] 3 more times.
- If you give stitch counts after an increase or decrease row/round, be consistent in the formatting of how they are labelled. Do you put them in parenthesis or do you prefer italics? Do you separate the stitch count from the row instructions with a dash? Where do you put the period? Make sure all instances in the pattern match. Examples:
- Row 1: K3, k2tog, p to last 3 sts, k2tog, k3. (24 sts)
- Row 1: K3, k2tog, p to last 3 sts, k2tog, k3 - 2 sts dec'd.