• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Chris Amirault

Recipe Style Guides

17 posts in this topic

Inspired by the current recipe preferences thread, I got to thinking about recipe style guides. All of the newspapers I know of have style guides, and I can't imagine that they don't exist for recipes as well.

If you have experience with these, can you share some insights about them? What guidelines are you given? Do they differ from magazine to magazine, publisher to publisher? Do they crimp your style, or keep you on the straight and narrow?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you have experience with these, can you share some insights about them? What guidelines are you given? Do they differ from magazine to magazine, publisher to publisher? Do they crimp your style, or keep you on the straight and narrow?

In my experience, they differ. Part of the style is up to the author, but there are often restrictions or guidlines that are imposed by the publisher or editor.

One magazine that printed several of my recipes earlier this year had very strict rules and reorganized my recipes once I submitted them. The newspaper I write a regular column for lets me do what I want.

These days you also have to think about international readers (maybe this is less important in the US). All of my recipes for my cookbook needed metric and imperial weights and measure and celcius and ferenheit temps.

I don't know how many book publishers have strict guidelines. If you look at a variety of books put out by one publisher they often have very different set-ups and looks. I think it's more the magazines and newspapers that impose restrictions.

That's my experience anyway. I'm sure others have different experiences.

edited to add:

I don't know if this is what you mean... but when I was in the editing stages with my cookbook there were several things that my Canadian publisher was good with but my US publisher needed me to change. Things like English cucumber had to be changed to long seedless; Roma tomato needed to be changed to Italian plum; etc.


Edited by Pam R (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Pam. That's precisely the sort of thing I mean.

I'm also wondering about -- how to put this nicely -- the level of expertise that can be assumed by the readership. Food Arts can use "brunoise"; Gourmet would probably translate it to "fine dice" or "mince"; I can imagine other recipes coming up with something even less jargon-y.

But, really, anything like this would be interesting to read about!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm also wondering about -- how to put this nicely -- the level of expertise that can be assumed by the readership. Food Arts can use "brunoise"; Gourmet would probably translate it to "fine dice" or "mince"; I can imagine other recipes coming up with something even less jargon-y.

But, really, anything like this would be interesting to read about!

I think that's also up to the author for the most part. I wanted my book to be used by the home cook (I mean really used) - and I am not a trained chef. So I pretty much stay away from many 'culinary' terms. When possible I like to say something like '1/4" dice' or 1" cubes - specific sizes. But let's be honest - my book is 140 soup recipes - it doesn't have to be that precise - when you get into other cooking areas it's a different matter.

I'm more concerned with the level of expertise of my readership, vs. their concern about mine. I'm always clear when giving interviews or writing my little bios - I grew up in the family business, I didn't go to school to learn how to cook. I want each and every person using the recipes to be able to understand them.

I just remembered one issue with the publishers though. I like doing things by weight - as we know it's much more accurate. All of my recipes were done using weight measurements. I was then asked to change everything to volume or piece units. IE: 2 lbs of potatoes needed to be changed to 4 medium potatoes. 1 oz. of basil changed to 1/4 cup. That 'crimped my style".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My sister is a freelance editor who does a lot of work on cookbooks. I'll ask her if the publishers she works with have specific style guides. One of her tasks is to make sure the style is consistent within an individual book; another is to translate from British English and occasionally foreigner-written English to American English.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

in the us, every newspaper, magazine and book publisher has a pretty strict style sheet. how much they follow it is really up to the individual editor. (and, of course, that applies only to newspapers that print their own recipes ... most pull them off the wire and run them as they come in, which gives you a mish-mash of styles).

sometimes copyeditors, being copyeditors, develop tics that can be amusing. i worked with one who insisted on replacing the word "prick" with "pierce" and "thighs" with "legs" (which are actually different things).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
another is to translate from British English and occasionally foreigner-written English to American English.

Good point. I had to change colour to color and flavour to flavor throughout my book. For some reason Canadians and those in the UK/Aus can understand they are the same thing ... Americans apparently have more difficulty with it.. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, if you're interested, check out The Recipe Writer's Handbook, which is just what it claims to be. When I had to start writing down recipes for my classes, it helped me a lot. I have an old edition, but I believe it's been updated.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
another is to translate from British English and occasionally foreigner-written English to American English.

Good point. I had to change colour to color and flavour to flavor throughout my book. For some reason Canadians and those in the UK/Aus can understand they are the same thing ... Americans apparently have more difficulty with it.. :wink:

Something tells me that if an American writer were to submit items to a British publication, the U's would be inserted into those words before the article saw print.

It's not a matter of not understanding...given that what Americans call "Standard Written English" reflects the orthographic reform efforts of folks like Noah Webster and Melvil Dewey, those words just plain look funny to American eyes with u's in them.

Stylebooks enforce spelling rules, too. (And there are peculiar local ones: for many years, the Chicago Tribune had ultra-simplified spelling rules that, for instance, dropped the "ugh" from words like "although" and rendered the word "through" as "thru". The Kansas City Star for many years spelled the plural of "bus" with three s's. And so on.) So if the national standard for spelling is to include a "u" in "color", I'd be surprised if a magazine or newspaper editor let an article through that omitted the letter.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i own a copy recipes into type and i have found that it is as close to a style guide for recipes as anything i can imagine.

but i have not yet seen The Recipe Writer's Handbook...


"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

once again, though that is a very good book, it's important to note that that is just ONE style guide. there is no universal agreement. you can write a recipe perfectly according to that style guide and have an editor insist that you totally rewrite it. if this happens, do NOT tell the editor that they are wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
once again, though that is a very good book, it's important to note that that is just ONE style guide.

this is so true. as I said earlier, my two publishers wanted the same book done two different ways. There was give and take on all sides so that everybody could be happy with the final result.


Edited by Pam R (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I emailed my sister who sent the following response:

Publishers may have their own style and also preferences for reference books; when I've worked on cookbooks for St. Martin's Press they've used the Herbst book for food spellings and that's really not a good book; my two bibles are Recipes into Type for basic styling, and Webster's New World Dictionary of Culinary Arts. I use those for Hippocrene and Avalon cookbooks.

When I copyedit anything I prepare my own style sheet that includes a list of terms that need to be kept consistent, also foreign or accented words or special terms that need caps or hyphenation or apostrophes, etc.; for cookbooks my style sheet typically includes such terms as "confectioners' sugar" and "whole wheat flour." In the body of the style sheet I list all the stylings I use for numbers, based unless instructed otherwise by the publisher on Recipes into Type's recommendations, such as a 9 x 13-inch pan (though Rockport prefers 9" x 13" so house style does overrule other styles).

Rockport has just sent me a 16-page house style sheet that largely covers points in Chicago Manual of Style 15 (that is, nothing there is specific to cookbooks) but also differs a trifle from Webster's Collegiate 11 and Chicago, such as Rockport's preference for "email" rather than "e-mail." They are sending me a couple of books they've already published so I can see how they prefer things to be worded & typeset.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From SuzySushi's sister's post (say that three times fast):

When I copyedit anything I prepare my own style sheet that includes a list of terms that need to be kept consistent, also foreign or accented words or special terms that need caps or hyphenation or apostrophes, etc.; for cookbooks my style sheet typically includes such terms as "confectioners' sugar" and "whole wheat flour." In the body of the style sheet I list all the stylings I use for numbers, based unless instructed otherwise by the publisher on Recipes into Type's recommendations, such as a 9 x 13-inch pan (though Rockport prefers 9" x 13" so house style does overrule other styles).

This seems like such a great idea -- and it'd be swell to see one, if that would at all be possible. Is this standard operating procedure, or your sister's particular approach?

Sorry for all the questions, but it's great to have the insider scoop!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris,

I think it's S.O.P. for copyeditors, though each has his/her own way of working.

My sister sent me a sample style sheet she prepared for a Cajun cookbook she edited. It's a three-page doc, so if you want to see the whole thing, PM me your email address and I'll send it as an attached file.

A few excerpts here:

General Instructions

1. Use serial comma, and commas before and after “too” when meaning “also.”

4. Romanize all individual loan words used in their original meanings, and spell/punctuate per Webster’s Collegiate 11th and Recipes into Type, e.g., boudin; however, italicize and retain the foreign spellings for all foreign terms not in Webster’s or Recipes into Type, e.g., fricot.

5. Do not italicize any foreign terms that are proper nouns, e.g., Jour de l’An.

6. Names of specific restaurant dishes should be initial-capped without quotes.

Special Terms

cadeaux

café (restaurant)

café au lait

café noir

Cajun

Cajun country

capitaine

cappuccino

cast-iron (adj.)

catfish

charcuterie

chaudin

chili, chilies

choupique (bowfin)

As you can see, the details are quite painstaking!


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My editor sent me a copy of the style sheet she made for my book - that way I could understand all the little red marks throughout the manuscript :blink: . I think it's a common (and smart) practice.


Edited by Pam R (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By Mike.jj
      Hello Egullet family.. its good to be back on here, been away for a while, i hope to find some new trending recipes .. and be ready to get some African dish recipes for those who love African Dishes, You can Read and  Download  Mp3 Audios here of some Nigerian dishes, and there are more coming in which i would be placing on here.. Thanks
    • By FrogPrincesse
      I've been eying this book since I heard about its upcoming release. For me, a cocktail book with a French slant is a hugely appealling. I flipped through it at my local bookstore and was compelled to buy it when I saw a recipe calling for Byrrh, along with a few re-interpreted classics. The recipes are not overly complex and generally don't call for esoteric ingredients. If you have Sam Ross' Bartender's Choice app, it's in the same vein but with a definite French (and international) touch, with recipes calling for things like Suze, Armagnac or Japanese whisky.
       
      Measurements are given in milliliters and ounces, and were probably conceived in metric so they can be a bit unusual sometimes, but this is not a big deal at all. Each recipe is provided with a little background about its creation or general concept, which I always find the most interesting part of these types of books.
       
      The first thing I mixed was the Byrrh cocktail of course. It had quite a few other ingredients, but luckily I had everything already on hand.
       
      Handsome Jack (Chris Tanner) with Rittenhouse straight rye, Pierre Ferrand 1840, Aperol, Byrrh, green Chartreuse, maple syrup, Angostura and Peychaud's bitters.
       
      As indicated in the notes, it is slightly on the sweet side but it has a slight bitterness that compensates for that (from the Byrrh and Aperol). The flavor is deep and complex. There is almost like a chestnut note with the maple syrup and cognac, and a nice kick from the rye. A very good fall/winter drink.
       
       

       
      Review of the book on Eater.
       
       
    • By Lisa Shock
      The team over at Modernist Cuisine announced today that their next project will be an in-depth exploration of bread. I personally am very excited about this, I had been hoping their next project would be in the baking and pastry realm. Additionally, Francisco Migoya will be head chef and Peter Reinhart will assignments editor for this project which is expected to be a multi-volume affair.
    • By Chris Hennes
      While not a new cookbook by any means, I haven't really had time to dig into this one until now. We've previously discussed the recipes in Jerusalem: A Cookbook, but not much has been said about Plenty. So, here goes...
       
      Chickpea saute with Greek yogurt (p. 211)
       

       
      This was a great way to kick off my time with this book. The flavors were outstanding, particularly the use of the caraway seeds and lemon juice. I used freshly-cooked Rancho Gordo chickpeas, which of course helps! The recipe was not totally trivial, but considering the flavors developed, if you don't count the time to cook the chickpeas it came together very quickly. I highly recommend this dish.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.