I've been thinking about formatting guidelines for a while, and am just barely starting to form some opinions that I think are at least reasonably stable. The real impetus for me writing this is that I finally got my own copy of The Chicago Manual of Style (for writing research papers) and I've been looking through some guidelines there.
I think I've been the biggest culprit in establishing conventions that I think are not in the best long-term interest of the site. In particular, I started the "v. 10" style subheadings for questions, which I now think is not a good convention; I also started the use of italicized signposting of bulleted comments followed by a colon. I like the the italicized signposting, but I think the signpost should be followed by a period rather than a colon. Actually, The Chicago Manual of Style changed my mind on this issue since, as a reference book, they use italicized signposting with a period (the best reason I could think for using a period instead of a colon is that it best facilitates another level of structure by using a colon; for example, the signpost for 17.125 is Author-date system: original date while 17.126 is Author-date system: later date.
Much of what I've posted as formatting guidelines reflects my personal, very idiosyncratic preferences. I hope others will freely share their differing opinions so we can come to a stable consensus—hopefully sooner than later because it will only be more difficult to change later on.
(Although posting these guidelines gives the impression that I'm an anal person, I think that people who know me in personal view me as being pretty laid back. I mainly just think that establishing some guidelines will give the site a more professional and uniform look that will hopefully make it more credible and easier to read....)
--RobertC 18:05, 12 Apr 2006 (UTC)
Here are some issues I'm most unsettled about that I plan to come back to improve:
- Name of this page. I wish I named the page "Formatting guidelines" instead of just "Formatting." I'm not sure if it's worth changing at this point.
- Related links. This page needs to tie in better to the other help and policy pages for the site, and should at least include links to the commentary help pages. At some point, I hope someone will rethink the structure of the help and commentary pages together, I think improvements could be made.
- Scripture outlines. I think we need to establish better guidelines about where to put outlines and background material that pertain to more than just a few verses. I think there's a danger to encouraging background material relating to chapters and books because it gets away from the text of the scriptures, but I think it would be a very nice feature of the site if we could establish a policy that allowed such material.
--RobertC 18:20, 12 Apr 2006 (UTC)