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Is there no well-established, widely-used style guide for Japanese academic writing?

As far as we know, there are only style guides for academic writing in English in Japan, and perhaps you know these already. The very basic one is the Japan Style Sheet, here. At “Further References” are a number of other tools that may be useful, especially the link to…

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As far as we know, there are only style guides for academic writing in English in Japan, and perhaps you know these already. The very basic one is the Japan Style Sheet, here. At “Further References” are a number of other tools that may be useful, especially the link to the Monumenta Nipponica Style Sheet, which is mainly oriented to humanities academic writing, but is fairly suitable for social sciences and general non-fiction as well. I think that most of us working with academic papers follow the Chicago Manual of Style, though apparently Japanese universities are following MLA style for English-language theses, which is rather different. Most of the publishers putting out academic books (Routledge, Brill, Columbia University Press, etc.) use CMS. APA style tends to be more popular in the field of journalism.

For writing in Japanese, we do not know of any widely accepted style guide, and every Japanese book we encounter does have those problems. In Japan, there seems to be no such demand for consistency, although certain practices seem to have wide currency, such as in the use of kagi-kakko. Publishers sometimes perform 校閲 in preparing book manuscripts, in varying degrees of rigor, but not all attempt to regularize the writing or style of authors. Apart from outright 誤字,they are reluctant to engage in editing for clarity or checking of citation or bibliographical style.

J-to-E translators need to be prepared to cope with these issues from the outset, one reason the JSS guide came into being. Authors’ writing idiosyncrasies and the lack of widely accepted editing practices at many Japanese publishers means that we must deal with stylistic inconsistencies and missing information, as well as fact-checking in addition to translating.

What do you mean by “cross-professional”?

When it comes to working with English words in Japan-related text, we’re constantly changing professional “hats” as we perform the tasks requested of us. We will be writing out fresh and effective sentences; “translating” concepts, practices, and even the formats of writing, and…

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When it comes to working with English words in Japan-related text, we’re constantly changing professional “hats” as we perform the tasks requested of us. We will be writing out fresh and effective sentences; “translating” concepts, practices, and even the formats of writing, and tweaking polishing, refining—editing—our words to help them carry meaning across the language and culture divide more effectively. We may even don the hat of a graphic designer to help the text look better on the page or screen. Assuming the role of scholar, too, is second nature—checking facts and confirming background in order to properly choose our words.

This cross-professionalism does not have to be a burden or a demerit; rather, it is a way to add extra value to our professional services as well as increase our own satisfaction with our product. The advice in the Japan Style Sheet has that perspective constantly in mind: that you are an editor, or a translator, or a writer, or a designer—and all of those wrapped into one.

SWET celebrates the crisscrossing of professions in the practice of our craft and the creativity and flexibility that it engenders.