words and images by mk swanson
Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications

Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications

I’m not sure what gets into me, sometimes.

I was browsing around The Internets and noticed that the DI Style Manual, the CIA’s guide to excruciatingly precise writing, has been made available by the legal nonprofit National Security Counselors, following a Freedom of Information Act* request.

So I OCR-scanned it and posted it to Scribd.

My action wasn’t Snowdenesque, that’s for sure. There’s nothing in there that’s gonna get me chased around Europe, or cause any stirrings in any of the government alphabet soup–after all, this document has been available for over a year.

I did it for my fellow writers. While you can find this kind of totalitarianism in any style guide, from the MMoS (Microsoft Manual of Style) to the CMoS (Chicago Manual of Style), there is something sweet about realizing that as a well-educated writer and editor, you probably could have worked for the CIA.

In addition, for those of us in the trade who sometimes wonder if there’s a precedent for the proper spelling and capitalization of ‘hover craft’ (only if it is really a Hovercraft, otherwise, no caps and two words) or whether to capitalize the word ‘war’ in an undeclared war versus a declared one. (No and yes, except the Iran-Iraq war, which while declared, for some reason is uncapped by illogical convention.)

Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just quote ’em!

So, for militant editors everywhere, I bring you the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications.


*Government in the sunshine, for us Floridians. I hope the government doesn’t burn up.

One comment

  1. The post on Scribd has 11 likes, two 5 star ratings, 21 comments and 1656 downloads! Called "high quality!" Fun. Reason for so many downloads was this comment: "Thank you very much for mirroring this. The unexpected surge in demand for it crashed the server of NSC's ISP so I have redirected people here. Kel McClanahan Executive Director National Security Counselors"

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