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Get ready for The Force Awakens with this awesomely nerdy Star Wars style guide

On the run ... from improper punctuation?
On the run ... from improper punctuation?
Tanya Pai heads the standards team at Vox, focusing on copy editing, fact-checking, inclusive language and sourcing, and newsroom standards and ethics issues. She’s also a founder of Language, Please, a free resource for journalists and storytellers focused on thoughtful language use.

The latest film in the Star Wars franchise is upon us. The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, and marks the first time in more than a decade that a new Star Wars movie has graced the silver screen. While some fans are priming for the impending nerdgasm by dissecting fan theories (evil Luke?) or attempting to spoil the plot by lip reading, the rest of us (okay, maybe just copy editors) are focused on the important issues — namely, how the hell do you correctly punctuate these movies' titles?

Thankfully, the LA Times has come to the rescue with an 8,000-plus-word Star Wars–specific style guide. (The Times's answer to the above question: The original 1977 Star Wars film is officially "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope," though Vox uses italics instead of quotation marks.)

The guide contains plenty to interest even non-grammar pedants: The Times's Blake Hennon combed through myriad sources, including the official Star Wars Databank, to compile something that serves as a history of the franchise and its impact, a trove of movie trivia, and an explanation of Star Wars canon all rolled into one.

There are mentions of characters both real and fictional — for instance, 20th Century Fox executive Alan Ladd Jr., who first brought Star Wars to the big screen, appears right below the entry for Admiral Ackbar ("His species is called, no joke, Mon Calamari," the guide notes gleefully).

There are lists of major award nominations and wins (to date, the franchise has won nine Academy Awards).

There's obscure trivia, like the fact that the first Star Wars spinoff novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster, was published in 1978.

And there are distinctions between canonical and noncanonical works. For example, the entry for "Expanded Universe" explains: "The EU was officially written off in April 2014 as having no bearing on any new 'Star Wars' stories produced thereafter, though many are still commercially available and now labeled as Star Wars Legends."

If you're a Star Wars fan, the full guide is well worth a look, as interesting factoids abound — but we'd be remiss if we didn't point out one glaring omission. The entry for Chewbacca, while detailing his background and penchant for holographic chess, doesn't specify how to write out the Wookiee's infamous roar. Thankfully, Vox staffers discussed the proper spelling at some length back in April:

We had a lot of thoughts. Most involving the letter H.

And as Vox's copy chief, the Force was in me to choose a definite spelling:

Like the Star Wars universe, the LA Times's style guide will no doubt continue to expand, but for now, head to the Times's website to check it out for yourself.

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