A word to the wise . . .
“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean . . .” – Humpty Dumpty.
Foreword or preface? Inquiry or enquiry? This is purely a matter of preference or, if you prefer, choice. Shortness is usually sweet, but it's not something to lose sleep over.
But Henry Fowler, Ernest Gowers and Robert Burchfield, in their separate editions of Modern English Usage, did not labour so stupendously just to say: "Please yourselves, the language is ever-changing, so feel free to decide what is right for you."
Fowler, in the original 1926 edition, was clear-eyed and impartial, though prescriptive when he felt it mattered. Gowers, in 1965, followed Fowler's lead. But Burchfield, in 1996, took a different approach – he is mostly descriptive, though not without a mild rebuke here and there.
This is how the language is now, Burchfield seems to say, how it is being written at the end of the 20th century, and these are the trends. We can choose an informed path now that we have seen the lie of the land.
Above all else, newspaper copy must be clear and unambiguous. This requires a consistent style. Choices have to be made. Those made in this guide are based on decisions on good style that British newspapers have made down the years. Some will disagree on whether they are the best decisions.
It would be foolish to claim that this guide is definitive but, with continuing corrections and additions, it should at least be helpful.