Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sweet 16 for Chicago Manual of Style

That publishing "bible," Chicago Manual of Style, is now in its 16th edition. As someone who has cleaved to the 15th edition for quite some time, change isn't always so sweet. But language is changing all the time, especially as technology changes and its buzzwords become commonplace.

For now, I'm still using the 15th edition, but I'm hip to important changes in style and besides, I'll own it by year's end, when more publishers are likely to send out notices about it. Regardless, it's good to know what's new and different in the newest incarnation. I've always believed that a smart editor knows when to massage the rules (for instance, no plural word has ever gotten an apostrophe by me--apostrophes are reserved for possessives--though Chicago used to allow one exception). But when I recently told an in-house production editor that Chicago isn't the be all to end all, she replied, totally deadpan, "It isn't?" as if I had 3 bleeding eyeballs.

It isn't (in my opinion), as evidenced by the fact that there are 16 editions of this rulebook. There's a thing called author style, for example. I feel the same way about Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the spelling bible, but to a lesser extent. We in the industry already know, for instance, that "Web site" will become "web site" or "website" when Webster's 12 is eventually published.

Still, I use Chicago rigorously, especially on those rare occasions when I need to defend an edit--whether it goes for or against the manual. It's still the most useful resource book editors have. And if you work in the biz or must have a copy for whatever reason, you can snag one for a lot less than the list price of $65 (for now!) at Amazon ($39.47) and Barnes & Noble ($46.80), with free shipping. You can also subscribe to Chicago's online service.

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