Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tools for Authors: Chicago Manual of Style - online

I have a confession to make.  I'm a complete idiot. Well, maybe that's not news to readers of this site, but I'll explain what I'm referring to in today's post. When I first hired a freelance editor to help me with my self-published books, the first question potential candidates asked me was, "What style guide do you want me to use?"

My response, "Style guide? I'll do the book formatting. Why does an editor care about the style guide?" 

You see, I came from marketing, and in that world, a style guide lays out rules for using logos or spacing and size of fonts. Design style guides cover things like how much white space should appear  between the brand mark and other elements on the page, permitted colors, and how to scale the logo elements.  I didn't understand what a style guide was in relation to editing.

If you are also clueless, let me shed a little light. A style guide is a set of rules governing things such as spelling, italics, punctuation, hyphenation and many other things. Generally, they are the "rule book" writers conform to ensure consistency. Likewise, copy editors enforce the code. They lay out rules that may be "flexible" from organization to organization. Style guides exist so readers will have a consistent experience even if many people produce the work. Some of the most well-known style guides include:

  • AP Style Guide - for journalism
  • Chicago Manual of Style - for general publishing and readership
  • APA Style Guide and ASA Style Guide - for social sciences
  • AMA Style Guide for medicine
Ever hear people debating the use of the Oxford comma? You know, that's the comma which is sometimes added or omitted before the conjunction in a list of items. For years, the AP Style Guide said omit them while the Chicago Manual of Style said to include them.

For novels, most editors will use the Chicago Manual of Style, sometimes abbreviated as CMoS.

It's a massive volume. The 15th edition comes in at 984 pages, and the 16th edition topped the thousand-page mark by coming in at 1,024 pages.  It's also not all that cheap. List price for the print edition is $65.00 (although Amazon has it discounted to $40 and change).  

But it's not the price that bothers me about CMoS. The issue is it can take a long time for me to find what I'm after, especially if I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.  For instance, when writing my first published novel, I was debating which was correct:  "your majesty" or "Your Majesty." It could take me a lot of time to find the answer in the printed version. It's in section 8.32, which explains how to capitalize honorifics, by the way.  And hence today's post.  There is an online version!

If you go to this link, you'll find both the 15th edition and the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style in all its searchable glory.  And yes, they offer a free trial month so you can see for yourself if it is something worth spending money on.  If you do want to have it long term, then the cost is just $35 a year ($30 per year if you sign up for two years).  Yes, that's just slightly cheaper than the book, but the time you'll save is well worth it.  


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  3. It will make a good difference among the writers to test those skills and to apply for their reviews, hopefully it will indeed bring more positive aspects. writing a procedure manual


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