Since I will be doing some freelance writing, I decided I should get the updated edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. I had the 14th edition, but the latest is the 17th edition, which is what I received today. It is a neatly sized book – very thick – and well organized. I have a feeling that I will be spending a lot of time with it. My writing may reflect that change. I am going to attempt to put into practice what I read in the style manual, and this blog is the perfect venue to try new things out with. I also ordered another popular style manual, but it is so disorganized that I cannot believe it is a style manual at all! The presentation of material is such that I have to look what I want to know up in the index of the manual to even find it! I much prefer the cleaner, straightforward organization of The Chicago Manual of Style.
I wonder, though, which style manual to use for matters in question because I am writing for the public’s literary consumption, however the articles and reviews are climbing-oriented, and can therefore be technical in nature. I am not sure anyone will care one way or the other because the formalities will be dealt with at the editor’s table, so I will just write in my usual style and reference what I need to when I have a question. That seems reasonable to me. Strunk & White’s will still do fine unless it is a particularly nit-picky question of style, which is what the larger manual is for. The full style manual is more for my curiosity than anything to begin with. I love language, and will forever be a scholar of it, regardless of which language we speak of. I did get Strunk’s updated Elements of Style as well – it addresses such things as obsolete rules printed in the classic edition, of which there are several key rules to speak of.
That said, I am amazed at how our language has changed in the last five years! We do not speak the same language as what I grew up learning, or even what I learned in my graduate program at the university. When I was writing my thesis, I was constantly having to check the style manuals to find out what was “in” as far as terminology went, and what was off-limits due to political correctness and its tempestuous moods. At the time of submission, my thesis reflected the proper terminology and style. I doubt it would make the grade today – that was only five years ago!