The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition

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.

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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!

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