The Night Chicago Died
August 15, 2006 12:09 PM   Subscribe

An online version of The Chicago Manual of Style is scheduled for release in September 2006. A test drive will be available next month; there's a Quick Tour [PDF] with screenshots and more info.
posted by kirkaracha (51 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's going to be $30/year ($25/year introductory price), which seems kind of spendy when I can buy the book for $35. The Chicago Manual of Style - Q&A will be searchable from the online version, but will still be available separately.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2006


Pepsi-Blue
posted by DragonBoy at 12:15 PM on August 15, 2006


According to the Chicago Manual, Pepsi Blue is not hyphenated.
posted by deadfather at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


More like The Chicago Manual of Useless Rules No one Really Has to Follow.
posted by koeselitz at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2006


blasphemy! Burn the heretic koeselitz!
posted by boo_radley at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2006


Relax...koeslitz was just making a lil' Saffire satire.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:36 PM on August 15, 2006


Yes, the Chicago Manual is completely pointless. All style manuals are pointless. That's why every editor on the planet uses at least one.

Geez, the point is for things to be consistent. And you pick one manual so every time you do a book/article/whatever, you don't have to argue about the style. But still, I have the book already and I am capable of using an index, so I don't really see the point.
posted by dame at 12:39 PM on August 15, 2006


Safire. "Sop or PAC ire to sex! Aw, I sat-- I B.S. ! As we net ten, give us sign! I know-- sop or pall, I, William Safire, er... if ... as... Ma, I'll, I will, apropos wonking, issue vignette news bit as I wax esoteric. Apropos?"
posted by boo_radley at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2006


If this could replace multiple copies in an office, though, it would be handy.
posted by rikschell at 12:42 PM on August 15, 2006


Irony: The people behind the Chicago Manual of Style think it's appropriate web style to publish "Quick Tours" in PDF format.
posted by Voivod at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2006


That's why every editor on the planet uses at least one.

I use four: including Chicago, Canadian Press, a scientific style guide and our house style guide. It's easier to search online, so I'll buy in.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:03 PM on August 15, 2006


Okay, using four is hot, especially if you do it all at once. I'd be really annoyed if the powers that be made me do it online though. I know how to find things in the book at this point and I like books as a technology: they aren't slow or down or whatever and their heft is charming.
posted by dame at 1:14 PM on August 15, 2006


What are the top 10 style manuals out there?
posted by cell divide at 1:14 PM on August 15, 2006


Yes, the Chicago Manual is completely pointless. All style manuals are pointless. That's why every editor on the planet uses at least one.

Here here, dame. koselitz, I'd like to see the patience with which you would navigate the anarchy that would be the written word if style manuals were indeed useless...
posted by penchant at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2006


What are the top 10 style manuals out there?

At work (as a medical editor) I use the CMOS and the AMA Manual of Style pretty regularly. In addition, I have the CBE Manual of Scientific Style and Format and Fowler's Modern English Usage. I'd say Chicago and Fowler's are up there.
posted by penchant at 1:23 PM on August 15, 2006


Okay, using four is hot, especially if you do it all at once.

It depends. I work for an firm of consulting engineers and scientists, so neither Chicago nor CP have the expertise on scientific writing that I need, but which CBE does. We work in both the US and Canada and so write for different audiences, and any company that produces significant documentation should have its own style guide.

We may adopt a fifth guide that specializes in wildlife writing, because CBE is actually too general, and I refer quite often to one guide or another.

So, yeah, for the same document I may refer to as many as five style guides at once, plus other sources.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:30 PM on August 15, 2006


My House style is gruff, but brilliant.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2006


House Industries is all the style I need.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2006


What are the top 10 style manuals out there?

Well, as you can tell from penchant & solid-one-love's answers, it varies from field to field, because each hass issues that are more pressing. Also, any larginsh entity will probably have an in-house guide and then defer to a larger one. That said, tops for books & humanities papers are Chicago & MLA; magazines & newspapers, AP & Words Into Type (I think--I know books better).

But don't ever attempt to try to apply New Yorker style to anything. They are just crazy. (Though it does make me wat to work there--for the challenge!)
posted by dame at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2006


I've been trying to merge the most useful (for my workplace) portions of the MLA, Chicago, Thames & Hudson (vastly underrated!), Strunk & White, Ellen Lupton's book, Stop Stealing Sheep, Elements of Typographic Style, the AP and the GPO style manual into one under-100-page consistent guide for Government writers, designers and editors.

So far, it's been 6 years and I've got about 35 pages done.

And on this topic more specifically: the Chicago is a good book, but there are others out there that are better. The GPO, for instance, is unwieldy and overcomplicated and not very well organized but you can't beat it for sheer content. And the AP is excellent but always dated, but nothing's better on usage. And if you don't have Strunk & White and a decent dictionary on your desk, you have no business being intimate with the printed word to begin with.
posted by luriete at 2:10 PM on August 15, 2006


And Dame - forget the New Yorker - don't try using the New York Times in-house style for anything else, as for all the great things you can say about that paper, you can also say that their style is inconsistent (internally, as well as with the accepted rules of the English language); weird; confusing and just plain wrong much of the time.
posted by luriete at 2:12 PM on August 15, 2006


I can only say one thing about the Times, luriete: 80's. That is enough reason to ignore its concept of style forever.
posted by dame at 2:26 PM on August 15, 2006


Yes, that was one of the things I was referring to. So irritating. And if you ask them why they do it (I've had this discussion with two editors and an art director) - "because that's what's in the book." If you ask who originally made that decision, they will admit, somewhat sheepishly, that it may have possibly been a simple error once, a long time ago ... but now it's codified, and at the Times that means forever.
posted by luriete at 2:34 PM on August 15, 2006


(Though it does make me wat to work there--for the challenge!)

At first I read that as "it does make me wet to work there"; my first thought was not "that's excessive love for one's job" but "dame works for the New Yorker?! Lucky her!" But then I realized it was just a typo for "want." Sigh.

And yeah, I don't see the point of spending $30/year for a book you can buy for $35. But I guess some folks really, really like the online experience.
posted by languagehat at 2:35 PM on August 15, 2006


luriete, we had a similar problem at HarperCollins trying to wedge The Times (as in, of London) style guide into the Collins English Dictionary. Every style and usage note did not agree, and sometimes they flat contradicted one another.

Style Guides I Have Known and Loved: Guardian (for currency and ease of access), Hart's (for curmudgeonly printing advice), ODfW&E (back when it was pocket-sized), The King's English (for very curmudgeonly but amusing usage tips), and The Canadian Style (boring but official).
posted by scruss at 2:47 PM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


What the world really needs is a CMS wiki. That'll put all these pesky style and usage questions to rest once and for all.
posted by scratch at 3:09 PM on August 15, 2006


These fools still won't let you put two spaces after a period, will they?
posted by washburn at 3:48 PM on August 15, 2006


But don't ever attempt to try to apply New Yorker style to anything. They are just crazy.

Maybe someday they'll agree to remove the hyphen from 'teen-ager.' Or start writing years in numerals. Until then: crazy.

I'm definitely buying in to the CMS online. Why, when I have the book? Because time is money. It will take me, say, 30% less time to look things up via online searches than it would to consult the book. Which is upstairs.

FTR, I too love the Thames & Hudson. Another underrated (and out-of-print) book (for collocations! and those who live and die by them! for all-too-often-drawing-a-blank translators, like myself!) I love is ... well, er, I can't remember its name. Because it's upstairs. With the CMS. On a shelf. And I have a broken leg. All hail the glorious Internet.
posted by melixxa600 at 4:22 PM on August 15, 2006


Yipppeee, another book telling me how bad my writing is. Seriously, who came up with those nasty, evil styleguides....
posted by jacob hauser at 5:43 PM on August 15, 2006


washburn gruffed "These fools still won't let you put two spaces after a period, will they?"

Double spacing was necessary for typewriters of old and yore. Modern typefaces have kerning tables which should add the appropriate amount of space to letters after a period.

Excessive spacing creates rivers in the galley, which in turn promotes the collapse of modern civilization and we don't have time for that kind of tomfoolery right now.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 9:24 PM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yipppeee, another book telling me how bad my writing is. Seriously, who came up with those nasty, evil styleguides....

Yippeee, another commenter who has no idea what a style guide is.
posted by camcgee at 9:38 PM on August 15, 2006


Double spacing was necessary for typewriters of old and yore. Modern typefaces have kerning tables which should add the appropriate amount of space to letters after a period.

I don't think this excuse holds much water. I can look at any Word document and see that the space after a period and between plain old letters is pretty much the same.

(I've also complained about this at some length in my own cyberspace)
posted by washburn at 9:54 PM on August 15, 2006


In your tirade online you surmised: "moreover this stuff about proportional type is totally bogus. Microsoft Word is smart enough to give an ā€œlā€ less space than an ā€œM,ā€ but in my world of Microsoft Office 2003 a space between letters and a space after a period is pretty much invariable, as far as I can see. Maybe if you center-justify, Word is smart enough to put more space after a period (though I sort of doubt it)."

This is incorrect, sorta. Word does not add the space by default, it looks to the typefaces kerning table to determine the spacing between letters. Now if the typeface is poorly designed or the wordprocessing application does not take the kerning table into account you will end up with the letter combo AW having a long distance relationship.

Also your example text clearly shows a nasty river in the first paragraph of the recto.

Try using a postscript font instead of truetype as they are generally more expertly crafted (because they are commercially made, not free) or use a application that treats type more seriously.

I'm a graphic designer and even my simple correspondence is created in InDesign which has the advantage of being able to chose between optical and metric spacing.

Love style guides myself, makes arguments with clients with archaic sense of the written word easier. One recently was arguing that you never capitalize the first letter of a bullet point. Only if they are a bulleted list following a colon and the item are conjunctions ending in semi-colons, eat it bitch.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 10:20 PM on August 15, 2006


This is the thread in which all of us high and mighty editorial types who get to say "Oh, well, I use five style guides for my job" are doomed to make at least ten obvious errors in our posts.

The Quick Tour (wait, should I use italics there? I left the Chicago Manual at work) is not particularly mind-blowing. I guess it will be easier to find some things, but I don't see much more than "Citation Q & A" and a table of contents. Where's the "Chicago Podcast of Style"? Huh? Who's with me?

Eventually, as much as I love them, style guides are just a way to settle arguments, because the people using them (in a professional context) probably all have a decent approach and a good argument for said approach. With the argument settled, we get consistency.

What we don't get is business people who write properly. Milton, how about the guy who alternates infinitives, gerunds, and little pictures in his bulleted lists and doesn't understand why you're changing them. Huh?
posted by lackutrol at 11:08 PM on August 15, 2006


This is the thread in which all of us high and mighty editorial types who get to say "Oh, well, I use five style guides for my job" are doomed to make at least ten obvious errors in our posts.

I already spotted an one. Sorry, one-love, I've always maintained a solid-pet-peeve about a/an. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:12 AM on August 16, 2006


Also, two spaces after end-stops. Always. I can even see in the "live preview" that my requests are being ignored (thanks, HTML spec.) but, nonetheless, I persevere. The problem isn't just bad kerning for fonts, by the way. There's no reason an abbreviation should have two spaces after each letter, (e.g., F.  B.  I.  ), yet there's no way for a font to know your intention. Word, on the other hand, has some fancy heuteristics and (IIRC) you can specify one- or two-spaced sentence blocks.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:16 AM on August 16, 2006


Well, really, C_D, you shouldn't be putting periods into your abbreviations anyway, should you?

And style guides are about more than satisfying arguments: they are about sweet, luscious, unadulterated word dorkiness. Otherwise, explain to me why it's just fun to read them when there is no argument to be solved, on a sunny day, under a tree. Uhh, maybe I've said too much.

LH: Nice misreading. If only they'd have me.
posted by dame at 5:42 AM on August 16, 2006


I used to proofread and edit correspondence for a defense contractor that supported the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). There's a Navy correspondence manual, which claims to follow Chicago, and a SPAWAR manual, which claims to follow the Navy manual. In fact, they all contradict each other, plus each admiral has his own opinion. Good times, good times.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:38 AM on August 16, 2006


A book (printed or online) is fine for bar bets and edumacation, but I want software that will scan my document, make recommendations according to the style guide I have selected (which could be any one of ten guides in the same program), and find and replace (with a click before each change, just in case) multiple occurrences of the same problem. For changes it can't make, it should open a text box explaining possible problems with the selected text.

The same program should work as an online book, of course, but I want it to do some of the work for me.
posted by pracowity at 7:16 AM on August 16, 2006


MiltonRandKalaman writes: Try using a postscript font instead of truetype as they are generally more expertly crafted (because they are commercially made, not free) or use a application that treats type more seriously.

I'm a teacher who reads many large piles of student papers each semester. I've noticed that especially when reading not-so-perfect sentences, it helps to have a visual marker to see when how long the sentence will be. (That's why typesetters have long put that extra space between sentences).

Realistically, there's no way I can get my students to use postscript fonts and/or Indesign when writing papers for my class, and I want readable output. Therefore, 2 spaces after end-stops. Q.E.D..

Chicago is based on the outdated assumption that typed materials are being sent somewhere for publication, and that since a typesetter will insert space after the end-stops, writers shouldn't do this themselves. However most typed materials aren't going somewhere where a human being will insert spaces after the end-stops---most are just headed to someone else to be read. So Chicago imo does a small but palpable disservice to most readers by stipulating that documents should be formatted in a way that's convenient for editors, but that compromises the readability of non-professionally typeset materials for everyone else.

[p.s. There's a Wordpress Plugin called Double-Space it! that will fix your Wordpress blog, so that it doesn't render two spaces in html as just one.]
posted by washburn at 7:33 AM on August 16, 2006


Pracowity, what would be the point? They can't even make a spellcheker that works, so anything worth applying style to would have to be checked by hand anyway.
posted by dame at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2006


I think MS Word has something of a grammar checker... but it's not always right or appropriate. Honestly, I wouldn't trust any ms to a mechanical Stylebot 2000 if I wasn't at least somewhat confident in my own writing skills, even if it let me confirm each change. Writing style is dynamic, and hard-and-fast rules don't always prevail. In fact, I'd wager that gray areas and points of contention are the rule, rather than the exception.

One of the perks of a style manual is that, the more you refer to and use it, the more you learn that style -- and therefore, the less you have to refer to it. Somewhat similarly, I think someone could play physician with a bookshelf full of medical texts, but he would never replace a someone who has learned the trade.
posted by penchant at 9:46 AM on August 16, 2006


I already spotted an one. Sorry, one-love, I've always maintained a solid-pet-peeve about a/an.

Editors are always the worst for checking over their own stuff. I don't bother re-reading anything I post online, even on my own blog. One draft, bam, that's it.

As for periods: I always used two spaces after a period until my last editing job, where the style was one space. The style at my new job is two spaces, but I've switched to using one space in my personal writing.

Essentially, I'm fucked.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2006


"There's no reason an abbreviation should have two spaces after each letter, (e.g., F. B. I. ), yet there's no way for a font to know your intention.

Abbreviations should be small capped and set tight as per The Elements of Typographic Style
posted by Brainy at 1:00 PM on August 16, 2006


you shouldn't be putting periods into your abbreviations anyway, should you?

Depends on the abbr. In the U.S., at least, some abbreviated phrases req. the use of a period (e.g., e.g.) Acronyms, on the other hand, never get the full-stop treatment.

Abbreviations should be small capped and set tight

I can think of a few instances where this would be bad advice (EG, e.g.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:28 PM on August 16, 2006


I think MS Word has something of a grammar checker.

It does, and the thing does more damage than good. I have had it tell me that a three-word subject-verb-object sentence is a "sentence fragment" (and probably a run-on sentence too).

I can't understand why they would foist this beast on the world before it's even near ready (especially since I have to go work in a client's office fairly often, and usually forget to turn the thing off).
posted by lackutrol at 4:54 PM on August 16, 2006


In the U.S.

There's another one, right?
posted by washburn at 5:19 PM on August 16, 2006


Washburn resigned Realistically, there's no way I can get my students to use postscript fonts and/or Indesign when writing papers for my class, and I want readable output. Therefore, 2 spaces after end-stops. Q.E.D..

If you are allowed to slap them, that could work. Otherwise I can't help you. Perhaps there are setting in Word that adjust the default spacing after periods, but I don't know it. Look like a job for the Big Neutral Forest Green.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:19 PM on August 16, 2006


Perhaps there are setting in Word that adjust the default spacing after periods, but I don't know it

TOOLS -> OPTIONS -> Spelling & Grammar -> Settings -> "Spaces Required Between Sentences"


posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:13 PM on August 16, 2006


Chicago. Pfft. Academics. w00t for AP!

Wait. Spiral bound? Online? PDF?!l What happened to my beloved dogeared paperback?!
posted by bigbigdog at 8:14 PM on August 16, 2006


D'oh!! I just realized I was thinking of MLA. Got nothing against the Chicago thang.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2006


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