The Chicago Manual of Style

If you are a professional, you should know that one of the most common style guides used in writing used by professional authors, journalists, and bloggers is The Chicago Manual of Style by the University of Chicago Press. It is the style I utilize when writing about, well, everything.

If you want to learn more about The Chicago Manual of Style, there are three official ways to go about accomplishing this: (1) you could purchase The Chicago Manual of Style book from most retail book stores; (2) you could visit The Chicago Manual of Style Online website, and (3) you learn by using both.

I must admit, I have never been one to buy that many books, but things are changing—I have decided to purchase The Chicago Manual of Style (it will be arriving soon). It has received hundreds of five-star reviews, and for good reason, it is the quintessential guide to writing. It is a must-have if you are going to take your writing skills to the next level.

Still, I have, for the most part, utilized The Chicago Manual of Style Online to do my research on writing. I constantly have that website open. It is always the first tab on my Firefox browser. Now, when I first started using the site, I didn’t really think it was going to be as interesting, but I find myself always going back to it. Maybe I’m a hardcore wordsmith or something, but I just find it amazing that all this information is available online for free. (As a matter of fact, I used it just a few moments ago while making the list presented above. I couldn’t recall if list items were supposed to have a following period or surrounded by parenthesis. I know that I have a horrible memory!)

Well, I should mention that The Chicago Manual of Style Online is not free per se. It is free for 30 days—you sign up for an account on The Chicago Manual of Style Online website, and you are given unlimited access to it for 30 days. After that, you are required to pay $30 per year. Now, those clever enough to outsmart the system could find a way around this, but I will leave that up to your ethical values. Regardless, the $30 annual fee is well-spent if you decide to use this site as a reference for your future writing.

Anyways, if you want to improve your writing, check out The Chicago Manual of Style book or The Chicago Manual of Style Online website.

You and your readers will be be glad you did.

15 thoughts on “The Chicago Manual of Style

  1. I almost picked up the book when I went to Borders the other day…but I didn’t :O flipped through it though and it was more interesting than I thought it would be lol

  2. No problem, Raymond.

    I just want to let you know I couldn’t get your site——to load. Just a heads up.

    Thanks for commenting!

    EDIT: Actually, it says it does not exist. I guess that is why it wouldn’t load. 😀

  3. “The main thing is to either use periods on all list items or none so your style is consistent ;)”

    Right on!

  4. Great resources full of interesting data, most grateful to you, I still a newbie at all of this technology, but I’m getting there with a little help from my friends!
    Raymond Whiteside

  5. @James! Thanks for complimenting my humble blog. I purchased CMOS a little less than a year ago and it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I’ve learned a lot about the mechanics of writing, mostly those odd and rare issues that arise from time to time.

    Whether to put a period at the end of each list item is a good debate for grammar geeks. If I have a list of items, like a grocery list, I don’t use periods. However, if the list items are long and more like sentences, they definitely get periods. The main thing is to either use periods on all list items or none so your style is consistent 😉

    Another great resource is Grammar Girl blog/podcast. Short, sweet, and incredibly informative!

  6. Cheers Mr. Mowery for taking the time to acknowledge the importance of the professional author’s bible, The Chicago Manual of Style.

    Keep up the great work on Performancing. I’m now a subscriber.

  7. That is the great thing about the English language. It is up to us to determine the rules. Rules change, and the CMOS group seems to adapt to changes well. Unfortunately, they only publish their book every 10 years I believe.

    As for the serial comma, I do believe that it looks better and is more logical. I also use the comma to avoid ambiguity.

    That’s just me though.

  8. Yeah, it is becoming more important to me considering I am planning on writing a book.

    It is actually a great resource for any writer though.

  9. I have loved the CMS ever since my first editing class in college! And the 15th edition is orange–my favorite color!

    One thing I always have to force myself to remember: style manuals are not necessarily right or wrong. For example, the CMS uses the serial comma, but Associated Press style doesn’t. For that reason, you really can’t say, “Yes, use of the serial comma is correct,” or “No, use of the serial comma is wrong.” It’s a matter of opinion, to some degree.

  10. Wow James, I have never heard of this resource before. Then again, I never took writing as seriously as you do which is probably why. However, the Q & A sections you have posted in the comments have been enough to peek my interest in CMOS (not to be confused with CMOS in a computer. )

    I always thought that if I wrote something that people understood, or gave my opinion which was easily understood, that I was doing a good job writing. However, you have proven that there is much more to writing than just having the reader understand what you are saying.

  11. Ah, why not post another Q&A (again, you might have to be a member to view this link):

    Q. In a list of bulleted points where some are complete sentences and some are not, do you put a period at the end of a sentence, but not the list, or periods after all bulleted points, or none at all?

    A. I’m afraid you won’t like my answer: this situation is not covered in CMOS because in a list of bulleted points all the items should be styled with the same syntax, either sentences or sentence fragments.

    If you are one of those people who love to go crazy with lists, just remember to either have each item end with a period (thus, all content making up at least one complete sentence) or without a period (each item is not a complete sentence).

  12. The Chicago Manual of Style Online has an awesome Q&A section, and here is a little sample (you might need an account to view the website’s content):

    Q. Which is currently accepted: Web site, web site, website, or Website?

    A. A lot of people are writing “website.” A lot of people have come to prefer “website.” But formal usage still calls for “Web site,” in recognition of the initiatives of the World Wide Web Consortium (write “Web-site” as an adjective). The most elaborately formal modern American publication I can think of, the New Yorker, still writes “Web site,” but then again, they also write “E-mail,” “coördinate,” and “reëxamine”—they are very particular. We at Chicago are very particular too, and we recommend “Web site.” But our press as a whole is not in the position of publishing a single, unified publication—such as a magazine. It is easier to apply a set of standard rules and never vary from them for one publication, but rules applying to all sorts of books, articles, and other writing must be a little more flexible. Moreover, when a word gets used a lot it tends to lose any awkward edges (and what could be more awkward than a compound formed of one capitalized word and one lowercased word?). Each new book that appears on the scene presents an opportunity for an author to express a usage preference or to demonstrate a familiarity with changing usage.

    But generally, I would recommend “Web site” for formal writing, but “website” for informal writing or friendly writing. Unless, of course, you prefer “Web site” even when you’re being friendly.

    Ironically, I thought “Website” was the correct formal usage. I was, apparently, wrong. I did not learn of this until yesterday.

    It just fascinates me. I think I even made my girlfriend question if I was beyond obsessed after telling her about this.

  13. I actually have Simon & Schuster Handbook For Writers by my side at all times. (I’m looking at it right now.)

    I actually haven’t hit the buy button just yet to purchase the 15th Edition of The Chicago Manual of Style yet (I want to check out my local book store to see if they have any deals), but I am definitely going to be picking it up soon.

    I think every blogger should have access to the CMOS. I only wish the site was accessible for free. It really is an impressive item to have in a writer’s/blogger’s toolbox, and it is quickly becoming one of my most frequented sites.

    It is actually a great site to just read. It makes me want to learn more. (Again, I show my true inner geek.) Sure, the navigation could be a little bit better, but other than that, it is fantastic.

    Again, thanks for the comment!

    P.S. Melissa, your blog really has a great look and great content. Keep it up!

  14. I am thrilled to see Performancing promote the Chicago Manual of Style. This is definitely the one resource that every writer should have sitting right on their desk within easy reach. It’s extremely easy to navigate and answers any question that pops up during the writing process in terms of mechanics. It also makes your writing a lot more professional and provides a single guideline that you can use when writing in groups or on a team. Thanks for spreading the word.

Comments are closed.