Or perhaps I should rephrase that, because it’s actually the only $70 book I’m excited about, and it’s the 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, coming this September. When I was a newspaper reporter earlier in my career, I was well acquainted with The Associated Press Stylebook, which is the standard in the newspaper industry. When the newspaper I worked for later purchased a magazine and I became its editor, I began going to magazine conferences and learned that in magazine world, The Chicago Manual of Style was the standard in stylebooks.
I quickly learned that some of the CMOS rules were different from the AP rules I was accustomed to using. For instance, AP Style is to spell out whole numbers one through nine and use numerals for the others. In other words: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10. And did you notice that I didn’t place a comma after the word “nine”? That’s because in AP Style, you don’t use the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma.
If I were writing numbers in Chicago Style, however, the list would say one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and so on, all spelled out up to and including one hundred. Did you notice that I did have a comma before the words “and so on”? That’s because Chicago Style does use the serial comma.
Now I’m aware every writer is not going to get as excited about a new style manual as I am. But as someone who edits books, I like learning more about the CMOS grammar rules, and I especially like being able to help my clients make their writing consistent with the standards in CMOS (pronounced something like “sea moss”). Writers who pay for professional editing may not feel the need to have their own copy of CMOS, but I would encourage any writer to consider getting a copy. It’s a wonderful resource, it’s the standard for the publishing industry, and it contains answers to countless questions that come up in the course of my editing and writing work. So when September rolls around, I’ll gladly pony up my $70 to see how CMOS has changed, and I can’t wait. Do any of you already use either the AP Stylebook or CMOS?