If you’re writing a book and need editing, no doubt you’re going to turn to The Chicago Manual of Style. It is the preeminent style guide for book publishing in American English and focuses on grammar, style, and citation. The Chicago Manual of Style (a.k.a. CMoS) is also commonly used for academic papers in the arts and humanities. It is referred to as “the editor’s Bible,” and here at Elite Editing, we truly believe it is.
CMoS (sometimes abbreviated as CMS) was originally published by the University of Chicago Press in 1906. Since then, they have published seventeen editions, producing an updated version every seven to ten years. Currently, the sixteenth and seventeenth editions are in usage and available in both book and online formats. The sixteenth edition is the most widely used at the moment and was originally published in 2010. The seventeenth edition, the most recent version, was released in September 2017 and is poised to become the industry standard in the upcoming year. It is the most comprehensive of the common American style guides and covers even the most obscure writing and editing conundrums.
The general manuscript format stipulates that margins should be a minimum of one inch on all sides. Font should be twelve-point Times New Roman and double-spaced. Notes, citations, and front matter should be single-spaced. Page numbers should be arabic numerals. The title page should never have a page number. Tables, figures, and lists should use lowercase roman numerals.
Spellings should adhere to American usage unless a direct quote is involved. Common prefixes like “semi,” “co,” “anti,” “post,” and “non” are used without a hyphen.
Numbers zero through one hundred and round multiples of those are spelled out, and numbers twenty-one through ninety-nine are hyphenated (so it’s 101 but ninety-nine hundred). Percentages are always rendered in numerals. Monetary amounts through one hundred dollars are spelled out; larger amounts are normally expressed by numerals or, for numbers of a million or more, by a mixture of numerals and spelled-out numbers.
CMoS uses the serial (Oxford) comma. A comma is used between two independent clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction. Commas are also always used with a nonrestrictive element (for example, clauses introduced by “which”) but not with restrictive elements.
The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s; the general rule extends to proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z.
Avoid pairing plural pronouns with singular antecedents (e.g., “A person and their dog” is not okay).
Chicago employs two systems of citation: notes and bibliography or author-date references. The former is by far the most commonly used. Always include an in-text citation or a footnote or endnote anytime a source is referenced—this helps protect you from plagiarism. If you include a bibliography at the end of your work, it should be ordered alphabetically.
Here are a few samples of how to format references for a bibliography:
Huxley, Aldous. 1936. Brave New World. New York: Harcourt & Brace.
Rhys, Jean. 1966. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
For a comprehensive look at references and notes in CMoS, please click here.
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