Recap of What’s New in the 16th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style?

Speaker: Stephanie Fysh

Report Writer: Caroline Winter

At the February 28th program, Stephanie Fysh walked a room full of Toronto-area editors through the significant changes in the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, which came out in August 2010. Stephanie has provided a handout (840.04 KB) — attached in the images folder, listing the specific changes she talked about. Stephanie also identified some broader trends in the 16th edition that seem to have driven the changes.

One general change is an acknowledgement that e-publishing is here to stay. There is now information about Unicode, XML, coding embedded indexes, managing digital rights, e-book production, and PDF file management. The new edition also discusses DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers), which are permanent links to online material. There is also a new rule – Stephanie calls it the “eBay rule” – stating that proper nouns with a lowercased first letter and capitalized second letter can now stay lowercased to begin a sentence; no more awkward recasting is necessary when a sentence begins with eBay or iPod! All of these changes seem to acknowledge the electronic workflow as the norm. Print and electronic publishing are discussed separately only when they are treated differently.

Another general change is a shift away from formality, and an acknowledgment that most writing is now relatively casual. For example, CMS now accepts the singular “they” in “casual contexts,” even though it is still considered ungrammatical. “Like” can now be used as a conjunction in “dialectical and colloquial contexts” (this revelation met with general groans from the audience). “Than me” is also accepted in place of “than I.” All of these changes apply to casual contexts only; CMS holds on to the traditional rules for formal writing. There was speculation that the new edition would do away with the en-dash entirely (a rumour that drew a gasp from the crowd), but Stephanie reassured the audience that this was not the case.

Stephanie also pointed out that the new edition simplifies many of the rules, reducing the need to make decisions. Although this may be problematic if an editor disagrees with a rule, it does allow editors to settle contentious style issues with authors more easily.

In a related change, the new edition has less duplicated content. This means that information may be in a different spot than editors are used to. The chapters have also been reordered and organized into parts. Thankfully, the cover is now a calming sky blue, rather than the traditional electric orange. This soothing new colour is perhaps intended to calm the fraught nerves of overworked editors struggling to find what they are looking for in the new CMS.

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