What is The Chicago Manual of Style?
The Chicago Manual of Style, or CMS as it is affectionately referred to by editing professionals, is a style guide for publishers, editors and writers. Most school teachers and college professors have a list of things they want to see on students’ submissions. In the same way, publishing houses have a style they want to see submitted manuscripts follow. The CMS tells you how to:
• prepare manuscripts for publishing
• edit for publications
• cite sources
In addition, you can learn about copyright and about how books are developed and distributed. The guide also has a chapter on grammar and usage.
The CMS is updated every ten years or so, and is now in its fifteenth edition, which means that another update is due in approx. 2013. It is a huge hardback tome which could easily take over your desk. It’s up to you as to whether you prefer to follow it in book format or CD format.
I priced the book in my local book store at $55. Naturally, it is much cheaper on Amazon ($34.65 with free shipping). If you prefer to use it online, you have the advantage of seeing updates as they are made rather than waiting until the next edition is published. The price of an online subscription is $30 per year. It’s also available to small groups for a discounted subscription rate.
All manuscript editors have this book in one of its available formats. They would not be able to do their job properly if they didn’t. They also have (depending on the type of writing they edit) The Associated Press Stylebook (for articles), Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (for books), Webster’s New World College Dictionary (for articles), and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (for Christian publishers).
Do you really need to buy this if you are a writer? It depends. If you are a prolific writer of books, then adapting all writing to the CMS style would definitely make your submissions appear more professional. If you write one novel a year, your local library should have one or two copies of the manual. You can’t check one out, but you can do the final edit of your manuscript in the library, going over certain words and grammar you are not 100 percent sure of, and making corrections as needed. Doing so will be well worth the effort.
“Authors have to go that extra mile in polishing their manuscripts.”
~ Peter Rubie, CEO FinePrint Literary Management