I was so excited to get my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, that I almost documented the entire reverent unboxing process by snapping pix—or maybe shooting a short camera video. I decided against it because a photographer wasn’t handy, and because it’s not an electronic device that I’ll need to send back with proof of damage during shipping!
CMS16 has a robin’s-egg blue paper cover over the familiar orange spine. Unlike the 15th edition, which has heavy black lettering on the spine, the 16th has gold lettering. It isn’t noticeably thicker, but it somehow seems bigger, heftier, longer. A nice addition: the parts of the book are separated by a black page, which makes it easy to see where you are when you’re flipping fast.
Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.
Although I’m afraid to begin reading it, because I’ll get sucked in for days on end, here are some things I noticed while I was transferring my index tabs from CMS15 to CMS16. Naturally the Chicago folks have come up with their own list of what they think it’s important: check out their “What’s New in the 16th Edition.” They’ve also prepped a cheat sheet for CMS16 that gives basic examples, suitable for giving to your students: see their “Quick Guide.”
Documentation I and II
Documentation I and Documentation II now refer to style formatting: Documentation I refers to the note–bibliography scheme used by the humanities, and Documentation II refers to the author–year style used by the social sciences. In CMS15, Documentation I provided basic bibliographic patterns, and Documentation II provided examples of specific content.
Documentation II has reverted to the same styling re. capitalization as Documentation I. In CMS15, styling a book title in social sciences style would look like this: Here is a book title. Now they use Here Is a Book Title. Likewise, article titles formerly were presented, without quotation marks, as Here is a journal article title, and now it’s presented as “Here Is a Journal Article Title.” I disapprove of this styling reversion as a step backward because it does not represent trends in styling that are moving toward minimalism. It is much neater to omit busy little quotation marks and to use lowercase letters, especially when there is so little chance for confusion. I’m sure my love of AMA style plays no part in this preference! None!
CMS16 has not provided a style for in-text author–short title–page number references—that is, an in-text humanities style. This is a departure from CMS15.
These changes to the documentation basically mean that CMS can no longer be used as the one-stop styling shop. This probably reflects the reality that you’re going to use MLA for in-text humanities style, or APA for education and psych, or CSE for the hard sciences, or AMA for medical. Further, the styling has moved to make the Documentation I and II more like each other, which is less confusing.
Creative Commons gets a nod
The section on Rights, Permissions and Copyright Administration has been beautifully updated. It now contains info about Creative Commons copyright from the publisher’s point of view that is worth a blog post of its own (see 4.57 “New alternative licensing arrangements”). I’ll write such a post up soon.
The move online
The move online has resulted in desperate attempts to adequately cite ephemeral sources. CMS16 notes, for example, that printing access dates is not usually very helpful, so CMS doesn’t require them, but they rightly point out that many journals require them, and so they ought to be logged while researching. CMS also reminds authors to image the page for their records; see 14.7 “Access dates.”
CMS also has updated the Documentation II style to include DOIs. This is discussed at more length in “Considerations for Electronic Sources,” 14.6 “Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).” A sample journal article bibliography entry with a DOI is illustrated on page 792 under “Journal Article.”
In line with online concerns, CMS16 models the terms website and US. Formerly Web site and U.S. were used. Interestingly, this caused me to look up both terms in Webster’s 11th online, where I found that Web site is still so styled, but indeed US has lost its periods.
CMS16 has only been out for a few weeks, so none of my clients has adopted it yet. Considering that some of my clients have retained in their house style elements of CMS14, I expect the transition to be a long one. The most common style overrides to CMS include page ranges (clients sometimes prefer to always use full ranges, rather than the confusing range styling used by CMS, which requires consulting a chart to see what to repeat and what to truncate; see CMS16 9.60 “Abbreviating, or condensing, inclusive numbers”), and use of standard state abbreviations, rather than postal codes, in bibliographic contexts.
This version of CMS seems more directed and restricted than heretofore. I don’t really have a problem with that: it seems useful to provide guidelines, and of course if something is presented consistently throughout and the author feels strongly, for single-authored works, that consistency trumps imposition of style.
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