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The Editing Hour: What’s New in CMS 16

Like I mentioned in my last post, I took a class this week called “What’s New in Chicago 16?” For those of you who edit, or are at least familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style, you probably know that the sixteenth edition came out in August of this year. This is a big deal because the nearly century-old style manual published by the University of Chicago Press is only updated about once a decade. The latest edition comes with a whole section on digital publishing, as well as a host of updates to the sections found in Chicago 15.

To give a brief summary, the biggest changes in CMS 16 are expanded information on producing electronic publications, including web-based books and e-books; an appendix on digital technology; a glossary of terms associated with electronic and print publishing; and a host of changes to Chicago’s recommendations regarding editorial style. (Note that I said “recommenations.” CMS is a guidebook, not the law. If you want to drop the comma before “and” in a series in your WIP, go for it.)

As for the editorial style changes, Amy Einsohn, author of The Copyeditor’s Handbook, went through CMS 15 and 16 page by page and compared the two, then typed up a 22-page handout outlining all the changes. For a copy of that handout along with 43 minutes of audio files and access to a forum in which to ask Amy questions, you can sign up for the distance version of What’s New in Chicago 16.

Meanwhile, a few highlights:

On Grammar
There are now new sections on parallel structure, problematic words like “enormity,” and bias-free language. (Expect a post from me soon on those problematic words!)

On Punctuation
1. Reminder not to put two sets of m-dashes in the same sentence.

2. Clarification that n-dashes mean “up to an including” or “through” and are not to be use with “from” or “between.” Eg: “The years 1930-1939 were difficult for everyone,” but “The years from 1930 to 1939 were difficult for every one.”

3. When a title or quotation ends with an exclamation point or question mark AND the sentence requires an exclamation point or question mark, include both marks if they are different. Eg:

Have you seen Help?!

Who shouted, “Long live the king!”?

But: Who starred in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

4. It is now okay to use a lowercase letter in a brand name like eBay even at the beginning of a sentence. “eBay is my favorite place to shop for holiday gifts. What’s yours?”

On Capitalization
The “Northern” in “Northern California” is now capitalized like the “Southern” In “Southern California.” We are now a culture and not just a geographical location! And if you’re wondering what that culture entails, for starters: Wine, chocolate, good food, art, literature, gay rights, and liberalism. Not bad for a culture that came into existence four months ago.

Now that you have a taste of the changes in Chicago 16, go buy yourself a copy! Or you can sign up for an online subscription for $35/year. Or you can use the search function online for free, then look up that thing in your hard copy. The best of both worlds.

What about you? Do you use the Chicago Manual of Style? If you’re not an editor, do you follow any style guidelines when writing your book, or do you figure the copyeditor at the publishing house will fix that stuff for you?

11 comments to The Editing Hour: What’s New in CMS 16

  • This is a test. Something funky is going on with my comments notification (as in, I'm not getting any), so this is a test to see if the new settings work. Great post, by the way, Meghan!

  • I have the fifteenth edition, and I love it. It helps me whenever questions pop up in my own manuscripts as well as when I'm reading for critique partners. Thanks for letting us know some of what's in the new one!

    You, by the way, stopped by my blog when I was taking a break. Thanks for the visit! I like your blog, and I'll be back!

    Happy New Year, Meghan!

  • Dawn – I completely skipped the fifteenth edition, so since I was working out of a style manual published 17 years ago, I figured I should invest in the new one. And I will come back to visit your blog now that you are back from your break! Thanks for letting me know!

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  • Wow, these are big changes! Can't wait for the next big thing in cms

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