Chicago Manual of Style

Grammar and punctuation I have always assumed was pretty basic. But now I am reading that writer’s should be following the Chicago Manual of Style. Seriously?

When has writing turned into such “right and wrong”? I love to write, for sure. But writing technicalities are making me write less. Ok, like, I know that we can all grow as writer’s and I am always willing to learn. But to read how some people say things like, They won’t pick up a book if it isn’t written in the form of this Chicago book style, then they won’t even bother.” Really?

I read, I read a lot, but I have never once judged someone’s style. I think that is what makes all of us unique in our own ways. Obviously if there is horrible punctuation and you just can’t make sense of it all, then it is difficult to follow along. But the style? Really?

I haven’t looked up this manual yet, I seem to be getting angry over some opinions that I am reading. I shouldn’t and I know that, but really, I don’t even want to write now. And this is something that I have NEVER said. Just frustrated I think.

22 thoughts on “Chicago Manual of Style

  1. It’s not so much a book that tells you how to write, as in “style,” but more of a very thorough guideline of grammar, punctuation, documentation for scholarly works, correct word usage, and absolutely everything you ever weren’t sure about. I love this book as a guide for correct writing conventions, but it isn’t meant to tell you what voice to use or what “style” of writing to do. It’s fairly expensive but well worth it if you’re serious about writing, especially if you were doing university papers or that kind of thing. I think the title has completely misled you.IMHO

  2. A book telling you how to write in a specific style seems odd to me, but I can see the point of it. I guess it depends on the writer and their own personal style if they think such a thing would be useful.

  3. I was going to explain, but I see that wordsfromanneli has already summed it up well. Style is simply an official set of guidelines for grammar, punctuation, etc. It is well worth it to study if you hope to improve your writing, especially if you have a goal to become published. GL!

  4. Youโ€™re getting very good advice above Angela. We have an obligation to our discipline and to our readers to use the English language and its conventions in the prescribed manner. The Chicago Manual of Style is probably the best reference work available today. It is a substantial study to undertake and I recommend the free 30-day online trial before committing to it.

    For style check out ‘The Elements of Style’ (Strunk/White). Do not confuse style with ‘voice’ – this latter being your “literary personality”.

  5. As a History and Political Science major in College, I had Turabian (Chicago Lite) burned into my brain. When I went in for a MA in Education, they wanted me to learn APA. I hate APA, and think that Turabian/Chicago is the superior style for academic writing.

    But for prose? I am not sure that such a rigid style works with prose. In fact, I am trying to undo some of my training as I write my novel.

  6. Of all the things people should know by now, it is that the English language will change. What is required today may not be so tomorrow, and other than academic papers, people respond to what touches them.

    If you have paid any attention to the way that people speak, and you are old enough to know who Beaver Cleaver was, if only in re-runs, you may also fondly recall having your mouth washed out with soap or some other punishment for daring to swear.

    If you have encountered “chavs” or others who seek to speak, write and behave outside the “norm”, you will also grasp that language evolves, as does how we write.

    So when your sitting down to write, do it. Do not worry about if you should say something, for any other reason than it does not suit what you are writing, not whether its apropos for “style”.

    Time enough to bash things over the head when your polishing it up.

    Getting frustrated, feeling not good enough, or intimidated, only adds to the host of hurdles people who desire/need/wish to write face already.

    What I say matters more then how I say it, until it hits the editing stage.

  7. I think plenty of other commentors have done a good job of explaining what Chicago Manuel Style is so I won’t get into that (although I am a big supporter of MLA myself…)

    While I completely understand your frustration with people who say they won’t even pick up a book if it isn’t written in a certain format I can, to a lesser extent, understand their frustration. While i’d never say I won’t pick up a book that isn’t written in a certain format I do think uniformity is important, especially with self-pub/indie authors. I’ve read a lot of indie books where the author simply publishes their book in whatever format they thought was best at the time. The style changes, they can’t seem to decide between single or double quotes for dialogue or whether they should italicize character thoughts or not, whether or not to leave a space or a page break between chapters. It’s frustrating, takes away from the reading experience, and overall just looks sloppy.

    While it might not be the fun part of writing, not doing it and then publishing a book is kind of an insult to anyone who reads your book.

  8. I’ve used MLA in the past, mostly for citations on research papers. I bought a copy of Strunk and White, and that’s been my grammatical Bible. Keep in mind though, that the MLA is designed for American English.

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