On my desk rests a large book, verging on a tome. The title reads Chicago Manual of Style, the seventeenth edition in the series. ^1 Earlier this week, I took great joy surfing the pages, discussing with friends at Homebrew Website Club how to navigate the book using the code numbers (i.e. 2.XXX) and the index. The topic de jour was text formatting on the web and the Chicago Manual of Style -- herein referred to as CMoS, a shorthand for the publication -- was an incredibly useful book.
CMoS codifies a set of style rules for publishing, particularly for books. I heard about CMoS when learning about citations a few years ago, but the scope of my research was limited to adhering to the standard to which my editor pointed rather than taking a broader look at the book and its contents. Indeed, CMoS is renowned for its detailed documentation and guidance on citations.
At Homebrew Website Club, Tantek Çelik ^2, one of the participants, noted that when we design digital formatting styles it is prudent to refer to prior art in the world of print. CMoS was full of interesting information, documenting preferences for ordering bibliographies and glossaries, guidance for italicizing text, and more. A particuarly interesting section was word choice, enumerating a list of words and phrases accompanied by preferences for when the term or phrase should be used, or more concise substitutes for term. Glossing over the word choice section, I noticed the pattern of simplifying text where possible.
To navigate through the book, I started with questions and worked from there, referring to the index where appropriate to find guidance that may help me answer the question at hand.
If you are interested in writing, I cannot recommend CMoS enough; both for professional use as a reference and for personal edification to understand different features of writing.
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