CMOS-18 Is Coming!

On the heels of my blog about The Associated Press Stylebook (the industry-standard guide for journalistic-style publications) and their dictionary switch comes news about The Chicago Manual of Style (the industry standard for books and popular-style magazines).

The publisher of The Chicago Manual of Style recently announced that it will be updated in September of this year.

They say that this eighteenth edition, at 1,200 pages, is “the most extensive revision in two decades.” They also say, “The Manual’s traditional focus on nonfiction has been expanded to include fiction … in coverage of topics such as punctuation with dialogue” and that “the needs of self-published authors receive wider attention.”

Here are some of the changes that will affect authors and editors:

  • The location of a publishing house will no longer be required in citations and bibliographies.
  • Prepositions of five letters or more (about, without, throughout, etc.) will now be capitalized in titles and headings.
  • If what follows a colon comprises a complete sentence, the first word is capitalized.
  • The singular pronoun they is “fully allowable” in “formal writing” when referring to a singular antecedent. (The current 17th edition, released in 2017, states this usage is “showing signs of gaining acceptance” but “Chicago recommends avoiding its use.”) 

In case you’re wondering what constitutes “formal writing,” the CMOS Q&A gives these examples:

  • Usually formal: dissertations, grant proposals, term papers, legal documents, job applications, financial reports, wedding invitations
  • Usually informal: texts, grocery lists, personal letters and emails, personal blog posts
  • Formal or informal: books, newspaper articles, professional blog posts, work emails and letters, advertisements

Not terribly helpful to authors and publishers of books and articles. The Q&A says, “The use of slang, abbreviations, nonstandard grammar, lots of exclamation points, and a chatty tone are marks of informality. Passive verbs, big words, antiquated expressions, and correct or even stilted grammar signal formality.” Most books I read and edit would fall somewhere in between.

Release date for the 18th edition of CMOS is September 19, 2024. The book is now available for preorder from the publisher in cloth format for $75, or preorder on Amazon in hardcover for $71.25. Subscribers to CMOS Online should see all the new guidelines when the 18th edition is released. (If you click on the About tab, you’ll currently see a link to a partial list of the most significant changes made in the 17th edition. That should change to the 18th edition when it comes out.)

These changes will not take effect until the new edition is published. So for the next five months, continue to follow the guidelines in CMOS-17.

If you’re publishing a book this year, and you’re pretty confident that it is well written and meticulously edited (according to CMOS-17, The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, and Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary), consider entering it in the Editors’ Choice Award, which opens to submission this June!