New Chicago Rules

The Chicago Manual of Style, used widely by fiction writers and editors and by many working with non-fiction, recently came out with their newest edition—number sixteen.

The hardback guide isn’t cheap, though Amazon has reduced the price to something more manageable. However, an alternative to buying the book might be to access the online edition. The yearly individual subscription fee is still cheaper than the incredible Amazon discount (but then you won’t own the book).

As part of the freebies offered at the CMoS web site is a list of the most significant changes that occur in the sixteenth edition. Some affect authors preparing a manuscript for publication (others pertain more to Internet writing, magazine writing, or scholarly journals), so I plan to review those over the next few posts.

Today I’ll address punctuation changes.

1. Punctuation after a title. Most titles don’t contain end punctuation, but when a question mark or exclamation point comes at the end of a title, CMoS, edition sixteen, says essentially to ignore it and put whatever other punctuation the sentence requires in addition to the end mark contained in the title.

    Previously: His book, Are You Sure? was on the best-seller list for a month.

    Change: His book, Are You Sure?, was on the best-seller list for a month.

2. The use of the apostrophe in a “specialty plural.” I’m terming the plural of a word or phrase in quotation marks a “specialty plural.” The old rule said to use an apostrophe and add s to make such words or phrases plural. The new rule does away with the apostrophe.

    Previously: How many “specialty plurals” did she use?

    Change: How many “specialty plurals” did she use?

3. The use of an apostrophe when forming a possessive of a name ending in s though it is not pronounced. The changed rule says to form the possessive in the same way that possessives for other singular nouns are formed—by adding an apostrophe and s.

    Previously: Albert Camus’ novels expressed his philosophical views. (This punctuation was an option).

    Change: Albert Camus‘s novels expressed his philosophical views.

4. The use of an apostrophe when forming a possessive of a name ending with an “eez” sound. The rule change says to add an apostrophe and s in the usual way.

    Previously: Xerxes’ reputation preceded him.

    Change: Xerxes‘s reputation preceded him.

5. The use of a hyphen in a color compound before a noun. Like other compound adjectives, color words must now be hyphenated.

    Previously: The emerald green water was cool and inviting.

    Change: The emeraldgreen water was cool and inviting.

There are a couple specialty punctuation changes, too, but these are the ones a novelist or an author of commercial non-fiction will most likely need.



Filed under Punctuation, Resources, Writing Rules

2 responses to “New Chicago Rules

  1. Wow. The apostrophe rule is just blowing my mind; it’s easier, for sure, but…how are you supposed to ‘say’ it? It says that you shouldn’t pronounce it, but how can you NOT?

    Those are biggies–to this old person, at least.

  2. Hi, Chris. A lot of people don’t pronounce it now because they don’t add it. I’ve made a habit of including it because it seems more consistent, and I’m glad they made the change. I don’t think the people who weren’t using it will have any problem not pronouncing it, but I think I will. 😉


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