by Vicki Palmquist
Did she go “in the door” or “through the door”?
How do you cite a website in a bibliography?
Can you get away without hyphens in “reapply” and “coworker”?
Ah, grasshopper, if these questions are causing you to lose sleep at night—and they should be—then you can adopt a style manual for your personal reference. There are several. You may be familiar with one or more from your years in school. If it’s been awhile since you were in school or you threw the manual away because you never wanted to look at it again, then you’re in need of something to help.
My personal choice is The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press). First published in 1906, this reference is now in its 15th edition, the last one published in 2003. A review in Booklist said, “The Chicago Manual of Style maintains its vitality by adapting to its ever-changing environment. None of the changes from one edition to the next are capricious; that which remains vital carries over, and that which must change, changes.”
You can go to your public library and get your questions answered.
You can go out and buy it for $55.00. It’s thick and heavy. I always think over my options before taking it off the shelf.
You can buy the CD-Rom, which came out in 2007. It’s $60.00.
You can use The Chicago Manual of Style Online. It’s $25.00 per year. This is my preference. I especially love their Q&A section. Here’s a sample:
Q. The assistant editor of my local newspaper wrote the following sentence in a column: “My parents had my little brother and I later in life.” I said I believe it should be “my brother and me.” She remains adamant that she is correct and referred me to your book. How is this possible?
A. It’s not possible; she’s flat-out wrong. (And we rarely say that anything is flat-out wrong.) Ask her if she would write “My parents had I.”
Or try this one:
Q. We are struggling with hyphenating trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific. AP says to hyphenate; Chicago does not (7.90). But you say to hyphenate trans-American. If Atlantic, Pacific, and American are all normally capitalized, shouldn’t they all follow the same hyphenation standard for prefixes?
A. Chicago’s choices follow Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary. If transatlantic and trans-American appear near each other in a manuscript, however, we might hyphenate both for the sake of visual harmony.
Visual harmony as a reason for hyphenation. I can understand this!
Take a look at their tools: sample letters, electronic submission formats, and proofreaders’ marks!
Need a book publishing process diagram? Yup. They’ve got it, right there in all its flow-chart glory.
Who says there’s nothing useful on the Internet?
Vicki is a children’s literature enthusiast and one of the co-founders of Children’s Literature Network. She has worked with children’s books since her first job as a page in a library. In subsequent jobs in bookstores and libraries, she found herself straightening the children’s books most often. For the past 20 years, she and her husband, Steve, have worked as graphic designers and marketing consultants for Winding Oak. They live in Minnesota.
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