The Chicago Manual of Style – 1st vs 16th Edition

Widely acknowledged as the go-to book on American-English style, The Chicago Manual of Style – now in its 16th edition – is an absolutely indispensable resource for translators; however, for some, the very idea of spending 65 dollars* on a book can result in sleepless nights and cold sweats, which is perhaps why the good folk at The Chicago Manual of Style Online make the entire 1st edition available for download absolutely free of charge. Yes, that’s right: free! Don’t believe us? – then click on ‘complete facsimile of the 1st edition‘ at the top of this page. However, before you get too excited, we’d better mention that the 1st edition is a bit dated…

The 1st edition vs the 16th edition

First published in 1906 (under the title ‘Manual of Style’), the 1st edition was one of the first editorial style guides ever to be published in the United States. It contains 203 pages and two main sections: entitled ‘Rules for Composition’ and ‘Technical Terms’ – followed by the book’s ‘Appendix’, ‘Index’ and ‘Specimens of Types in Use’. The 16th edition (published in 2010), on the other hand, boasts a whopping 1,026 pages (which rather puts the 1st edition in its place!) and three parts, entitled ‘The Publishing Process’, ‘Style and Usage’, and ‘Documentation’, which break down into sixteen main sections (presumably coincidental to it being the sixteenth edition) – with some of the more interesting being ‘Foreign Languages’, ‘Mathematics in Type’ and ‘Production and Digital Technology’.

Note: for an official list of what’s new in the 16th edition (sadly, in comparison to the 15th edition rather than the 1st edition), click here.

Other style guides

There are of course plenty of other style guides to choose from, and whilst Chicago is all well and good for people working with American English, it’s far from perfect for those working with British English – who might prefer to reference The Oxford Style Manual or New Hart’s Rules, for example. Alternatively – and there really are a lot of alternatives – those in Europe might like to reference A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission, which is made freely available as a downloadable pdf. However, whatever your personal style-preferences, remember that many clients will ask you to adhere to their own especially-prepared style guides – and the client is, of course, ‘always right’.

*65 dollars is the list price, it’s actually discounted to 35.51 dollars on amazon at the moment.
What’s your style?