Ellen Cline, writer
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Is Chicago style better online?

Author: ; Published: Mar 11, 2013; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools, Editing and Proofing; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

Chicago Manual of Style book cover

If you’ve read my previous blog post about style guides, you know I prefer The Chicago Manual of Style to the Associated Press Stylebook.

I finally signed up for an online subscription to Chicago and am really finding it useful. Rather than buy a new hardcover version of Chicago to get the 16th edition, I chose to purchase an online subscription instead. 

Although I still do love using paper books, I spend most of my time working at the computer, as I have for years. So searching the online version for reference, is quick and convenient.  And there are some added features. 

Using the online version, you can search the 15th or 16th edition. Select which you want before entering words into the search bar. As an alternative, you can use the table of contents, drilling down through each chapter to see more detail. If you’ve always liked searching the paper manual through its index, you can still do that online as well.

In addition to the book, you can also search the Q&A section of the website. Although Chicago is pretty thorough, there are situations that come up that may not be covered in the manual, and peoples’ questions and the experts’ answers can be applicable to a similar situation you’re facing.

Another nice feature: You can create a style sheet for a particular client or project. Yes, it’s just a little text editor that pops up, but at least all the exceptions to Chicago you’re using will be in one place, right there with the manual.

I also like the bookmark feature. Of course you can bookmark a paper book, as I do, but after there are a million little sticky notes and scraps of paper hanging out, it gets a bit unwieldy. To bookmark the online Chicago, you just click the flag icon.

The online  subscription version also lets you create your own annotations on any item. Say you want to note on 6.45, commas with dates, that you want to follow the ISO style for dates (9.37). You can do that with the little pop up text editor by clicking on the pencil icon.

I haven’t been using the online Chicago for very long yet, but so far I’m happy with it. Is anyone else using this handy tool? If so, what do you think about it?

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