Have you ever looked at the Chicago Manual of Style?

2014 0125 CMOSI recently purchased the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. [1]  This was partially due to Tom Jones’s urging at SLIG but also because issues kept coming up which (I was told) could be answered within the CMOS, as it is sometimes referred.  Why did I need CMOS when I had Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence Explained? [2]

Major Misconception:  CMOS is only about citation form.

My copy arrived while I was at SLIG and I am amazed at the information it contains.  And, I am equally amazed that this book is not in more genealogist’s libraries.

Some sections are particularly interesting to me…

  1. The parts of a book.  Since I am doing more self publishing and publishing for clients, I am finding this section validating and helpful.
  2. How to proof your work.  I think this will be very helpful as I get closer to BCG submission.
  3. Tables and illustrations.  I was learning from examples published in NGSQ etc. but here is how to do them.
  4. Copyright information.  While I look to Judy Russell’s blog and webinars to education me, it’s nice to have this as a backstop.
  5. Little things.  The authors discuss when to write out numbers and when they can be in numerical form, when certain words are capitalized and when not, and how to handle quotations.
  6. and of course, citations.

There is also an e-book but the hard copy will suffice–for now.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: cleaned up my desk after reinstalling my desktop computer, discussed with hubby my criteria for a laptop computer, worked at the SGS Library as a volunteer, wrote up my interview with Jeanne Bloom, the Spring Seminar SGS speaker and worked on my case study. I also ordered and received Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.  I had a copy but my daughter “shopped” my library and now has it in hers. The color of the cover of the CMOS is actually a light turquoise–very distinctive on my shelf.  My thoughts are with those of you in the Midwest and East as the storm comes your way.  Stay safe.

[1] University of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). See p. 701, CMOS for this citation.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007).


12 comments on “Have you ever looked at the Chicago Manual of Style?

  1. Fuller Jones "Sonny J" says:

    I have had the 14th edition of CMOS for about ten years. I found it invaluable when writing my own family history book. I wonder if there is enough difference in the editions to warrant a new purchase? I will explore the electronic version. Thanks.

    Sonny J

  2. It may have stunk but it’s actually Strunk & White…..typo, tee hee!

  3. Grace Keir says:

    Jill, the Chicago Style Manual was a requirement when writing my master’s thesis and PhD dissertation. I didn’t have my own copy, but think I should now have one when writing genealogy info into my database. Glad you find it useful.

    This is one of the worst winters I’ve encountered recently. Two months of below temps so far and winter isn’t over yet.

    • jkmorelli says:


      You have a small learning curve when it comes to genealogical writing. Lucky you.

      It is a strange winter–ours seems to be very dry.

      Conference plans are going terrifically. A great group of speakers.

      Professional genealogist Give the gift of family!


  4. Allen says:

    A 40-year-old copy of the U.S. Government Style Manual can also be a very satisfying reference along with the CMOS. If you ever find one, grab it.

  5. Karen Stanbary says:

    I too am a nearly converted fan of the value of the CMOS after participating in Dr. Jones’ Writing course at Samford. See this guest blog post:


  6. Lisa Gorrell says:

    I have the 15th edition and when I put together the book on my husband’s family, I found the grammar review very valuable as well as how to publish.

  7. Renita Collier says:

    I found your blog today and I love it! Thank you for letting us know what is in the CMOS. I was thinking that because I have Evidence Explained, I wouldn’t need this book. I see now that there is more to the book than I originally thought.

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Welcome! CMOS helped out a couple of times while I was writing my portfolio and I am glad I had it handy–It covers the use of Ibid. more thoroughly than does EE and it has many more book examples so if you get stuck with an odd situation on a book and its authorship etc. CMOS is a good place to go. I wish I also would have read it before I self-published my books. It has great infroamtion about what goes into the forward material. Hope other postings are of help as well. Thanks for commenting.

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