Monday, November 22, 2010

The Chicago Manual of Style.

The Windy City and I are not even on nodding terms. My only and somewhat tenuous links to it are the eponymous Oscar winner and The Chicago Manual of Style. I happen to possess the 14th Edition of it in a rather shabbily brought-out Indian reprint by Prentice-Hall of India, New Delhi, in 1996. I managed to get one of the advanced copies through the kindness of my late friend, Shoiab. The reason I’m reminded of it (Can’t say I’ve used my copy very much – I had to really search in my book cabinet to find it!) is because the 16th Edition with “state-of-the-art recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices in the digital age” went on sale in the US end-October. As the very idea of an authoritative and seminal guidebook on style and usage has always fascinated me, I thought that a timeline of how The Chicago Manual of Style evolved was worth looking at.

1891 The University of Chicago Press with own compositing room and experienced typesetters opened for business. A common set of rules for the process of typesetting to ensure consistency in usage and style (a style sheet) was evolved. It later became “the University Press style book and style sheet”.

1906 The 1st Edition of Manual of Style: Being a compilation of the typographical rules in force at the University of Chicago Press (200 pages) was offered for sale for 50 cents plus 6 cents for postage and handling.

1949 The 11th Edition of the Manual went on sale.

1969 150,000 copies of the copiously rearranged, expanded and updated 12th Edition of the Manual were sold matching the combined sales of the all the earlier editions.

1982 With the publication of the 13th Edition of the Manual, the nomenclature was changed to The Chicago Manual of Style as at present. Among the then current issues it addressed were the new US Copyright rules, the emerging typesetting technology and the PC and word processor.

1993 The 936-page 14th Edition dealt more systematically with the style, usage and technology issues concerning the wide spread use of PCs. Sales soared to 500,000 copies; cumulative sales to over one million copies. (I own a copy of this Edition.)

2006 The Chicago Manual of Style Online debuted attracting more than 200,000 recurring visitors by 2010.

2010 The latest Edition appeared in October simultaneously in print as well as web formats.