Reviewing Chicago Manual of Style

There are several styles of writing: styles for journalists and public relations professionals, styles for students and scholars, and your own writing tone and style. Whereas, developing your own unique style takes time, there are tried, and true methods of writing based on the subject at hand.

Having spent two decades as a journalist in the popular press, the least familiar of the styles guides I know is the Chicago Manual of Style (and other scholarly styles).

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is the preferred formatting and style guidelines used by the disciplines of history, philosophy, religion, and the arts.

The CMS was shaped by professionals in these disciplines who publish their articles in books, journals, and magazines. A version of CMS is Turabian. Created by Kate Turabian from the University of Chicago, hence the name, this format is slightly easier to use, having simpler, shorter, and fewer requirements than CMS. Turabian is used for students and researchers while writing their papers and essays.

Chicago Manual of Style’s general rules are quite complex to the layman or woman. Its framework is as follows.

  • Font: Clear and easy to read, the preferred fonts are Times New Roman or Courier
  • Font Size: Generally not less than 10pt, but preferably 12pt
  • Space: Doubled everywhere except within block quotes, table titles, notes, figure captions, and bibliography or References entries
  • Spaces Between Paragraphs: None
  • Margins: Not less than 1”
  • Chicago Style Page Numbers: Placed at the top right corner of each page excluding the title page, so the first page of the main body should be numbered at 1
  • Footnotes: Should be assigned on quoted or paraphrased passages if you use the Notes-Bibliography method.

The CMS lends itself to consistency, making the text readable for other scholars in the field and for those who publish them.

Other scholarly styles include the American Psychological Association (APA) format, used to cite sources in psychology, education, and the social sciences, and the Modern Language Association (MLA), used in the humanities.

This is one of a three-part series on writing style.

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