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"The Chicago Manual of Style," for Writers, Editors, and Publishers

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Peggy Cole is a published author who enjoys writing short stories, book reviews and articles about simpler times.

The Chicago Manual of Style

Valuable information for those getting ready to publish.

Valuable information for those getting ready to publish.

Self publishing has taken over the industry of book writing and has made it simpler for anyone who writes a novel to publish it. But how does a writer know the proper format for publishing and arranging not only the text but the information that comes before and after the story?

  1. Why are there blank pages at the beginning of a book?
  2. Does a writer need a prologue or preface?
  3. How about a dedication?
  4. Where does the copyright statement go?
  5. How about the author's name?
  6. Should the title have its own page?
  7. What about the table of contents?

Answers to those questions and more can be found in "The Chicago Manual of Style," now in its Seventeenth Edition. They've been advising writers since their first edition came out in 1906.

"For more than one hundred years, The Chicago Manual of Style has remained the definitive guide for anyone who works with words."

What are the Parts of a Book?

chicago-manual-of-style-the-essential-guide-for-writers-editors-and-publishers

Some of the Most Important Parts of a Book

  • Title page
  • Copyright notations
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • Dedication
  • Introduction
  • Text

"The front of the leaf, the side that lies to the right in an open book is called the recto."

— The University of Chicago Press, from The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition

Why Do People Read Books?

Should You Write a Book? in the APE Book answers why people read books.

Should You Write a Book? in the APE Book answers why people read books.

The Parts of a Book

According to The Chicago Manual, "publishers refer to the sheets of paper that you turn in a printed-and-bound book as leaves, and a page is one side of a leaf."

Chapter 1 of the manual, The Parts of a Book, explains the difference between a right facing page and a left facing page.

  • "Recto" is the right side of an open book
  • "Verso" is the left side page.

There are actual guidelines as to where the printing goes in the front matter or the pages that come before the first chapter begins.

Essential Writing Guides

Looking for the correct way to set up your book?

Looking for the correct way to set up your book?

Determining the proper format for a book may seem an easy task with the help of word processing software and grammar guides available. However, these guides may lead the writer astray. Grammar checkers have been known to be wrong on occasion.

Books From the Past

The Silver Chalice, a historical novel by Thomas B. Costain, Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1952, was on the New York Times Best Seller List from September 7, 1952 to October 25, 1953 for a total of 64 weeks.

The Silver Chalice, a historical novel by Thomas B. Costain, Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1952, was on the New York Times Best Seller List from September 7, 1952 to October 25, 1953 for a total of 64 weeks.

You can open any printed book in your house and find a variety of styles used over the years. For the most part, the format is consistent. The first chapter of a book usually begins on the right (recto) page with a blank verso page to its left. Chapter one traditionally begins with an odd numbered page, such as 1, or in the case where a long prologue is numbered, on the next recto page that follows, an odd numbered page.

Stephen King's Chapter 1 begins on the recto side with page 17 after three Forewords. In the third Foreword, he states, "The editor is always right." And then he adds, "The corollary is that no writer will take all of his or her editor's advice; for all have sinned and fallen short of editorial perfection." After all, it is your book and you do have choices.

Modern Books and Their Front Matter

Michael Crichton is a best-selling author with thrillers like Jurassic Park and this one titled Micro.

Michael Crichton is a best-selling author with thrillers like Jurassic Park and this one titled Micro.

Crichton Follows the Chicago Manual

For example, consider the modern writer, Michael Crichton, author of Micro, whose format follows The Chicago Manual for the most part. In this hard cover book a map of the island of Oahu appears on the recto and verso sides of the inner cover followed by a blank verso page and a half title on the recto side.

Next is another blank verso page (left) and a list of other novels by the author on the recto. The next page includes a nearly blank page on the verso with the Harper Collins Publishers logo, then, the full title page on the right (recto) with both authors' names.

On the reverse side of the full title page is the copyright information where the wording appears: "This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author's imagination. . ." on the verso side before a dedication page on the right.

The back of the dedication page is blank on the left side of the open book with a poignant quote on the recto or right hand side of the open book.

Again, the verso, or left side of the following page is left blank with the Introduction starting on the recto (right) side of the open book.

There were 8 blank verso pages leading up to Chapter One text which began on the right hand side of the open book with no page number noted. The second page of chapter 1 is where the page numbering sequence started with the number 2.

There is a note in the back matter about the author having sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-six languages with thirteen of them made into films.

Paperback Writer

Examples From the Past

From an author of an earlier generation, the book, The Silver Chalice, starts with an inner cover map on verso and recto sides as well.

The left (verso) side of the first leaf is blank with a half-title on the right (recto) side without the author's name.

Next, there is a color drawing of a chalice on the recto side with the full title and author and publisher's name and date of publication following another blank left side page.

Next on the left is the copyright information and on the right page, another half title.

Again, there's a blank verso page, followed by the Prologue with the text starting halfway down on the recto side. Page numbering starts on page two and continues for twenty-six pages until a blank verso page ends the Prologue.

On the right facing page there is a half title that says, "Book One" with the back side of the leaf blank (verso).

Chapter 1, indicated by a Roman numeral, begins on the recto side halfway down the page with page numbering continuing on the verso side with page number 30.

How To Publish a Book

"APE" or Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is another modern guideline for writers

"APE" or Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is another modern guideline for writers

"APE, How to Publish a Book"

The reference book, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Kawasaki and Welch addresses the formatting techniques for modern authors. Their front matter is concise beginning with a full title page on the recto side on the first page after the cover.

On the verso side is their copyright information, Published in the United States by Nononina Press along with the ISBN number, the version and a note, Printed by CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC.

The next recto page lists other books by Guy Kawasaki. The back of that page is blank, followed by another half title page and a note about following the author on social networks.

In this book, the table of contents ends on a right facing page with the back (verso) of that page left blank.

Next comes the [Preface] on the recto side (right) with a quote by Benjamin Disraeli who states, "The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it." There are seven (7) blank verso pages before chapter one begins.

Guy Kawasaki emphasizes the importance of the way the finished book looks saying in Chapter 9, "Appearance is everything." He recommends referring to The Chicago Manual of Style to ensure that the front matter of the self-published book is correct.

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White

This book breaks down the important parts of writing a book.

This book breaks down the important parts of writing a book.

Best Advice Ever

"Omit needless words."

"Omit needless words."

Rules or Guidelines?

No rule remains absolute but there are guidelines to help govern the formatting of publications that have the most acceptance among readers.

One key to self-publishing is to pick a method that you feel comfortable with and follow the template of a successful author.

These books are a great starting place to learn more about how to set up a book.

These books are a great starting place to learn more about how to set up a book.

Other Useful Guides on Writing

Other guidelines and examples on the content of a book are found in the excellent writings of author, Stephen King, in his book, On Writing.

The reference book by Janet Burroway, called Writing Fiction shares examples of exercises designed to develop writing style.

In The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, copyright 1935, updated in 2000, the authors share key advice about writing, namely, "Omit Needless Words."

This leads to the purpose of this article which was for my own education more than for any other reason. I took the advice of my editor and opened a dozen books in my home and studied their format. This was a valuable exercise in discovering a pleasing book setup style for my second novel. That is a key factor. The author must be pleased with the finished product and so must the reader. It's a delicate balance.

Important Tips from Stephen King in 1 Minute

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Peg Cole

Comments

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 07, 2018:

Hi Shauna, It's so good to see you here. Hoping you're doing well. Thanks so much for the kind words about the novel(s) and for stopping in to read this post. See you soon.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 07, 2018:

Hello Ann, I hope you'll share your findings here when you locate a good manual for use on your side of the pond. Thanks so much for coming by to check this out.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 07, 2018:

This is a valuable resource, Peg. Thanks for sharing! And congratulations on publishing your second novel. I really enjoyed the first, so I'll be sure to grab my copy.

Ann Carr from SW England on June 06, 2018:

A good collection of titles to help and encourage writers, Peg. I'm off to see if there is an equivalent British 'Manual of Style', though there are several books I already have which help tremendously.

A writer certainly needs a reference apart from the basic grammar book and this one is obviously one of the best.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Ann

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 05, 2018:

Hello Maria,

So wonderful to see you out here. It's like old times having your name pop up. Thanks so much for the visit.

I treasure my copy of "On Writing" as well. Stephen King certainly has a way with words. I'm currently working on revising a book review and moving it out here.

Thanks for the kind words about the latest work. I finally had to quit editing and get it out there. :) Probably should have omitted a few more needless words. LOL

Hugs and love to you, dear friend.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on June 04, 2018:

This is a comprehensive collection of resources, dear Peg - a keeper for sure.

I treasure my copy of King's "On Writing" that a dear friend gave me.

Perhaps the best tip for any kind of writing to me is: "omit needless words".

Congratulations on your latest novel showing how you 'practice what you preach'.

Love and hugs, Maria

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 04, 2018:

Hello Brian, It's true what you've said about making a living at writing. I've been reading Stephen King's biography and discovered that he faced many rejections in his early quest to become published. He actually taught high school to support his family in the early days before he finally made the grade.

How impressive that you were the copy editor for a book publishing firm. I remember the kind advice you gave me long ago about dialogue in my early chapters of writing and it served me well. Thank you again for taking the time to guide me in the right direction.

I see time and again that other reference manuals still refer to The Chicago Manual of Style as the "most comprehensive" guide and having access digitally is also keeping current with technology.

Thanks so much for coming by and for sharing your thoughts here.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 03, 2018:

Peg, almost anyone can write a novel, just as almost anyone, even an average toddler, can press piano keys, toss a ball, or dance to music. Far fewer can write novels, play piano, play a ball game, or dance well enough to make a living at it. Far fewer than that can do so masterfully. Amateur novelists, workhorse pro novelists, and master novelists nearly all, in modern times, make use of such tools of the craft as you describe.

For a time when I was a young man, I was the copy editor for a small book publishing firm. The Chicago Manual of Style guided my every decision whether of not to blue-pencil something in a manuscript about which I wondered.

I just asked Google which is the best style manual, and Grammar Girl, in an article, makes the case for The Chicago Manual of Style. She especially likes that it is available online in digital form, making it fast and easy to search and find whatever particular information is at the moment needed.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 03, 2018:

Hello Jackie, Nice to see you here. I love that song, too.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 02, 2018:

Will keep this handy, Peg, for reference, and now go up and listen to a very favorite song! Thanks for both.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 02, 2018:

Hi William,

I'm not familiar with all the terms in the book but I did find their definition for half-title. "The half-title (in a printed book, no folio) normally consists only of the main title (less any subtitle) and is usually counted as the very first page in a printed-and-bound book. All other information --including author name, publisher, and edition -- is omitted."

Thanks so much for asking.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 02, 2018:

Hello Matthew, Great that you own this book. Cheers.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 02, 2018:

Hi Linda, Nice to hear that you enjoy reading your copy of The Chicago Manual. I use it like a dictionary, when I need to look something up. It's really handy. Thanks so much for dropping in on this post and for the thoughtful comment.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 02, 2018:

Hi Frank, I'm using my Kindle for playing Spider and reading late at night. Also, when I have a doctor's appointment and have a long wait. Still, I agree, that the feel of turning pages is a memorable experience.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 02, 2018:

Sorry Peg. Thanks for your interest. They were published before I moved to Canada by our university publisher. I am sure it needs lots of updating now.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 02, 2018:

Hi Mary, Lucky you to have the publishers take care of everything. Please let me know the name of your book(s) so that I can take a look. Are they available on Amazon? Congratulations to you. With all your travel, you have a lot of photos and historical information to share. All the best, and thanks for stopping by.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on June 02, 2018:

Hi, Peg. Very interesting and informative. I'm not sure of all the technical terms. Could you explain "half-title"? thanks again for another great read.

matthewtaylor78 on June 02, 2018:

I have already bought another one...

thanks

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 01, 2018:

I bought the latest edition of the The Chicago Manual of Style not long ago and find it interesting to read. Thanks for sharing all the information, Peg. This is a useful article for people who are publishing a book.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hi Bill,

It's a real luxury to be able to write for a living. The hard part comes with the editing and the rewrites. You are one who doesn't need the help of a manual when it comes to getting the style right.

Thanks for coming by and for the kind remarks.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on June 01, 2018:

Cool! Good work lady!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 01, 2018:

I agree with you Peg, but I still love the feel of a book, and the pages.. and the chance to highlight passages I need to look up.. yeah.. I too like my Kindle but I rarely use it... now..

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hi Flourish,

Your comment inspired me to check out the differences in the styles. It looks like they have only a few distinct variations concerning footnotes, spelling out numbers and the abbreviations for states along with the proper notations for titles.

According to this article, AP or Associated Press style is used mostly by journalists, APA is common in science and some college classes, while "The Chicago Manual of Style is arguably the most comprehensive, often used in publishing." Here is the link. https://www.wedowebcontent.com/blog/big-difference...

Thanks so much for coming by to share your insight.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hi Frank, You're so right about the computer phasing things away. Some of us old-timers still like the feel of a heavy textbook in our hands, where we can dog-ear the pages and highlight important passages. I admit, I'm one of those, although I do enjoy reading on my Kindle late at night so that a heavy book doesn't fall on my head.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hello Verlie,

I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Editing a book is the hardest part of the whole process, not nearly as fulfilling as writing a book. But in this day of self-publishing, it's important to know certain things.

Thanks for asking about the book. I'm hoping today to receive the fourth set of printed proofs so that I can go through everything again. I hope you'll be pleased at the use of your quote on the back cover! Thanks again for your permission.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2018:

I am not familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style and I'm glad you explained it well here. I have not written a book on my own as the publisher took care of everything so I did not know any of these. Thanks for the education.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hello Mike,

As always, I appreciate your fine attention to detail along with the inspiration that your encouragement and writing prompts inspire. Thank you for all you do and have done to make my dream of writing a novel (or two) come true. You are a gem. I'm proud to know you and call you my friend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 01, 2018:

I learned a ton here. I have a confession to make: I have never read the Chicago Manual of Style. I just write! :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 01, 2018:

I learned a few things just from reading this article! Thanks! Grad school made me switch to APA style but I previously was familiar with this.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 01, 2018:

Hi Peggy, Thanks for the fast visit to this reference material hub and for the pin to your board. I'm hoping to release the second novel very soon. Still awaiting the 4th proof copy to review before publishing.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 01, 2018:

I remember we had to use some of those books in college.. Strunk and White was a required book to use in English freshman.. they were useful I think until the computer phased them away.. however, I still think this hub is useful and the share is generous of you...

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on May 31, 2018:

Peg this is great! You are such a Pro, appreciate the tips and advice on what's what in book publishing, especially the layout of the front matter. Your collection of reference books is impressive. Enjoyed this very much. How's the book coming along?

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 31, 2018:

Hi Peg - Your attention to detail is why you have such a large following here at Hubpages. The Pub, has showcased your story telling abilities. Your new, soon to be released novel, 'Looking for Home, Adventures on the Road has captured the hearts of those that joined you on this journey, here in this community.

You did a lot of research here in this article. I see that Michael Crichton values the use of the Chicago Manual of Style. I am sure your readers will find the style of your latest work to their satisfaction.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 31, 2018:

Hi Peg,

As an author of The Pub and a second book soon to appear, I can see why you are paying attention to the overall appearance of books. This is something that every author of a book should know prior to publishing. Will pin this to my Do You Know This? board.

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