The Chicago Manual of Style, and Other Essential Guides for Writers, Editors, and Publishers

Updated on June 11, 2018
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

This collection of books can guide the aspiring writer in many ways.
This collection of books can guide the aspiring writer in many ways.

Anyone can write a novel, but how would a person know the proper format for publishing? For example, what goes into the front matter? Or for that matter, what is the front matter?

In the past, when reading a new book, I tended to skip over the Title Page, the Copyright notations, Preface, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, Dedication and Introduction and jumped right into reading the text. That worked until I tried to publish a novel of my own. Then I had questions.

Many of those questions were answered in The Chicago Manual of Style, now in its Seventeenth Edition, published by The University of Chicago Press in 2018. Their First Edition was published 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?

Source

For those trying to write a novel, some amount of time may have passed since that accelerated English class or literature course in high school or college. Trying to capture slices of life's experiences and preserve them in fictional text or in a non-fiction book may lead to questions about the proper format.

This may seem an easy task with all the word processing software and grammar guides available at the touch of a button, but you might be surprised at how often these guides may lead us astray. Take the following example from a popular word processing software.

Grammar Check Gone Astray

This was the suggested edit that came up in a grammar check. So do me?
This was the suggested edit that came up in a grammar check. So do me?

Beyond the basics of capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar, once you've finally put down the pen (or keyboard) and started to format your long-awaited novel, where do you turn for advice on the set up for your book?

There are a number of helpful texts that can make the job easier and ensure that your reader will turn the pages beyond the front matter. Let's review what The Chicago Manual of Style suggests.

The Chicago Manual of Style

This textbook is valuable if you're getting ready to publish. A seventeenth edition is available.
This textbook is valuable if you're getting ready to publish. A seventeenth edition is available.

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." In Chapter One, The Parts of a Book, they define the difference between a right facing page and a left facing page as "recto" for the right side of an open book and "verso" for the left side. There are specific rules that follow as to where the printing goes in the front matter, which are the pages that come before the first chapter begins.

"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

Sir or Madam will you read my book?

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.

Author Michael Crichton is the best-selling author of Jurassic Park and many other thrillers.
Author Michael Crichton is the best-selling author of Jurassic Park and many other thrillers.

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

Next is another blank (verso) page on the left, and a list of other novels by the author on the right side. The next page includes a nearly blank page on the left (verso) with only 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.

Altogether, I counted eight (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 one began the page numbering sequence which was left blank on the first page of each chapter, although counted in the total.

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.

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.

The Silver Chalice, Thomas B. Costain, 1952

From a different 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 recto side with no author's name below.

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 one, 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.

APE is another valuable guideline on "How to Publish a Book."
APE is another valuable guideline on "How to Publish a Book."

Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, How to Publish a Book, by Kawasaki and Welch, 2013

The reference book, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur also addresses the formatting techniques for modern authors. Their front matter is concise beginning with a full title page on the recto side of 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 following right side page lists other books by Guy Kawasaki. The back of that page is blank on the left side, 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.

Should You Write a Book? is chapter one of the APE Book. It also covers why people read books.
Should You Write a Book? is chapter one of the APE Book. It also covers why people read books.

Perhaps the best key in self-publishing is to pick a method that you as an author feel most comfortable with starting with an established template that has served to sell millions of books.

As we see from countless examples in the grammar software, mistakes happen and no rule remains absolute. There are certain guidelines that help govern the formatting of publications that seem to gain the most acceptance among readers. And that, after all, is why we write; to reach the reader.

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. | Source

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.

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White

A concise and useful tool since 1935, this book breaks down the important parts of writing a book.
A concise and useful tool since 1935, this book breaks down the important parts of writing a book.
Great advice from Strunk and White's classic book, The Elements of Style.
Great advice from Strunk and White's classic book, The Elements of Style.

Important Tips from Stephen King in 1 Minute

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peg Cole

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      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        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.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        2 months ago from SW England

        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

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 

        2 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

        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

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • B. Leekley profile image

        Brian Leekley 

        2 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

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

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        2 months ago from The Beautiful South

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

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

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

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        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.

      • profile image

        matthewtaylor78 

        2 months ago

        I have already bought another one...

        thanks

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        2 months ago from Canada

        Cool! Good work lady!

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        2 months ago from Shelton

        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..

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 months ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 months ago from USA

        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.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        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 profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        2 months ago from Shelton

        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...

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        2 months ago from Canada

        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 profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        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 W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 months ago from Houston, Texas

        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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