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“Chicago” Goes Electronic

It is no longer necessary to have the three-pound Bible of publishing on your bookshelf. The Chicago Manual of Style has just gone online. According to today’s announcement, an introductory one-year subscription is $25 if you subscribe by September 30, 2007–$30 after that date. Thirty-day free trials are available.

As I just read Chicago’s blurb, I noticed it used the word Bible, as I did (above), but Chicago used a lowercase version. So I have decided to see how long it takes me in the new electronic version to find the rule for capitalization of the term Bible. Ready . . . I’ve set my watch . . . Go!

Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . .

Here are the results:

After more than 6 minutes, I gave up looking for the answer in the online version. Since I am usually more successful with actual books I can touch, I pulled my volume of Chicago off my bookshelf, and I spent another 3+ minutes searching for the rule. Although Chicago covered the Bible and its books and versions in detail, it did not answer my question. So I gave up on Chicago and decided to check my AP Stylebook instead.

In AP it took about 10 seconds to find the answer: The word bible is not capitalized when used as a “nonreligious term.” AP gave this example: “My dictionary is my bible.” And for today The Associated Press Stylebook is mine.

As I so often realize, one “bible” is not big enough for me as a writer. How about you?

In any case, Chicago Manual of Style Online, welcome!

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.