Margaret D. F. Mahan (1933–2018)

Known for her intelligence, generosity, sparkling wit, and ready laugh, Margaret D. F. Mahan played a significant role in the University of Chicago Press’s history and success.

Margaret joined the Press in 1962 as a marketing copywriter for the Books Division and moved to the Manuscript Editing Department five years later. By the time she retired in 1998, she had become managing editor of the Books Division, supervising a large department of manuscript editors and many freelancers in addition to editing important projects herself.

Immediately following her retirement, Margaret worked as the principal reviser of the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, which brought the book into a new era on many fronts. Margaret initially edited on paper (since CMOS did not yet exist in a usable electronic format), using traditional handwritten markup. When it became obvious that this system was too cumbersome, Margaret started typing the text into MS Word files herself. She later remarked that this provided her with “an eerily searchable set of files”—something no previous reviser of the Manual had had the benefit of.1 The files that Margaret created were used to typeset the 15th edition and then to create CMOS Online, which in turn became the draft MS for the 16th edition, a version in turn used for the drafting of CMOS 17.

For many years, Margaret taught basic and advanced manuscript editing for the University of Chicago Publishing Program (now part of the Graham School). She also conducted editorial workshops for various organizations, including the American College of Surgeons and the extension program of the California State University, Northridge, and was a dedicated volunteer correspondent with a number of imprisoned women.

Margaret was an influential teacher and friend to many, including both students and Press staff members who credit her with mentoring and encouragement that led to their careers in publishing.

Margaret Mahan died on June 22.


1. Marta Steele, “Make Way for the Latest, Greatest Editors’ [And Others’] Bible: Chicago Manual of Style Released in Fifteenth Edition,” August 15, 2003,