What’s New in the CMOS 17 Citation Chapters

The announcement of a new edition of The Chicago Manual of Style always prompts rejoicing—along with a few worried queries about how much the citation styles are changing.

Never fear! The forthcoming 17th edition of CMOS entails few changes to our notes, bibliography, and reference list citation styles. After all, we’ve had over a hundred years to work on getting them right. Instead, the updates and revisions to chapters 14 (“Notes and Bibliography”) and 15 (“Author-Date References”) consist mainly of

  1. styles for sources not covered in the 16th edition,
  2. additional examples to help clarify existing styles, and
  3. coverage of new topics related to citation practices.

New or expanded topics and styles in the citation chapters (14 and 15) of CMOS 17

In preparing the new edition, every paragraph in the Manual was scrutinized for opportunities to update, clarify, or expand. In the citation chapters (14 and 15), the following are some of the topics that received all-new or expanded treatment—but without changing existing citation styles:

  • Citation software
  • Audiovisual recordings
  • Live performances
  • Maps
  • Multimedia app content, including video games, interactive books, and encyclopedias
  • Online-only supplements to printed books
  • Page or location numbers in electronic formats
  • Paintings, photographs, and sculptures
  • Patents and standards
  • Permalinks and the like
  • Short forms for URLs
  • Social media content
  • Text messages

Departures in citation style from CMOS 16, chapters 14 and 15

Very few actual citation styles were modified in preparation for the 17th edition. The citation styles that did change in chapters 14 (“Notes and Bibliography”) and 15 (“Author-Date References”) are listed here.

Titles for websites. Titles of websites are generally set in roman without quotation marks and capitalized headline-style. In a small departure from the 16th edition, CMOS 17 no longer prefers to make an exception for the title of a website that is analogous to a traditionally printed work but does not have (and never had) a printed counterpart.

the website for the University of Chicago; the “Alumni & Friends” page
the website of the New York Times; the New York Times online
Wikipedia; Wikipedia’s “Let It Be” entry; Wikipedia’s entry on the Beatles’ album Let It Be

Use of “or” with double titles. Old-fashioned double titles (or titles and subtitles) connected by or have traditionally been separated by a semicolon (or sometimes a colon), with a comma following or, or more simply by a single comma preceding or. Chicago now prefers to use the punctuation on the title page or at the head of the original source. If there is no such punctuation, or when the original source isn’t available, use the simpler form shown in the first example. This departure from earlier editions recognizes the importance of balancing editorial expediency with fidelity to original sources.

The Tempest, or The Enchanted Island
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Use of “ibid.” The abbreviation ibid. (from ibidem, “in the same place”) traditionally refers to a single work cited in the note immediately preceding. In electronic formats that link to one note at a time, however, ibid. risks confusing the reader. Thus, in a departure from previous editions, CMOS 17 will discourage the use of ibid. in favor of shortened citations. To avoid repetition, the title of a work just cited may be omitted. (NB: CMOS 17 does not prohibit the use of ibid. and continues to explain how to use it.) An example of notes avoiding the use of ibid.:

1. Morrison, Beloved, 3.
2. Morrison, 18.
3. Morrison, 18.
4. Morrison, 24–26.
5. Morrison, Song of Solomon, 401–2.
6. Morrison, 433.
7. Díaz, Oscar Wao, 37–38.
8. Morrison, Song of Solomon, 403.
9. Díaz, Oscar Wao, 152.
10. Díaz, 201–2.
11. Morrison, Song of Solomon, 240; Beloved, 32.
12. Morrison, Beloved, 33.

Repeating the year in certain author-date citations. (New) In an author-date reference list entry, the year may be repeated for sources that are also identified by month and day.

Germano, William. 2017. “Futurist Shock.” Lingua Franca (blog). Chronicle of Higher Education, February 15, 2017. http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/02/15/futurist-shock/.

New York Times. 2002. “In Texas, Ad Heats Up Race for Governor.” July 30, 2002.

Bluebook. Minor but comprehensive changes have been made to the advice throughout the section on legal and public documents to conform to the 20th edition of the Bluebook. There is additional guidance for citing official versions of court cases consulted online and for including “neutral citations” for Canadian and British legal cases.

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Those are the highlights—we hope you find them reassuring! As always, when faced with a style that doesn’t suit a given content, editors should practice judgment and regard for the reader. Chicago’s insistence on flexibility in the 16th edition remains virtually unchanged in the 17th edition:

Flexibility and consistency. As long as a consistent style is maintained within any one work, logical and defensible variations on the style illustrated here are acceptable if agreed to by author and publisher. (CMOS 17, 14.4)

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[This post was edited on 5.18.17.—Ed.]

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