The Chicago Manual of Style Favorite Things 2014

Join us here for twelve days of the people, places, and things that made our lives a little better in 2014.

Day 12  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—The CMOS Ornament

CMOS ornaments

CMOS is the must-have reference for everyone who works with words—and it is also a must-have addition to any holiday decorations. Print, fold, and hang the free mini-CMOS or give it to your favorite writer, student, blogger, editor, teacher, poet, or king. Better than mistletoe!

Plus, we'll have an announcement next week about the perfect option for a last-minute gift. Stay tuned!




Day 11  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—CMOS Forum Users

The CMOS Online Forum is a special hangout where CMOS subscribers go for help with writing and editing problems. You’ll find the community there considerably more tolerant and educated than that in your average chat room. Active threads include grammar, punctuation, professional development and many more. If you subscribe to CMOS Online and haven’t checked out the Forum, hie yourself there and join the conversation; look for the “Forum” link at the top of the page once you’re logged in. Not a subscriber? Cozy up to a thirty-day free trial.



Day 10  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Wrist Health

What does typing have in common with knitting, scanning groceries, and milking cows? All involve repetitive motions that predispose a worker to that painful squishing of a nerve in the wrist called carpal tunnel syndrome. So if you think you’re at risk, take a break, flex your wrists, and check out ways to prevent injury.

We asked Yvonne Zipter, a manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press as well as a licensed massage therapist, to share some basic moves. These wrist stretching and strengthening exercises require only a desk and a few minutes. (Of course, if you suffer from any wrist, finger, or arm injuries, please proceed with caution and an OK from your doctor.) Click here to see the exercises.


Day 9  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Science Writers

Almost anyone can write a list of favorites, but it takes special knowledge and skill to write about science. Whether they’re writing up the most technical research for the benefit of scholars or introducing complex science concepts to fifth-graders, science writers who create clear and comprehensible prose have our awe and respect. Anne E. Greene, author of Writing Science in Plain English, shares three of her favorite examples from this year.

The Edge of the Sky by Roberto Trotta describes what we know about the universe and the mysteries that still await us. Such a topic would challenge any writer, but Trotta, an astrophysicist at Imperial College London, has limited his prose to the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. The result is stunningly clear and beautifully simple.

Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle tells the fascinating story of the evolution of extreme weapons in the animal world, from crab claws to beetle horns to battleships. Douglas J. Emlen, a professor of biology at the University of Montana, takes us to his field site in Panama, where he studies tiny dung beetles—animals that tell us a lot about weapons in other animal species, including our own.

Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize is an enthralling read. The title says it all. The author, Sean B. Carroll, is a professor of molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He deftly describes the complicated science, the philosophical ideas, and the heart-stopping history of this fascinating period.


Day 8  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Book Concierges

While we’d argue that the thousand-plus pages of The Chicago Manual of Style make for a gripping read, we realize that sometimes you need to consider other books when looking for the perfect literary gift. We’re thrilled to have a little help this season.

Inspired by the Butterball Hotline, Penguin is offering a book-oriented version. Visit the Penguin Hotline site, enter the recipient’s age, favorite books, and a few interests and Penguin’s volunteers will respond with their recommendations. If you are looking for a more do-it-yourself option, NPR is offering a sortable list of excellent books from 2014, with filters such as “Funny Stuff,” “Book Club Ideas,” and “Rather Short.” Finally, if you are looking for an in-person option, we recommend stopping by your local bookstore to chat with the folks on the front lines of selling great books. You may end up picking up a few new favorites for yourself.



Day 7  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Podcasts

Reading is one way to gain fluency and learn about language; listening is another. Radio shows like A Way with Words and Radio Lab regularly feature the quirks and puzzles of English. Sites like Radio Lingua Network offer free instruction in a multitude of languages. With innumerable free interviews, lectures, and lessons available for your portable device, the hardest part is choosing which to download first.



Day 6  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Library Stores

library stores

Libraries are for word lovers, so why wouldn’t library stores be filled with terrific loot for same? And you don’t even have to travel to California or New York for your Jane Austen earrings, because—naturally—you can shop online! The Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Morgan Library are good places to start.




Day 5  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Quizzes

Writers and editors are helpless to resist when faced with a chance to test their language skills. Multiple choice, true-false, or “spot the errors”—we love ’em all. According to our colleague Carol Saller, this editing quiz is still one of the top three landing pages at her Subversive Copy Editor website four years after it was posted.


Day 4  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Beautiful Book Covers

How better to choose a book than by its cover? We asked our colleague Jill Shimabukuro, head of design and production at the University of Chicago Press, for three gorgeous covers to share with our readers.

Scroll through and enjoy. If you have a favorite of your own, share it on our Facebook page.

Aesthetic Brain

The Aesthetic Brain by Anjan Chatterjee
Designer: Thomas Ng
Oxford University Press


Book of Heaven

 The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace
Designer: Linda Huang
Pantheon Books



 Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Designer: Jamie Keenan
W. W. Norton


Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

 The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn
Designer: Gabriele Wilson
W. W. Norton


Day 3  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Poetry Magazine

Poetry Magazine Logo

Anyone who wrangles words is in a special position to admire the work of poets. Since 1912, Poetry magazine has been finding and celebrating poetry of all styles, publishing the work of major English-speaking poets, and encouraging emerging poets. You can browse the current issue of Poetry at the Poetry Foundation website or celebrate one hundred years of poems with their recent collection The Open Door.




Day 2  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Advanced Find and Replace

find replace image

Some writing and editing chores are so tedious we might be tempted to skip them. But savvy word processors can breeze through otherwise endless chores by using “wild card” searches like the ones Jack Lyon of The Editorium teaches in one of his freebie tip sheets, “Advanced Find and Replace for Microsoft Word.”




Day 1  Chicago Manual of Style Favorites—Sticky Notes

sticky note CMOS

We are starting off our list with something small but so very useful—sticky notes as bookmarks. Who can resist decorating the Manual with these cheerful little place markers? Writers and editors take pride in a book cluttered with them. They’re like editorial badges, saying “I come here often—do you?”

Check back each day for a new favorite and feel free to share your own on our Facebook page.