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Q. Which manual of style is the oldest in the world? Is it The Chicago Manual of Style? I’m a Brazilian teacher, and I am doing a paper about style books.
A. The Chicago Manual of Style is not the oldest style manual in the world. In 1848, B. H. Smart’s Manual of rhetoric: with exercises for the improvement of style or diction, subjects for narratives, familiar letters, school orations, &c.: being one of two sequels to “Grammar on its true basis” was published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. Smart wrote manuals about elocution, logic, thesis writing, and grammar. In 1892, William Minto’s Manual of English Prose Literature was published in Boston. The United States Government Printing Office has been publishing a manual since 1900 that is very similar to Chicago’s: Manual of style governing composition and proof reading in the Government printing office, together with decisions of the Board on geographic names. This information is based on a search of OCLC’s FirstSearch database and is probably the tip of the iceberg, though this date-restricted search seems to indicate that the first truly broad style manuals aimed at publishers began to be popular starting about 1900. The first Chicago “manual of style” was published in 1906. It was called A Manual of Style and included type specimens.