Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I know that CMOS and the APA manual [the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association] differ in their citation styles, but I’m curious: How do you feel about a new guideline in the seventh edition of the APA manual omitting the place of publication in book citations? Is this a style decision you would likely replicate in future editions of CMOS?

A. Several major style guides have dropped this requirement in recent editions. First it was the MLA Handbook (8th ed., Modern Language Association, 2016), then APA’s Publication Manual (7th ed., late 2019), and most recently the AMA Manual of Style (11th ed., American Medical Association, 2020).

Not requiring the place of publication in a source citation can help not only authors but also editors, who sometimes spend valuable time verifying this detail using WorldCat and other resources. And we agree that the name of the publisher and date of publication alone are usually sufficient for the purposes of finding a book.

If Chicago were to follow this trend, however, we would want to make the place of publication an optional element.

For books published by a university press, the name of the institution is tantamount to its location. It doesn’t really matter where Harvard or UC Berkeley publishes its books. So the name of the university press would be sufficient in most cases.

But for books published by independent or international publishers outside the English-language publishing nexus of New York and London, a location can provide valuable cultural context for readers assessing the scope of an author’s research.

Cole, Teju. Every Day Is for the Thief. Abuja, Nigeria: Cassava Republic Press, 2007.

And for books published before 1900, the city is usually more important than the name of the long-defunct publisher or printer. Our current recommendation—according to which you can include only the city for pre-1900 works (CMOS 14.128)—is unlikely to change.

In sum, Chicago will no doubt continue to show how to style the place of publication in a citation for a book even if it becomes an optional element. Stay tuned.