If you’re a writer (especially an American one) you have probably heard of The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers. If not, then let me enlighten you, particularly if you are British or writing for the British market. Writers, editors and publishers alike think the Chicago Manual of Style, is THE comprehensive guide to life the universe and everything.
There are dozens of books designed to help you write, to help you with style, structure and grammar. But this book is the book I see referenced by countless editors and professionals alike. I am appalling too, I don’t understand half the rules. I try, desperately to learn them. Sometimes, I even think I might have learnt one. But as always these days, In order to learn one thing, something else gets shoved out to make space… usually a comma rule!
If you’re American, or writing for the American market, and you don’t own the book then I strongly advise you buy one, and you can do just that here: The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers. But, what about us poor old British writers? What’s the equivalent of the Chicago Manual of Style for us? I looked for a very long time and found nothing. So I decided to ask an editor, who told me the reason I hadn’t found an equivalent is because there isn’t one.
But they also told me not to despair. There is an alternative you can use. Actually there’s three. I’ve bought all three, and they recently arrived. So I thought this was a good point to share them particularly because they are proving extremely useful so far. I have put photos, links and blurbs of the collection below.
Amazon says this about the New Oxford Style Manual (Reference):
The New Oxford Style Manual brings together two essential reference works in a single volume. New Hart’s Rules, Oxford’s definite guide to style, consists of 20 chapters and gives authoritative and expert advice on how to prepare copy for publication. Topics covered include how to punctuate and hyphenate accurately, capitalization guidelines, structure your text coherently, how to use quotations and citations clearly, how to provide accurate references, UK and US usage, and much more. The guidelines are complemented by the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors which features 25,000 A-Z entries giving authoritative advice on those words and names which raise questions time and time again because of spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, or cultural and historical context. Entries give full coverage of recommended spellings, variant forms, confusable words, hyphenation, capitalization, foreign and specialist terms, proper names, and abbreviations. The dictionary also includes superb appendices for quick reference including proofreading marks, countries and currencies, and alphabets.
Combining these two updated works and drawing on the unrivalled research and expertise of the Oxford Reference and Dictionaries departments, this volume is an essential part of every editor’s and writer’s toolkit.
Amazon’s blurb says this about Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation:
Readers of all levels will find this excellent guide essential. Including examples of real usage taken from the Oxford Corpus, this handy volume provides clear information about grammar and punctuation that we need on a day-to-day basis in over 300 entries. Arranged alphabetically, it contains entries for standard grammatical terms such as pronoun, synonym, or transitive verb. It also discusses related questions of usage, for example how to distinguish between ‘may’ or ‘ might’, ‘that’ or ‘which’, and ‘it’s’ or ‘its’. For ease of use, over 40 feature entries on master headwords like adverb, hyphen, and spelling include diagrams listing related terms.
Revised and updated, The Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation offers accessible and coherent explanations across a broad range of topics, and is the first port of call for any reader seeking clear, authoritative help with grammar and punctuation.
Both easy to use and comprehensive, it is an essential tool for writing at home, in the office, at school, and at college.
Last but by no means least:
Amazon says this about Oxford Guide to Plain English (Oxford Paperback Reference):
Plain English is the art of writing clearly, concisely, and in a way that precisely communicates your message to your intended audience. This book offers 25 practical guidelines helping you to improve your vocabulary, style, grammar, and layout to achieve clear writing. It gives expert advice on all aspects of the writing process: from avoiding jargon and legalese, to organizing written information in print and online. It also shows you how it’s done with hundreds of real examples, including ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions. All this is presented in an authoritative and engaging way.
Completely revised and updated, this essential reference work is now even more useful: the word lists have been expanded; a new list of clichéd and troublesome words to avoid has been added; and examples of real-life stories have been replaced with more recent ones. An improved design gives the book a fresh feel.