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Chicago 17 Resource Center: Style


Style Recommendations

Bias-Free Language

From CMS 17, Section 5.254: Bias and the editor's responsibility.

"Chicago's editors do not maintain a list of words or usages considered unacceptable.... What you should strive for - if you want your readers to focus on your ideas and not on the political subtext - is a style that doesn't even hint at the issue." p. 359

Here are some techniques suggested by the Chicago editors:

  • Where pronouns are concerned and the identity of the person is unknown, try to rewrite the sentence to avoid their use.
  • When pronouns must be used, when possible use the pronoun preference of the person being referenced.
  • Whenever possible, avoid irrelevant references to a person's sex, race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or social standing.
  • When a characteristic is important to your writing, emphasize the person, not the characteristic. 
  • For words that are sex-specific (ie: "chairman", "mailman"), whenever possible, use a variant like "chair" or seek a different word like "mail carrier".



From CMS 17, Section 6.127-129: Lists and Outline Style

  • Use Minimally
  • Parallel elements (use similar structure of list items to show connection)
  • May be run in (for short, simple lists)
  • May be vertical (when visual prominence is necessary, long lists, or lists with multiple levels)
  • Use introductory numbers or letters only in a vertical list and only if they are required to suggest chronology or importance

Tables and Figures

From CMS 17, Section 3.47 - 3.54: Tables

Tables can present information in an easy to scan format that could take paragraphs of exposition to give otherwise.

Some points to consider about tables:

  • Style should be consistent throughout
  • Should be individually numbered referred to in text using that number
  • Appear as soon as possible after the first mention of the table in the text

Capitalization and Abbreviations

From CMS 17 5.6: Proper Nouns

Proper nouns should always be capitalized. There are a number of special circumstances and the Chicago Manual of Style should be referenced to answer any particular capitalization questions.

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