Finding the #Write #Words? No. 33: The Oxford Manual of Style

Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 33: The Oxford Manual of Style

Paperback, 1033 pages. Published in 2002 by Oxford University Press, this is the edition I own. I bought it as part of a bundle offered by a book club, so I can’t recall its cost. However, it is still available as a used copy for £11.55. There is a new edition, ‘New Oxford Style Manual’ published in 2016 as a hardback by the original publisher, sporting 928 pages and priced at £66.69. The details given below relate to my 2002 version, which was edited by R.M.Ritter.

The book is divided into 17 sections, which I list here: 1, The parts of a book; 2, Preparation of copy and proofs; 3, Abbreviations and symbols; 4, Capitalization and treatment of names; 5, Punctuation; 6, Italic, roman, and other type treatments; 7, Numbers; 8, Quotations; 9, Lists and tables; 10, Illustrations; 11, Languages; 12, Science and mathematics; 13, Specialist subjects; 14, Copyright and other publishing responsibilities; 15, References and notes; 16, Indexing; 17, Index – this begins at page 595 and is quite extensive in scope, reading like a dictionary.

If I open the book at random, finding pages 376/377, I come upon the Science and mathematics section. Page 376 carries the latter part of an article on Stellar nomenclature, followed by a piece on Planets and satellites, and one on Comet nomenclature, which flows over to page 377. That page then goes on to tabulate, over two pages, Astronomical abbreviations and symbols, zodiacal signs.

The breadth and depth of this manual cannot be overstated as it relates to those who write as serious craftspeople. It provides a little more for the producer of nonfiction than for fiction writers, but the latter are still well-catered for. The alphabetical index provides definitions and spelling suggestions for those words that often catch us out.

This is a book I’ve consulted when the idea of searching through the 32 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is a little daunting if looking for some basic information. It is, as suggested by the title, primarily a guide to style, and as such gives superb guidance. I strongly recommend anyone considering a purchase today to bite the bullet, ignore the hefty price, and invest in the New Oxford Style Manual. Given my age and collection of other books on the topics, I’ll continue to consult my older version, however.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with a real interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in the subject. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.

2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms.
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.
25. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
26. The Dictionary of Diseased English.
27. The Elements of Style.
28. The Emotion Thesaurus.
29. The Grouchy Grammarian.
30. The Last Word.
31. The Little Red Writing Book
32. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors.

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