The 6th edition of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations may seem outdated. It’s last known copyright year as of 1998. But, as Facebook puts out a print magazine, Amazon offers brick-and-mortar stores, vinyl is back, and Sears, the company who started the whole idea of mail order files for bankruptcy, there’s only one quote that fits. “Everything old is new again.” Retro, vintage, classic…whatever name you put to it, there is one factor in writing that stands the test of time. Style.
My first thought when I saw this book at a library was book sale was “I need this!” At the time, I was writing my academic papers and offering tutoring services to friends. Later clients. I had to know what I was doing and who better to ask than the dissertation secretary for the Chicago Manual of Style, Kate L. Turabian? It’s fascinating what we can learn when we start reading the pages before the first chapter.
This edition was printed just as personal computers became prolific in our households, across school campuses, and in our business settings. So, while you may find in Purdue’s online resource OWL information about adding keywords or SEO for online searches for dissertations, theses, and term papers, this book is the bare bones. Don’t get me wrong. The OWL is a fantastic resource and I highly recommend it if you want to know about current trends when it comes to academic writing.
But, I chose this book to review because, well, sometimes I just need paper. I need to be able to lay the book next to my work and make penciled notes in the margins. The act of writing offline can sometimes offer great creativity when the mind must focus on the basics. A sampling of the earliest pages break down parts of the paper, how to write abbreviations and numbers, and my favorite question when and how to use quotations.
The book also goes on to break down how cite references from journals to poem stanzas, bibliographies, and I was surprised to discover it also included how to cite British parliament and session papers. Like many reference books at the end, it includes format samples and an index. Ah, the index! The original search engine.
I had a coaching session with a university student in Canada last week who was feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Offering various suggestions to calm down and focus, I discovered I kept repeating for her to “unplug.”
So, I’ll leave you now with the same advice. If you’re struggling or overwhelmed and your projects are breathing down your neck, take some time to “unplug” for the screen and “plug into” a book – whether it’s Turabian’s Manual of Style or another which offers more escape, you’ll be surprised at how much freer your mind becomes when you give it something else to focus on. If only for a moment in time.
Break a Pencil!
© Lisa Street Rogers 2018