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I'm wondering if there are guidelines or common practices for citations to style guides that I haven't been able to find searching meta-ELU. Perhaps it's a non-issue and I've only thought about it because I'm apparently attracted to questions (I see as being) about style, but I'm working on an(other) answer for which it seems appropriate to cite The Chicago Manual of Style and want to make sure I'm doing it in a way that accords with general consensus, if there is one.

Citing other style manuals seems pretty straightforward since most have online versions or third-party websites covering a guide's approach to common questions. But Chicago, as far as I know, is paywalled other than their "quick guide" for Chicago-style citations and some pre-selected questions and answers. This probably makes it not an ideal source to use in the first place in terms of publicly accessible educational resources, but on the other hand it's a pretty darn common reference, not to mention widely considered authoritative, so ignoring or excluding it doesn't seem to be a service to SE readers either.

Given those caveats, if one is citing CMS, what's the best way to facilitate source verification (by a reader with full access)? I've used what I think is properly referred to as section number (e.g. 6.38 is the part of Chapter 6 dealing with "Commas with dates" along with the html "section" symbol (§) to denote that I'm referring to a section.†

In lieu of a hyperlink, the section reference seems to allow for quick verification of the source, but I'm curious if there's a preferable or more standard way to go about this.


†My question is written in a tense that suggests I've already cited CMS this way, but now I can't find the example I was thinking of. But my question here remains.

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  • Here's the answer that prompted this question, though this may be the first time I've cited CMS in an answer. – cpit Mar 6 at 11:53
  • CMS is available in the reference section of just about every library in the English-speaking world, and most people who need to consult it regularly have a copy of it on their bookshelves. – jsw29 Mar 6 at 16:14
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    One point worth noting is that Chicago is prone to renumbering chapters and numbered subsections in every new edition—and it seems to issue a new edition every five or six years, even when the substance of the individual guidelines changes very little. For that reason, (1) it's important to identify which edition you are referring to, and (2) the content of a guideline tends to have far more staying power than its section number and title, and deserves to be handled accordingly. – Sven Yargs Mar 12 at 7:35

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