New Oxford Style Manual 3rd Edition by Oxford University Press (2016)

, 10 Aug 2016

I bought this title recently because I need a definitive guide to style for work. I would have loved this being on Kindle, but it is not, so I made the effort and ordered this manual from the Book Depository.

This "definitive guide" is definitely not definitive but finite.

Good things about this book

> It is Oxford's word on writing style. Therefore, it is very useful and a must if you are bound by the Oxford Style Sheet in writing and editing at University or work.
> This manual includes two books in one.
> You pay two books for the price of one. 
> Despite the voluminous size, almost 1,000 pages, the book is relatively light and easy to handle.
> Hard cover.
> Good binding, so the book is flexible and can be fully opened without the binding resenting it. 
> The dictionary is helpful at times and has solved some of my doubts.
> The style manual is helpful at times and has solved some of my doubts.

Huge No-nos

>> Pages 609-656 missing from the printed book! Unforgivable because this is a new "improved" edition just come out to the market this very year.

>>> Page 560 is the end of letter E and 561 is beginning of letter F, and letter F is complete in p. 576, then letter G starts at p. 577 and all good and no problem and ends at p. 592, then p. 593 is  the start of letter H. , which is incomplete and interrupted at p. 608. What follows is p. 561 and start of letter F, which ends in p. 576. Letter G follows again in p. 577 and ends all complete in 592. Letter H is started all over again in p. 593 and goes well until p. 608 (another 608) and then followed by p. 657, which is the last page of letter L


Those are mistakes found at random!  I think there must be others because, even if these two blocks of mishaps are isolated, they have already created a domino effect in the rest of the dictionary, making it useless. Oxford University Press is going downhill in my list of preferred and serious editors. 

Main No-Nos

No-no no. 1 -- Year 2016, 21st century. If you work with texts and editions you most probably work in front of a computer. Having your tools online, on CD-Rom or in electronic format makes work faster, easier and more enjoyable, not to mention the space you save in your shelves.  I expect any prestigious editorial house to understand that, and to make an effort to have all their manuals in electronic format or at least on CD-Rom. One of the books in this manual is already available as an ebook, why not the other, or why not publishing this also as a CD-Rom?

No-no no. 2 -- Despite the title, I find this manual not specific for professionals, more for Ph.D. students, and for people who are starting to work in translation, edition or writing, not for people who are already professionals. Professionals, have as many doubts as anybody else, but theirs are different and more specific.

No-no no. 3 -- Most of the info provided in this book can be found, better and larger in other Oxford manuals and dictionaries or, at times, on the Internet for free, the Oxford Dictionaries website included.

The Contents of this Manual

The book includes the New Hart's Rules Manual, the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and some appendixes, plus an index. 


This is Waddingan's published a few months ago, both in hard copy and Kindle, of which I have the Kindle edition. The NHR is not the most useful book for a professional working with language. Many of my doubts were not solved. Although it is clear enough, and great for beginners, it lacks a bit of contextualised use, and it is not exhaustive in explanations or rules. This was one of the reasons I decided to buy this definite book for writers and editors, expecting the shortcomings to be fixed. Oh Well.  In my experience, the Swan's Practical English Language is way more helpful to solve my doubts regarding most things than the NHR. And the way some headings are titled is imprecise, while information that should be put together is separated unnecessarily, the reference notes in online and not  online format  for example. 


I work with specialised texts and with specialised vocabulary, some of the word is from Latin, French, Spanish and Italian, so I frequently hesitate about whether a word is already incorporated into the English Language, and whether it is used but needs italics, or need of capitals and hyphenation, and where. I use on a daily basis the Concise Oxford Dictionary in CD-Room (COD onwards)  which is great, but it falls short for that. I was hoping to get the answers in this specialised dictionary. Well, this has been another disappointment. Although some of my usual doubts are included there, many of them are not. I have done a random sampling of words for you to see:
>> Word colophony
Colophony, rosin.
colophony /kəˈlɒfəni, ˈkɒləˌfəʊni/ Ⴂnoun another term for rosin.
–    origin Middle English: from Latin colophonia (resina) ‘(resin) from Colophon’, a town in Lydia, Asia Minor.
Pronunciation: /kəˈlɒfəni/
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒləˌfəʊni/
Another term for rosin.
+ Example sentences
Middle English: from Latin colophonia (resina) '(resin) from Colophon', a town in Lydia, Asia Minor.
For editors and proofreaders
Line breaks: col¦oph|ony
>> Word Viaticum not in this manual, is included in the COD, and appears with notes for editors in the website, which is more than what you find in this definitive book addressed to professionals.

>> High Mass. Ditto. Ditto.

>> Mandate with initial capital (= ceremony of Washing of the Feet in Holy Thursday) not in NOSM, not in the COD, nor in the Oxford Dictionaries website. 

>> Schola cantorum, not in COD, not in NOSM, not in their OD's website.

>> However, you find words like so confusing as... vibrator... :)) and micro-biographical references to people with such difficult names as... George Bush and George W. Bush. 

Overall, the most useful tool for writers and professionals is actually their free look-up tool in their website Isn't that outrageous? 


I would have preferred the space devoted to these appendixes to be used to enlarge the dictionary. I have compared the appendixes in this manual against those in the COD and, except for the first two appendixes which are specific for editors and publishers, the others are available in the COD and those that aren't  are easy to find on the Internet, secondary-education books and, in the case of symbols, in the symbol chart of your Word program or in specific comprehensive symbol databases on the Internet.

The main question to me is, are these appendixes necessary for a professional who has an Internet connection? The answer is NO.

The appendixes in this manual are:
> Proofreading marks. Useful.  Not in the COD
> Glossary of printing and publishing terms. Useful. Not in the COD. 
> Primer Ministers of UK and USA. The COD has the same listing bit it also includes the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia!
> Members of the European Union. Not in the COD. Free in the Wikipedia. The UK brexit it!  
> Greek Alphabet. Also in the COD.
> Diacritics, accents, and special sorts. Not in the COD. OK.
> Mathematical symbols. OK. Not in the COD.
> SI Units.  Included in the COD.
> Metric Prefixes. Available in the COD. 
> Chemical elements. Also in the COD.

The COD, besides those mentioned above, includes: King and Queens of England and the UK; solar system and principal planetary satellites; collective Nouns; countries of the World with their capitals, population and currencies; and States of the USA, with capitals, postal abbreviations and popular names given to each State.


Well, partially useful, mostly because it works more like a detailed table of contents than a proper index.

One example:

I want to find out how to quote a PhD Thesis in an footnote in an article. So, the first thing I check is PhD Thesis, but there is not such an entry in the index. I look up theses, nope. I look up references and there is an entry for references but theses aren't mentioned there. I look up footnotes and although there, it doesn't mention theses. PhD Theses are only included under bibliography, exactly where the paragraph on this subject is in the body of the text. One  looks for a specific item, not for a group of items. I might want to include a citation about a PhD thesis in an article that doesn't have a final bibliographical listing. Proper indexes go page to page in  a book (of course not the dictionary) and include any relevant word in the final index, that is why they are the most useful and those that make any manual to stand out. Like Swan's

A good index is the most useful thing ever. This is not. 

In Short

This book (if no page was missing o misplaced) is generally useful especially if you are a PhD student, or beginning to edit books or work in translation. If you are a professional, you will find that both the New Hart's Rules and the Dictionary for Writers and Editors included in this manual fall short for what you need, even though they are helpful at times. You can get the NHR on Kindle, which comes handy if you work in front of a computer (who doesn't these days?!), and check the Oxford Website for doubts about specific words and the search is free and updated regularly.

 Bring old-school savoir editing back, Mr Oxford!


>> Not even two months since I wrote this review and they have modified the Oxford Dictionaries website, so editorial remarks on a word do not come up at all in the definition as they used to. Now it is all money money. Well, I am OK, as long as their NOSM is perfect and includes that given work... which is not always the case...
 >> I got the book exchanged for free and the second copy was perfect. Yet, a book on edition and publication that has all the mishap I found in the first copy is a clear joke.

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