Colleague Katharine Thompson has provided me a list of some of the changes she noticed in the new, just received 7th edition of the McGill Guide, known more formally as the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, edited by editors of the McGill Law Journal and published by Carswell.
The biggest change to me in the new 7th edition of the McGill Guide is the aversion to periods (albeit, presumably they remain acceptable at the end of sentences . . . .). As such, we are now admonished to drop periods in almost all circumstances:
- Former: Gould Estate v. Stoddart Publishing Co. (1998), 39 O.R. (3d) 545 (C.A.)
- New 7th edition: Gould Estate v Stoddart Publishing Co (1998), 39 OR (3d) 545 (CA) [i.e., no periods after the “v” or after “Co” or for the abbreviations for the Ontario Reports Court of Appeal]
- Former: Canada Business Corporations Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-44, s. 181.
- New 7th edition: Canada Business Corporations Act, RSC 1985, c C-44, s 181. [i.e., no periods for the abbreviation for the Revised Statutes of Canada and no period at the end of the abbreviations for section or chapter]
- Former: S.M. Waddams, The Law of Contracts, 6th ed. (Aurora, ON: Canada Law Book, 2010)
- New 7th edition: SM Waddams, The Law of Contracts, 6th ed (Aurora, ON: Canada Law Book, 2010) [i.e., no period between first and middle name initials or after edition]
This last one goes too far [alert: grumpy person now about to complain]: I am all for simplicity and am a huge fan of neutral citation, but unless you advocate the removal of all periods (such as the end of sentences), it doesn’t make sense to remove the periods after a person’s initials – Professor Waddams is Stephen Michael as represented by his initials. “SM” is not a word and is [not yet] a recognized acronym in the way that CEO or VIP is. Thankfully, the new 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style appears to still encourage the use of periods for abbreviating various abbreviations included “E.B.” for “E.B. White” and abbreviating id est as “i.e.” or else I would have had to correct my usage of “i.e.” above. Although I could not immediately find a McGill Guide 7th edition use of “i.e.” or “ie” to confirm their position – to my horror, the new 7th edition of the McGill Guide gives examples in Rule 1.4.2. for abbreviating ibidem to Ibid, without a period, so to be consistent, I assume the new McGill Guide would now advocate to not use periods for “ie” – horror of horrors – time to retire [alert: end of grumpy person complaining].
[Note: There is now a new 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. I have just taken advantage of the online offer to buy both the hard copy and a 2-year online susbcription for a discounted price.]
The other major changes of interest that caught my eye in the new 7th edition of the McGill Guide include:
- Hyphenating looseleaf to loose-leaf (argh!)
- The use of “Delivered at” for delivery of papers at conferences – see Rule 6.13
- The use of WL Can as an abbreviation for Westlaw Canada in citations to decisions from that database – see Rule 3.8.2
Example for citing a blog in Rule 6.16: Karen Montheith, “CIPO contemplating changes – Extensions of time in examinations”, (30 September 2009) online: Canadian Trademark Blog
- A whole new chapter on citing foreign sources
There is a more helpful “chart” in Rule 3.1 on hierarchy of sources for citing to cases but my plea that citing only to a neutral citation would be sufficient fell on deaf ears since the 7th edition admonishes the researcher to cite to at least two sources for the decision to “make sure the information is appropriately identified and accessible”, which I guess is reasonable.
The new edition seems to be formatted in a more pleasing manner (using red-coloured fonts more effectively for headings and in examples).
The obvious comment / complaint would be this: if both The Bluebook and the Chicago Manual of Style can offer both a print / online version for purchasers, how come we can’t get an online version of the McGill Guide?
Despite my complaints, the McGill Guide will remain an important reference source for the citation of Canadian legal materials. However, as with past editions of the McGill Guide, I would regularly decide to intentionally violate the recommended rules where it served my purpose and I felt I could justify my departure from their standard. Time will tell if I remove periods from my citations, as suggested by this new edition.
I welcome comments and invite expressions of interest in membership in the soon-to-be-created Society for the Protection and Retention of Periods in English Grammar.