The first thing you should know about this book is that it’s available online for free as a PDF download
It’s the CIA’s style manual, eighth edition, de-classified in 2012, known formally as the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual and Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications
. We were at Officeworks one day and decided to print it out on pink paper and pay for some classy red binding. That’s all you’re really shelling out for here.
You should also know that the font size came out quite small. Just the excuse you need to whip out the ol’ magnifying glass, though—right, Harriet the Spy?
If you’re a nerd like we are, we know you’ll appreciate this document’s small-talk potential. If someone enquires about it you can remark, ‘The information that CIA gathers and the analysis it produces mean little if we cannot convey them effectively.’ (People who really work for the CIA call it ‘CIA’.)
Want to know how to capitalise the Free World, the Contras and the Group of Eight? What about that series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War? (Use Scud, not SCUD.) Want some good old-fashioned style decisions on the serial comma, the colon, indefinite articles with consonants and vowels, and the avoidance of apostrophes in plurals (Boeing 747s, MiGs, the 1980s)? It has that stuff as well!*
*Because intelligence reports are expected to be dispassionate, this punctuation mark should rarely, if ever, be used.