Take my recipe, for example. After mixing, I chill my dough. And after rolling and cutting, I chill my dough. But then you read other recipes claiming that they're "no chill" and, like it says, there is no chilling required. So which one is right?
What it all comes down to isn't the recipe itself, but your interpretation of the recipe. The recipe may claim that it needs to be chilled, but you ran out of time one day and stuck the cookies in the oven without chilling them at all - they came out the same as usual. Or you followed a "no chill" recipe right down to the last detail, and they came out of the oven as sugar cookie blobs.
The thing is, we all read recipes differently, and we all have our own way of doing things. You tell ten people to follow a recipe, and they are going to come up with ten different results. As a baker sharing her sugar cookie recipe online, all I can do is tell you exactly what I do and hope for the best.
I swear by chilling my dough - both after mixing and after rolling and cutting. My dough is mega buttery, and if I were to try to roll it out without chilling, I'd end up with a sticky mess. Trust me, I've tried it. I always let it chill in the fridge for atleast 4 hours or so after mixing and portioning it (into flat 1kg blocks - I make a lot of cookies). As long as you chill it for that minimum time, it's very forgiving - you could chill it over night or even make a whole bunch of dough ahead of time, portion it, and freeze it. The key is making sure you bring the dough out to room temperature and roll it while it's still cool but not cold. Too cold, and you'll break your wrists trying to roll it. Too warm, and it'll stick to everything.
I always chill my sugar cookies after rolling and cutting, as well. I find it helps the cookies from spreading in the oven. Many many cookie decorators swear by this, but you'll also get a lot of cookie decorators that don't feel the need to chill their cookies before baking. I throw mine in the freezer for about a half hour (I'm sure even 15-20 minutes would be sufficient) and again, the freezing process is rather forgiving - you could freeze them overnight if you ran out of time in the kitchen that day. I've tried rolling and cutting my sugar cookies and then putting directly in the oven - sometimes they spread, sometimes they don't. It could depend on a lot of factors, especially things like heat and humidity. Heat and humidity seem to have quite a big spotlight in cookie decorating, don't they?
So what's the answer? Well, it all depends on you - the dough handler. You may have great success in chilling your dough, and some of you may not find it necessary. Like I said, it's the interpretation of the recipe, and not always the recipe itself. So what's your preference? Let me know in the comments below!