Q & A with the Chicago Manual of Style [Repost from CMS Online]

7 01 2013


Q. I am editing a professor’s CV. In many cases, he gives two years for an article he has published. He gives the year corresponding to the issue number, as well as the year the issue was actually published. What is the correct way to include this information in a citation?

A. It’s not conventional to mention the year an article was printed, although an exception might be made if a publication was delayed many years or appeared in advance of the issue date, or if the timing of the printing was critical to some development in the discipline. Otherwise, it’s potentially confusing and unhelpful to have two dates. Libraries and online databases use the publication date, not the printing date. If your professor can’t defend his inclusion of the printing date, devise a style that is crystal clear, such as “(printed in 2012).”

Q. For text following a long block quotation, is it a must to indent, even if adding a single line? It seems confusing (visually) to do so.

A. Indent only if you are starting a new paragraph. If the text continues the paragraph that precedes the block quotation, then it should begin with no indent. Please see CMOS 13.22 (“Text following a block quotation”).

Q. I’m working on a document that has a glossary of terms, and for the first instance of each glossary term in the text there is a footnote saying that the word is defined in the glossary. I find this awkward, especially when there are three glossary terms in one small paragraph—it’s cluttered and distracting. I’d rather drop the footnotes and instead mention in the foreword or overview that the document has a glossary.

A. As you suggest, this method is not only awkward—it’s irritating. Even just the presence of “Glossary” in the table of contents can suffice, although a mention in the foreword is also a good idea.

Q. Browsing both the 15th and 16th editions for citation rules, I don’t see instruction on how to cite live performance. Given that performance studies, dance/theater criticism, and musicology/ethnomusicology are established disciplines, and that observing live performance is a necessary research method, I don’t see why that source (and its creators/producers) should not be cited.

A. It’s not that Chicago rejects live performance as a legitimate source; there simply isn’t room for examples of every kind. If live performances are the backbone of your research, the lack of a citation form in CMOS should not prevent you from citing them. You can mimic the standard order of citation elements (name, title, place, date) or order them in a way that makes sense for your work, such as chronologically for works by the same person.

Q. My boss likes to dictate letters using what I refer to as declarative or emphatic speech: “She did go to the store and she did buy that hat. I did tell her that it was a lovely hat.” I have never seen text typed in this manner and generally edit it to “She went to the store and bought that hat. I told her that it was a lovely hat.” Which is correct?

A. There’s nothing incorrect about your boss’s construction, but even perfect grammar can be distracting and annoying. I’ve noticed this usage particularly in flight-attendant speech. (“We do expect to be landing shortly.” “We do ask you to return your seat to its upright position.”) You should feel confident editing out the extraneous emphasis.

Q. I understand how in proofreading (as opposed to copyediting) you write only the proofreaders’ marks in the text, with corrections and operations in the margins (such as writing a caret in the text to indicate insertion, but putting the letter to be inserted in the margin, not above the caret), as in fig. 2.7 of CMOS 16. But is there some protocol as to which notations go in which margin? Do they all go in the left margin, or do you split them up evenly between left and right?

A. As long as they are readable and in left-to-right order, it doesn’t matter how you divide corrections between the two margins.

Q. I am editing a large academic textbook where the authors have at least six different native languages, none of which are English. We have hit a bit of a hitch when it comes to proper nouns. In most cases, they all agree that we should use the English spelling, but some of them have strong feelings about using the spelling in the original language in other cases. What are the Chicago guidelines regarding use of original spelling versus anglicized spelling in academic manuscripts?

A. We prefer consistency and clarity, however you achieve it. As the editor, you should wrangle the authors into agreement. If the chapters have different authors, you can choose to observe consistency within but not across chapters. Agree on (or dictate) a specific reference work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia of place-names) as a default. Negotiate a list of exceptions from each author and add them to your style sheet. Please see CMOS 8.46 and sections thereabouts for more advice.

Q. Do footnotes have to be double-spaced and the same size font as the text? It just does not look right!

A. In Chicago style, yes. Remember that traditionally manuscripts are prepared for someone to edit on paper, if necessary. Manuscripts are not meant to “look right” if that means looking like a published article or book. The type should be large enough for easy reading, and there should be enough space between the lines for copyediting. (If the manuscript will be edited electronically, the editor can easily change the format, of course, and none of this matters.) When material is typeset in a book or journal, the notes are usually reduced in size and printed single-space—and then they will look right to you.

Q. I am editing an article for publication. The author is discussing a Yiddish tale entitled Simkhe Plakhte. The title is also the name of the central character in this tale, and the author also uses it as a genre, as in “the basic narrative elements of the Simkhe Plakhte tale.” Should “Simkhe Plakhte” be treated as a title and italicized, or is it used as a general term? In general, if a writer uses the title of a folktale as a genre, does it need to be treated as a title?

A. It’s usual to use italics for a title but roman for a genre or character. There are times when it doesn’t matter which you choose: you can read the Harry Potter books or the Harry Potter books. For these gray areas, pick a default style and note it in your style sheet.

Q. An editor for a journal using the CMOS 15th edition has changed all of my plural possessives (patients’ suffering, positivists’ project) to, e.g., patients’s suffering, positivists’s project. This is incorrect. The former, not the latter, is correct. Yes?

A. The former is correct—and let’s hope this was just one of those momentary brain misfires that even the best editors occasionally suffer. Please see CMOS 7.15 (7.17 in the 15th edition).

December Q&A

Q. When did calendar come into common US use as a verb? I always find it difficult to obey when asked to calendar an upcoming meeting, because I hear calender (comes from cylinder), the act of moving paper between two rollers to smooth its surface.

A. It’s possible you aren’t the only person who, when faced with an upcoming meeting, imagines smashing the agenda to bits, but I’m guessing that among US workers calendar is far more familiar than calenderMerriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary tells us thatcalendar has been a transitive verb since the fifteenth century—plenty of time for it to catch on in the States. A superficial search of the verb forms calendared and calendaring at Google Books’ Ngram Viewer shows their usage in American English beginning in the early nineteenth century.

Q. A client asked CMOS about capitalizing coach when it was used as a nickname. They got the following in reply:

Yes, it’s conventional to cap words like Coach or Captain or Auntie when they stand in for a person’s name. If you refer to “a coach” or “the coach” or “my aunt” or “the captain of the ship” in a sentence, however, it is lowercased.

I would have thought that Captain would be considered a title and come under the general rules in 8.18 and not be capitalized other than in direct address—likewise Auntie ought to come under the kinship exception in 8.35 and would be capitalized. As coach is a title, and includes no name, I was lowercasing it other than in direct address. Please advise if this is incorrect.

A. Your client’s information is correct. If a person is called Coach in place of his or her name, then anytime the word coach is substituted for that name it should be capped. To decide, see whether an actual name would fit in the same sentence. If it fits, cap coach as a name:

“Hi, Coach!” / “Hi, Jim!” (The name works as a substitute, so cap Coach.)

I saw the coach smile and wave / I saw the Jim smile and wave. (The name does not work as a substitute, so lowercase coach.)

I saw Captain Smith smile and wave / I saw Sally Smith smile and wave. (The name works, so cap Captain.)

I think her aunt is a bookie / I think her June is a bookie. (Lowercase aunt.)

It doesn’t matter what the word is: captain, coach, aunt, joker, brain. If it’s used in place of a name, cap it.

Q. Section 9.38 seems pretty straightforward: “Times of day in even, half, and quarter hours are usually spelled out in text.” I’m an editor on contract with one of the larger self-publishing companies. I recently got this note from an editorial staffer: “In several instances, you changed references like 1:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to one a.m. and ten p.m. . . . If you have found specific Chicago rules to support the changes you’ve made, please let me know and I’ll be happy to pass the manuscript through as is. However, I don’t know of a rule that would allow that. If you don’t know of one either, would you please change the time references with a.m. and p.m. back to numeral form and resend?” For seven years, I’ve been spelling out times of day ending with :00, :15, :30, and :45, with or without a.m./p.m., if they did not seem particularly significant in context. This is the first time it has been called into question.

A. Your correspondent is correct; expressions like “one a.m.” are not Chicago style. Better to write “1:00 a.m.” or “one in the morning,” depending on whether you mean the time exactly or not, respectively.

Q. I have an examiner of a doctoral thesis criticizing footnotes because they renumber at every new chapter, starting at 1. Presumably he wants them to flow from one (1) to the last number sequentially through the entire thesis. Who is right?

A. Many universities have strict rules and formats for dissertations, so it’s possible that the examiner had no choice in the matter. Almost all the books that we publish at the University of Chicago restart the numbering of notes (whether footnotes or endnotes) at 1 at the beginning of each chapter. Rarely do the notes number all the way through a book. That said, there’s no single “correct” way; it’s simply a matter of style.

Q. I’ve been coming across this construction using the verb help: helping our patients be home for the holidays; knowing that we have helped so many people be home for the holidays. I recognize the usage; it’s common in my region. But I’ve been recommending to be homeas the grammatically unimpeachable (and to my ear better) choice. I haven’t found a discussion of the matter anywhere. I would appreciate a recommendation.

A. The omission of to in constructions with help is also unimpeachable. In fact, often the addition of to would impart an unreasonably stilted or formal tone: Let me help you to reach that. Please take a look at CMOS 5.104.

Q. I’m editing a paper that compares entries in two eighteenth-century French dictionaries. The author has included headwords—both French and English—in all caps throughout the paper. This is fatiguing, especially in long lists of entries in running text. Does Chicago style recommend a format for referring to headwords in running text?

A. I’m afraid CMOS isn’t that specific. If the paper is going to be published, the copyeditor, writer, and designer will likely consult over the typographical treatment of elements like this. In preparation, you might ask the writer to submit examples of quoted headwords from other sources on the topic.

Q. I seem to find conflicting information, and I can’t figure out the following: is it OK or not to introduce a block quotation with an incomplete sentence (such as “The passage states”) followed by a colon? Or does the sentence have to be a complete sentence?

A. Either way is fine. (In fact, “The passage states” is complete—or independent—on its own. “The passage states that” is incomplete.) Independent clauses usually require some end punctuation; incomplete ones often do not. Please see the examples at CMOS 13.11–21.

Q. Does hyphenation render a diaeresis redundant? Because it wrapped to another line, the word naïveté was rendered as na-ïveté.  Should this appear in print as na-iveté?

A. No. Hyphenation imposed at line breaks in typesetting should be regarded as temporary and invisible rather than part of the word. You can bet that if a proofreader were to remove that diaeresis, in the next round someone else’s correction would cause the word to end up whole again. Better to leave well enough alone.

Q. Do I treat “as and when required” with a suspended hyphen when adjectival? E.g.: “an as- and when-required basis.” Or join up: “an as-and-when-required basis.” Unfortunately, we’re stuck with transcribing substantially verbatim legislative debates.

A. Ick. If you were able to reword this construction, you could simply write “when required.” But since you’re stuck, it’s probably better to quote the offending phrase than wrangle with hyphens: an “as and when required” basis.

Q. Is it proper writing to start a sentence using a coordinating conjunction in a quotation? “Her dress is ugly,” said Jane. “But please don’t tell her I said that.”

A. Of course—as long as it reflects the intention of the writer. Your construction indicates a firm pause in Jane’s speech, with the effect that the second half reads like an afterthought. Using a comma and lowercasing “but” could leave open the possibility that Jane spoke without a significant pause, in which case the second half would come across as Jane’s main point: “Her dress is ugly,” said Jane, “but please don’t tell her I said that.”

Q. When I entered an incorrect password for your website, I received this message: “Invalid Log In.” Shouldn’t “log in” be “login” in this case?

A. In a world where CMOS editors could stand with whips and chains over all the IT teams who write code for error messages for all the software packagers who supply all the websites, everything would be written consistently in Chicago style. As it is, however, CMOS editors have no such power. And quite honestly? We’re fine with that.


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27 12 2012

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Second Person POV

23 12 2012

The second-person narrative is a narrative mode in which the protagonist or another main character is referred to by employment of second-person personal pronouns such as “you”.

Traditionally, the employment of the second-person form in literary fiction has not been as prevalent as the corresponding first person and third person forms, yet second-person narration is, in many languages, a very common technique of several popular and non- or quasi-fictional written genres such as guide books, self-help books, do-it-yourself manuals, interactive fiction, game books, musical lyrics, advertisements and also blogs.

Although not the most common narrative technique in literary fiction, second-person narration has constituted a favored form of various literary works within, notably, the modern and post modern tradition. In addition to a significant number of consistent (or nearly consistent) second-person novels and short-stories. The technique of narrative second-person address has been widely employed in shorter or longer intermittent chapters or passages of narratives.

Third Person POV

20 12 2012

Third-person view

Third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative mode in literature. In the third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as “he”, “she”, “it”, or “they”, but never as “I” or “we” (first person), or “you” (second person). In third-person narrative, it is obvious that the narrator be merely an unspecified entity or uninvolved person that conveys the story, but not a character of any kind within the story being told. Third-person singular (he/she) is overwhelmingly the most common type of third-person narrative, before there have been successful uses of the third-person plural (they). Even more common, however, is to see singular and plural used together in one story, at different times, depending upon the number of people being referred to at a given moment in the plot. In third-person narratives, a character never would refer to himself in the third-person e.g., “(Character name) would like to come with you”.

If the narrator of the story is not present or is present but not a protagonist and a story told by someone else and not his own, the story is narrated by He/She perspective.

The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with “subjective” narration describing one or more character’s feelings and thoughts, while “objective” narration does not describe the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is between “omniscient” and “limited”, a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has omniscient knowledge of time, people, places and events; a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character’s mind, but it is “limited” to that character — that is, it cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

First Person POV

9 12 2012

First Person POV

In a first-person narrative the story is relayed by a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character as “I” (or, when plural, “we”). Oftentimes, the first-person narrative is used as a way to directly convey the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the narrator. Frequently, the narrator’s story revolves around him-/herself as the protagonist and allows this protagonist/narrator character’s inner thoughts to be conveyed openly to the audience, even if not to any of the other characters. It also allows that character to be further developed through his/her own style in telling the story. First-person narrations may be told like third-person  ones, in the guise of a person experiencing the events in the story without being aware of conveying that experience to an audience; on the other hand, the narrator may be conscious of telling the story to a given audience, perhaps at a given place and time, for a given reason. In extreme cases, the first-person narration may be told as a story within a story, with the narrator appearing as a character in the story. The first-person narrator also may or may not be the focal character.

The first-person narrator is always a character within his/her own story (whether the protagonist or not). This viewpoint character takes actions, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not always allowing the audience to be able to comprehend some of the other characters’ thoughts, feelings, or perceptions as much as the narrator’s own. We become aware of the events and characters of story through the narrator’s views and knowledge.

In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on his/her own viewing of events. It is an important task for the reader to determine as much as possible about the character of the narrator in order to decide what “really” happens. Example:


The narrator can be the protagonist or someone very close to him who is privy to his thoughts and actions or an ancillary character who has little to do with the action of the story. Narrators can report others’ narratives at one or more removes. These are called ‘frame narrators’

In autobiographical fiction, the first person narrator is the character of the author (with varying degrees of accuracy). The narrator is still distinct from the author and must behave like any other character and any other first person narrator. In some cases, the narrator is writing a book — “the book in your hands” — therefore it has most of the powers and knowledge of the author.

A rare form of first person is the first person omniscient, in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. It can seem like third person omniscient at times. The narrator restricts the events relayed in the narrative to those that it could reasonably have knowledge of.


Self Editing For Fiction Writers.

7 12 2012

A great blog post about self editing!


Some time ago, I wrote aboutWriting to Sell” by Scott Meredith and how this book made a difference in how I write. I still think it is a great book. Last week I found another book while reading a blog by David Gaughran. David recommended a book titled “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. As I took a look at the book I figured I might as well see what it had to offer so I purchased it. It arrived Saturday. I read the first chapter today. I wish I would have had this book five years ago. I wish I would have had BOTH of these books five years ago. (For additional insights, check out Dave King’s website here.) As I read today, I decided I would blog about each chapter as I go through the book. I am going to list only the…

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What Writers Can Learn From Entrepreneurs: An Interview With Marcia Hoeck

5 12 2012

What Writers Can Learn From Entrepreneurs: An Interview With Marcia Hoeck.

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