Alphabetizing

Q. We are alphabetizing a list of Broadway musical titles and are wondering how we should deal with titles in French that begin with articles (La Cage aux Folles and Les Misérables). We are leaning toward alphabetizing under the article as you suggest for place names.

A. In a work intended for a general audience—where readers are likely to think of these titles with their articles (La Cage, Les Miz)—it is acceptable to alphabetize under the article. But in a more specialized work, or in a work intended for readers who are likely to be well-versed in the languages of any foreign titles mentioned in the text, it is usually better to ignore the articles that begin titles (in English and in other languages) when alphabetizing (see 16.48, 16.51, 16.52 for details). If you choose the latter route and your list is a long one, you might consider cross-referencing.