CMOS

Q. I have always regarded your publication with respect and awe. It seems almost sacrilegious to mention this, but I have found an error on p. 734 of the fourteenth edition, fourth printing. The information on indexes lists “Truman, Bess (Mrs. Harry S.)” as an example. Harry Truman had no middle name, and so the letter S has no period, since it does not represent anything longer than itself. Whenever his name is written, it is Harry S Truman. I imagine the same would apply even as an oblique reference describing his “better half.” Keep up the good work!

A. Please see paragraph 10.12 of the sixteenth edition, which (in line with 14.4 in the fourteenth), states the following:

Initials standing for given names are followed by a period and a space. A period is normally used even if the middle initial does not stand for a name (as in Harry S. Truman).

Note the word “normally”; purists are free to remain purists (and the world would be a lesser place without them).