Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. One of my professors insists on using the Chicago style when writing papers. The problem is that what he says often sounds like a CMOS truth from an edition that has not been in use for years. He wants single-spacing on things that according to the 16th edition are now double-spaced. And worse, he is an anti-Internet Luddite who will not make the effort to confirm what classmates and I insist are the current CMOS standards. Any helpful suggestions on handling something like this?

A. Certainly! First, for the purposes of surviving your class it doesn’t actually matter what current Chicago style is. You only need to know what Professor Luddite wants. Try one or more of these:

—Ask him to say which edition he wants you to follow. Your library will surely have a copy.

—Ask him if he would be willing to prepare a sheet of requirements for you. You might even make a list of elements for him to consider: margins, indents, type size, font, what to double-space, what to single-space, and anything else you’re wondering about.

—It’s possible that your prof is not referring to The Chicago Manual of Style at all, but to Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, the standard student reference, which actually does call for single-spacing some elements, such as block quotations, notes, and bibliographies. (Turabian is based on Chicago style but diverges at a few points.) You can find a guide to Turabian here.

If none of this helps, there’s probably nothing you can do. You will triumph only by bearing it with good grace and by resolving not to torment others when you hold the power one day.