Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. In 8.174 (17th ed.), you state that the title of a work should not be used in a sentence as though it’s interchangeable with the subject matter. I agree wholeheartedly, but I’m getting repeated resistance from a writer I work with. I’d love to have a succinct rationale to give her to reinforce my position (ideally one that doesn’t sound unprofessional and snarky). It comes up in situations where the writer needs a headline or email subject line and uses “Your Tips for Getting Ahead are here!” or the like. And then it becomes clear in the body text that follows that a document titled “Tips for Getting Ahead” is being offered.

A. It’s hard to argue with someone who doesn’t see the point, which is admittedly a bit subtle. But if you are able to edit your colleague, a professional, snarkless approach would be to style her heads so they work as real sentences: e.g., “Your Tips for Getting Ahead Are Here!” When this isn’t possible, don’t worry. In most cases, the head will convey the right meaning regardless. If you save your argument for when real confusion would result, your colleague might be better able to see what you mean.