Special Characters

Q. Hello: I am preparing a manuscript that is written in English but contains many country, organization, and program names in Spanish. My client wants to delete all the accents (of course we would keep the tildes); I prefer to respect the language, but then when we write, for example, Mexico as México, it looks wrong. When is it appropriate or inappropriate to use the diacritical marks in Spanish in text that is written in English? Thank you for your time, and I promise not to abuse this service.

A. Works published in English often omit accents on foreign words, mainly for ease of typesetting and proofreading (since editors are often unable to proofread in the second language). It’s an accepted publishing practice, although I’m sure many editors feel as you do that it doesn’t do justice to the foreign language. In scholarly works, the accents should be retained, and the author and editor should understand ahead of time who will be responsible for checking them in proof. The name of a country, however, should take the form familiar to English speakers (see CMOS 14.137)—in this case, Mexico rather than México.