February Q&A

Q. Dear Chicago experts, do we italicize a ship’s name in quoted dialogue? My client says it should be italicized generally, but not in dialogue.

A. Although CMOS is silent on this issue, it makes sense to use italics within dialogue in the same way you use them in the rest of the text. Italics for titles prevents the words from being mistaken as part of the main syntax; styling them the same way in both text and dialogue will prevent confusion.

Q. Help! Can you please tell me which is correct: “if one or more component is ineffective,” “if one or more components is ineffective,” or “if one or more components are ineffective.” The document I’m reviewing uses all three constructions, and I haven’t been able to find any solid guidance on which is correct.

A. Go with the last one. The adjective nearest the noun normally signals the number of the noun (e.g., “one or two components”; “one or more components”), so the plural components is the noun you want. And a plural subject requires a plural verb (are). Please see CMOS 17, section 5.138 (“Agreement in Person and Number”).

Q. What size font do footnotes need to be if the text is 12 pt. in an essay?

A. For student papers, Chicago style is covered in detail in Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (8th ed.). Turabian advises, “In general, use at least ten-point and preferably twelve-point type for the body of the text. [Note that 10 pt. Arial and 12 pt. Times New Roman are roughly the same size and are good candidates.] Footnotes or endnotes, headings, and other elements might require other type sizes; check your local guidelines.” Turabian contains several illustrations of student papers and their formatting.

Q. Hello CMS. A quick one, please. Can a book have two dedication pages? One for “To someone” and one for “For someone.”

A. In a book with more than one author it could make sense to have two separate dedication pages, but for a book by a single writer it seems awkward—especially if they are on consecutive recto pages, which might look as though a page from someone else’s book accidentally ended up in yours. Alternatives include putting the dedications on the same page, on facing pages, or back to back. A good graphic designer should be able to suggest an ideal solution.

Q. I’m having an argument with my English teachers over what I think is a grammatical mistake in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet. The sentence in question is: “The Daily News observed that there was no doubt as to the crime being a political one.” Since I’m fairly certain “being a political one” is a gerund and not a participial phrase, I think that crime should be changed to crime’s, but multiple English teachers have told me I am incorrect (yet the arguments they presented do not make sense to me whatsoever). Is the sentence correct as is, or did Doyle make a grammatical mistake?

A. We are in awe of your perseverance, not merely in investigating this controversial construction, but in doubting the advice of multiple English teachers. But when such a noun (crime) follows a preposition (as to), the possessive with a gerund is optional. Please see CMOS 17, 5.114 (on “fused participles”) as well as the last part of 7.28, for examples.

Q. I’m proofreading a math textbook that ends a sentence with “25 in.” followed by a superscript 2, denoting square inches. (Our math textbooks do not use “sq. in.”) There is a period after “in” and then another period after the superscript: 25 in.2. My gut says to eliminate the second period. What say you?

A. CMOS is silent on the issue of punctuation after a superscript following a period, and it doesn’t seem to be addressed in the science-related reference books at hand here, so assuming your house style is in. and in.2 (with the period), you could look at the situation in two different ways in order to choose your own style:

(1) You could see it as similar to when an abbreviation appears at the end of a parenthesis that ends a sentence, in which case a period appears both at the end of the abbreviation and at the end of the sentence:

Parenthesis style: The answer is doubled (25 in.2).
Applied to a superscript: The answer is 25 in.2.

(2) Or you could see it as similar to when an abbreviation ends a quotation, in which case only one period appears at the end:

Quotation mark style: The answer is “25 in.2
Applied to a superscript: The answer is 25 in.2

A math professor we consulted on campus who is also the author of a geometry textbook had not run into this issue before, but she thought both suggestions were reasonable.

Q. I’m working on an edited collection that includes many articles originally published in online sources. These articles often include live links that serve as citations, leading readers to a specific article or resource under discussion. In a traditional print publication, these items would almost certainly be cited in endnotes that we would then include in our volume. Following this logic, it seems that we should incorporate the citations in our print-only volume. Do you have any recommendations on how best to handle them? By creating an endnote structure not native to the original publication? Or through author-date citations, which would likely be even more disruptive but are appropriate for our book’s formatting?

A. It’s important to include the writers’ sources in your collection, and any of your suggestions would work. Book editors usually decide how to handle source citations based on the type of book, expectations and tolerances of the intended reader, production costs (e.g., page count), etc. It is not necessary to follow the endnote structure in the original publication, but be sure to include a note explaining your method.

Q. I am wondering about line spacing for block quotes and lines of dialogue. If the rest of my article is double-spaced, should my block quotes be single-spaced (so they are more legible as someone else’s words)? I have seen block quotes indented and single-spaced in journals, but I am not sure if that is a CMOS guideline.

A. In a typed manuscript, prose extracts should be indented and have the same line spacing as the surrounding text (see CMOS 17, 2.82.19); they do not need to appear in a smaller font. When the extracts are printed in a book or journal, they will be styled according to that publication’s design template, which almost certainly will be single-spaced and possibly in a smaller text size.

Q. Hello, Chicago. I am slightly confused about what the difference between “compare with” and “compare to” is. Paragraph 5.195 seems to suggest that it’s a matter of whether one is making a “literal comparison” or a “poetic or metaphorical comparison,” whereas 5.250 says it’s a matter of whether one is identifying “both similarities and differences” or “primarily similarities.” What’s the rundown?

A. The two paragraphs of CMOS use different ways to describe the same thing. Strictly speaking, to “compare with” is to investigate the similarities and differences between things, such as when you make an actual (literal) comparison between wine and apples, perhaps noting that they both are fruity (similarities), but that one is liquid and one solid (differences). To “compare to” is to note that one thing is like another, but not necessarily literally. Saying that the flavor of a wine is like apples or someone’s cheeks are like roses (similarities) involves more metaphorical or poetic comparisons. Of course, actual usage of those prepositions does not always distinguish so finely.

Q. When writing a novel, if you label someone in a quote (e.g.) “You Mad Little Bugger,” is it capitalized?

A. Oh my goodness no. That would look as though the speaker were giving the person an award or an official title. Stick with lowercase.