New Questions and Answers

Q. I have been asked to include in my bibliography of works written in ancient Greek and translated into English an indication of whose Latin translation of the Greek would have been most widely read in the Middle Ages. Where and how would I include this information in the bibliography?

A. Adding this information will turn your bibliography into an “annotated bibliography,” with a sentence or two elaborating on some sources. You can either rewrite the whole list into an essay or simply add a sentence or two at the end of some or all of the citations. Please see CMOS 14.59 and figure 14.10.

Q. I had a question regarding the proper citation of a source with a pagination error. The printed book I’m working with (an early modern source from 1650) jumps erroneously from page 30 to page 34. I have been told that I should use the print signatures in the citation, but that I should also add the page numbers in quotes to indicate the mispagination. Would a proper footnote then look like this? Ibid., sig. C5v–C6r, “30–34.”

A. If that form is a familiar convention in your field, that’s fine, but as a reader, I would be confused. Why not make it clear? E.g., Ibid., sig. C5v–C6r, misnumbered as “30–34.”

Q. I have completed my first literary novel. I am working with a well respected editor who has edited many modern novelists. In my writing, I have followed Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style in my use of the semicolon. My editor claims that my uses are “incorrect.” Here is a typical example from my book: “When the spring comes, you tell us we cannot work until we pay our dues; but the problem is, we cannot pay until we work.” The editor’s “correction”: “When the spring comes, you tell us we cannot work until we pay our dues. But the problem is, we cannot pay until we work.” My editor has deleted every semicolon in the manuscript. Can someone explain what is happening to the lowly semicolon and why it gets no respect?

A. Semicolons tend to be frowned upon in fiction. An editor who doesn’t allow them at all is overly rigid, however, since they are sometimes useful and even necessary. As for the sentence you quote, a semicolon isn’t wrong (see CMOS 6.57), but it’s a matter of taste whether the best choice is to start a new sentence or use a semicolon or even a comma before but.

Q. I wonder if I am correct in capitalizing the word Resident when referring to a physician who is in residency training, in order to distinguish this specific type of person/professional from the generic resident of a community.

A. It’s not Chicago style to cap a common noun like resident, but if you think lowercasing would cause confusion in a given context, capping might be the best solution.

Q. Hello. We are a university library, and annually we create a bibliography of faculty and staff works. Within that context, I would like to know how to construct a citation for an art exhibition (not the related catalog or pamphlet, but the event). We have an exhibit by an individual artist that we have cited like this:

Wallace, Tammy Perakis. Re-Done. Art Exhibition, Becker Gallery, Courtright Memorial Library, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH, March 24 – June 30, 2015.

And an exhibit by multiple artists that we have cited like so:

Hobbs, Frank. In The American Landscape. Art exhibition juried by Steve Doherty, Beverley Street Studio School, Staunton Augusta Art Center, Staunton, VA, May 23 – June 29, 2014.

I used elements of 14.226, 14.250, 14.112 (latter citation), and 8.195 to construct these. I also considered 14.223. So what recommendations do you have? What needs tweaked? Thanks!

A. CMOS is silent—after all, an event is not a conventional item to include in a list of published work. You’ve done what we recommend: wing it, based on related examples. If you’re happy, we’re happy! (But if you’d like to tweak something for the sake of Chicago style, delete the spaces around your en dashes.)

Q. Is the word program capitalized as part of the name of a program, such as Orphan/Infant Care Program—or is it Orphan/Infant Care program? Does the rule change if it is in text or on a poster?

A. In text, program is capped only if it is part of the name of the program. In a poster headline or title, all important words may be capped.

Q. Is it ever acceptable to use both footnotes and endnotes in the same paper, such as to separate citations from longer comments? Or is it permissible to combine both elements into either footnotes or endnotes? I have not been able to find any answer to this in the Manual. Am I just bad at looking? Thanks!

A. Well, since you ask, yes—you are pretty bad at looking. CMOS 14.2 describes typical content for notes (“The notes allow space for unusual types of sources as well as for commentary on the sources cited”), and 14.44 lays out the case for endnotes plus footnotes. (“Endnotes plus footnotes: In a heavily documented work it is occasionally helpful to separate substantive notes from source citations. In such a case, the citation notes should be numbered and appear as endnotes.”)

Q. I’m hoping you can help me with my confusion about Chicago’s guidelines for citing website content. The guideline in 14.245 is for informally published content and doesn’t seem to quite fit articles that are published on websites that are not online magazines, newspapers, or blogs. For example, I’m editing a book in which the author cites an article published on the website for the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/). Should I treat this like an article in an online magazine even though it isn’t really, or should I follow the guidelines for “website content” (title first, followed by author, etc.)? Thanks!

A. You’ve got the right idea. It’s messy out there online; this is why 14.245 cautions that “some editorial discretion will be required.” So just do your best. Because it’s not practical for a style guide to try to anticipate every type of Internet resource and include examples of citations for it, our hope is that you will extrapolate from the more common citation examples to fashion citations that are clear enough to guide a reader to the source.

Q. Where can I find the guidelines for punctuation and capitalization in a sentence with numbered parts? Take the following for instance: There were two main viewpoints presented: 1) All people lie, and 2) Only certain people lie.

A. You can find this at CMOS 6.123 (“Run-in lists”). Here’s your example in Chicago style: There were two main viewpoints presented: (1) all people lie, and (2) only certain people lie.

Q. On the title page of some workshop proceedings, is it correct to list “Edited by” and “Compiled by” names separately? If so, what is the difference between the editor of the proceedings and the compiler? If it is correct to list editors and compilers separately, do we ignore the compilers in our citation?

A. Editors and compilers can do overlapping but different kinds of work on a project, so you should trust that the title page of the proceedings accurately reflects who did what, even if the reader isn’t told exactly what each role was. It’s not the job of the citer to question this, although you might reasonably decide not to include all the information in your citation. You can see examples of citations that include various types of contributors at CMOS 14.88.

Q. When you write about a GIF in a text, can you just refer to it as GIF on first reference or do you have to write “graphic interchange format (GIF)”? I don’t think the long version is actually helpful; more people know it as GIF. And I’d be using it as a noun.

A. You never have to do anything that isn’t helpful. If a style guide says you do, you need a better guide.

May Q&A

Q. I am looking without success for guidance on citing a specific chapter in a book with just an author. Of course, one can cite the whole book, but sometimes it is more appropriate to drill down on a particular chapter.

A. You can find examples of such citations at 14.111, under “Chapter in a single-author book”:

1. Brendan Phibbs, “Herrlisheim: Diary of a Battle,” in The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown, 1987), 117–63.

Q. When working with technical material, what symbol should I use between dimensions? For instance, in CMOS 3.27, the following example has a symbol that doesn’t seem to match either a multiplication symbol or a lowercase x, and the symbol is elevated above the baseline: “Oil on canvas, 45 × 38 cm.” What is that symbol called, and where is it discussed in The Chicago Manual of Style?

A. The symbol is indeed a multiplication sign (Unicode 00D7; please see CMOS table 12.1); the appearance of symbols can vary according to typeface.

Q. In a bibliography, is it ever appropriate to give the title of the work first and then the name of the author, if the title of the work is known better than the author or editor?

A. Yes, it’s occasionally appropriate to file a bibliography entry under the title. Be sure to cite by the title in the text or notes as well, so the reader knows where to look in the bibliography.

Q. In copyediting technical material, I often come across constructions such as “Results show that a potential source of chemical X may exist beneath building Y.” This sounds like hedging to me. Does one really need both the potential and the may? Wouldn’t either “Results show that a source of chemical X may exist beneath building Y” or “Results show that a potential source of chemical X exists beneath building Y” suffice?

A. Although academic writers sometimes overqualify their statements to the point of meaninglessness, two points are being made in your sentence: (1) a source may exist beneath the building, and (2) the source might yield chemical X. Your first revision is probably OK, although it is not as clear as the original, but the second revision changes the meaning, since it states that a substance is definitely under the building. In short, the original is clearest.

Q. Is sizable or sizeable the preferred American English spelling? Our searches have come up with conflicting answers.

A. If your searches give you conflicting answers, you can be fairly certain that there is no significant preference. But a dictionary will tell you whether one is preferred. The entry in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) is this:

sizable or sizeable

and the front matter of the dictionary gives this explanation of how to read entries:

When a main entry is followed by the word or and another spelling, the two spellings occur with equal or nearly equal frequency and can be considered equal variants. . . . If two variants joined by or are out of alphabetical order, they remain equal variants. The one printed first is, however, slightly more common than the second. . . . When another spelling is joined to the main entry by the word also, the spelling after also occurs appreciably less often and thus is considered a secondary variant: can·cel·la·tion also can·cel·ation.”

Thus sizable and sizeable are equal variants.

Q. What verb tense should I use in a construction such as “as of this writing”? “As of this writing, the full data from the 2014 survey were not available, so we use data from the 2011 survey,” or “As of this writing, the full data from the 2014 survey are not available, so we use data from the 2011 survey”? Were sounds better to me until I get to the use, which seems to conflict.

A. “As of this writing” may be taken from the viewpoint of the writer at the time of writing (present) or from the viewpoint of the reader at the time of reading (past). You only need to make up your mind which tense you like best and stick with it.

Q. In my role as an editor, I frequently face preposition-conjunction combinations such as this: “The analysis assesses the availability of and access to community services.” Does this need commas?

A. Commas around the second phrase (“and access to”) will indicate that it is somewhat parenthetical, an afterthought, so use them only if that’s the writer’s intention.

Q. Which is preferred: We got your back, We’ve got your back, We have your back? It will be used in an informal, conversational piece, but there’s disagreement among my coworkers on what is correct.

A. All are correct informal usages. You have typed them in order from least to most formal.

Q. Hello there!! I am writing to ask if you could shed some light on the usage of the expression “regard shall be had.” One of my teachers at my translation course uses it constantly as an equivalent to Spanish expressions such as “en función a” and differentiates this use of “regard” from transition linkers such as “regarding” or “with regard to.” Let me provide you with one sentence, which was actually discussed in class: “Regard shall be had to the best interest of the Argentine Audit office.” (This was our translation for the Spanish sentence “Se estará a los intereses de la Auditoria General de la Nación.”) But this expression does not really make sense to me as I haven’t heard or seen it in many contexts. I was wondering if you could provide me with more information about this use of “regard” and whether this expression (“regard shall be had”) can be used in both the active and the passive voice.

A. An idiomatic translation of your Spanish sentence would be “The best interests of the National Audit Office will be considered.” The expression “Regard shall be had” is grammatically and literally correct, but it is a formal construction used only in contracts and other legal writings. Native speakers of English do not write it or say it in a normal context—not even in a scholarly book—unless they are trying to be funny. The meaning is “Someone must pay attention”:

Regard shall be had to the bargaining positions of both parties.

“In regard to” and “regarding” both mean “concerning” or “about”:

With regard to the train ticket, you can buy it at the station.

Regarding the train ticket, you can buy it at the station.

As for the train ticket, you can buy it at the station.

Please note that “regards” in the plural means “good wishes”:

I’m sending this note with regards to your mother.

Q. Is changing and to or in the following sentence necessary grammatically? “Ghrelin does not bind and activate GHSR.”

A. This is not actually a grammar issue. Both and and or are grammatical in the sentence. But the truth of your statement may change if you change and to or. “Ghrelin does not bind and activate GHSR” means that ghrelin does not do both actions, but it might bind without activating, and it might activate without binding. “Ghrelin does not bind or activate GHSR” means that ghrelin does not do either action.

Q. A friend and I are disagreeing about the following phrases: “less and less likely” versus “more and more unlikely.” I say they are equal in meaning. He says that only the first one is correct. Your opinion, please.

A. My opinion is that your friend should be asked to supply justification or proof. (Don’t worry—he won’t be able to.)