New Questions and Answers

Q. I am a copy editor for an academic press, and I have noticed that many authors elide the “also” in the correlative conjunction “not only / but also” (regardless of whether the following clause is dependent or independent). Example: “These publications formed a body of not only opinion but aspiration.” This seems incorrect to me, but I have been advised not to correct it in page proofs. What is CMOS’s position on this?

A. CMOS omits also in a variety of “not only” constructions, although it uses “but also” more often than not. (You can search the Manual online for the phrase “not only.”) Consider the short version to be accepted; elisions like this are common in English.

Q. In a list introduced by “such as,” is it incorrect to use or (instead of and) to connect the final two items in the list?

A. It’s not incorrect. In some cases or may be essential for clarity. For instance, “They loved to ask for a topping such as peanut butter or jelly” instead of “They loved to ask for toppings such as peanut butter and jelly.”

Q. After reading your rule about not putting two periods one after the other, I wonder about a parenthesis as serving to break up this rule. How would you punctuate the following?

Option 1: Contact all departments (Finance, Compliance, Information Management, etc.)
Option 2: Contact all departments (Finance, Compliance, Information Management, etc.).

Or is there a third option?

A. Option 2 is correct; two periods are definitely required in the case of an abbreviation within a parenthetical like this that closes a sentence. Two periods one after the other—never.

Q. I’m an event organizer, and one of the themes of my event is “creativity beyond the page.” Should it be “Creativity Beyond the Page” or “Creativity beyond the Page”? Can beyond be capitalized in this case?

A. Chicago style lowercases prepositions, but many style guides uppercase the longer ones. If you want to uppercase beyond, it isn’t incorrect. But take care to send a memo or style sheet—if anyone else on your team is using Chicago style, you may find your slogan presents an inconsistency in your publicity.

Q. I want to refer as briefly as possible in the footnotes of my book to the two printings of the Japanese translation of a book, originally published in 1991 and reprinted with a new introduction in 2002. Can I refer as follows: C. L. R. James, Burakku jakoban (Tokyo: Omura-Shoten, 1991; 2002), or should I use a comma or a slash to distinguish the two printings?

A. Chicago style specifies the reprint date this way: (Tokyo: Omura-Shoten, 1991; repr. 2002).

Q. It would be more helpful if all the questions and answers in the Chicago Style Q&A were searchable. They are so useful, but I spend a lot of time slogging through the questions and answers. (Don’t get me wrong—the browsing and slogging are without fail a pleasurable diversion.)

A. You’ll be happy to know that the Q&A is fully searchable. The results are returned on the same page as other search results. Just click on the tab that says “Chicago Style Q&A.”

Q. In certain scenarios (invitations, ads, etc.), our organization sometimes omits the verb: for example, “Complimentary parking available” (with is omitted). If the verb is elided, is it still a sentence requiring a period, or is it a fragment?

A. Although it is a fragment, even fragments require periods when they appear in a paragraph. If a fragment appears apart from other text, however (on a line by itself or in a banner or burst on an invitation or flyer or sign or ad), there is often no need for end punctuation.

Q. What is the correct way to format a note citation from an edited book when the editor and the author happen to be the same person?

A. Cite it as a contribution to a multiauthor book and put the author’s name twice, where the author and editor names go. There are examples at CMOS 14.112 (16th ed.; “Contribution to a Multiauthor Book”).

Q. I am inquiring about the use of plural acronyms in parentheses. The writer wrote “A three-person board comprised of Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO)s.” Their use of “(SNCO)s” just looks strange. I said it should be “Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs).”

A. You are right. The writer’s solution is wrong. (And we almost never say that!)

Q. There seems to be an increasing number of people who prefer their names in lowercase, and I was wondering when other capitalization rules trump this preference. It seems like the first letter of a sentence should be capitalized even if it happens to be a lowercased name (e.g., “Damali ayo is . . .” or “Ayo is . . .”), but could that look clumsy or incorrect, requiring all such sentences to be rephrased?

A. A capital letter does look best at the beginning of a sentence. An exception may be made for words that have a midcap like eBay or iPhone.

Q. I’m encountering reference lists that include names that do not use the typical structure of “surname, first name.” Typically I follow CMOS 16.76 (16th ed.) in cases that seem clear. However, in some dialects or cases, there aren’t surnames, exactly, and authors have asked me to keep entries as is, without commas. I find this all very confusing. Would you please advise?

A. When editing non-English names and languages, it’s wise to defer to the writer’s wishes rather than blindly apply rules from a style manual. (CMOS 8.15 [16th ed.] recognizes that Chinese names, for example, usually begin with the family surname rather than the given name—but some people of Chinese origin choose to switch to the common Western order.) Keep a careful record of your writer’s requests and instructions; keep an eye out for anything that looks like a contradiction or ambiguity; query generously; and pass along a memo about the issue to your assigning editor or anyone else who might blame you for problems later!

Q. In “number + noun” of the CMOS hyphenation table, you say “Hyphenated before a noun, otherwise open.” You include the following examples: “a one-and-a-half-inch hem” and  “one and a half inches.” As “inch” is a noun and “one and a half” is a number/quantity, why not “one-and-a-half inches”?

A. That part of the table is explaining what to do when a “number + noun” modifies another noun. In “one and a half inches,” inches is not modified by a “number + noun” phrase; it is merely modified by a number: one and a half. Therefore no hyphens. After all, we don’t hyphenate phrases like “a hem of two inches.” In phrases like “a one-and-a-half-inch hem,” the noun hem is modified by a “number + noun” phrase: “one-and-a-half-inch,” which is therefore hyphenated, as we would hyphenate “two-inch hem.”

Q. I’m in the process of editing an article and the author is using a neologism of sorts. He’s taken the word digital and is using it as a verb—digitaling. The author is insisting on adding a hyphen (digital-ing) so that it’s clearer to the reader. I think it’s unnecessary, as there would be no confusion without it.

A. I agree that the hyphen is unneeded. (And I hope the text gives an excellent reason for the new word—otherwise, it looks pretty silly!)

Q. I am editing manuscripts for publication in an international scholarly journal. The journal uses CMOS, 16th ed. The British author has cited a book’s edition published by a British publisher, for which the title uses the British spelling (Thy Neighbour’s Wife). For the bibliography (and notes), should the British spelling be changed to US spelling, for consistency? I am inclined to retain the British spelling.

A. That’s exactly right. It’s essential to retain the British spelling. No editor has the right to copyedit an already published work!

Q. Hi there! Which of the following is correct? (1) “Here you go, dear” or (2) “Here you go dear”? The way I see it, a comma should not precede dear because dear is an adjective and not an interjection. “Here you go dear” is not the same as “Here you go, sir [or Stan].”

A. Dear is actually a noun here, since it stands for a person’s name, and grammatically “Here you go, dear” is exactly the same as “Here you go, sir [or Stan].” In direct address, a comma prevents misreading. A popular example demonstrating this is “Let’s eat, Grandma!” versus “Let’s eat Grandma!”

July Q&A

Q. How do you cite a White Paper that was accessed online?

A. In general, such citations may follow the format for printed sources with the addition of a URL. The examples at CMOS 14.303–304 (16th ed.) can serve as a guide. Access dates are recommended only for undated documents. Sources consulted through commercial databases such as Westlaw or LexisNexis are treated like print sources but with the addition of the database name and any identification number. Please see CMOS 14.4–13 for additional considerations in citing electronic sources.

Q. How would you create a footnote for an entry in the following specialized dictionary that has a single author?

Aune, David E. The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Would the footnote be

1. David E. Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric, s.v. “Pathos,” Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

A. That’s close! Please see the examples at CMOS 16, 14.247 (“Dictionaries and Encyclopedias”). Chicago puts parentheses around the publication information and treats the sub verbo entry as a substitute for a page number, at the end of the citation:

1. David E. Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), s.v. “pathos.”

Q. Hey, has the Manual of Style tackled this conundrum yet? In Ira Gershwin’s lyric

I got plenty o’ nuttin’
and nuttin’s plenty for me

shouldn’t the second line require a double apostrophe (nuttin’’s)? Wouldn’t a single apostrophe create massive confusion the world over? I pass over the question of the idiomatic usage of nutting for nothing.

A. We can always count on our readers to flummox us now and then! But the lyric is creative enough; it’s probably best not to overdo the punctuation.

Q. In the June 2017 Q&A you state that when giving the ISBN number, the format may be identified as cloth, paper, or e-book. Does this imply that cloth is synonymous with hardcover? What if, like Hope and Crosby, a book is Morocco bound?

A. Yes, cloth is pretty much synonymous with hardcover. If a book is leather-bound, a publisher might choose to say so, of course (leaving Hope and Crosby out of it).

Q. Which of the following is correct to introduce a list?

1. My service includes:
2. My service includes

Should the colon be used after the word “includes”? From my understanding, a colon should not be used after a verb (or a preposition). Also, the sentence “My service includes” is not a complete sentence by itself.

A. You are right. “My service includes” is not grammatically complete, because the transitive verb “includes” is missing a direct object. If you wrote “My service includes the following,” a colon should follow. 

Q. I have a student who is using a letter from our archives. The letter is still under the ownership of the author, but the author is probably no longer living. How can my student use Chicago style to create a citation for a letter from the archives when the name of the author is being redacted by the student due to privacy laws?

A. Your student could cite the letter and write “[Redacted]” in place of the author name.

Q. We are publishing plays, and the dialogue is sometimes written to convey sound as well as sense. The playwright has “August 25th, 1989.” Is there any guideline preventing us from including the comma after the ordinal?

A. No, since this order of elements requires the year to be set off with commas. Regardless, the best way to write dialogue is the way you want it to be spoken rather than according to style guidelines for print. (We generally don’t expect people to speak in Chicago style.) If you want a slight pause (which most speakers would naturally supply before the year), write “August twenty-fifth, 1989.” Although that breaks Chicago’s style of using cardinal numerals, not spelled-out ordinals, in dates (August 25, 1989), spelling out “twenty-fifth” tells the actor how to read the number.

Q. Are pallbearer names and honorary pallbearer names supposed to be alphabetized by last name in a funeral service program?

A. There is no rule, but if the names are alphabetized, readers may assume that the people are equally important. If the names are out of order, readers may assume they are listed in order of honor or importance.

Q. I noticed that you always specify that the correct font for a typical subject is Roman. I never use Roman for anything. Normally I prefer Calibri. Would it be appropriate to follow the format of the subject in the Calibri font?

A. I wonder if you’ve misunderstood our use of roman. “Roman” isn’t a font. It’s just a way to refer to the lack of italics. Even if you use the Calibri font, you have to choose roman or italic Calibri. Maybe you’re thinking of Times New Roman, which is the name of a font, like Calibri. Times New Roman also comes in roman and italic (and bold, and small caps, etc.). We do recommend using a serifed font like Times New Roman or Palatino for manuscript preparation (on paper, that is—not for online display).

Q. I’m editing a report that frequently uses the phrase “be intentional about,” as in “the program is now intentional about [providing a certain service].” This seems awkward, but I’m not sure why. It also seems vague. I could use a second opinion.

A. Most jargon words and trendy phrases sound awkward and vague to those who aren’t soaked in that culture. It may begin to look better by the time you’re done editing. If the phrase is overused, of course, you could point that out and ask whether the writer was being intentional about it or would mind eliminating a few.

Q. I have a note for a summary of the countries that made airship purchases during a certain time frame, using a Jane’s publication to make this assessment. The relevant pages I referenced span the book—and as you can see below, I’m not just referencing a single page. Is there a better way to reference the fact that there are multiple pages, or is it better to leave all the pages listed, so people know exactly where the information came from?

1. Lord Ventry and Eugene Kolesnick, eds., Jane’s Pocket Book of Airships (New York: Collier Books, 1976), 16, 18, 23, 31, 38–45, 47, 49, 52–53, 56–57, 60–61, 80–82, 89–90, 96, 113, 117, 121, 146, 155, 159–161, 163, 167–168, 170.

A. Listing so many pages is not ideal. If the book has an index, you needn’t worry about citing only the book itself. If it doesn’t have an index, then for particular audiences or in certain contexts you might list all the page numbers. If you can organize the page numbers into smaller groups (perhaps by country), readers will be grateful.

Q. Looking for proper protocol, but will accept opinions. When assigning a century to a notable figure, do you use the year of birth? So if someone is born in 1493, is he a fifteenth-century or sixteenth-century scientist?

A. There is no “protocol”; it’s just common sense. A scientist born in 1493 would be a sixteenth-century scientist—unless this was a prodigy whose main life’s work was accomplished by the age of seven. Fl. (“flourished”) is sometimes used in front of the years of a person’s greatest work, but the best plan is to explain clearly when the person lived and worked.

Q. Dear Chicago experts, can you please help resolve this hyphenation issue? Should it be “worm composting expert” or “worm-composting expert”? Should it be “worm composting master” or “worm-composting master”? Thank you very much.

A. Use a hyphen; it makes it clear that the expert or master is not a worm.