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Q. I’m editing an art book, and an alphabetized list of mentioned paintings for the back of the book has all the titles with the article in front—for instance, “The Black Rose” is alphabetized under T. I want to change these to “Black Rose, The,” but my author feels that titles are sacrosanct and cannot be changed. I can’t find anything in my manual about treating paintings differently from titles of books in alphabetizing. In the end, I’ll go with whatever she decides, but I’d like to get your take on this. Thanks.
A. Your author’s plan isn’t off the wall. It’s akin to indexing the first lines of poems, in which it’s common to alphabetize under “A,” “An,” or “The” (please see CMOS 16.144). Your way would be fine, but there’s no harm in accommodating the author on this.