Q. I work in a publicity department where we routinely sort back issues of national news publications. I have trouble figuring out how to sort publications with New York in the title: the New Yorker, the New York Times, New York Magazine, the New York Review of Books. Would the New Yorker come before New York Magazine, treating the final e in New Yorker as alphabetically prior to the first letter of Magazine, or would you put the New Yorker after all the others that contain New York followed by a space?
A. That depends. There are two popular methods for putting items into alphabetical order: letter by letter and word by word. Your list of terms would sort differently depending on which system you choose. You would greatly benefit from reading CMOS sections 16.58–61, which explain the two systems and compare them side by side.