Q. Greetings, wise ones. I work with a university press; the university itself insists on capitalizing the first “The” in its name, even in running text and with the abbreviated form. I have refused to do this in our books because it flies in the face of house style and looks ridiculous in the context of other university names (“We conducted our research at the University of X, The University of Y [The UY], and the University of Z”). Needless to say, the university itself did not consult its press when developing its style guide. Those authors who are staff members keep “correcting” the lowercase t. Do I have a leg to stand on here? Or do I have to update our style sheet to indicate this exception? (Surely only The Hague gets to keep the capital T?) Grateful for at least sympathy if not vindication.
A. So you work for a school like The New School or The Ohio State University? We understand. The editors at the University of Chicago Press have long had to swallow our stylebook and allow “© [year] by The University of Chicago” on page iv of our books, including The Chicago Manual of Style. Evidently our attorneys want to ensure that some rogue institution calling itself “University of Chicago” doesn’t claim the copyright to our works. Elsewhere in these same books, however, the “the” doesn’t get a capital T (except at the beginning of a sentence or heading—or where all caps have been applied). So your predicament is not quite the same as ours. And whereas outsiders can write about “the Ohio State University”—which reflects the preference for the definite article but doesn’t go so far as to apply the promotional T—you might do well to let your institutional authors have it their way. Life’s too short to fight about such things.