Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. Hi, there! In a bibliography or reference list, Chicago recommends inverting only the first author’s name and not subsequent author names. What’s the reason for this? Why not invert all author names? I trust in Chicago’s expertise, but I would like to know why, because I often have to defend my copyediting decisions.

A. Because it’s so darned hard to read names backward. You might rather ask the opposite question: why on earth would anyone reverse the names? The first author’s name is reversed to facilitate alphabetizing, but there’s no reason to tangle up the rest.