Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. I’m a technical editor at an architectural and engineering firm and am working with a project manager (an architect) on a long document with 100+ tables. He insists on putting the table title below the table (below the table notes, which he wants to enclose in a box). He says he doesn’t like how the title above the table looks. CMOS 3.54 refers to “the title, which appears above the table,” but doesn’t give the reason for the placement. I have told the project manager that the overwhelming convention is to put the title above the table, have cited published guidance (e.g., CMOS) to put it above, and have told him that the likely reason is that tables are most often read from top to bottom, but he won’t budge. What is the reason CMOS recommends putting the table title above the table? Maybe he would consider your rationale.

Q. Does The Chicago Manual of Style include guidelines regarding the maximum number of lines in a paragraph?

Q. When would you use brackets instead of sic to correct a quotation? For example, if the original quote was “Increased cost are bad,” would you write “Increased cost[s] are bad” or “Increased cost [sic] are bad”? If it was a spoken quote (as opposed to written), would you just silently correct it?

Q. Throughout CMOS, as well as in Merriam-Webster, I see that some guidelines or spellings apply to “formal” writing and others to “informal” writing. How do you define formal and informal writing?

Q. My question is about where to place the footnote superscript in a bullet list, when the whole list is linked to a source. Do you put it before the colon that introduces the list, after the colon, or at the end of the list, after the full stop?

Q. How many spaces should there be between the end of a paragraph and a subheading? How many spaces after the subheading and the start of the new paragraph?

Q. As a proofreader, I always mark a bad break when a line ends with an em dash and then a divided word:

This part of the street was relatively modest—boast-
ing a bank.

But I can’t find anything in CMOS that actually says this is necessary. Am I missing it? I also work for one publisher who considers it a bad break when an em dash appears after the portion of the word carried over:

This part of the street was relatively mod-
est—boasting a bank.

Is that rule any more or less valid than the preceding one?

Q. In the manuscript I’m working on, a citation from an article published in Britain uses the word artefact in the title, but the spelling artifact is used throughout the manuscript (as we’re in North America). This citation is the only place where this spelling appears, but obviously I can’t change it. How do I reconcile this inconsistency? Is there some way of saying “yes, this citation is spelled correctly, but it’s an alternate spelling”?

Q. Dear CMOS editors: Some colleagues are having a debate over whether an author’s personal life story written in third person should be considered an autobiography or a biography. The manuscript’s classification will drive decisions about including documentation in the work. Your help with this issue will be greatly appreciated.

Q. Dear CMOS, in one of the articles I’m editing, the authors have a list of documents, where each document title is followed by a descriptive phrase. The title and phrase are separated by a colon. (1) Should the first word in the phrase be lowercase? The authors tend to capitalize it, but I think it should be lowercase (unless it’s a proper noun). (2) Would it be more appropriate to use an em dash instead of a colon? Here’s an example:

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Dedicated Observations: Information on dedicated background exposures