Proper Names

Q. What does CMOS say about names of pets? I can’t find it in the index or the section on names.

Q. Dear Chicago experts, do we italicize a ship’s name in quoted dialogue? My client says it should be italicized generally, but not in dialogue.

Q. While CMOS states that a ship’s name should be set in italics, what if it is used as a part of the name of a larger body, such as the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group? Would the ship’s name be italicized in that instance?

Q. When pluralizing surnames, are there instances when using an apostrophe could be considered appropriate? For example, “We’re going to dinner with the Laos” is potentially confusing. This sentence could easily be reworded (We’re going to dinner with the Lao family), but I’m wondering if Lao’s could be allowed in this context; that is, when pluralizing short, traditionally Asian surnames that could be misread when an s is added (e.g., the Gus, the Hans).

Q. The author has italicized the names of fashionable gowns (e.g., “the Primavera gown, inspired by Botticelli”), perhaps as a work of art. My inclination is to remove the italics. Do you have a guideline on this?

Q. Should the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual be italicized in the text? What about when it is referred to only as the DSM?

Q. I’m editing a translated interview transcription for publication by a university press. The sentence in question reads as follows: I asked, “Mr. agent, why don’t you do me a favor.” The speaker is addressing an unidentified agent of a Colombian paramilitary. The uncapitalized agent looks strange following the title of address, but then of course agent isn’t an actual capitalizable name. Should I go with “Mr. Agent,” or would “Mister Agent” take some of the formal edge off, or is “Mr. agent” preferable?

Q. I’m editing a biography of a WWII pilot. Would bomber training and fighter training be capitalized because they are referring to specific types of planes?

Q. I am a government auditor who frequently issues findings to entities with long, cumbersome names (e.g., the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission for Widget Standards and Inspections). In my previous job, I was instructed to state the full name of the entity the first time it appeared in a report, followed by a capitalized abbreviated version (e.g., Commission) throughout the rest of the report. In my new job, I have been instructed to follow The Chicago Manual of Style, which has been interpreted to mean using lowercase for such abbreviations. Apparently, I am not the first person to question this practice, and it has become a source of contention in our office. Do you have any words of wisdom to help mediate this dispute?

Q. When writing about the town in Massachusetts, should I use Foxboro or Foxborough? The latter is the technical, legal name; the former is what everybody (USPS included) prefers and actually uses.