Usage and Grammar

Q. My question concerns the use of British vs. American spellings in quoted material when the quoted material has not yet been published. In a technical report I’m editing, we are changing British to American spellings per our in-house style guide. But there are quite a few quotations from a questionnaire that was conducted as part of the research report. The quotations were submitted with British spellings. Should these quotes be changed to American spellings to match the American style of the rest of the report? I did see in CMOS 7.3 that “in quoted material, however, spelling is left unchanged,” but I’m wondering whether we should make an exception to the rule here for consistency within the book.

A. No, we really do mean that in quoted material, spelling must not be changed, other than to correct obvious typos. Consistency isn’t a goal, since there’s no way that written material can conform in style or spelling to that of every writer who quotes it later. Whether the quoted material has been published or not doesn’t matter.