Usage and Grammar

Q. Each of Texas’s 254 counties has a county judge, and the Honorable Sam Biscoe is the county judge of Travis County. The question we need your help with is whether Chicago approves of referring to him in formal writing as “Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe.” One editor objects to “county” being forced to serve double duty, but “Travis County County Judge Sam Biscoe” doesn’t seem like a good solution. Thank you for your sage guidance!

A. One county is probably enough to be understood in most contexts: Travis county judge Sam Biscoe. Add the second county when it’s important to be precise about the title: Travis County county judge Sam Biscoe. (See CMOS 8.21 on the lowercasing of job titles in apposition.) Of course, this could get out of hand if you aren’t careful: if there were a person in charge of appointing the county judges, that person could be called the Travis County county judge judge. And if that person happened to be named Travis Judge, he might be referred to as Travis County county judge judge Travis Judge.