October Q&A

Q. Hi there! Does Chicago style capitalize animal breeds such as “pit bull” and “goldendoodle”? Thanks in advance!

A. For the common names of animals (as opposed to the binomial scientific name, in which the genus is always capitalized: e.g., Canis familiaris, for the domestic dog), you can usually limit capitalization to any proper nouns and adjectives that are part of the name (see CMOS 8.128). But check Merriam-Webster for exceptions, because the names of some breeds may be capitalized.

Merriam-Webster lists “pit bull” but “goldendoodle or Goldendoodle”; in the case of such equal variants (which M-W separates with “or”), Chicago recommends choosing the first-listed one, so you can write “goldendoodle.”

Professional organizations typically capitalize the names of officially recognized breeds—including the goldendoodle (a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle) and, for example, the American pit bull terrier (a specific breed of the pit bull type)—and some writers copy this usage (i.e., American Pit Bull Terrier), but unless it’s the first-listed form in M-W, it’s not Chicago style.

The choice won’t always be so clear. For example, another poodle hybrid, the labradoodle, is listed as “often capitalized” in M-W. The first part of the name is borrowed from the Labrador retriever, which in turn derives its name from the Canadian region that lends its name to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. You could defend a preference for “Labradoodle,” then, on the principle that it’s derived from a proper name.

Q. How do you pluralize given names such as in brand names? For example, I was editing a book where a person received a gift of a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Another character exclaimed, “You could miss my birthday too if it means a pair of Jimmys.” An apostrophe is not quite right since it is not possessive. And using the “ie” form of plural with a “y” would look odd IMO. What’s the best way to handle it?

A. The plural form of a name is normally formed by adding either “s” or “es” (no apostrophe), so we would recommend “Jimmys.” See CMOS 7.9, which includes “Harrys” among its examples.

But considering the subject, you’d be wise also to consider the usage in Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling The Devil Wears Prada (New York: Broadway Books, 2004):

“Jeffy, bring me a pair of Jimmy’s in a size . . .” (p. 104; ellipsis in original)

Some stylebooks recommend an apostrophe for certain plurals—for example, to join an “s” to a number or an abbreviation (as in “1900’s” or “BA’s”). And for brand names, we’re all more or less familiar with possessive stand-alone forms like Ben & Jerry’s. So “Jimmy’s” is a reasonable choice.

But aside from this one instance in Weisberger’s otherwise influential book, we find no convincing evidence for such a preference. Elsewhere in the book, the shoes are referred to as “Jimmy Choos” (no apostrophe; see pp. 6 and 52), and that seems to be the most common usage IRL.

Q. I’m working on some writing that mentions “SQL servers.” I’m wondering whether I should go with “this data is stored on an SQL server” or “a SQL server.” I happen to be aware that “SQL” is usually pronounced “sequel,” which would lead me to write “a SQL server.” However, I worry that anyone unfamiliar with the term would assume each letter is pronounced individually—and it is very likely that the language I’m working with will be seen by many who are unfamiliar with SQL. What do you recommend?

A. You could spell out the pronunciation of SQL at the first opportunity in the text—for example, “this data is stored on a SQL (pronounced ‘sequel’) server” (see also CMOS 10.3). Those who are unfamiliar with this pronunciation (from “Structured English Query Language,” or SEQUEL, the name first proposed in the early 1970s) will now be clued in; those who already say “sequel” will have their preference confirmed. But it should be noted that according to ANSI (the American National Standards Institute), the pronunciation of SQL is not a settled issue, and “ess-cue-el” is considered a legitimate option. So it’s not a bad idea to signal a preference regardless of your choice.

A note on the example: Though “data” is usually plural in scientific contexts—“these data are”—“data” is often used as a mass noun in computer-related writing. For example, this usage is allowed by the latest style guides published by Microsoft and Apple.

Q. Is Q&A an acronym or an abbreviation? When using Q&A in, say, a training in PowerPoint, do you need to write out “Questions and Answers” the first time, like you would in an acronym, or does it stand on its own as Q&A?

A. Q&A is a pair of initialisms joined by an ampersand; as such, it’s an abbreviated form of the abbreviated expression “Q and A.” And because “Q and A” is widely known (and has its own entry in Merriam-Webster), there is no need to spell out either form the first time you use it. For a discussion of acronyms and initialisms (both of which are types of abbreviations), see CMOS 10.2; for the absence of spaces in Q&A, see CMOS 10.10.

Q. I know that we should follow the spelling of names of organizations, even when the spelling isn’t Chicago style (e.g., United Nations Development Programme). But what about when translating non-English-named institutions? For example, the French institution CNRS translates itself as “National Centre for Scientific Research.” Would you use “Centre” or “Center”?

A. You can write “Center.” The translated name isn’t the official corporate name, so you are free to apply your own regional spelling preferences.

Q. In my work I encounter many European authors who, in academic texts, insist on using “pp.” when subsequently using an “ff.” notation (writing, for instance, “pp. 173ff.”). Setting aside the advisability of using “ff.” as opposed to giving readers a specific page range, I feel quite certain that the abbreviation should be “p.” rather than “pp.” It does, after all, mean “and the following pages.” And one would never say “pages 173 and the following pages.” Yet I can’t find any explicit style-guide help to back me up here so as to silence the protests claiming that “pp.” is proper since multiple pages are being cited. Your thoughts?

A. Either choice is defensible, but we would side with your authors’ preference for “pp.”

The first eleven editions of the Manual (1906 through 1949) included a pair of examples that back up this usage (these examples are from the eleventh edition; the examples in the first ten editions included an equals sign after each opening parenthesis):

pp. 5 f. (page 5 and the following page)
pp. 5 ff. (page 5 and the following pages)

(Note the thin spaces between the numeral and “f.” or “ff.”—recommended in the first eleven editions and represented here with Unicode character number 2009; Chicago now omits that space.)

You’re right that “ff.” is typically interpreted as meaning “and the following pages,” but it’s Latin (it stands for a plural form of the word that survives in English as “folio”), and besides, it’s just a shorthand. If it helps, you can think of “pp. 173ff.” as equivalent to an indeterminate range expressed as “pp. 173–.”

CMOS 17 allows “ff.” in certain cases (though not in an index), but we discourage the singular “f.” because it’s always more helpful simply to include the following page (e.g., 173–74, not 173f.). See CMOS 14.149. And though CMOS no longer includes an example of these abbreviations with “pp.” (our primary recommendation omits “p.” and “pp.” with page numbers in source citations), we defer to the usage established by the earlier editions of the Manual.

Q. Hi, I need to format an in-text citation for a book coauthored by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. I would normally write (Author, year, p.), but how do I handle these unusual names? Thanks.

A. Assuming you are citing The Book of Joy, the reference list entry would look like this (using author-date format):

Dalai Lama [Tenzin Gyatso] and Desmond Tutu. 2016. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. With Douglas Abrams. New York: Avery.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama” is the first-listed name on the title page, but you should cite the name under “Dalai Lama” (a descriptive name that is not inverted; see CMOS 14.80); however, you need to identify which Dalai Lama, and putting the fourteenth Dalai Lama’s religious name in square brackets accomplishes this (brackets signal an editorial addition). Spelling this name as it is commonly known in English will make it easy for readers to understand the reference, or if you prefer, you could record the name as Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho, the transliterated form catalogued by the Library of Congress.

The name of the South African cleric, on the other hand, can be treated according to the usual convention for given names and surnames (see CMOS 14.76).

Finally, the name of coauthor Douglas Abrams is optional (see CMOS 14.105).

In-text references would refer simply to “(Dalai Lama and Tutu 2016),” with any page reference separated from the year by a comma. APA style would include a comma before the year and, unlike Chicago, add “p.” (or “pp.”) before a page number—as your question shows.