New Questions and Answers

Q. How do I cite a YouTube video in Chicago style?

A. Most content on YouTube is created not by YouTube but by someone else, so the key to citing a YouTube video is to provide details for the item itself (by doing additional research if necessary). Then you can fill in the details related to YouTube (at the very least by including a URL). For example, you could cite the 2019 State of the City address by the mayor of New York City as follows:

Note:

1. Bill de Blasio, “Mayor de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address,” NYC Mayor’s Office, streamed live on January 10, 2019, YouTube video, 1:22:40, https://youtu.be/aZZYlpfZ-iA.

Bibliography:

de Blasio, Bill. “Mayor de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address.” NYC Mayor’s Office. Streamed live on January 10, 2019. YouTube video, 1:22:40. https://youtu.be/aZZYlpfZ-iA.

The details of the citation will vary depending on the type of source and the focus of your research. For more advice on citing multimedia content, including examples, see CMOS 14.261–68.

Q. Does “plus” function like “and” in making two nouns a plural subject? For example, would you say, “This idea plus others like it are gaining traction” or “is gaining traction”?

A. “Plus,” when it’s not acting as a noun (that’s a plus) or as an adjective (a plus sign), can function as either a preposition or a conjunction. As a preposition, it means “in addition to” and takes a singular verb: five plus six equals eleven. As a conjunction, it means “and” and takes a plural verb: a banana plus a loaf of bread were on the table. If the subjects are being considered collectively, use a singular verb; otherwise, opt for the plural. In your example, the ideas alluded to in the subject are gaining traction individually, so “plus” is conjunctive and “are” is the better choice. If you can keep track of all these distinctions, you get an A plus (where “plus” is functioning as an adjective to modify the letter grade).

Q. Can an em dash be used to connect two complete sentences? For example: “You don’t need to go to the DMV in person to renew your driver’s license—you can renew it online.” Thank you in advance for your answer!

A. The em dash is the chameleon of punctuation marks. It probably wouldn’t get away with trying to impersonate a question mark or an exclamation point, but it can stand in for just about any of the other standard sentence marks. Your example is (almost) a perfect illustration. It could be written with a semicolon, a colon, or a period (or a pair of parentheses) in place of the dash—but the dash adds a bit of emphasis that’s in keeping with the relatively informal tone. (A dash can also take the place of a comma, but a comma in your example would be considered a comma splice.)

Q. For a book title within a book title in a language other than English, should quotation marks be inserted around the title within the title, just as we would for English-language titles (per CMOS 8.173)?

A. Usually, yes. For example, the French translation of Alice Kaplan’s Looking for “The Stranger” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), like the English original, presents the title of Camus’s famous book in italics on its cover:

En quête de L’Étranger

To mention or cite this title in Chicago style, you would put the whole title in italics and add quotation marks (as for the English-language version), as in the following example of a bibliography entry (which retains the alternative French style for capitalizing titles as discussed in CMOS 11.27):

Kaplan, Alice. En quête de “L’Étranger.” Translated by Patrick Hersant. Paris: Gallimard, 2016.

Books in French or Spanish may use guillemets (« ») instead of italics for a title within a title; books in German may use reverse guillemets (» «) or inverted quotation marks („ “); other languages may follow similar conventions. You can convert such marks to English-style quotation marks (per CMOS 11.7). But if the title within a title isn’t differentiated as such on the cover (or title page) in any discernible way, and unless you are familiar with the conventions of the original language, it may be best to reproduce the title without adding quotation marks.

Q. Hi, can you tell me what “pl.” stands for in “vol. 5 (1822), pl. 57”? Thanks!

A. It most likely stands for “plate”—as in an illustration printed on special paper and bound together in a separate section known as a gallery; these pages typically aren’t paginated with the rest of the book, so plate or figure numbers must be used instead of page numbers to refer to individual pages in the gallery. CMOS 10.42 includes nearly 250 abbreviations that might appear in scholarly publications, including “pl.” As you will see in that list, the abbreviation “pl.” can mean either “plate” or “plural” but is best avoided for the former. Whoever recorded “pl.” in the example you cite apparently didn’t see our list.

Q. Good morning! I want to know, should it be “farmers’ market” or “farmers market”? I see everything out there, including “farmer’s market.” Anyway, just a seasonal curiosity for you all!

A. We prefer “farmers’ market.” In Merriam-Webster, “farmers market,” “farmers’ market,” and “farmer’s market” are all listed, in that order, as equal variants (separated by “or”). M-W is descriptive—its entries reflect what it finds in published sources. Clearly, the lexicographers at M-W are seeing what you’re seeing. Normally Chicago would advise opting for the first-listed term in M-W. But for terms like “farmers’ market” that denote group ownership or participation, opting for the plural possessive will help you to maintain editorial consistency across like terms. For more advice, see CMOS 7.27.

Q. When referring to decimals from zero to one, are they singular or plural? For example, “The road extends for 0.8 mile(s).” A coworker is arguing it is singular since it is not more than one, while I believe it to be plural since we are now talking about multiple pieces of one (eight tenths). If it is singular does the same hold true for similar numbers written as fractions?

A. Decimal quantities are considered to be plural; quantities expressed as fractions are considered to be singular. So write “0.8 miles” but “eight tenths of a mile.” For decimal forms, only the number one is singular: 1 mile. Once you add a decimal, even if it’s a zero, it becomes plural: 1.0 miles. See CMOS 9.19.

August Q&A

Q. Can I use the ellipsis character in my manuscript? Or do I need to use Chicago’s spaced periods?

A. Either way is OK as long as you’re consistent. If you use the ellipsis character, put a space before and after it … like that. At the end of a sentence, it follows a period and a space, like this. … If a comma or other punctuation follows, close it up to the ellipsis …, like that. A publisher (or copyeditor) following Chicago style can search for this special character (Unicode 2026) and replace it with Chicago’s spaced periods . . . like that or, at the end of a sentence, like this. . . . Where a comma, semicolon, colon, question mark, or exclamation point follows the ellipsis, it is preceded by a space, like this . . . ; an exception is made for marks that come in pairs, including a quotation mark, “like this . . .”—and a dash . . .—like that (and a parenthesis [or bracket], like this . . .). To keep each ellipsis (and any mark of punctuation that follows) on the same line, nonbreaking spaces will need to be applied for publication (as we’ve done here). An ellipsis can begin a new line, so there is no need to precede an ellipsis by a nonbreaking space.

Q. Do you capitalize both words in “happy birthday”?

A. Not always. To describe the act of wishing someone a happy birthday, neither term is capitalized. To name the traditional song, both words are capitalized: “Happy Birthday to You,” or “Happy Birthday.” In dialogue (as in a published novel or story), the first term would normally be capitalized at the beginning of a sentence: “Happy birthday, Rhoda!” But in a personal greeting, you can style it however you wish: Happy Birthday! 🎈🎈🎈 (birthday-themed emoji optional).

Q. Regarding spelling out round numbers over one hundred—how should we handle numbers like 1,500? It’s more round than a number like 1,543, but it’s also less round than a number like one thousand. And if it should be spelled out, which is preferred, “one thousand five hundred” or “fifteen hundred”? Thanks!

A. According to CMOS 9.4,“The whole numbers one through one hundred followed by hundred, thousand, or hundred thousand are usually spelled out.” The spelled-out form “fifteen hundred” qualifies. But the hybrid form “one thousand five hundred” does not. Paragraph 9.4 is intended to encourage spelling out round numbers like three hundred thousand, not awkward forms like “three hundred thousand six hundred”—or, for that matter, something like “thirty-three hundred thousand,” which would be better expressed as “3.3 million” (see CMOS 9.8). So write “fifteen hundred” or “1,500,” depending on context. (For example, if numerals are otherwise rare in your text, opt for the former.)

Q. I edited a travel book for children, and I would love to know your response to this comment from an Amazon reviewer: “U.S. is spelled US throughout the book; D.C. is also spelled without the accurate punctuation. That sort of inattention to accuracy is inexcusable.” The author has asked me to write a response to this for Amazon. This reviewer seems to think Chicago style is teaching kids bad punctuation habits. Thanks for your help.

A. “DC” (no periods) is the official postal abbreviation, in use since October 1963, when the US Post Office Department (now the US Postal Service) introduced its list of two-letter abbreviations for states and territories (and the District of Columbia). The Chicago Manual of Style now recommends these familiar two-letter forms over the traditional abbreviations. So we recommend not only “DC” rather than “D.C.” but also, for example, “IL” rather than “Ill.” Chicago’s preference for “US,” on the other hand, accords with established usage for other countries (the UK, the former USSR, the PRC) and for most other initialisms and acronyms that take full capitals (NASA, UN, DNA). It is true that many publications still favor the more traditional forms with periods, and those are not wrong. But it would be wrong to suggest that kids can’t learn to appreciate the details that make reading (and editing) so interesting.

Q. I frequently quote material that includes existing footnotes within it. If I don’t want to include the footnote in my own writing, can I insert [footnote omitted] in superscript in place of the footnote number to the original text?

A. The note number can simply be deleted. It adds no meaningful content and risks leading the reader on a wild goose chase for a note in your own text that doesn’t exist. Nor is it helpful to readers to know that you’ve deleted the number; such numbers are a distraction even in the original text, and many books are published without note reference numbers for that very reason (notes are instead listed at the end of the book by page number and key phrase in the text). If, on the other hand, you also want to include the text of the note, use a block quotation, preserve the note number, and present the numbered note below the quotation, preferably in a smaller font size. See CMOS 13.7 for more, including how to handle parenthetical text references.

Q. CMOS 8.154 covers lowercase and CamelCase trade names, but it doesn’t specify how to deal with wordmarks that are partly in italics. I would prefer to set them the same way as any other word, but I would also love an official ruling on this!

A. Italics, like other such typographic treatments in trademarked names (including boldface and color), can usually be ignored. For example, EBSCOhost becomes EBSCOhost; whereas the capital letters are meaningful (“EBSCO” is an acronym based on the founder’s name plus the abbreviation for “Company”), the italics as such are not. You could refer to these as vanity italics, which, like vanity lowercase (e.g., adidas or intel), are intended to support the latest branding efforts by a corporation in service of its product but are less helpful to those of us who write about such things.

Q. What is the proper way to write the commonly used speech abbreviation “twenty-four seven” (meaning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)? Would one write “24-7” or “24/7” or something else?

A. All of the above. According to Merriam-Webster, the expression is spelled out “twenty-four seven” and can be abbreviated either “24-7” or “24/7” (the latter two are equal variants, which M-W separates by “or”). The entries for the spelled-out and abbreviated forms are separate in M-W, so you’ll have to make a choice. If you are spelling out numbers zero through one hundred (per CMOS 9.2), opt for “twenty-four seven”; if you’re spelling out only single-digit numbers (per CMOS 9.3), choose the first-listed abbreviation in M-W and go with that. There’s no harm, of course, in opting for the second-listed equal variant if that’s what you prefer, but whatever you do, be consistent—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.