Chicago Manual of Style Q&A

March 1, 2006
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jacket imageClear, concise, and replete with commonsense advice, the fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition offers the wisdom of a hundred years of editorial practice while including a wealth of new topics and updated perspectives. For anyone who works with words, in any medium, this continues to be the one reference book you simply must have.
However, even at nearly 1,000 pages, The Chicago Manual of Style can’t cover every detail. The Chicago Manual of Style Web site features a Q&A page, where the University of Chicago Press’s manuscript editing department interprets the Manual‘s recommendations and uncoils its intricacies. Anyone can submit a question to the Q&A. Every month new questions are featured—and answered—on the site.
Here are some recent Q&As:

Q. A colleague insists that this sentence is both ungrammatical and misuses a metaphor: "One of the major benefits of cloned stem cells could be as a more accurate window on diseases." While I think the sentence is clumsy, I don’t see the mistake in grammar. And, while "accurate window" also isn’t elegant, a quick search on the Web turned up plenty of uses of "accurate window" on reputable academic and government agency sites. Who’s right?
A. It might be technically grammatical (I’m still averting my eyes), but it’s so awful that you can’t take refuge there. And even if you did find some reputable sites using the phrase "accurate window" (how many pages past all the Accurate Window and Door companies did you have to scroll?), please don’t let yourself be encouraged by the fact that reputable sites feature bad writing. Listen to your colleague.


Q. How should I list an author’s name when it is given in different forms in different works I am citing (e.g., John Smith, John R. Smith, J. R. Smith)? In the case of an author’s name in a non-Roman script, if the name has been transliterated differently in different publications, shall I list the name as given in each publication, or choose one form? If a name in a non-Roman script is transliterated differently from the system of transliteration I am using, what shall I do? Thank you!
A. Please see CMS 17.40: "Alternative real names. When a writer has published under different forms of his or her name, the works should be listed under the name used on the title page—unless the difference is merely the use of initials versus full names (see 17.20). Cross-references are occasionally used." If a transliterated version is very different from the one used most often in the book, list it as a blind entry with a cross-reference to the more common one.

The Chicago Manual of Style Web site also includes tools for editors and an online search utility for the new edition.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition will also be published on CD-ROM; release is projected for about September 2006. The Manual will then be available in book form and on CD-ROM.
The chapter on indexing is available separately.

2 Responses to Chicago Manual of Style Q&A

  1. Barbara Payne on February 28, 2006 at 6:59 ami

    I love this story! A perfect illustration of how finding joy and humor in life yields a totally different conclusion than thinking the worst. It’s nice to see a researcher take this approach.

  2. tpiddy on April 18, 2006 at 5:16 pmi

    are you suggesting they are gang signs? 🙂

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