Thursday, August 2, 2007

Chicago's Style Advice

As a paying member to the Chicago Manual of Style website, I get regular email updates of the latest question-and-answer page of editorial advice. These can be as funny as they are helpful -- just thought I'd share some with my fellow bloggers.

Q. When you use parentheses to indicate that a noun might be plural, is it necessary to use them to indicate that the verb might be plural as well? For example, "The participant(s) was (were) informed of the procedure in writing." Is there a rule about this, or is it a stylistic choice? Am I justified in adding the second verb to an author’s manuscript?

A. I don’t know about a rule, but the construction is clumsy, and it’s better to avoid it. Just write “Participants were informed of the procedure in writing,” which doesn’t rule out the possibility of there being only one participant.


Q. Contracts often employ defined terms in quotes and parentheses, e.g., ABC Corp. (the “Seller”) shall sell ten widgets to XYZ Corp. (the “Buyer”). When drafting such a contract, I always put a period after the close parenthesis if it is the end of the sentence, such as in the above example. But it’s like listening to nails on a chalkboard to me to have a period essentially (ignoring the parenthetical) follow the period employed in an abbreviation. What do you recommend?

A. Yoga?


Q. This headline appeared in the New York Times on Friday, May 11: “A Tough Fight Still Looms, Cheney Warns G.I.’s in Iraq.” I thought no apostrophe was necessary here, as the s represents a plural, not a possessive. What’s up at the Times?

A. What’s up is that the Times uses New York Times style, not Chicago style. (Tsk!)


Q. My fashion expert daughter insists that denim does not go with “almost anything,” as I say it does. What is your opinion? Does denim match almost anything, including other colors and other fabrics, e.g., silk?

A. Finally, a real style question! If only we Chicago manuscript editors were a little more fashion-forward . . .


Karen M said...

Thanks for this, I-Girl!

I'll have to look into that subscription (if it is not too dear!) just to have access to this Q&A column.

Janet said...

The CMS Q&A is freely available:

So are the e-mail alerts to let you know when new Q&As are posted (first of the month, usually).

Introvert Girl said...

Thank you, Janet! I didn't know that. I have to access their online data for my work, so I had to pay for a subscription. But everyone ought to enjoy the Q & A.

Karen M said...

Yes, thank you, both! I've checked it out already...